Path of Exile 3.4 Delve Review and State of the Game

Path of Exile Delve Review (3.4) and State of the Game

Path of Exile has taken the spotlight as one of the most innovative ARPGs on the market. Every season the player base grows consistently, and with each new content release (every 3 months), the game evolves far beyond what the competition is able to produce. PoE is without question one of the most enjoyable, ruthless, frustrating, complex and innovative ARPGs ever made. And with the recent 3.4 Delve expansion, there’s no doubt the game is going to continue to grow, especially with the Chinese and XBox market releases. As an individual who has been playing PoE since BETA, I thought a state of the game overview was warranted in conjunction with a review of the new Delve content.

Let the Delving begin!

Delve Review

I believe this is one of the most ambitious mini-releases yet because it offers an alternate way to play the game. While last league’s Incursion system did provide a temple where players could pursue an aspect of the layout, the timed chaos damage definition rooms were rather redundant, and after awhile the temple (at least for me) became rather boring. There was also limited control over the difficulty of the Temple, and 1-shot chaos-based damage deaths reigned supreme.

Delves are something new; they are dynamic and procedural, allow the player to pursue the different nodes and depths at their own pace, and are packed full of treasure and monsters to kill. And even better, the new Delve system supports exploration – venturing into the dark corners of a constantly descending maze of dangerous and interesting locations.

How deep can you go?

There are two new resources in Delve: Sulphite and Azurite. Sulphite spawns throughout the world, including maps. At the beginning it’s only +5 or so per node, but in T13+ maps, players can find nodes of more than 200 (and this is being upgraded soon to increase the amounts in maps so players stop farming the Quarry). Sulphite is used to move within the Mine (or go “delving”) between nodes. This is how the game controls access; requiring players to gather Sulphite from normal and end-game maps (so a player can’t delve nonstop). Niko the Mad is the Delve NPC; he pops up whenever you claim a Sulphite vein, and it’s entertaining how he goes crazier the deeper you delve. Azurite is a resource found within the mine itself; this is used to update Sulphite Capacity, Darkness Resistance, Light Radius, Flares and Dynamite. The Mine Entrance acts as the new center of operations, where players can spend their Azurite to upgrade the above (at the Voltaxic Generator), including flare and dynamite count – both of which become important later in the game during “deep delving”.

The Delve system uses a procedural generated set of connected nodes of different types and themes (e.g. camps in magma or frigid areas). These nodes also define the reward type (e.g. Armor, Currency, Weapons, Azurite). There is also a Vaal Underworld region (which has a special outline and icons) that players can explore, which includes a new nasty boss. The vaal area is much more difficult than average nodes at the same depth, but the rewards are substantial. Players can focus on going deeper, or explore sideways. The mine is now shared (which is great), so if a player is (for example) on their 4th character and the mine is level 287 (way too deep for a new character), the new character can focus on going sideways (at level 50 for example) to continue exploration. Many nodes require the activation and completion of an event, which spawns multiple waves of enemies; these enemies vary depending on the node and terrain type.

Enter The Cart. This is the automated vehicle you follow (or that follows you) as you run from node to node. It serves as your guide while protecting you from the Darkness, which slowly kills your character and prevents you from doing damage to monsters. Darkness is a stacking degeneration mechanic; the longer you are in it, the more damage it does (shown by dark shadows on the edge of the screen), but if you stay within the light of your cart or a thrown flare, you are safe. This is how players explore the “dark corners” while Delving between nodes. There are numerous corridors that are “off the path” which players can run down to find stashes, which include the new Fossil and Resonator crafting items. Players can also encounter destructible walls, which are taken down with Dynamite. There are also “hidden nodes” that can be unlocked by destroying a specific wall. Nodes that are close to hidden walls have just 2 junctions – never 1, 3 or 4 (that’s how you can tell the region where the wall to a hidden node is located). During one’s adventures through the darkness, the player will encounter numerous treasure troves; Hidden Wealth (currency), mini Azurite nodes, Armor, Jewelry, Flare and Dynamite Stashes, and more. Once a player reaches a new node, there are usually Events that either automatically trigger, or must be activated to trigger. These events always involve numerous spawns and waves of nasty creatures (depending on the theme and node details). Once the event is complete the node becomes “claimed” and explodes in a plathora of loot. One of the nice things about the Cart system is once a node is claimed, lit wires appear that link the way between the new and previous node. If you missed something (a rare fossil for example) while following the cart between nodes, you can always go back and get it! Just make sure you don’t reset the node instance (this can be avoided by pressing the return to mine button on the delve UI while in the mining camp).

