Before we get to see the full Path of Exile: Synthesis patch notes, the dev team has granted us a glimpse into their work on the latest expansion, their intentions with Synthesis and the various balance changes we can expect to see in tomorrow’s patch notes, as well as on March 8th (launch day).
- Focus is placed on casting spells without the aid of totems, mines, and traps;
- Curses are now a more viable option against bosses;
- Life Leech has been nerfed so leech effect can’t last more than 5 seconds (limit of 10% restored);
- Various changes to the passive skill tree, with a focus on energy shield leech, caster weapons, elemental damage, channelling spell damage, and the Shadow class starting passives, as well as the Trickster and Inquisitor Ascendancy notables;
- Critical Strike Chance adjustments;
- Non-Chaos as Extra Chaos Damage on weapons has been nerfed;
- Unique item nerfs;
- Changes to prevent total immunity to specific damage types;
Full Path of Exile: Synthesis development manifesto by Grinding Gear Games below:
For a number of leagues, the majority of builds that use spells have used proxies like Totems, Traps or Mines to cast skills for them. There has also been a focus on skills that do their work automatically over a long duration. For this expansion, we’ve focussed on putting power back in the hands of casters, rewarding players who cast skills directly. In addition to a number of new support gems, we’ve made changes to almost every damage spell in the game.
We’ve reviewed and adjusted the base damage and effectiveness of almost every primary damage spell. We’ve also included some traps, mines and totems in these adjustments. These changes have focused on separately balancing low and high levels. Many skills have only required power increases at low or high levels, depending on where they naturally excel.
We’ve also reviewed Vaal Skills and skills from items. A small number of spells that we consider too powerful for their ease of use, like Brands, Winter Orb and Blade Vortex have had their damage lowered. We’ll be revealing the full list of changes in the patch notes.
Mana costs of many skills have been adjusted to make the mana cost per cast time of skills much more consistent. Most skills that were adjusted have had their costs lowered. There are a few exceptions to the cast time equivalent mana cost rule; Channelled skills are slightly cheaper, while Curses are more expensive than other skills of equivalent cast time. We will include a list of specific changes in the patch notes.
Many spells that had cast times higher than 0.75 seconds have been lowered, and their damage adjusted to match. These skills were often too unwieldy to cast yourself, and their high effective hit damage made them very powerful with Traps, Mines and Triggering effects. Here are a few examples of cast times after these changes: Discharge (0.75 sec from 1 sec), Glacial Cascade (0.7 sec from 0.8 sec), Arc (0.7 sec from 0.8 sec) and Ice Nova (0.7 sec from 0.8 sec).
Some skills that had lower areas of effect than other skills without a good reason have either had their area increased, or now gain additional radius as their gems level. Combined with new options for increasing spell area of effect, this should help these skills be more enjoyable to use. You’ll find new sources of increased area of effect on the passive tree for casters. (Note that we’ll be giving similar bonuses to Attack skills in the future, just not in 3.6.0.)
We’ve made a few other changes to various spells, like lowering the cooldown on Convocation, having Spark be able to re-hit a target it has pierced after a shorter delay and having Unearth projectiles fly much faster. These are buffs. Arc also has a lower chain distance now, so it won’t bounce between distant packs of enemies.
A number of support gems that have fallen behind others in power and utility are receiving some numerical and mechanical adjustments. Chain Support, Fork Support, Spell Cascade and Innervate have had values improved. Arcane Surge Support now has a damage multiplier at higher gem levels. Onslaught Support and the Summon Phantasm Support now have effects on hitting Rare and Unique Enemies.
Powerful bosses, especially the Elder and Shaper, previously had significantly less effect of curses on them, to stop Temporal Chains and Enfeeble trivialising their encounters. We’ve now lowered this curse effect reduction to let damage curses provide more worthwhile bonuses against bosses. Temporal Chains and Enfeeble now have a separate value of damage reduction and slow for Normal and Magic enemies compared to Rare and Unique enemies, with Rare and Unique enemies having about half as much effect. The accuracy reduction on Enfeeble has also been reduced.
Energy Shield Leech
We’ve added multiple sources of Energy Shield Leech to the game, both on a new Support Gem and for spells on passive skills.
Energy Shield has a lower cap on maximum restored per second than Life Leech (10% of maximum energy shield per second), but the dedicated Energy Shield Leech passives will let you increase this number. Ghost Reaver now doubles your maximum energy shield per second in addition to turning all Life Leech into Energy Shield Leech and lowering your shield recharge rate. This makes it good for pure Energy Shield casters as well as letting Attacks have easy Energy Shield Leech access.
Leech Length Nerf
Previously, there was no upper limit on how much an individual leech effect could restore. This meant that a very high damage hit with enough leech could last minutes, if not longer, if you had an effect letting your leech remain on full life. Now, there is a limit of 10% restored per leech effect, so each individual leech effect can’t last more than 5 seconds. For the Ascendant’s Slayer Passive Skill, this is 5% lower.
The Passive Tree
We’ve made a large number of changes to the passive tree to provide more diverse sources of power and other interesting mechanics to spellcasters.
