Balance in Path of Exile: Legion
The aim of many of the Melee combat changes is to further develop and reinvigorate many combat systems for the core Marauder and Duelist archetypes. The overall goal is to create a greater diversity of Melee skills and more exciting gameplay with them from early game through to late game.
Early-game Melee combat feel
A number of changes have been made to melee which change the feel of early combat. Most melee skills now have more or less attack speed, shown on the gem as a percentage of base attack speed. This is to both better match their animations and creating a noticeable difference between fast aggressive attacks and slower, much deadlier slams.Many low level weapons have had their attack speeds increased to bring them closer to the fastest speed of their item class. This should lessen the feeling of a weapon feeling clunkier compared to a lower level equivalent, with more of the speed coming from the weapon class and the skills it can use.
Striking multiple targets
Swings with Melee weapons could previously only hit a single target, affecting both Default attack and a large number of melee attack skills like Glacial Hammer, Frost Blades, Frenzy, Flicker Strike and more. We've made changes that mean that every swing has a damage cone, with a damage pattern that matches the attack animation.
The standard melee attack animation has changed, now using one based on the Double Strike animation. This improves the feeling of combat flow, while creating a new hit rhythm that will be more consistent across classes. We aim to make much greater animation improvements in 4.0.0, but this is a step towards more natural feeling combat.
We've made a pass of damage, attack speed, area of effect and more to many melee skills. The goal of this change is to make some less powerful choices more competitive with other comparable alternatives.
Many attack gems now also have added damage that grows as the gem levels. This is mostly to provide more damage growth to characters while leveling if they haven't found a powerful weapon. Different gems have different relative strength of added damage, so your skill choice may also be determined by how much you want to take advantage of the gem's damage compared to your other damage sources.
We've made some significant changes to a couple of support gems that affect many melee skills.
This support now provides a lower attack speed multiplier, just over half that of the existing support gem. The previous iteration provided far too large an attack speed multiplier for a single gem, causing problems with performance, effects, animations and balance. The skill repeats now have a damage multiplier, dealing double damage on the third repeat.
You can now interrupt a multistrike attack between repeats, letting you avoid a dangerous boss ability or end an ongoing attack sequence when all enemies have already been dealt with. Overall, this makes Multistriking attacks much more responsive.
As you can now hit multiple targets with a single weapon swing, Melee Splash can now create multiple splash effects each attack. The skill now has a larger splash damage penalty, as it can much more effectively destroy groups of enemies if you position your attacks carefully.
The Fortify Support now provides a More Melee Damage stat, instead of an Increased Melee Physical Damage stat, though with a lower damage value. It should now be a much more tempting choice for primary melee attacks, rather than being relegated to secondary and travel skills, though it won't outclass the damage of the most powerful pure damage supports for attacks.
New Support and Skill Gems
We're introducing a number of new support gems, two of which enhance or support slower attacks, while another support gem and aura skill further enhance the pure physical damage playstyle. We hope these changes will improve the strength of these two methods of building characters. We'll be providing more details on the full list of support gems shortly.
Marauder and Duelist Ascendancy Classes
We've made major changes to the Chieftain, Berserker and Slayer. We wanted to give them a stronger identity, and better let them achieve their design goals.
The Chieftain should be an amazing choice for a Fire damage attacker, as it gives a huge amount of life regeneration, and should be a competitive choice for a Melee Totem character.
The Berserker should be capable of some of the highest damage numbers in the game, though at a great cost. We've also condensed the recovery tools available to him to make them more efficient and let you spend just a few more points on damage damage damage. He also has new Critical Attack notables that reward building critical strikes in a unique way.
The Slayer reinforces his place as taking full advantage of life leech, while also being capable of massive damage against unique enemies. He also has powerful area bonuses, as well as a new Critical synergy and a specialised Frenzy and Endurance charge mechanic.
The Gladiator is receiving a new notable to support the gladiator-themed Blood and Sand skills, but isn't receiving any other major changes at this point. The Champion is receiving some minor improvements, and the Juggernaut remains unchanged other than a damage and area buff to his Unyielding passive.
Other attack-based ascendancies won't be receiving any changes, though the Raider will be seeing some big changes in 3.8.0
Passive Tree Changes
We've redesigned the positioning and passive wheels of just about everything Melee on the passive tree, as well as some Bow and Wand clusters. There has been a particular focus on making Critical Strikes more viable for a larger selection of Melee builds. There are many rewarding opportunities to specialise in certain mechanics, like area of effect, armour, evasion, Impale, Blind and Fortify.
