In our upcoming 3.16 expansion, we're making a number of balance changes. Yesterday we began our three part series by talking about our plans for Flasks and Ailment Mitigation. We strongly recommend reading that post prior to this one. Today's post covers our plans for Core Character Defences and Recovery. Tomorrow, we'll reveal the third part to this series which covers our plans for Auras, Curses and Elemental Damage Over Time.
We've assembled this article as a set of identified problems and our intended solutions. Below each solution is a spoiler tag with the specifics of what we're currently intending to change. Please note that as we're still a couple of weeks out from release, anything here is subject to change based on our further testing and your feedback.
Core Character Defences and RecoveryWe are doing a major balance pass to improve defences and recovery for all characters. The goal here is to put more power into the core defences (Armour, Evasion and Energy Shield) to make them the best way to mitigate the kind of damage they are best at preventing, while taking some of that power away from the one-off mechanics that provide a significant defence for too low a cost. While some individual mechanics have been nerfed, this is overall a massive buff to defenses across the board.
Previously, there were some very tanky characters, but they were gated behind specific niche mechanics and uniques that were not accessible to everyone. What we're doing here is moving a lot of that power to everyone else, so that core defenses are far more powerful than they were before.
We're also making sure that every type of character has plenty of ways to mitigate a much more diverse set of damage types. For example, Evasion mitigates Attacks well, so we're introducing Spell Suppression to help Evasion builds protect themselves against Spells.
Dodge and Blind provide more mitigation for fewer passive points and item slots than any other defence type. Attack Dodge does this in a form that is almost identical to Evasion but is far more efficient.
Remove Dodge entirely and review certain powerful mechanics like Blind (and Fortify for non-melee characters). Improve almost every other scalable defence type significantly to make them more powerful. This includes Armour, Evasion, Energy Shield Recovery and Spell Block.
Armour as a core stat doesn't provide sufficient defence with low to medium investment. Armour characters instead rely on a number of other mechanics to provide them with the defence against Physical Damage that Armour is meant to provide.
Improve the Armour formula so that Armour is more powerful, providing better mitigation across the board, and increase the strength of modifiers on items that add base local Armour.
Specifics: Spoiler Previously, if you had 10,000 Armour and you took a hit that dealt 2,000 physical damage, you'd reduce that hit by 33%. Now you'll reduce that hit by 50%.
NOTE: This was originally posted with an incorrect value and has since been updated.
A rule of thumb with the new Armour formula is that if you want to get 50% mitigation against a physical damage hit, you need 5 times the damage as Armour where previously it required 10 times the damage. As an example, if you want to mitigate a 5,000 hit down to 2,500, you used to need 50,000 Armour to do this. Now you only need 25,000 Armour.
Increased the strength of modifiers on gear that add base local Armour, and added a smoother progression of tiers (as they were currently very low until the highest tier, and had some levels where there was no new tier for a large number of levels). This will on average result in items with higher Armour on them, especially during the Campaign and early maps, and make it much more affordable to reach decent Armour values.
Armour provided by base types can now be up to 10% higher, as part of a variable base type system detailed below.
Determination has been buffed to provide both a flat bonus to Armour, as well as its existing “more” multiplier to Armour.
- Grants up to 2051 Armour at level 20 of Determination.
New Suffix modifiers have been added to all Armour-based Body Armour and Shields that provide up to +8% additional Physical Damage Reduction on each slot.
- Additional Physical Damage Reduction mods were discontinued from all other rare modifiers so that large values could be provided on the above two slots.
New Suffix modifiers have been added to all Armour-based Gloves, Helmets and Boots that provide increased Life Regeneration Rate. This works as a multiplier to your Life Regeneration value.
Review monster base Armour as a result of changes to the Armour formula. This may result in no changes if there has been no significant impact on character damage.
Evasion doesn't provide sufficient defence. Evasive characters instead rely on the Acrobatics and Phase Acrobatics keystones to provide Attack and Spell mitigation.
Remove Attack Dodge entirely. Substantially buff Evasion so that it is a good option and make sure it is easily available on items.
Specifics: Spoiler Improve the Evasion formula to grant more chance to evade for all values of Evasion Rating.
- To have a 75% chance to Evade against a Tier 16 Map monster, you currently need 49,000 Evasion Rating to achieve this. You will only need 24,200 Evasion Rating after this change.
- To have a 75% chance to Evade against a Tier 1 Map monster, you currently need 23,800 Evasion Rating to achieve this. You will only need 12,700 Evasion Rating after this change.
- To have a 50% chance to Evade against a Tier 16 Map monster, you currently need 13,750 Evasion Rating to achieve this. You will only need 8,150 Evasion Rating after this change.
