I've been playing Last Epoch for a little over a year now, and even early on it was clear to me this is probably going to be the main competitor to Path of Exile moving forward. Assuming they can transition to multiplayer and a persistent online game properly, which it seems like they are by not rushing and instead taking their time, for the first time in a long time Path of Exile will have serious competition. Of course Diablo 3 has been around as long as PoE, but they target very different niches, where as LE pretty much targets the exact same ARPG audience and demographic as PoE.
So What's New in 0.8.5?
Honestly, I'm feeling a certain burnout on LE myself, despite it offering a much needed breath of fresh air from PoE (especially in the wake of recent years disappointment). Knowing that multiplayer probably isn't too far off, and keen to have some permanence to my online progression, I don't feel particularly motivated to grind too much or go too deep into end-game in recent updates to LE. If there's a new class or interesting skill, I might level into early Monoliths, but that's about it.
Sadly that doesn't bode well for this patch, as the primary new content comes in the form of two new dungeons and a revamped arena, with very little in the way of skill changes or balance. I'm principally still very excited about it, but at this point anything short of multiplayer isn't quite enough to catch my attention.
The new 3D art and optimization work were noticeable from my short playthrough though. Hopefully optimization is something that will continue to carry particular significance as they move into multiplayer.
All in all, as always happy to see Last Epoch move forward, but I'll probably mostly let this update pass by.