We've made some notable changes to the Accuracy calculation, making it much easier to reach higher chances to hit. We've increased the chance to hit cap to 100%, letting you always hit enemies, something previously exclusive to Resolute Technique and a small number of items, mods and ascendancies. This will provide a goal for attack characters that has a noticeable impact on combat, and will become a much more reasonable method of hitting enemies for attack characters without high dexterity.
The character sheet now shows your chance to hit normal enemies, and your chance to hit evasive enemies, so you can measure your hit rating against the foes you're taking on. With the new calculations, you'll need about 3,000 accuracy to always hit normal level 83 monsters. We've also improved and normalised the accuracy rating of mods on items, while reducing the amount of increased Accuracy from passives and increasing their other offensive benefits. This is because these clusters would have trivialised reaching 3,000 Accuracy Rating. This value is subject to change as we put the finishing touches on the passive tree.
As a result of changes to the accuracy calculation, monsters will have a higher chance to hit players as well. This isn't so noticeable against characters fully invested in Evasion, but will have a more noticeable impact if you have a low amount of Evasion. There's less free mitigation; you have to work for it now.
Dagger and Staff base types
The list of Dagger and Staff base types now includes a number of weapons that inherently can't have any caster modifiers on them. Previously, creating a great attack dagger or staff was significantly more difficult than other weapons like claws or maces, as preventing caster modifiers was an additional, often expensive, step.
A staff that can't roll caster modifiers is now called a Warstaff, while daggers that can't roll caster modifiers are called Daggers and ones that can are called Rune Daggers. Existing base types are unaffected. We've tried to maintain a diverse set of weapons, keeping base types appropriate to those that were favoured for a specific role. There have been some numerical changes to these weapons to further reinforce this.
Added Damage from Weapons and Jewels
The damage granted by a high-tier elemental weapon prefix compared poorly with equivalent Physical modifiers, making obtaining a great Elemental weapon more about attack speed and critical bonuses, rendering the prefixes mostly meaningless. We've remedied this by adding an additional tier of Local Added Elemental Damage for Fire, Cold and Lightning damage, increasing the power of existing high tiers, and reducing the weighting of the top two tiers to make obtaining them only slightly less challenging than a weapon of equivalent Physical damage.
On the other end of the scale, Abyssal Jewels were providing far more added damage to attacks than we were happy with, making them a far, far greater contributor to damage than your weapon. We've lowered the value of attack damage modifiers to be about 30% lower than before, and made it harder to obtain the highest tiers of all types of added damage.
At the same time, we've lowered Life, Mana and Energy Shield available from Abyssal jewels, and made the highest tier harder to obtain, as again they provided an unreasonable level of survivability for a single jewel slot.
We've changed weapon-specific modifiers on non-abyssal jewels to provide a general damage increase, rather than specifically affecting Physical Damage, so they're now a good alternative to Abyssal jewels for Elemental Attack characters.
General Combat Changes
You can now cancel your own skills within the first 20% of the attack or cast time, or after the effects of the skill have been unleashed. This will leave you better able to respond to enemy threats, and allow you to be more mobile between attacks without losing potential damage.
Canceling an action in the first 20% will let you then immediately perform another skill, though there is a delay before you can cancel a skill again. You can't interrupt a skill with the same skill.
Canceling after the events of an action won't let you perform any actions until the first action would have completed, other than moving. This lets you move in short bursts between attacks or casts.
There have been a large number of changes to enemies through Act 1 and some changes in Act 2. The goal of these changes it to bring their combat to the level of modern monster design, with more opportunities for counter-play to enemy abilities that are also more dangerous.
Some monsters use the new melee system, so the area their attacks hit will match the animations they use, making combat feel more connected and letting you respond to actions.
A number of skills are now classified as Travel skills. These are movement skills that usually move you significantly faster than you could usually move. We're going to be using this distinction on a number of mechanics to both benefit or restrict their use without affecting high damage movement skills.
We've made changes to Molten Shell and Immortal Call, connecting them with the new Ironskin skill. You can read about the changes in this article here. The overall goal is to make defensive abilities reward careful use, though the option of automating them with trigger supports is still available.
Changes to powerful skills
We've decided that Winter Orb, Storm Brand, Bane and Soulrend were too powerful for clearing through content without heavy investment, so the damage and other aspects have been reduced in power.
Warlord’s Mark now only applies its leech bonus to attacks. The curse easily solved mana problems for casters with minimal investment, and after deliberation we've decided that solving mana problems for spellcasters should require more thought and a greater opportunity cost.
