Expedition league wants you to move slowly and die often
This Friday, Path of Exile‘s newest league, Expedition, launches. From the beginning, the developers at Grinding Gear Games (GGG) said this league would shake up the “meta” of Path of Exile and to expect a lot of nerfs. They went into further details on the reveal stream but really went full speed ahead during their balance manifesto (the longest one yet) and patch notes.
The long and short of it is: the game is going to be harder in every way possible, and that often includes removing “fun” interactions and mechanics.
I’m honestly not even sure where to begin? I guess with mana — players will absolutely be more mana-starved than ever before in the upcoming patch. Support gems across the board will add more mana cost to their attached skills, and it will now cost mana to trigger skills with things like “Cast on Critical Strike” or “Cast when Damage Taken.” This change is on top of game-wide damage nerf to all damage-focused support skills, so if you browse the patch notes and notice a lot of main skills having their damage numbers buffed, just be aware that this is to counteract the support gem nerfs.
Utility flasks are another victim of the patch and have been reduced to a small fraction of their power from before. Path of Exile suffered from something called “flask piano” until now — players at higher levels would essentially just mash 12345 (the default flask hotkeys) every four seconds or so since their builds were able to kill monsters very fast and gain 100% uptime on flasks (except during boss fights). To fix this, flasks have been nerfed across the board. Their uptime has been reduced in most cases, and the effectiveness of many mods has been slashed. It will be a league of many, many new deaths.
GGG has said they want to slow the game down, and that the previous league, Ultimatum, was too rewarding and lost player retention as a result. They have certainly screwed over movement speed in just about every way possible (my least favorite series of nerfs), but my fear is that Expedition will have just as poor of retention because players will get frustrated too soon. I am genuinely excited to see what the numbers look like for this league, since the vocal side of the Path of Exile fanbase is, well, quite upset.
Personally, though, I think I’m kind of excited? I don’t agree with and outright hate some of the changes GGG continues to make to the game, but I am pumped to experience something new. The acts, in particular, might actually be less braindead than normal and I welcome that. And as someone who spends most of his time brainstorming and creating new builds, my mouth is watering at the 19 new skill gems added to the game.
I was originally going to league-start as a Necromancer and use the new Reaper minion gem, but after tinkering around with Path of Building (a build-planning tool), I think I’m going to go with the new Explosive Concoction flask-throwing gem. If my flasks suck, I may as well throw them at the enemies and explode them, right?