Delves operate as mini-instances, similar to maps. However, since the Delve system is procedural (and technically limitless, since it’s built as you go sideways or down), there is roughly a 5×5 “size” limit, requiring the player to enter another instance once they have left the boundaries of the current instance. Players will notice after they delve through a number of points that the game reloads an entirely new instance, even though it’s in the same region. This 5×5 “block” can cause hardcore delvers running through the dark to encounter invisible walls.

How to Fossil craft a +3 bow.

Fossils and Resonators are the new crafting components for Delve; and they are very powerful, allowing for a new range of end-game items to be created (including +5 bows, for example). Resonators have between 1 and 4 sockets, and players can put whatever fossils they want in the sockets to complete the resonator, which can then be applied to an item. Using fossils and resonators are all about blocking certain rolls to ensure other rolls can be met. The system is a bit complex, but once the basics are learned, players can have a lot of fun crafting some crazy items.

The recommended strategy for upgrading your mine is Sulphite Capacity -> Light Radius – > Darkness Resistance -> Flare Radius -> Flare Count -> Dynamite Count. Always try to have 75% Darkness Resist, and 150% light and flare radius. This is essential when delving in deeper levels (100+).

Delve also introduced new and adjusted Skills. This includes Smite, Toxic Rain, Scourge Arrow, Ancestral Warchief (Vaal), Consecrated Path, Dominating Blow, Herald of Purity, Herald of Agony, Summon Holy Relic, Static Strike, Caustic Arrow, Withering Touch, and the renaming (and adjustment) of Physical Projectiles to Vicious Projectiles. Toxic Rain appears to be by far the most used new skill, and it’s a lot of fun. The new Vaal Ancestral Warchief is also quite entertaining as the totem now jumps around, smashing its victims.

There are also 25 New Uniques. I find the most interesting one to be the Soulwrest Ezomyte Staff, which summons Phantasms when consuming a corpse; this allows for a new style of pet play, which is quite powerful.

Keys to the Timeworn Reliquary can also drop. Using a key with Zana opens a map to a single chest that contains a random unique item that can have legacy (old and very powerful) rolls.

But let’s talk about two new features that are probably the best and most loved by the player base. The first is that of the New Zana System where she now offers multiple maps and missions one can choose from. This is awesome because it allows the player to choose between different map layouts and even rewards (one map may drop a unique while another guarantees a trial). The second is the new Item Drop Map Icons and Sounds. This change is fantastic and addresses the issue of valuable items dropping off-screen (a big problem for ranged characters). One wonders why GGG waited so many years to add such a simple yet impactful feature players have been asking for since the launch of PoE.

Delve also brings the new Lightning System, and it’s beautiful. However, it’s not turned on by default; many players are unaware they need to go into the graphic options and enable “Shadows + Global Illumination” under the Detail Settings.

While this new league (like every other) had issues the first week, GGG was quick to patch, fix, and address the bugs and player concerns. Mines are now shared, sulphite has been increased in maps, and the bugs preventing item pick-ups, functionality of flares and dynamite have all been fixed. In the end, the Delve system has and continues to be refined, which is a great thing. There are still a few outstanding problems. Sometimes, Delving will come to a halt (and not allow selection of another node) after completing a node, requiring the player to exit the mine entirely to reset the ability to move to the next node. Another big problem is once a node is complete, left-click always activates it – even when combat is still taking place, so a melee player who is trying to move (with left click) during combat may accidentally click on the node and the UI pops up – in the middle of combat (which can result in a quick death at lower levels). Changing the node selection to Shift-Left Click would solve this issue. Players also need fossils and resonators to stack. Badly.

