GGG’s Chris Wilson says Path of Exile reached a ‘breaking point with power creep’ that Expedition will help fix

GGG is "very confident that the new Path of Exile is going to be more fun."

    
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Yesterday, we noted how Path of Exile players were responding with dismay to the proposed Expedition expansion and league changes, under the belief that the expansion was being designed to nerf what fun is left in the game. The game’s subreddit, for example, was a solid wall of disgruntled memes, dejection, and attempts to get Grinding Gear Games to listen.

Well, the studio is definitely listening. GGG’s Chris Wilson posted as 1867-word missive to the playerbase on Reddit addressing the complaints.

“There has been speculation that I have personally been driving the balance changes to match my original vision for Path of Exile,” he writes. “There is a little truth to this, in that I want to restore areas of the game that were important but have been eroded, but almost every area of specific balance work is the product of a large team of designers working together for a long time to come up with solutions to problems we want to address.”

He explains that POE had reached a “breaking point with power creep” that needed to be addressed once and for all because neither the players nor the devs were happy with the game. “[W]e are very confident that the new Path of Exile is going to be more fun,” he says.

Concerned players are going to need to get a cup of tea and sit down for the whole thing because Wilson then goes on to touch on pretty much everything, from the gem mana cost nerfs and hyperthermia nerfs to aurabot nerfs and the community wiki. He also discusses problems with Ultimatum and its poor retention, admitting that the encounters didn’t have strong combat and that the reward structure was poor.

Source: Reddit. Cheers, Pepperzine!
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Matt Cramp

I think he’s right that gear’s far too abundant and the game is a bit too generous – I tried out Ultimatum league after getting a real pandemic hankering for looters, and was a little dismayed to find myself with a full set of great rare gear by the end of Act 1. I think I agree with other commenters that the one-shots in late game content is also a problem and players have responded to that environment.

I think the problems run a bit deeper than that, honestly – the flood of easy rares obscures that most of the economy around crafting isn’t fit for purpose, and being able to quickly gear up for maps obscures that if you do maps the “intended” way they all kind of blur together; a system designed to provide a lot of surprises ends up blowing most of its surprises early. I think they’ve hit a local maxima, and balancing their way out of it is going to be rough.

Guess it’s lucky they have a sequel coming.

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Tee Parsley

Trying to extend the game for power player minmaxers will steadily ramp up the difficulty. And makes balance tough. They fell in to this with their ever expanding league boosts. Oh well…

I am reminded of the various City of Heroes balance passes.

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Greaterdivinity

Good lord…I just checked Path of Building (the REAL endgame) and while none of my characters were super duper strong, they got gutted. Damage nerfs seem to be anywhere from 30-50%.

Given that screen clutter and random one shots will still be a thing, and getting enough damage to wipe the screen before anything gets to you will be far, far more difficult, I’m increasingly thinking of giving this a pass altogether and shelving the game again for a while. Got my SSF exsanguinate spellslinger up to 92 to get a cluster node I wanted and will probably leave it there.

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Vanquesse V

you might want to check up on mana costs if you haven’t already. They went up by quite a lot, so a lot of attack builds need to free up reservation to still function, while casters might need more investment to have enough mana regen.
Strikes and handcasting got hit the worst, dots and minions the least.

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Greaterdivinity

Yep, I assume my spellslinger is totally dead (as in will kill herself before enemies do) and a lot of my older melee builds are completely toast.

I get why they’re doing this with mana, since it’s largely been a trivial/irrelevant resource that you just reserved (unless you were playing archmage or something), so they want it to be somethin that players actually have to consider again.

But man is that looking not fun alongside the bigtime nerfs and the lack of any nerfs to enemies to compensate : /

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Vanquesse V

spellslinger as a way of dealing damage and archmage in general are both completely dead and gone. Herald of Agony supposedly ends up with a 200% mana reservation cost on a 6 link so I don’t predict that being very popular either (can still use the coming calamity, but not having any life or res on chest might be rough).
Cospri’s and Mjölner are most likely the only viable trigger builds, and in both cases you’d want two of them. These items have generally been considered to be in the group of uniques least likely to drop (discounting headhunter now that it can drop anywhere).
So there’s a pretty good chance of these ending up being worth more than a mirror.

