Wandering Wraeclast: First impressions of Path of Exile’s Legion

    
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I did the unthinkable. In honor of Path of Exile’s Legion League launch, I made a melee character. Yeah, MJ playing melee: No one could have seen that coming. But how could I ignore the biggest component of this update? So over the weekend I’ve been experiencing this new league while trying to get used to an in-your-face approach to fighting. It has been an interesting learning experience. And Legion itself is quite a departure from the latest leagues.

What is Legion like? How is my melee experience going? Here are my initial impressions of my first foray into the new league and its companion update.

Can’t compare melee

I’ll get this out of the way up front: No, I can’t compare the new melee to the old. That’s because I never did play the old. From friends who have played quite a bit of melee over the years, though, I have heard things like It feels smoother as well as It feels slower. Smoother definitely sounds like good direction. Slower? That might be a matter of preference (though perhaps not as likely of one during leagues like Legion that are dictated by a timer).

I can, however, describe my beginner melee experience. I’ll admit that mostly I am still just trying to get used to jumping into the fray; I still attempt to attack from the fringe. There is a certain satisfaction to losing yourself in a pile of enemies only to emerge with all their carcasses at your feet when the dust settles. I am not sure I will be won over to melee, but I won’t let this Templar dictate that; I do want to check out a Duelist as well and get all stabbity stabby on mobs instead of righteous fury-y. I am just not sure I’ll do that this league.

I’ve also acquired at least one skill on my Templar that has a slight range to it, but I am trying hard to not turn him into a ranged caster. Why did I pick Templar? Well, it wasn’t because he was the best-looking character, that’s for sure. He’s like some Olympus reject, and I dislike his character model above all others. What I was sold on were some shiny ideas for how to play him, so I am giving him a go. Really, how can I — of all people — pass up shiny? It’s understandable that am gravitating toward golden skills, and so far I’m succeeding decently enough in groups with my friends. I do doubt my solo abilities with one, though, as I am still not comfortable with rushing in. I am hoping to really reserve judgement until after I’ve played a few Acts. Of course, different builds could also make a difference, but constant experimentation to find something I like when I already know I love playing other classes doesn’t really strike me as a choice use of my gaming time.

How is melee looking overall in this league? It’s too early to tell how it will all shake out, but as of Monday morning, the rankings for the top 20 players include only eight base melee Ascendancy classes (although any of the five Ascendants could be melee focused). The Occultist was the most represented class with six, then came Ascendant (5), Guardian (3), and Trickster (2), with Assassin, Deadeye, Inquisitor, and Berzerker all tying for last with one each. Compare that to only three typically melee classes making it into the top 20 of Synthesis (with seven Ascendants) — one inquisitor, one Guardian, and one Trickster. Bestiary also had six melees, and the next closest was Incursion with five. Like Synthesis, Delve had only three. Of course, folks could be playing any of the ranged classes as melee thanks to passives and skills, but there’s no way to account for that. Also, since this is just the very beginning of the league, comparing the ladder rankings to finished leagues is a bit skewed; we’ll have to see where they end up when legion ends. Perhaps more melee will dominate the rankings over the next three months.

Upping the early game

As part of the big melee update, the early game was changed. Notable, the difficulty of the bosses and mobs were increased and all classes got access to movement skills. I can attest that the difficulty was upped: Things that had started to feel very cake-walky are definitely more challenging now. I must say that it felt weird to be playing my first melee but still needing to run away during the bosses’ big wind ups instead of standing my melee ground, but those hard hits when they landed were motivation to get out of Dodge with a dodge.

A look at Legion league

Obviously, I’ve not gotten to endgame over the weekend (trust me, some were there within the first day), but I have gotten a general feel of the league by experiencing it in each and every zone. If you are a big fan of the see-how-many-things-you-can-slaughter-before-the-timer-runs-out leagues, Legion will likely be pretty fun for you. You find the shard, race to smash all the frozen legion fighters you can, then smash them again once they are unfrozen. You also get to pick and choose which fighters (or things, as there are treasure chests) that you unfreeze. It’s all a race against time, and it’s unabashedly about the grind. So folks who love going fast, love seeing how much damage they can do in the shortest amount of time to the most mobs are really going to revel in here.

Personally, this league is not really for me. And I am totally OK with that! I am all for each play style getting leagues that cater more to them — Legion just doesn’t really fit mine. Hey, it gives me a good excuse to get back into Standard and finish up the story there! While I would love to see Legion in a mega-league run like we just had, I’m not overly fond of it on its own. I really enjoyed the puzzles, crusades, and various undertakings of the previous leagues like Bestiary, Incursion, Delve, Betrayal, and Synthesis. The timer-based grind is one I just can’t really get into. I tend to want to run through and see what I can see in this little moment of time, admiring the frozen warriors, then watch them continue their war once unfrozen. That, by the way, is not a very productive way to play Legion! Maybe my opinion will change a bit if I can finally find myself some of the incubation items. That gives me a pretty fun reason to grind, just to see what my shiny turns into.

