As the new expansion is introduced through a major patch to Path of Exile, it will also bring about significant gameplay changes as well. In this article, we will go over the major ones so you don’t go into the new content blind, and hopefully it will help you plan your starting builds as well.
The removal of difficulties, for example, will inevitably change a few quests and odds and ends that relied upon us having to do them 3 times. One notable example is the Deal With the Bandits quest, that provided you with significant bonuses each time you completed it. As now you will only complete the quest once per playthrough, the 3 bonuses will be “baked together” in a way that you get a much larger boost, but only once. Worth to note, however, that this quest will no longer provide you with extra Power/Frenzy/Endurance Charges, so plan your build accordingly.
The Labyrinth is also affected by the removal of difficulties. You will still have to complete it 4 times to unlock the 8 Ascendancy points for your character, but you will be able to access all 4 from anywhere in the world through the waypoint system. The number of trials you need to complete to access them remained 6 for the Normal Labyrinth, but it has been reduced to 3 and 1 respectively for the Cruel and Merciless ones. The layout is also going to change as GGG listened to players’ feedback and decided to cut back the size of the Normal and Cruel Labs. You will still need to fight Izaro 3 times in each, but the number and size of rooms between those fights will be reduced, so you will be able to get in and out much quicker and should you fail it, it won’t feel as bad as it is now.
We have already touched upon “clearspeed meta” and how GGG is trying to combat it. On the gameplay level, they are approaching this from several directions at once. On the one hand, Path of Exile 3.0 will see a significant reduction in power for the biggest contributors to the insane damage that current builds can reach: double-dipping, poison and bleed.
We have had 2 lengthy development manifestos on this topic, but we will do our best to get you the gist of it. Poison application is getting a nerf with every guaranteed poison application becoming a 60% chance to apply it instead (for example: Consuming Dark, and the Pathfinder node Master Herbalist).
As for elemental damage, the most significant change is that the damage of ignite effects won’t be scaled by the initial fire damage anymore. While modifiers to fire damage will still boost ignite damage, they will do so separately, unlike how it used to receive double and triple benefit through double-dipping up to now.
Another overarching change is that poison and bleed will become “ailments” from The Fall of Oriath. On the surface this change seems purely about nomenclature, but it does affect the gameplay as well. As they will have their own label, these effects will have new passive skill nodes to buff their damage, along with a new keystone that while reducing the damage of the initial hit of skills, increases the damage of ailments it causes. Most notably, however, they will stop benefiting from passive nodes and support gems that increase skill effect duration. Not only does this put an end to the minor double-dipping that, for example, Blade Vortex received through increased skill effect nodes, it also curbs the damage of poison and bleed severely, since the best way to increase their damage was to extend their duration.
On the other hand, survivability is also receiving some attention. The biggest offender in build imbalance so far has been Energy Shield, and particularly how it interacts with leech through Vaal Pact and how it allows the user to disregard flasks and stack the fairly overpowered unique utility flasks instead.
Path of Exile 3.0 will see a reduction in the Energy Shield level that the top tier builds can achieve. The amount of Energy Shield present on the highest tiers of gear will be reduced, along with the "ES" provided by the Discipline aura. The 15% more Energy Shield passive node behind the Chaos Inoculation keystone will also be removed. This will not affect the viability of Energy Shield on the lower end of the spectrum, but it will balance out the difference in effective health between endgame Life builds and endgame Energy Shield builds.
The most severe change is that Vaal Pact and any other form of instant Leech effect will simply not work with Energy Shield anymore. Along with stun immunity and the insane damage that "ES" builds were able to put out through the use of double-dipping and utility flasks, Leech allowed "ES" builds to simply ignore mechanics and attacks of endgame bosses and simply facetank them while pumping out damage. GGG rightfully sees this as a problem and decided to remove it root and stem. To compensate, Energy Shield recharge will receive several buffs, notably one on the Discipline aura. GGG has also mentioned that they will revisit unique flasks, but we haven’t had any concrete changes so far, so keep an eye out for them in the future.
Also worth mentioning are the performance improvements that Grinding Gear Games are constantly making to Path of Exile. For The Fall of Oriath specifically, they have focused mostly on trigger builds -- builds that cast dozens of spells in a matter of seconds through unique items such as Cospri’s Malice or Cast on Crit or Cast While Channeling support gems. These builds have been notorious for the severe lag and FPS drops they cause. GGG’s new answer to them is a dynamic resolution scaling, a system that will reduce the resolution of particle effects depending on how many there are on the screen at any given time. They also improved the speed at which the game can create these effects.
What we’re most excited about are the quality of life changes brought about by the Xbox release, that will inevitably affect the PC version of the game as well. While some people have voiced their aversion as to how this will oversimplify the game in order to make it work well on consoles, we are excited about the positive side of the coin.
Trading has been mentioned as one of the things that are most likely to get some attention, as it is just not compatible with consoles at all. While GGG claimed that they do not want an Auction House in the game, changes need to be made as trading exclusively through the ingame trade chat and 3rd party websites such as poe.trade aren’t going to cut it on consoles. Hopefully this will lead to a much better trading experience, one that will allow all players to be able to spend their POE currency on the items they desire most easily.
The expansion releases on August 4, 2017! Stock up with the cheapest POE currencies today from our POE shop!
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