Action RPG fans eager to get their hands on Path of Exile 2 probably shouldn’t hold their breath, as the ambitious sequel-expansion seems unlikely to launch this year. During a phone interview about the upcoming endgame expansion for the original Path of Exile, studio head Chris Wilson got to talking about how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the New Zealand studio.

“I hate to blame COVID for stuff, but that is a big part of it at the moment,” Wilson said. “We have had difficulty hiring internationally because the borders to New Zealand are closed, so that has curtailed the exponential growth of our asset creation team a little bit. The progress of development hasn’t been as fast as we wanted, and so our goal is to bash as hard as we can during 2021 on Path of Exile 2 stuff and see how much headway we make. Trying to get as much done as possible, and that’ll give us a better idea of a good release date we can estimate, which should be towards the end of the year.”

When asked for clarification about whether Path of Exile 2 would probably launch sometime in 2022, Wilson said, “Yeah, I think that’s accurate.” He also mentioned that working from home during lockdowns had slowed production on the past few major updates. Nothing catastrophic, but it was one factor in the upcoming expansion being delayed slightly.

Still, it’s not all doom and gloom for Path of Exile fans. The Echoes of the Atlas expansion (launching January 15th) is set to bring a bundle of new environments to the game’s expansive endgame, several using assets from the sequel, along with some new bosses evoking Path of Exile 2’s new aesthetic. It’s a small taste of things to come, which may help bridge the gap when Path of Exile 2 eventually launches, as both campaigns will share the same endgame content.

Echoes of the Atlas is, however, likely to be the largest update PoE sees this year, as Grinding Gear focus on Path of Exile 2 production. While the quarterly updates and League events will continue according to schedule, they might be a bit less ambitious for a while. Still, having played and enjoyed an early build of PoE2 when it was unveiled at Exilecon in November 2019, I reckon it’ll be worth the wait.