Alongside every new league, we aim to make balance changes to a wide variety of character systems to improve build and playstyle diversity. This league, we've focused on rebalancing a few specific game mechanics related to new blood-themed skills and Vaal skills, while lowering the power of specific mechanics that were dominating the metagame and were too far above the level of power we aim for.
We've also made changes to the Atlas Passive trees after reviewing their balance and as a result of both Ritual becoming a core mechanic alongside the upcoming league reward changes.
We haven't included the changes to league rewards described in our announcement here.
Balance changes related to the new Life-costing skills
Low life, Low Mana and Low Energy Shield now all count as being on 50% or below. This new threshold is both a bit more obvious at a glance, and is large enough a value that a player could survive for a long time on Low Life with the help of the new Petrified Blood skill. As a result, certain skills, passives and items have been rebalanced to compensate. For example, the Punishment curse's effect that causes enemies to take more damage while on low life has been reduced in power as it now takes effect for a larger portion of the monster's life. We've made similar changes to the Assassin's "Ambush and Assassinate" passive, Infernal Mantle, and Replica Last Resort.
The Blood Magic Support gem has been split into two gems, as the lack of a damage multiplier made it a poor choice for primary skills. Now each of these new supports is balanced for the appropriate use case.
There are a small number of new passive clusters on the Passive Skill Tree for generic physical damage, as well as Physical Damage over Time Multiplier to better support the new skills. Certain sources of Bleeding Damage and Damage over time Multiplier for Bleeding have been changed to Physical Damage over Time to let them apply to Corrupted Blood and the new Reap and Exsanguinate skills. These include The Gladiator's Gratuitous Violence passive and the Ascendant's Gladiator notable. Not all bleed related passives and modifiers on items have been changed, so a full Bleed invested build and a build using both Bleeding and Corrupted Blood won't always look the same.
Corrupted Blood now never counts as Bleeding damage, so reductions to bleeding damage taken no longer affect it. The Staunching flask modifier and Pathfinder's Master Surgeon notable now state that they apply to both Bleeding and Corrupted Blood. Corrupted Blood's damage has been rebalanced so it is more consistent between sources, so specific monsters that had very high Corrupted Blood damage will no longer be as strong, while others that dealt almost no damage will be dealing a more noticeable amount.
Bladestorm now has a multiplier to Bleeding damage while in Blood Stance, similar to the multiplier on Lacerate, to enable Bleeding builds on the blood themed skill.The Elder-influenced Weapon modifiers that grant a chance for Poisons or Bleeds inflicted with this Weapon to deal 100% more Damage have been removed. In their place, Elder-influenced Weapons can now roll a new Local Poison or Bleed Damage over Time Multiplier modifier. The double damage chance modifiers were too multiplicatively powerful for these builds, providing power that only the modifier granted, so they've been changed to an effect that is additive with other Bleed/Poison damage multipliers.
The way skills specify costs has been refactored. Skills now specify what resource they use. Consequently, stats can specify whether they affect all costs/reservations, or some combination. For example, the Righteous Decree notable on the Templar now reduces Mana Costs of Skills, while the Tireless notable affects all skill costs. Some existing passive skills and items have been updated to affect all costs or reservations, but many effects are now resource specific where appropriate, like the Inspiration support. These changes also open up new possibilities for alternate costs. For example, the Chainbreaker keystone no longer removes rage on Hit, instead adding a small Rage cost to all skills (which would then be affected by skill cost modifiers). This has allowed us to keep Chainbreaker functional with spells while still losing rage when used alongside skills that don't hit like Damage over Time spells.
As a major benefit of these changes, reservation skills no longer have an associated cost by default, so you don't need the current mana available to reserve a skill. Even when your mana is completely depleted, you can still enable an aura, making it much easier to swap out auras or turn one on again if you accidentally disabled it.
Because of this, Mine skills now have both a mana cost and mana reservation. This means that both modifiers to costs and reservation both affect their appropriate parts of mine costs, so Indigon no longer provides spell damage without affecting mine costs at all.
Atlas Passive Balance
We've made a series of changes to Atlas Passives for a variety of reasons:
- Certain modifiers provided more rewards than the average rewards granted by Atlas passives, so have had their chance or rewards lowered. Some are obvious ones like High Value Targets or Diplomatic Escort, while others are more subtle like Seance, which effectively added so much item quantity to areas that it was subtly boosting core drops like maps more than a single Atlas mechanic should.
- Certain modifiers provided fewer rewards than the standard reward increase per point invested, so have had their chance or rewards increased. For example, the rewards from the Invasion Exotic Goods notable have been improved.
