Most of gameplay in Path of Exile is all about the feeling of reward in just about whatever players do, from the usual busywork to combat proper to the culmination of all previous efforts. While the game does well enough for the most part with this, there are certain parts that could use some work. One of those parts is the leagues, which had a glaring flaw before Ascendancy came about.
While there is much fun to be had in the leagues, it can be said that the only time you'd expect to feel rewarded for playing something like a Hardcore league is when you've reached the endgame, with a high leveled character decked out in powerful Path of Exile items following a particular build to show for one's efforts. Other than that, there isn't much else in the middle of that pursuit other than the journey itself and not much else.
While it can be said that it's all about the journey and not just the destination, there should still be a feeling of reward during proceedings and not just the end of it. There's a reason why it's said that some players quit in the middle of their progress in the game. It's not because the game isn't all that fun, but those players have gotten bored or sick of the game at that point and want to move on to something else. That's not really entirely the game's fault, but they can surely be encouraged to take their characters further than that.
In Ascendancy, it seems that there are a lot more things to keep players in the game at lower levels. Perandus is a good example as it's possible for players to get a decent amount of coins despite not getting good uniques from him. Even when RNG is not on your side, you're not getting screwed over entirely. There are also the low level unique PoE items that aren't gated behind outrageous prices, which means that just about anyone can get them.
The Perandus league is getting so much positive feedback that it's possible that more like it can pop up in the future. Being able to save up Perandus Coins or get lucky with a good unique makes for a league that gives players earlier in the game. It sure is handy to have a good low level unique or two to aid your leveling, and the potential of a big payday isn't far from reality with Path of items like Maligaro's Virtuosity. It has certainly succeeded where leagues like Talisman have somewhat failed.
This and a whole lot of other things have been garnering the new Ascendancy expansion quite a good critical reception. It looks like Grinding Gear Games is taking the game towards a positive direction after all, despite the server issues that were met during launch. As more and more people get to play Ascendancy and the Perandus league, the brighter the future seems for the game this year.