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Greaterdivinity

I’d be surprised if Cospri’s is still viable given that it’s mostly cyclone based. Keeping up the mana for the constant triggers is gonna be brutal, so folks will probably need to ditch some damage (auras or dropping damage nodes/mods) to be able to have the regen to sustain it. Can likely get cyclone down to almost free, but then there are all the triggers (which trigger a LOT) to deal with.

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Vanquesse V

the reason those two in particular still works is that Mjölner will have a 0% mana multiplier attached to the trigger built into the item. So that one weapon will continue to function as before in terms of mana costs.
Traditionally Mjölner was done with a single weapon and a 6 link cast on crit setup in the body armor, but that obviously doesn’t work anymore so it’s dual wield or bust.
I just went looking to see if the same was the case for poet’s pen as that’s also a T1 rarity unique that revolves around triggering but it’s not mentioned at all in the patch notes and neither is cospri’s. So it might just be mjölner as the only viable trigger build.

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Dug From The Earth

I don’t have much faith in what this guy says.

Stating that they aren’t about record concurrent players or whatever and then saying they are about making the game fun, just screams “the left hand has no idea what the right hand is doing”

Like the mere concept that “perhaps you are hitting all time player records because the game already IS fun” completely eludes him. Instead he insists that these changes are for the sake of making it fun even if that lowers the player count. HERP!!!?!

The fact that he originally thought the quick player drop off this season was due to it being “too rewarding” was another red flag showing how out of touch they are with the players and how they view the game.

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Vanquesse V

Chris has time and time again brought up the example of the Marvel Heroes Omega patch as a worst case example of what can go wrong if you change too much at once, with him strongly suggesting that the omega patch was what killed the game.
Not only do I think that’s a massive oversimplification, but I also think that 3.15 might be worse than omega:
When omega hit movement options got cooldowns and teleports were no longer gamebreakingly overpowered compared to any other travel option. This massively slowed down farming, as at the time bosses were the only thing worth killing except for exp gains.
But in the same patch the game was the most balanced it had ever been. The gap between the strongest and the weakest heroes was at an all time low, and most heroes had more viable options than ever before.
The enemies were in general also turned around the new travel limitation and power levels.

In PoE land the gap between weak and strong builds seem at an all time high and the game has barely been adjusted to take our new limited options into account. The time it takes to get the endgame going is also as long as it has ever been.

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Dug From The Earth

If anything they game has been adjusted to be even harder despite all the nerfs

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Arktouros

The problem isn’t that the game needed to be scaled down. Okay scale it down. Little weird to do it before a major game release/expansion like POE2 but okay, sure.

However as Chris himself pointed out a lot of recent game content and releases were designed with our increased power in mind. When they design encounters like The Maven or even Sirius not rocking some busted ass build with all the damage increases is seriously frustrating. They were clearly designed with those big damage builds in mind given the lack of flask charges given during the fights and mechanics that get increasingly more punishing the longer you take to kill them (Maven puddles for example). Players weren’t happy with the game because it was too easy, it was because if we didn’t build completely ridiculous busted DPS builds we couldn’t survive/do the mechanics of this content.

So where’s the toning down of that content? If you want to tone us down fine, but then that content that was tuned for us being this level needs to also be toned down as well.

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Dug From The Earth

I honestly believe this is all an attempt to get us used to the drastic change of pace that POE 2 is. Just look at the gameplay from the trailers and how slow and un-powerful it is.

It’s like they designed it to be a completely different style of arpg. Rather than shock players when it comes out they instead are shocking them now so POE2 will feel like a breath of fresh air when we get to it.

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Greaterdivinity

Little weird to do it before a major game release/expansion like POE2 but okay, sure.

I can see why they’re taking this approach. This gives them more time to tweak things based off live data and refine the first round of big changes as they work on the second round (next league), and further refine at least once more (league after that). It also reduces how huge the whiplash would be if they made all these changes at once with PoE 2.

I’m a broken record, but it’s gonna be a rough next 2-3 leagues until PoE 2 as they start laying the groundwork for it and trying to roll back the clock on years of an arms-race of their own making.

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Arktouros

The very fact they acknowledge the new encounters are all designed for super tuned characters which they are now gutting but also not addressing those encounters leaves me EXTREMELY skeptical they will do balance passes for their lower act tweaks.