There were also additional issues where the community became enraged after changes were made to Sulphite gathering and node travel amounts. The backlash from the players was so severe that GGG quickly made adjustments to ensure the amount of Sulphite that dropped was more than initially available (and node travel amounts were reduced), but also explained they wanted delving to sustain in parallel with mapping. The problem with this approach is people wanted to play the new Delve content more than the old Atlas/Mapping system (which makes sense). My personal opinion was enticing players to spend more time in delves for end-game is what the league should have focused on; not blocking delving through the already established mapping system. Regardless, with the recent changes, complaints have subsided. One interesting note is people were so focused on talking about restrictions on delving downwards (to get as low as possible) that few (if any) talked about delving sideways at a higher level (which costs far less Sulphite). In my opinion, that’s where the real reward is; vaal and abyssal cities, currency nodes, and other special/unique nodes. I think the Sulphite gathering amounts and node travel amounts are better, but still not where they should be because players have to spend more time in maps now than Delving, and that’s unfortunate as this league is supposed to be all about delving. Quite often, maps will also spawn just 1 Sulphite node (this includes in T14-T16 maps). I’ve run 4-5 maps in a row, each of which had only one node (T14+) and even with 110%+ quantity, the amount was <1000 for each node. Running 4-5 of those maps can take 20+ minutes. The Sulphite from those maps is often depleted in just 10 minutes or less. But it’s possible to encounter multiple nodes in multiple T14+ maps in a row, which makes a huge difference; as such RNG plays a big factor. GGG should make further adjustments to this system so players can spend more time in Delves and less time in maps.

In conclusion, I think the impact of Delve is far greater than the community may realize. Only just now (more than two weeks later) are many players starting to realize how extensive, fun, challenging, and focused on exploration this league is. A very important focal point is the “endless content” design mechanic. Delve is the first real content added to PoE that has never-ending scaling, enticing players to refine their build(s) to be as good as they can. The original level depth cap of 1,500 was shattered by a group of crazy and experienced players, quickly requiring GGG to adjust the delva cap to 3,000. So while there is a “max depth” define, 99.9% of players will never, ever reach it. Delve is fun, engaging, a great enhancement to PoE, and has been very well received by the player base. It is also extremely rewarding, offering some of the best loot drops I’ve ever seen in the game. It will make a fantastic enhancement to the core game, guaranteeing that the term “delving” becomes a permanent and positive part of Path of Exile.

State of the Game – The Good

Chris Wilson and the team at GGG have set a new standard of the most active patching and content evolution release schedule in the industry. Nobody even comes close. Many other companies could learn a lot by they way GGG has built and continues to expand PoE. This includes new Leagues every 4 months (with a fresh start) where each league is almost always better than the last one. Races are also fun events that players thoroughly enjoy. And more importantly, Chris listens to the players. He is very active and responsive on Reddit, and few games in the industry have such great representation.

The Community Interaction in PoE is also top notch. The forums and subreddit are always bustling with activity, and most are very helpful to new players and enjoy engaging in thoughtful discussion or have basic questions to ask. This is reaffirmed by looking at builds posted on the forums and how players work together (usually with the author) to make it even better. But there is also a dark side to the community; elitist hardcore players who believe anyone who can’t enjoy end-game, get to 100, or play hardcore mode are “idiots”. While this is a small percentage of the community (I’d say less than 5%) they are quite vocal and quickly attack players who complain about game-related issues and features. But the majority of the community is solid and welcoming.

Diversity in Character Builds is unprecedented; no other ARPG comes close to the combination of play styles you can build in PoE. Now,  there are some viable arguments that the diversity is a bit of an illusion since so few builds can make it to end-game, but the reality is many of the PoE players who cry “meta” have been desensitized to how diverse the game is. Try 20 different builds in PoE then go back to D3 where there are only a handful (1-2 per class) of viable end-game builds. Looking at the league ladder, we can also see how diverse the builds can be.

Wealth building is a key part of PoE, and allows players to open new builds as they acquire more currency, find highly valued uniques, and trade with other players. While most unique items generally end up being useless and vendored or traded for the 5-item prophecy, there are enough to keep the game very interesting, and that rare Exalt drop always makes things more enjoyable.

Hard Content (solo) for the most skilled players rests at the core of PoE. GGG has built map and boss fights that only a fraction of the players will ever be able to complete. This is a good thing for the truly dedicated and very skilled players. It also gives casual players something to strive for, even though most of them will never get to (and defeat) such content.

I do want to cover the positive side of the way Trading currently works. In its current form, it does bring players together; you get to see other people’s hideouts, their characters (MTX), and often end of chatting, which can sometimes result in new friendships.

The Crafting in PoE is also unprecedented and one of the most innovative features. I’m not aware of any game (namely ARPGs) that has a crafting system like PoE; paired with the Masters, it’s a great system; and rolling chests is awesome. Let us also not forget Prophecies, which entice players to fully explore maps and game zones.

