If any of you played Path of Exile at some of the higher levels then you're most likely aware of how laggy things can become when you open a Strongbox and spawn an entire screen full of enemies. In most other games this would be a minor annoyance you can simply ignore, but since Path of Exile both supports and encourages playing in the perma-death mode it is a bit more serious than that!
To Grinding Gear Games' credit, however, they have done major reworks of the engine over the past few years in order to combat these issues, and the latest 2.4.2 patch is an extension of that effort. As for the results? In the couple of maps I've tested out so far the newly added (and currently experimental) 64-bit DX11 client did not suffer more than a few milliseconds of stuttering, even while using my patented 'fill the screen full of glowy stuff' build. Quite impressive given how taxing POE can get on the CPU!
If you're not up for using an experimental build, worry not as the standard DX9 client has received the very same performance upgrades as well. The reason the DX11 client has been implemented is because it has potential for further improvements in the future, improvements that could easily put it ahead of what's possible in the DX9 version. So while it currently might not be much of an upgrade over its predecessor, you can consider it future-proofing on GGG's side. And speaking of upgrades, its worth mentioning that all of these are targeted at CPU performance, so if you're having issues due to the strength of your GPU I'm afraid you're out of luck for the time being.
As for the three new skills, I've only been able to toy around with Blight so far, and my impressions are less than stellar... to put it lightly. Even on my fully geared, fully overpowered character I couldn't get that spell to be anything more than mediocre, though I'd imagine there's some super-secret build you can create in order to make it ridiculously strong. Here's the description for all three of them, maybe you can figure something out:
• Dexterity/Intelligence skill - Blade Flurry: Repeatedly strike at enemies in a circle in front of you while channelling, dealing damage to and around the struck enemy. The damage is continually boosted while channelling. You unleash an additional strike for each stage reached once the channelling ends. Requires a Dagger, Claw or One-Handed Sword.
• Intelligence skill - Scorching Ray: Unleash a beam of fire that burns enemies it touches, and decreases their fire resistance. Remaining in the beam intensifies the burning, adding a portion of the beam's damage in stages. Enemies who leave the beam continue to burn for a duration. Increasing cast speed also increases the rate at which the beam can turn.
• Intelligence skill - Blight: Apply a debuff to enemies in front of you which deals chaos damage over time. Enemies who aren't already debuffed by Blight are also hindered for a shorter secondary duration, slowing their movement. Continued channelling adds layers of damage to the debuff, each with their own duration.
On a somewhat unrelated note, if you've stumbled here without ever actually playing Path of Exile, allow me to show you why exactly its one of the finest ARPG games ever created!