Generally speaking, playing Path of Exile is a pretty soothing experience. You pick a character, head into the world of Wraeclast and hack through enemies at your own pace. To mix things up, Grinding Gear Games is regularly hosting so-called Races that challenge even the most experienced gamers. These events are usually about getting through maps as quickly as you can, usually without dying or falling behind. The faster you finish the task at hand, the more points you get. After each season ends, you will be rewarded depending on your overall score. It wouldn’t be a terrifying experience if the developers didn’t throw a couple of extra curveballs your way, and that’s why there are always different kinds of race types in each season. If you feel like competing against other players to win special prizes, get ready to dash through haunted swamps, abandoned prison cells and bloodied sanctuaries. Just make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into…
There's no stopping you!
- Hardcore: This is your only chance. If your character dies, you're out!
- Solo: The name speaks for itself. Here, you have to fight on your own.
- Party: Grab your friends and rush through the competition alongside others.
- Turbo: Every opponent moves, casts and attacks 60% faster than usual.
- Multiproj: Minions with ranged attacks gain four additional projectiles.
- Blood Magic: Your skills cost hit points instead of mana.
- Famine: Your flasks can only be refilled by killing enemies, not by going back to town.
- Cutthroat: Other players can join your race to kill you and loot your non-gem gear.
- Ancestral: Enemy forces always summon a totem that you will have to deal with.
No time to stop and smell the flowers.It's recommended to have played through the main story of Path of Exile at least once before entering a race. Knowing your way through the various terrains of the free-to-play title doesn’t give you an advantage whatsoever, as the layout of maps is always randomized. However, it certainly helps to know all available quests and task rewards and to already have a skill set ready. That way, you won't waste any time pondering about which attributes to increase while the clock is ticking.
Each season usually runs for several weeks and features a wide array of different race types, some more complex than others. Keep an eye out for potions, gemstones or items that increase your run speed and keep in mind that you don’t have to clear everything in order to progress. The only thing that counts is your speed!
Source: Official forums, Game client (November 2013)