The World Atlas is a very solid design; providing a path for players to follow at end-game and allowing numerous augmentations to make the game more challenging and rewarding. And the recent Zana enhancements with Delve make mapping even more enjoyable.

Hideouts are a great feature, and while the system can be expanded (covered below), it’s always enjoyable to visit other player’s hideouts when trading. I’ve seen some very unique, crazy, cool, and strange layouts from players.

The Item Filter system is also awesome and truly “required” with the sheer volume of drops the game now offers; but it could use some enhancements (which is also covered below).

There are many other positive aspects to PoE, but I believe the above references cover the core of what people love about the game. Make no mistake; the good list and accompanying content being shorter than the below list is no way indicative on PoE being a bad game. The reality is the good greatly outweighs the problems. PoE is a fantastic game and is well on its way to be the best ARPG ever made. That’s saying a lot.

State of the Game – The Problems

The lack of a Proper Tutorial is probably the biggest issue that drives new players away due to the complexity of the game; learning about skill gems, socket links, crafting and augmenting items all overshadowed with the extensive skill tree often overwhelms and confuses new players to the point of simply quitting before they even really start getting into the game. This brings a serious question – how does one take such a complex game (where the complexity makes it awesome) while also slowly introducing the complexity to the average player in a fashion they can absorb, support, and ultimately understand? It’s easy for people who have been playing ARPGs, MMOGs and other such games for years (or more than a decade) to forget how confusing a game like PoE can be for the “new player”. This is no easy task, however, the Build Template System proposed below would help address a number of these issues and walk players through predefined starter builds.

Once players figure out the basic mechanics, the second most problematic feature that drives players away from PoE is the Death System. First let’s talk about why it exists. GGG wants the game to be extremely difficult for the 1% (or less), and for very few players to ever achieve level 95-100. Since there is no alternative leveling system (such as paragon from D3) the core design of the game revolves around making level 100 being as difficult as possible. This core mechanic is flawed in today’s gaming market because many players want to just play and not compete, and will never be part of the 5% let alone the 1%; but they want to progress and grow their characters, and if they love a specific build, they want to stick with the play style. PoE does not allow that. Most players hit a “brick wall” in the late 80’s where they feel progress with their current build is just too tedious (due to deaths and loss of XP), so they often quit the character and go play something else (another character or game). This is a big problem for players who love a particular play style (and character) and feel “stuck” because they’re constantly dying and not progressing in any capacity beyond currency/equipment drops. But it’s more than just dying; a key factor is how it impacts other aspects of the game, such as grouping with other players and prohibiting character progression. PoE  has more 1-shot mechanics than any other ARPG (and those mechanics continue to grow as features and dynamic permutations to mobs and environments are expanded), and people don’t want to group with others because it often ends up getting them killed. What’s interesting is GGG states the PoE death system is based on the D2 death system, but that game is 18 years old and did not have the 1-shot mechanics that PoE has, so a player can die multiple times in a row and lose hours (or more) of character growth. This causes rage-quits by many. Another problem is the death system prohibits reckless fun and real exploration; around level 90, most players become overly cautious relative to running new maps or tackling new bosses because they don’t want to die and lose their experience. Additionally, the fact the game allows for Alt-F4 logout to circumvent this penalty is a symptom of an underlying design flaw. The truth is PoE’s end-game is solely designed for hardcore players, and very few are able to tolerate and progress in such a system (often resulting in the abandonment of their character, even if it’s fun to play). Games are supposed to challenge, limit, and give to players – but (in my opinion) not take away. It’s one thing to lose access to your map when you die, it’s another to lose hours (or more) of character growth due to a death that even some of the most skilled players would have difficulty in avoiding. This isn’t challenge, it’s punishment. The game is designed to reach level 100 with no other means of growth outside of the Labyrinth (which is another key problem, covered below). This is why most modern games have some sort of secondary leveling mechanic beyond core character level. Once your character hits 100 and you’ve completed Uber Lab, you’re done with your character growth (outside of equipment). Now to be fair, the current design is so only the most skilled and hardcore players can achieve end-game. GGG doesn’t want all players to make this achievement (which is a big deal). However, this ensures casual players who never gain the level of skill necessary are unable to grow their characters beyond a certain point, save equipment upgrades (which of course makes a difference, but that’s gear, not character growth). When it comes to retention, the Death Penalty drives players away. If the death penalty was part of Normal difficulty, how many players would quit early on? I believe many; it’s a form of bait and switch – let the player go through the start of the game (Normal) and don’t hit them with the penalty until later on – when it matters. That’s not a good design for retention. Many (hardcore) players think the Death Penalty is too easy, or the Lab is awesome and should be used to cull the herds to separate the skilled from those who aren’t as quick. The simple truth is people play games to have fun, and taking from a player’s time, energy, and effort is counterproductive to overall game design. Of course the hardcore (not talking HC mode, but “hardcore” players) base of PoE is the most vocal, and GGG somehow thinks their feedback represents the casual gamers (which are the majority of PoE players). This is not the case. You almost never hear from the casual gamer that quit PoE due to the death penalty or labyrinth – because they quit and are gone. Heck, you can 1-shot kill yourself in your own hideout by using the wrong flask. Even veteran HC players have accidentally done this. I think balance is necessary. Keep Hardcore the way it is (and let players who want such a challenge play in HC), and make some sort of adjustment to “standard” that doesn’t punish players by taking away their efforts. One interesting note is the Chinese release of PoE contains a purchase that either prevents or restores the death penalty XP loss. This shows another market believes alternatives to the experience loss are necessary for the game.

