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Columns: The Exiled Tribune - Balance - It's All About Expanding Choices

By Suzie Ford on February 27, 2017

The Exiled Tribune - Balance - It's All About Expanding Choices

The Path of Exile team had a bit quieter week this week, though with the big news that a number of balance changes are incoming, some with 2.6.0 and some of the "more extreme changes" to be seen during The Fall of Oriath beta. In addition, the team gave some hints about new Unique Items, Legacy League Relics and a wrap up of all of the previews for the upcoming expansion.

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IT'S ALL ABOUT MORE CHOICES

One of the things Grinding Gear is aiming for with forthcoming balance changes is to provide the ability for players to have more choices when it comes to powerful builds. As with any game, over time, things become somewhat "set" in terms of what is considered the best way to progress and play a character. 

Starting with 2.6.0, players will be able to see a number of significant changes to "small things" including alterations to a few passives to make more viable options for builds. In addition, Elemental Conversion, Unique Item Rebalance, One-Handed Weapon Damage and some Area of Effect alterations will be coming too. Larger changes, as yet not revealed, will be released for testing with The Fall of Oriath beta begins.

We asked Chris Wilson for a bit of clarification about the changes:

MMORPG: The balance changes really stoked the fires of the community this week. Can you share with us the ones you think are most important and why?

Chris Wilson: They're all important for various reasons, but the most impactful is the change to how Area of Effect is handled. This is an example of an all-in mechanic that got exponentially more powerful the more you obtained of it. There was only one way to build those characters, and they were among the most powerful in the game. While this change certainly reduces the power level of certain AoE combinations, it increases others and opens the game up so that many more builds are viable. Many players have been asking for changes like this.

MMORPG: What about the ones you don't think will be popular? Why are they included?

CW: The community is made up of a lot of players with different opinions. Half the players want us to reduce the power of the most powerful builds, while the other half of the players are made up of people playing one of those builds who would prefer not to see it changed. Everyone wants to stay absurdly powerful! We include changes that some people don't like because they make the game more fun for everyone overall. Sometimes that means reducing the rate of progression mechanics if they are too gifty. We are careful when we do this.

MMORPG: There are some big changes coming to one-handed weapons. Why?

CW: People aren't using one-handed weapons enough at the moment. The math just doesn't work out when comparing against the kill speed of two-handed weapons. This will address that and provide more options!

HINTING AROUND WITH NEW UNIQUES IN 2.6.0

With the coming of the expansion, the team is placing a number of new uniques into the game that will provide clues about events and creatures. Tidebreaker is a "stunning" machine. Martyr of Innocence allows players to "burn through" enemies. Garukhan's Flight provides movement and dexterity alongside copious amounts of life to motor players through even the most difficult locations.

Chris Wilson again explained:

MMORPG: New Unique items are coming too. What's the process behind designing these with each major update? You've got to be running out ideas, right?

CW: The team have numerous goals when designing uniques. Sometimes they want to provide new tools for weak builds. Other times they want to provide more options for strong builds. They sometimes have story/lore agendas where they want to establish a character before we release content that benefits from foreknowledge of that part of the story. Regardless of what the goal is, the item is bounced around between many developers to get design, artistic, technical and balance approval before being released. They appear to have an unlimited well of ideas!

MMORPG: Have you ever thought about taking fan/player input on uniques?

CW: Absolutely. For a long time we ran a program where users who paid $1000 could help design a unique item. Almost 200 unique items in Path of Exile were designed in this way. The price was recently raised to $2500, due to the immense time requirements to make them.

LEGACY LEAGUE UNIQUES & THE ANCIENT RELIQUARY

The Ancient Reliquary is definitely a go-to spot for players who love the game's past and who hope to get hold of some of the Legacy League Uniques that have since either been nerfed or altered in one form or another. 

Throughout the journey, players may pick up a key to The Ancient Reliquary that offers a chance at a chest inside that can contain a special version of a Unique that comes along with its original stats and "balance value" as well as a special border around it to indicate its Relic status.

While not the "go to" items for the meta game any more, it's fun for players to be able to collect these historic items as a form of nostalgia.

PREVIEWS GALORE

In case you missed all of last week's previews of Legacy Challenge League and The Fall of Oriath, you're in luck. Grinding Gear has compiled a list of all online articles and discussions about both. Check it all out here.

Suzie Ford / Suzie is the Associate Editor and News Manager at MMORPG.com. An avid gamer, Suzie lives in the desert Southwestern US with her own personal minion.

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