- Certain effects made more sense grouped together, like the Incursion passive saying "All monsters in Incursions are at least magic" has been moved off Glennach Cairns on to the existing Time Dilation modifier on Lex Ejoris, so Lex Ejoris is now completely focused on having more rewarding individual Incursion runs and Glennach Cairns focuses on creating the best possible Temple.
- Ritual has been added to Haewark Hamlet, with two notables available. It replaces Beyond there. Power Hungry no longer exists, and the Per Diemon notable has been moved to Glennach Cairns at a slightly lowered value, as the pun was too good not to keep.
We've made a balance pass on damaging Vaal skills, making them a more interesting choice relative to the Vaal skills that provide ongoing buffs. We want damaging Vaal skills in particular to have more reasons to be used by a larger variety of builds.
- The uptime for Vaal skills has been improved via various means. Soul generation on Unique monsters has been increased to 6 souls per 2% life lost, with a 1 second cooldown. This is twice as many souls as before.
- Damaging Vaal skills have had their Soul Gain Prevention times lowered relative to the duration of the Vaal skill. For Vaal skills that don't have a duration or ongoing effect the Soul Gain Prevention time is usually just 1 second.
- Reduced the Vaal Soul Cost and/or increased the Number of Uses on Vaal Skills that had relatively lower impact per use compared to other Vaal skills.
- A balance pass has been made on all Damaging Vaal Skills. Note in all cases these have been buffs, except for Vaal Righteous Fire, which now provides less damage to Spells while active and now sacrifices a larger amount of your total Energy Shield and Life. We felt it was too easy for any Spellcaster to use this skill to get significantly more Spell damage for a long duration, with very little downside. Note the Fire Damage over Time aspect of the skill has been increased, keeping this an attractive option for builds focussing on Burning damage.
- We have introduced several new unique items and made adjustments to existing ones to either give higher uptime of Vaal skills at some cost or allow you to utilise Vaal skills more easily on builds that struggle to fit them in.
Skill Balance Changes
We've made balance passes on a large variety of skills that are performing above acceptable power levels, either through damage, speed of clearing content, or defensive benefits.
These include Blade Vortex, Blade Blast, Toxic Rain, General's Cry with Channelled skills, Seismic Cry, Carrion Golem, and Vitality.
Frost Bomb and Wave of Conviction have had their Exposure values lowered, as these skills provided too large an elemental resistance reduction compared to other mechanics that have higher investment or penalties against bosses.
Flesh and Stone now has a 35% mana reservation (from 25%). The defensive power of the skill in Sand Stance and the offensive power in Blood Stance was too high relative to other reservation effects. We've added a small reduction to Stance skill reservation cost on the Blood and Sand specialization cluster near the Duelist to bring the cost down slightly for appropriate builds.
Vigilant Strike and its threshold jewel, The Vigil, have changed how they handle Fortify Duration and the durations granted, so that The Vigil doesn't result in a very long duration Fortify effect, instead granting a shorter Fortify duration than a high level Vigilant Strike. Vigilant Strike's base Fortify duration now scales with gem level, rather than through an increased fortify duration stat. Previously, players could gain 30 seconds of fortify from two sockets and a single jewel, which was far too cheap for the defensive power offered.
Divergent Berserk alternate quality now grants the Berserk buff 0.25% more Spell Damage per quality (from 1%). The effect was providing too much damage to Spellcasters when paired with effects that increase gem quality, such as the Enhance support.
General Balance Changes (It's All Nerfs)
Quivers as Caster Offhands
Critical Strike Chance, Critical Strike Multiplier, Damage over Time Multiplier and Chain modifiers on quivers now only apply to Attacks or Bow Skills. The Signal Fire and Rigwald's Quills unique quivers have also had their Physical Damage Added as Fire and Projectiles Fork modifiers changed to be with Attacks only.
Bows with a quiver could outclass many caster weapons for a variety of builds, so this change brings total offensive power to a more reasonable balance without removing the option entirely, and also makes a lot more thematic sense.
Physical Explosion Body Armours
Influence and Synthesis modifiers that caused enemies killed to explode dealing physical damage will no longer have a 100% chance to apply. Their replacement modifiers grant "Enemies you Kill have a chance to Explode, Dealing a tenth of their Life as Physical Damage", with a new lower tier Influence mod being introduced that has a lower chance. This keeps the mechanic and opens up the possibility of stacking explode chance with high investment, but it will no longer reliably wipe out packs of monsters through a chain reaction of explosions.