I want to mention one-shot deaths again on its own. This is a huge problem in PoE; it’s not even having a lack of a combat log, it’s the sheer complexity of mob abilities paired with specific factors. I would say the massive majority of deaths of the most experienced players are all due to 1-shot mechanics. Events that are often impossible to avoid, or a combination of math (extra damage+crit+multi+whatever else) executed by an off-screen purple ranged group that hits you before you can even see them. While the game has gotten easier as one levels their character, the 1-shot deaths are happening more often as GGG keeps compounding augments and complexities to mobs through map modifiers and other factors. This is a dangerous path that doesn’t have any current side roads. As the game continues to evolve in its current direction, this problem is just going to get worse – and that’s not a good thing. Nugiyen’s face says it all here.

Related to the above is the issue with Detonate Dead. It’s interesting that GGG finally addressed Volatile monsters, which would 1-shot even the most experienced players (the system now creates a giant ball you can dodge, paired with a very unique sound FX). Detonate Dead is now the new Volatile. It provides no warning (of any kind) and can 1-shot characters (and does, on a regular basis). This needs to be fixed just as much as Volatile did, but GGG seems to think creating new content is more important than fixing broken mechanics such as this.

Another problem is the fact GGG has forced gambling upon its player base for the latest (and best) microtransactions through MTX Boxes. It doesn’t matter how much you have spent or want to spend, if they release something new and awesome, it’s all up to RNG. Many of the lead streamers have spent between $400 – $800 just to get the latest “awesome MTX set” because… gambling is the only way to get it. Of course normal paying players can wait nearly 4 months to buy the MTX they want directly (GGG recently released the Sin and Innocence MTX, which was originally only available via the Mystery Boxes on March 3rd, 2018). Leaving the best new MTX all up to forced gambling (or waiting 14+ weeks) isn’t a good model to endorse support from those who love the game.

Next, we have the Labyrinth, which is the most controversial (and hated) feature in the game, shown by this ongoing thread with more than 700 pages of discussion (and simply doing a google search on the subject). Thousands (if not more) of people have complained about it, and rightly so. Forcing players to traverse a trap-based puzzle maze which has no relation to any other content in the game in order to secure ascendancy character progression (which is required to play end-game properly) is ridiculous. No, it’s absurd. Because the lab content is completely disconnected from (and unrelated to) the rest of the content in PoE, the game is essentially thrusting and forcing players to endure a process that simply doesn’t belong as a requirement in the game. While a handful of players enjoy running the lab (most of who make builds specifically to survive the lab and acquire/farm the enchantments and loot drops, which can be quite profitable), that’s fine for those who want to pursue such rewards. Remove the ascendancy acquisition requirement, but keep the enchantments (and treasure troves) locked behind the lab; players who don’t want to run it can farm currency and buy the enchanted gear from the handful that like to run the lab. It’s no different than than shaper and elder drops – let the most skilled and hardcore players obtain and sell those items to those who will never be skilled enough to victoriously fight the end-game bosses. Statistically, less than 1% of all players ever complete the final (Eternal) lab. This is another indication of the overall problem. Because the lab forces a completely different set of mechanics and play style on the players, many builds simply cannot complete it without sheer luck. Another key point is the Labyrinth system goes against the core of every recent content release , which has focused on world/explorable content, character progression, build customization and expanding the end-game system (as a whole). With every release, the Labyrinth becomes more and more outdated, and pulls further away from the essence of what PoE has become and strives for.