I think Legion hits the mark for what it was aiming for, which was a return to those favored speed leagues of yore. If that is your cup of destruction, then jump right on in!

Making new names for themselves

One of the really cool things I’ve enjoyed with Legion is watching the new names appear in the server-wide firsts announcements. While I never really like those incessant popups, I had also gotten used to seeing many of the same names pop up on the screen. Now, I am seeing ones I can’t even say: The Koreans have dived in with gusto, and many of those players are nabbing the firsts! Those names are appearing in the Korean alphabet, so while I can’t congratulate any individual, it is exciting to see how quickly this new market has embraced the game.

What if your world changed every three months? What would you do differently? Path of Exile does, and MOP’s MJ Guthrie explores and experiences each new incarnation in Wandering Wraeclast. Join us biweekly for a look into each new challenge league and world expansion — and see whether MJ can finally reach the end of one world before it ends!
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kjempff
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kjempff

I doubt melee will ever be my thing in PoE for a single reason.. I really hate movement skills. At least as some caster builds it is less required, and some summoner builds I can almost completely avoid movement skills – I know it is inefficient to not use movement skills, but I will rather be slow because it is just much more enjoyable gameplay. The bumrush and instakill the entire screen, then bumrush bumrush bumrush to the next instakill screenfull of monsters.. it just feels unengaging to me.

When some leagues current meta doesn’t allow for a decent build without movement skills, then I am left stranded .. and unfortunately since everything changes dramatically every league, it is impossible to tell whether an old build can stand.

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lostkoss

Should have played Marauder to test melee. Or at least Duelist.

Templar is still too caster centric. Gotta use that mana for something. Templar can be a totem master pretty easy.

Duelist has to work quite a bit harder for a good ranged build. It’s easier to build for a fast melee dancer.

Marauders are just killing machines that upgrade into slicer dicers.

Yes. I know you can build any class into anything it wants to be in POE.
It’s just more practical to start Deep in the strength and melee upgrades than it is to reach across the board from the witch starting point.

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BalsBigBrother

If you do nothing else in the Legion league you might want to have a go at getting to Act Six and kill the Brine King for a nice free hat mtx. If nothing else appeals to you there is a free cosmetic to be had at least.

I have had a brief look and well as someone who has played a lot of melee builds before the revamp I have to say it does feel different. At this point I am not sure if its a good or bad different or somewhere in between.

Given that I wanted to interact with the league mechanics without too much messing about I didn’t in the end decide to explore the melee skills to much beyond an initial foray. I instead went with a lightening brand inquisitor that works really well at clearing densely packed mobs which is handy in Legion and its not all that stressful to play either.

I have been distracted by other things lately so I haven’t been putting too much time into PoE right now. Still there is plenty of time during leagues so I am sure I will get round to running one or two of my usual melee builds through it before its over so that I can get a better feel for things.

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Bryan Correll

It feels slower

Starting out in a new league always feels slow to me since I don’t have any movement/cast/attack speed bonuses yet.

If you don’t want to be pure melee you can pick up Herald of Purity (fairly early in Act 2) and throw some passive points into minion skills and go hybrid melee/pet with the Guardian ascendancy.

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camren_rooke

Never been a melee fan in PoE. I always run into the same thing…smash smash smash through everything until something with just the right combo of abilities hits my vulnerabilities and I go down.

That said, did they give the Templars pants yet?

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BalsBigBrother

Pants are overrated!

That said I fully expect that to be one of the announcements during Exilecon for the big 4.0 update and I imagine it will get a big cheer too.

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Kayweg

Does this qualify ?
If i remember correctly, that char (and the armor) is from way back when the game launched.:)
But no, not from the outset, still just that tunic sort of thing.
I always found not having a leg armor slot in PoE a bit strange myself.

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BalsBigBrother

You can give him shorts with the ones below and there are a few others that are the same sort of style.

If it really bothers you throw some mtx monies at it and you can go fully covered in a number of styles but that is an expensive solution.

Always remember though that pants are an illusion, Exile

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Kayweg

Naw, not enough to actually bother me.
Didn’t have a closer look at that chest piece, but yes, it’s a chainmail alright.

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Bryan Correll

You can correct the pants issue with MTX at least. My problem with the templar design is that his head is always looking upward, which can look awful with a lot of armour sets.

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BalsBigBrother

You know I thought I was weird for being bothered by that but at least I now know that I am not the only one.

My solution to that is to slap on one of the helmet mtx that I have got from challenges or supporter packs, there are some skull ones that work quite well one.