Herald of Agony has had its minion damage per Virulence reduced, as the skill provided a huge amount of power for very little passive investment.
Passive Tree Changes
Powerful Ascendancy Classes
Certain notables on some Ascendancy classes that provided too much potential damage or defence have been changed.
The Occultist now only has a single Energy Shield based notable, with a condensed and limited version of the previous Energy Shield notables. The ability for energy shield to be uninterruptible if recovery has started recently has moved to a new Keystone found near the Witch, making the mechanic available to a broader selection of characters, though with a new downside.
Trickster's Ghost Dance charges now generate at a slower rate, and provide a reduced value of attack and cast speed. The charges were rarely depleted on a reasonable character in normal gameplay, providing massive defensive power that was far too reliable.
The Elementalist's Beacon of Ruin notable has been changed, no longer granting proliferation of elements, and with a lower value of minimum shock. The shock benefit provided too much power in combination with increases to shock effect, while the proliferation had significant effects on performance, regardless of whether it was being taken full advantage of. We'll be replacing or changing this and other sources of proliferation in the future.
Blood Magic and Mortal Conviction
We've completely changed Mortal Conviction, the notable behind Blood Magic. It is now a keystone that restricts you to only one non-banner Aura skill, but removes the reservation cost. The mana cost of Herald skills and other specialised reservation skills will need to be paid with life in full.
This will let you take Blood Magic and an Aura without compromising available life, at the cost of limited options being available to you.
This will mean that builds that used Blood Magic and Mortal Conviction to reserve a very large number of auras while being protected by energy shield will be restricted to one aura. We may return this mechanic in the future on a more specialised source than the passive tree.
Nodes behind Keystones removed
We've removed the powerful passive clusters behind many keystones. These passives were being used to add additional power to Keystones in a way that worked well on the passive tree, but unique items were unable to receive the same power without characters being able to double up by taking both the unique and the keystone.
Future balance additions to these keystones will come in the form of abilities on the Keystone itself, rather than on additional modifiers.
Energy Shield on the Passive Tree
We've made a number of changes to bonuses to Energy Shield on the passive tree. The value of increases to energy shield on various passive clusters have been lowered, with some flat energy shield available early in the passive tree. This will let energy shield have some extra defensive benefits at early levels, while reducing the potential Energy Shield that a fully invested late game character can achieve.
There is a new Energy Shield cluster between the Templar and Witch, a location that was missing Energy Shield options when pathing between the classes.
Indirect changes to Unnatural Instinct from passive tree changes
The Critical Multiplier passives near the Scion starting area provided far too much power through the Unnatural Instinct jewel. They have been changed to Accuracy passives instead.
Defences from equipment
The inclusion of the Dense Fossil with Delve and the item quality crafted modifiers with Betrayal significantly increased the potential energy shield available on many item slots, with minimal investment. The values granted were too great, so we've made changes to both Dense Fossils and quality crafted modifiers.
You can no longer craft any local item quality modifiers on Boots, Gloves and Helms. You will still be able to craft them on body armour and shields.
Dense Fossils no longer include local armour, evasion or energy shield suffixes. Instead, the fossils will have local item quality as a potential suffix on body armour and shields, with a slightly higher potential value than the craftable modifiers. Other item slots will have new modifiers appropriate to their defences.
Powerful Unique Item Rarity
Certain very powerful unique items will be harder to obtain now. This includes Headhunter, Eternity Shroud and Solstice Vigil.
Changes not making it into 3.7.0
New Skill Enchantments
3.7.0 won't initially include enchantments for the new skills. We're planning to release them shortly after, once we've had time to develop interesting and worthwhile enchantments that improve on their most interesting aspects.
There has been an ongoing discussion about the enchantment system, but we've yet to come to a conclusion on how obtaining helmet enchantments may change, as a result of new enchantments making specific enchantments harder to obtain.
We'd hoped to simplify and rework the Leech system for 3.7.0. The more we developed our new system, the more we realised that it was such an extreme change that it would disorient too many players and potentially require more balance and iteration than we were comfortable with in the time available. We've decided to make the change alongside 4.0.0, as part of other more significant and sweeping balance changes. We hope this will let us do the system justice by making the system better fit the game's progression with much more reward for investment; a significant shift from the way leech currently plays in the game.
Bleeding and other Attack Ailments
Though there are many changes that affect Bleeding, ailments with attacks don't have a natural growth in power during progression that we're happy with, and don't provide enough interesting interactions. We plan to make more significant changes to damaging ailments, especially with attacks, in future.