In the end, every player that I have known to “quit” PoE (either a character or the game) has done so either due to the death penalty or the labyrinth, or both.

Lack of Queued Command Execution is problematic and a mechanic that really should be in the game. You can be 100ms too early on an action/click and it won’t execute because your last action isn’t finished just yet, but other ARPGs handle this issue more gracefully (this is one reason D3 feels so smooth compared to PoE – it has a smart interpolation command execution queue). PoE should allow a player to foresee an event/action and execute another action knowing it’s going to be executed as soon as the action is available. Using a flask and having it activate when you’re at full health/mana would also be beneficial, allowing players to activate the restoration just as they jump into combat instead of having to wait to take a hit or lose mana.

There are a number of skill-based issues still in PoE. Freezing Pulse fails to go through doorways properly (which can result in a quick death), and Shield Charge has the old Cyclone issue of getting caught on every single minuscule item/object. Cyclone is also clunky as all getgo and needs to be converted to a real-time channeled skill. GGG needs to address these problems to make gameplay more smooth and enjoyable.

PoE really has no real Guild Features above a stash and tag. This is disappointing because so much could be done to bring players together. People have been asking for the guild system to be enhanced for years. I am hopeful future releases enhance the guild system and makes being in a guild actually mean something. This brings us to a connected issue: there is no real reason to Group with people in PoE. This is a big problem that makes trading the only real community-centric aspect of the game. As mentioned above, a big reason for this is due to the death penalty at end-game. However, there is also no content specifically designed to be tackled by groups.

And finally, we have the Lost Mouse Cursor. This is an issue where the cursor is so small, it’s often impossible to see its location on the screen during active combat events. Diablo 3 addressed this problem (and did it well) by adding a “large cursor” option to the UI settings. PoE desperately needs this feature as players are constantly losing the location of their cursor on the screen during battle.

State of the Game – The Potential

I believe a Build Template System would have a monumentally positive impact on the game. It could be integrated like the Item Filter system (i.e. downloaded and selected), allowing for players to select a specific build to follow, and also create a completely new community dedicated to designing and sharing specific builds, complete with level by level skill point distribution, defined skills, links, and gear. GGG could even include a few core starter builds with the deployment of the game and offer predefined builds to follow during character creation. As the character levels up, the “build guide” would highlight the recommended next skills, links, and even items to equip. This guidance would entice new players and give them something to strive for. Yes, players can follow the builds from the forums on other sites like the Build Browser (which just points to forum posts), but new players don’t know about these resources, and build guides are often incomplete and not designed for new players. Integrating a system like this would skyrocket the retention of new players and could act as its own tutorial.

One of the most common feature request from players is some sort of Auction House or Enhanced Trade system. Some have asked not for an Auction House, but want a more automated trade system for those who are online. As mentioned above, the current trade system does bring players together and shares hideouts with others; I believe a hybrid system is in order, where players can either trade old-style (as it is today) or use some sort of online queue/auction system. Perhaps a fee per transaction for the auction system would be in order (1a or 1c per transaction through the auction house depending on the value of the item).

PoE needs a proper Low Life Indicator. What’s very interesting is the game already has this in dimly lit areas (the lighting goes down as your health does) so the mechanic exists, but when you’re outdoors, it simply doesn’t work. I think Grim Dawn does it the best by drawing red that grows around the edges as your health lowers. Corrupted blood constantly kills players, even those who are experienced, because they simply don’t see their health drop due to multiple factors (in combat, running and seeing a chest in the upper right corner of the screen, etc.).

Another key issue is players often have no idea what killed them due to a lack of notification. Even veteran streamers are left scratching their head “what just killed me?” This is very important; it’s hard for players to learn how to play better when they don’t even know what killed them in the first place.

Cleaning Stash Space in the Standard league is such a tedious process most players avoid playing in standard altogether. GGG needs to add some method of cleaning stash after a league since it all starts piling up – and most players just want to delete it. It also makes me wonder how much storage space all the unused migrated league items are taking in the PoE item database; I’m guessing it’s well over 50% of the entire database.

The ability to toggle the User Interface would allow players to take much better screenshots, especially now with the beautiful new lighting system.

