Path of Exile's second act and latest character class have been revealed in a new trailer for the indie action RPG in development at New Zealand studio Grinding Gear Games.

The second act presents a densely forested land that houses warring bandit factions. These in-fighting groups provide the ideal opportunity for Path of Exile’s latest character class, the melee expert Duelist, to display his strength and dexterity.

Path of Exile has been in development for four years by Grinding Gear Games, an independent studio of hardcore RPG fans based in Auckland. The game will be free-to-play online with ‘ethical’ aesthetic micro-transactions and a novel system of skill gems. A beta release is scheduled for August.

The Duelist is the game’s first hybrid class, which favours both strength and dexterity attributes and skills. The Duelist can deal out substantial damage and move quickly in and out of combat.

The new trailer shows the Duelist accepting a challenge from one of the forest’s bandit lords to wipe out his rivals. Unlike other characters banished to the devastated land of Wraeclast, the Duelist sees exile as a chance to prove his swordsmanship.

The trailer also reveals new combo mechanics which add further depth to the game’s combat action. Certain skills grant charges, which spin around the player. Strength skills grant endurance charges, dexterity skills grant frenzy charges and intelligence skills grant power charges. In combat, these charges bestow abilities and protections or can be discharged for a one-off devastating attack.

“The charges were designed to make combat more interesting and tactical,” says Chris Wilson, founder of Grinding Gear Games. “They’re a core part of Path of Exile’s combat system and they are supported by other mechanics in the game in particular ways. For instance, there will be plenty of items and passive skills that add to or modify your charge abilities.”

The Duelist could for example build up both his green dexterity-based frenzy charges and red strength-based endurance charges. While he is on a killing streak, frenzy charges will continue to accumulate and the Duelist will attack faster, until he chooses to discharge them with a skill such as “Flicker Strike” which teleports him to attack multiple enemies one after the other – an additional strike for each frenzy charge.

If the Duelist uses the “Enduring Cry” skill he will gain endurance charges and hence resistance to damage, based on how many monsters surround him. When the action gets too intense, he can discharge his endurance charges with the “Immortal Call” skill, ideal for breaking the stun-lock from a horde of enemies attacking him.

Path of Exile will also feature a novel flasks system for healing.

“The potion system is broken in many RPGs,” says Wilson. “The flask system is our way of addressing the ‘potion spam’ you often see in action RPGs where players fill their inventory with potions and use them every few seconds in combat. That’s not fun and doesn’t make sense.”

Instead of potions, Path of Exile will feature a system of refillable flasks that have magic properties just like other equipment. Flasks lose charges as you drink from them, but partially recharge each time you kill a monster. Some flasks have properties that provide protection, heal faster, share healing or give buffs that make them useful for more than healing alone.

“We don’t have any pure support classes, so in Path of Exile everybody must be able to heal themselves. Having to kill more monsters to heal drives the player forward. Finding flasks with specific properties becomes an essential part of your character’s development.”

Path of Exile is scheduled for a large-scale closed public beta around August. To be considered to take part in the beta, sign up for an account at the official site.

Read our hands-on preview of Path of Exile