Harvest Monster Life
The base life of all Harvest monsters has been reduced by 30-50%, but Harvest machinery gives monsters around 100% extra increased life on average. The intention is no difficulty change in Harvest fights, but Harvest monsters created with the Desecrate skill have life values more in line with other Desecratable monsters in the game. This is to address corpse explosion builds getting a significant damage boost from having spectres of specific Harvest monsters. This strategy will still work, but the difference in monsters used won't be so significant.
Modifiers that allow your Hexes to affect Hexproof Enemies (such as the Cospri's Will unique Body Armour) no longer allow your Hexes to affect yourself while you have Hexproof (as you are not your own Enemy).
The Sextant modifier which granted players increased Damage and Movement Speed for each Poison on them has been removed. Savvy players could run every map with this Sextant effect applied - usually through Fracturing specific maps and the Harvest map enchantment that didn't consume Sextant uses. With certain items that allowed them to apply large numbers of Poison buffs to themselves, they could achieve extreme Damage and Movement Speed with little investment.
Note to partially compensate as we believe self-Poison is an interesting playstyle, we have added a new Unique item that retains the Damage and Movement Speed per Poison stats. However these stats will now be capped at specific value.
Fractured Fossils and Beast-Splitting
Splitting an item through Beast-crafting now applies a split tag to both items (similar to “Mirrored”). Items that have Fractured Fossils used on them also gain the split tag. Split items cannot be split/mirrored again, and cannot have Imprints made of them or applied to them.
Atlas Mission Sustain
We've removed the bonus mission chance from Awakening objective bonuses, as Atlas passives combined with this bonus and other mechanics were resulting in an almost endless supply of missions. We've decided to keep the Atlas passives at full strength and remove the Awakening objective bonus so the player has the choice to invest in more Atlas missions if they desire.
Delirium Item Quantity and Rarity
We've lowered and standardised the amount of Item Quantity and Rarity granted by Delirium fog, so they now give up to double the inbuilt item Rarity of monsters, and up to 50% the item quantity of monsters. This now caps out at maximum depth, rather than at 50% depth as was previously the case.
Passive Tree Changes
We are wary about how accessible normally scarce stats, such as Area of Effect, Skill Effect Duration, Aura Effect and Projectile Speed are on Cluster Jewel notables, given you can stack multiple of the same notable on the passive tree. As a result we have made small numerical nerfs to several Cluster Jewel notables that grant the above stats.
As a relatively minor ascendancy change, Pain Reaver has been replaced with a new passive skill on the Berserker, providing defensive benefits once you lose life from an enemy hit. It is designed as a high risk defensive/recovery mechanic, granting the faster leech rate from Pain Reaver more easily but with an associated risk. The effects of the Berserker's Flawless Savagery notable are no longer limited to Attacks, and the small passives apply 10% increased physical damage instead of the old 12% increased Physical Damage with Attacks.
Immortal Ambition Keystone's ‘Life Leech effects Recover Energy Shield instead while on Full Life' stat is now limited by ‘Maximum total Energy Shield Recovery from Leech' instead of by ‘Maximum total Life Recovery from Leech'. Combined with the Corrupted Soul Keystone and the powerful recovery source of life leech, it provided too great an increase to a character's combined recovery. This change preserves the desirable Life Effects not being removed at Full Life aspect of the Keystone, but limits how easy it is to recover your Energy Shield pool.
Corrupted Soul Keystone now causes you to Gain 15% of Maximum Life as Extra Maximum Energy Shield (from 20%). The Keystone allowed life base characters to get large amounts of Energy Shield very easily, while the Non-Chaos Damage taken bypasses Energy Shield stat didn't prove to be a significant downside for most builds taking the Keystone.
As mentioned above, the Chainbreaker Keystone no longer causes you to lose 5 Rage when you Hit an Enemy, but now instead has skills cost +3 Rage. The Keystone allowed certain skills that either didn't hit such as Bane, or skills that didn't count as you such as Totems and Mines to completely bypass the downside.
Hardened Scars no longer grants Fortify during the Effect of any Life Flask. Instead now grants Fortify while Recovering Life from a Life Flask. The Notable was granting Fortify too easily to any character that could maintain uptime on a Hallowed Hybrid Flask with the Enduring Prefix.
The Necromancer's Essence Glutton notable has had the amount of Mana regenerated when you Consume a Corpse lowered from 8% to 4%. It was providing more base Mana Regeneration than any other source.
Primal Aegis from the Elementalist's Bastion of Elements skill now takes 75 Damage per Allocated Notable Passive Skill (from 100). The Aegis effect went out too strong in the Elementalist rework.