Energy shield Leech
We’ve added a number of sources of Energy Shield Leech for spells on the passive tree, both on specialised clusters (that also boost your damage in a few different ways) and as part of the Fire, Cold, and Lightning “Heart” notables. The Shadow area of the tree also has a small amount on a new Evasion and Energy Shield path.
Caster Weapon Passives
We’ve added and adjusted a number of passive tree clusters that affected Staves, Dual Wielding and Shields for casters. These provide powerful bonuses to spells that were previously only found on very generic skills, including a lot of Cast Speed for casters that are Dual Wielding, a lot of damage and defences for those using Shields and bonuses to Area of Effect for staves. We’ve also made various additions and improvements to some underutilised passives that affect spellcasters.
Elemental Damage Wheel
The Elemental Damage wheel of passives to the left of the Templar’s starting area now has fewer Elemental Damage skills and a single powerful Elemental notable that combines some of the power of the two previous Elemental notables. It now includes two new notables that work very well with the new spells that convert physical damage to Fire or Lightning.
Shadow Starting Passives
We’ve adjusted connections to the tree on the Shadow’s starting area to be more consistent with other classes, and changed the defensive passives and projectile passives to have a simpler, widely useful set of bonuses. A notable passive providing Evasion, Energy Shield and Energy Shield Leech takes some of the old bonuses and places them to the right side of the tree, shifting the mana path so it is now parallel to the jewel node and now granting a small amount of increased mana regeneration.
We’ve added two new passive tree clusters that provide damage bonuses for Channelled skills as well as some defensive properties while channelling, like stun avoidance and physical damage reduction.
The Trickster’s Ghost Dance and Escape Artist notables have been reworked significantly, with the goal of providing a unique and very powerful reward for specialising in Evasion and Energy Shield. Ghost Dance now creates a Ghost Shroud every second, up to a maximum of 3. After you’re hit, a Ghost Shroud is consumed, restoring Energy Shield based on your Evasion Rating. Ghost Dance and Escape Artist now have other bonuses based on your Ghost Shrouds.
We’ve also added Frenzy and Power Charge generation while Channelling to the Swift Killer notable, to let a Channelling Trickster generate charges during tough encounters.
We’ve reworked the Consecration based Notables of Sanctify and Pious Path to greatly improve reliability of Consecrated Ground for the Inquisitor, instead of just giving powerful bonuses when you manage to be on Consecrated Ground. Sanctify no longer creates consecrated ground when hit or on kill, and instead will always create consecrated ground around you while you’re stationary. Pious Path now lets the effects of Consecrated Ground linger for 4 seconds after you, allies or enemies would no longer be affected by the ground. Other effects have also been changed or improved.
These changes work well with a change to all Consecrated Ground that causes hits against enemies in it to have 100% increased critical strike chance.
Critical Strike Chance
Previously, an effect that could critically hit was capped at 5% minimum critical chance, and 95% maximum critical chance. We’ve set both of these caps to 0% and 100%.
Effects that gave enemies an additional chance to be critically hit have all been changed to instead increase the chance of critical hits against them, or give additional critical chance before modifiers, as if the attacker had critical bonuses against the target rather than an additional chance added on top.
Non-Chaos as Extra Chaos Damage on Weapons
The interaction of the Non-Chaos Damage with Hits as Extra Chaos Damage stat and multiple damage conversions made this stat far more powerful for very specific setups than a single stat should be. We’ve lowered the value of this stat on the combined craftable “Spell Damage and Non-Chaos Damage with Hits as Extra Chaos Damage” modifier on weapons.
The Veiled mod that only grants this modifier has now been split into four versions, Fire, Cold, Lightning and Physical. These modifiers are now available as a mod on many caster weapons above level 60 at a higher value, making it a powerful effect to find when creating the perfect element-specific caster weapon.
Existing items will be not be affected by this change. We’ll be looking at other sources of the stat like unique items and the Trickster’s “Harness the Void” notable in future.
+1 Maximum Totems Veiled Mod
This modifier is no longer available as a Veiled craftable modifier. Instead, it now appears as mod on Shaper shields. The modifier was too powerful to be able to easily apply to an already strong Rare shield, so now you’ve got to get it earlier in the process of crafting an item.
We’ve made some adjustments to a few unique items that were problematic. Details will be in the patch notes tomorrow.
We’ve made a few changes to prevent total immunity to specific damage types, as these could be used to completely trivialize some encounters:
- Player Maximum Resistances now can never go above 90%. Any maximum resistance you have above this value will have no effect. This is especially important as Synthesis introduces other sources of Maximum Resistances.
- Vaal Impurity auras now provide Less Damage Taken of their element, and have less aura effect per level.
- The Gluttony of Elements skill now also provides Curse Immunity, to prevent interactions with Temporal Chains letting it last far too long. Technically, this is a buff.
There are plenty of other changes on our hit list for the future. Attacks need the same level of attention (if not more) that spells are getting in 3.6.0, as well as changes to Abyss Jewels and Physical Weapon Damage, but we’ll be spacing these changes over 3.7.0 and beyond to make sure they get the time and attention they deserve.