The ability to Pause the Game when playing solo would be a very nice addition; it’s not fun dealing with the phone or doorbell ringing while in the middle of a boss fight (yes, one can port, but pausing would be much better option). From a technical perspective this could increase the space requirements for the server infrastructure (since a player could pause an instance for hours, tying up server resources), so such a feature would require systems consideration; however with today’s cheap hosting costs (and the fact a paused instance would not utilize any processing power), it should be viable. However, such a feature could be used to abuse end-game boss fights where a player could pause the game in the middle of a very intense battle just to strategize on what they are going to do next. So there are reasons not to have this, but if a balance of implementation could be met, I’d definitely support it.

As covered above, there really isn’t any content in PoE specifically designed for groups. This does link to the Death Penalty issue where players generally don’t like to play with other people because it can easily get them killed, but there aren’t any fights or aspects of the game designed specifically for a combination of different builds (or that require collaboration to complete). Once again, this also references the community aspect of the game failing to truly bring players together as a team.

As covered above, PoE needs more Guild-based features. Such features could include custom maps, augmentations, bonuses (for achievements), master options, and even vendor enhancements.

There has also been discussion about Automatic Item Pickup by Pets. I personally think this is a great idea due to the sheer volume of items that drop; they could even allow pets to act as storage. But would this break the “no advantage to players who purchase MTX” to the game? Hard to say as those who spent money would be able to progress at a much quicker rate, but only through clean-up. One option is to provide pickup pets as one (or more) rewards for completing certain game content. Granted this is an exception to the rule, this video shows what a mess the game can create. Players would rather spend their time playing and fighting rather than running around and cleaning up their mess. And just today, it was posted that the Chinese version of PoE either already offers or will offer this feature.

An option to Turn off the XP Bar would be a nice feature for those players get enraged when they see the XP loss upon death.

Another regular request is for the saving (and sharing) of Hideout Layouts. A lot of time, energy and effort can go into building them, and I’ve seen multiple requests from players who want to save and share templates.

A Sort Inventory button would be fantastic, especially for the 4x size stash tab. Those who play Grim Dawn know how awesome (and useful) this feature would be.

The ability to Run world zones at different levels would enhance the game greatly. While one can shape a specific map to raise its level, some players want to run Dried Lake or other zones at a higher level. I hope future versions implement some sort of feature allowing for the augmentation of world zones to make them great farming zones for all levels.

And finally, we have the concept of an Exile Companion that one can equip and define the skills for. Not a guardian, but a full-fledged companion we can throw items on, level up, and equip skills with. Granted such a feature would have a monumental impact on the game (and open a wide door of abuse-potential mechanics), if it were done right, it would be an awesome enhancement and allow the players to have their own true in-game “buddy”. This could also open the door to “mini-group” content; boss fights that require the support of an Exile Companion (or another player).


There’s no question the recent releases of Path of Exile have been exceptional, with Delve leading the way as one of the best enhancements to the game. However, it’s one thing to enhance and expand the content of the game, but another to ignore key issues that drive players away or take too long to address common sense quality of life features players have requested for years (such as the recent new loot filter minimap icon system), especially when so many casual players are leaving Diablo 3 and looking for an alternative game to play. I’m an avid supporter of GGG and PoE, and I want only the best and success for the game; of course it’s easy to armchair quarterback a game of this complexity – many of these issues will take some serious consideration to properly address, but given the future growth of PoE, I believe making decisions that adhere to the core principals of the game while also evolving to address core mechanics, problems and complexities that drive players away is essential. Here’s to the bright future of Path of Exile!

  1. Love your articles. I always come to your site to look for the starting builds.

    I don’t really think that the death penalty and exp grind really makes a difference for casual players – There is no need to reach max level and you can complete basically all content in 80s. Getting to max level doesn’t really change much. By making it hard to reach max level, the hardcore players would feel like there is a goal to reach. If it was easy to reach the max level, many players would not know what to do after that because there wouldn’t be a point anymore.

    I do agree on the one shot mechanics which are so prevalent in the game. Even now, I find myself wondering what killed me. There is almost no sense of health or damage – You either die or you live, with little in between. The same can be said for enemies. Every end game build out there just zooms past the map and one shots everything. The pace of the game is just so fast paced. It’s hard to see what the enemy is doing and usually it doesn’t even matter. Combat is completely mindless with builds being entirely focused on a single skill. This might just be the outcome of having such a flexible skill system, but I still dream of having a game with a flexible skill system which has both good theorycrafting and requires a certain amount of skill to use the build effectively.

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