Last Epoch is pushing multiplayer up as part of its biggest Early Access release
Developer Eleventh Hour Games has been hard at work on their passion project, Last Epoch. Although multiplayer has been a staple for the ARPG genre, the game has been a single-player only mode since its Early Access launch in mid-2019. However, that will soon change.
The game’s Patch 0.9 release is March 9, 2023 at 11:00 AM EST. Dubbed The Convergence Update, this is arguably one of the most extensive versions of the game. Possibly the most anticipated as well, as it heralds the start of multiplayer support.
Kill with friends
Players who log in after the patch release can play cooperatively with up to 3 other players. There doesn’t seem to be any content restrictions, meaning you can play the entire campaign and endgame with your buddies.
However, Last Epoch’s multiplayer will be more like Diablo II and not like the semi-split open world of Diablo IV. Players must create groups with their friends to participate in multiplayer, and you will only ever encounter people in your group. No random ones will wander the Echoes of Eterra.
Of course, loot is one of the cornerstones of any good ARPG, and it will be no different in Last Epoch. All monster drops are instantiated, so players don’t have to worry about their friends “accidentally” picking up this legendary item the second it drops. Any loot generated during a party can be shared with everyone in that party for free. More on that later.
Finally, enemies scale based on the number of players in the current group. This scaling only modifies health stats, which becomes more prominent in endgame activities. Damage dealt and actual number of enemies will not increase with more players.
Giving away and trading items from the last era
Eleventh Hour Games definitely seems to be listening to community feedback. One of the previous updates in December of last year introduced gifting of items during multiplayer testing. This decision was somewhat controversial as many players enjoyed the feature while some others preferred to rely solely on their own spoils of war.
The item faction system
The developers have taken the feedback to heart and are introducing the so-called “Item Factions” system. This is a simple reputation system at its core, and splits a character up to freely trade or sell gear, or to get an increased quantity and quality of their natural drops in combat. The Merchant’s Guild representation allows players to trade their loot while working with the Circle of Fortune, increasing loot quality.
However, some restrictions are implemented to ensure that the system is not abused. A character can freely switch between the two factions. As you level a faction, you get more perks, encouraging you to stick with one. Any item you get while representing a party cannot be used at all if you switch to the opposite. Essentially, this means that switching factions is like completely respecing your character, as items available to one group are completely unavailable to the other.
gifts for your friends
As previously mentioned, any loot that falls in a party can be freely shared with anyone in the party. The in-game gifting system allows for this functionality, where generous Eterrans can simply right-click their friends’ portraits and click “Gift Items”.
At the moment only gear and idols (think Diablo II charms) can be sent to your friends. This includes any gear that may have been crafted from the game’s extensive crafting system. Runes, glyphs, and other resources cannot be gifted.
Also for those who hate their friends, any item gifted to you can be freely given to someone else later. you monster
Visual, acoustic and technical overhauls of the last era
While multiplayer is definitely one of the most exciting aspects of the Last Epoch Convergence update, there’s even more coming in Patch 0.9. Eleventh Hour Games has overhauled many of the game’s systems, including combat response and engine optimization.
The look and feel
Since killing hordes of enemies is the be-all and end-all of the genre, the team made killing monsters more satisfying. This is thanks to the new on-hit and on-death effects that will appear from all types of enemies. Expect the battlefield to be a lot bloodier due to this change.
Additionally, using different damage types to decimate your enemies triggers different effects. Fire damage causes an enemy to be burned during their death animation, while Frost freezes and maybe even crushes the target.
Tons of visuals have also been updated. Everything from player character animations to NPCs to monsters, almost everything in the game got a pass-through, especially the older elements.
Similar to the graphics, the sound has also been significantly updated in this Last Epoch update. Some skills have been “significantly reworked” in quality like Disintegrate, Aura of Decay, Meteor, and a ton more. A slew of abilities are also getting new hit sounds, making combat sound as meaty as it looks.
New music and voice output for selected NPCs are just the icing on the cake.
If I had one criticism of Last Epoch Early Access, it would be the optimization of the game. While the game was already visually pleasing, it would eat up resources and sometimes struggle to maintain a consistent 60 frames per second.
Hopefully that will change for the better now that the team has worked a lot on the performance. One of the techniques they use to do this is called “pooling”. This adds player abilities to a “pool” as they are used, storing the effects in memory for later use. When an ability is reused, it’s pulled from that pool instead of having the game re-render it.
There’s definitely more to it, as Eleventh Hour Games posts tons of technical information about their optimization efforts on the game’s Steam page and forums. Check them out to learn more about how to ensure Last Epoch runs as perfectly as possible.
The last epoch
We’ve covered a lot of information above, but Last Epoch’s Convergence update has even more to offer. As with most major ARPG updates, 0.9 will include tons of balancing, tweaks, and other small tweaks here and there.
The Last Epoch multiplayer update will be released on March 9th, 2023. It’s an extremely flexible ARPG that offers tons of build variety. Each individual skill even has its own skill tree, further deepening the game’s customization options. Check out our 10 reasons to look forward to Last Epoch.