- To have a 50% chance to Evade against a Tier 1 Map monster, you currently need 6,650 Evasion Rating to achieve this. You will only need 4,275 Evasion Rating after this change.
- To have a 25% chance to Evade against a Tier 16 Map monster, you currently need 4,500 Evasion Rating to achieve this. You will only need 3,300 Evasion Rating after this change.
- To have a 25% chance to Evade against a Tier 1 Map monster, you currently need 2,180 Evasion Rating to achieve this. You will only need 1,735 Evasion Rating after this change.
Increase modifiers on gear that add base local Evasion Rating, and smooth the progression of tiers (as they were currently very low until the highest tier). This will on average result in items with higher evasion on them, especially during the campaign and early maps, and make it much more affordable to reach decent Evasion values. Update Crafted modifiers to similar values and make them available earlier in the campaign.
Evasion provided by base types can now be up to 10% higher, as part of a variable base type system detailed below.
The Grace Skill Gem now has “You and nearby Allies gain 20% more Evasion Rating” at gem level 1, up to 29% at gem level 20”, as well as its existing flat bonus to Evasion Rating. These changes make the Aura very effective at Attack Mitigation if you’ve already invested in Evasion Rating.
Reworked Evasion passives.
Adjusted monster base Evasion and Minion Accuracy to compensate for changes to the evasion formula.
Evasion provides no defence against Spells.
Introduce "Spell Suppression" on Evasion items as well the Dexterity section of the Passive Skill Tree, which gives a chance to halve spell damage taken. The chance can be stacked up to 100%. Convert existing sources of Dodge and Spell Dodge to Spell Suppression or replace them with other bonuses.
Specifics: Spoiler Spell Suppression is designed as the Dexterity character's best answer to spells. In general, Spell Suppression gives easier access and more reliable spell damage mitigation for Dexterity characters without reliance on specific uniques. It's also much more reliable than Spell Dodge, but has a lower maximum. There will be a few specialised ways to invest in increasing the spell damage suppressed to reward high investment if you want to further protect yourself from spell hits.
- Spell Suppression will be found on various Passive Skills in the Evasion areas of the Passive Skill Tree.
- The Evasion Wheel at the centre of the Passive Skill Tree no longer provides Accuracy, but provides a combo of Evasion and chance to Suppress Spells instead.
- New Suffix modifiers have also been added to all Evasion Armours that can roll modifiers that grant a chance to Suppress Spell Damage. Body Armours and Shields in particular can roll larger values of these modifiers.
- New Keystone Passive Skill added to the centre of the tree called Magebane: Dexterity provides no inherent bonus to Evasion Rating. You gain a 1% Chance to Suppress Spell Damage per 15 Dexterity.
- Vaal Grace no longer has Chance to Dodge Attack Hits or Spell Hits. Instead, it now has +15% Chance to Evade Attack Hits, and “Suppressed Spell Damage dealt to you is Unlucky”.
- Additional chance to Evade modifiers were discontinued from all Rare modifiers, passives and Pantheon powers as their values were generally too low or felt out of place and so that Vaal Grace could provide a very large value of this stat.
- Change Elusive to provide 15% chance to Avoid Damage from Hits, instead of it's old Dodge-related stats.
- Change Wind Dancer to further improve high Evasion builds rather than reducing Evade chance, but making it riskier if you're not Evading attacks a lot. It now gives less Attack Damage taken if you haven't been Hit by an Attack recently, and more Evasion Rating and Attack Damage taken if you have been Hit, so it's better for Evasion characters that have a high Evasion Rating and bad for characters that are being hit a lot. It has no interaction with Spells now, to focus its interaction on Evasion.
- Acrobatics has been redesigned. It no longer has any of it's old properties, but now changes any modifiers to Spell Suppression into Spell Dodge at 50% of it's value. The intention is that Acrobatics is the only source in the entire game for Spell Dodge, for characters who would like to benefit from that playstyle still. Spell Dodge is still capped at 75%, and the Keystone Passive will specifically mention this.
- Phase Acrobatics no longer exists.
- Many other smaller changes on top of those noted above to improve specific items, Passives, and Skills.
Due to Armour and Evasion not working effectively as primary defences previously, we've introduced a lot of mechanics over the years that either scale them too efficiently or scale off them too efficiently (or not well enough). The intention would be that the straightforward way of getting armour or evasion on your items is the best way to maximise its efficacy.
Review all mechanics that scale off Armour/Evasion, and all mechanics that grant large values or increases to Armour and Evasion.
- Vaal Molten Shell: Buff will now grant +50 Armour at gem level 1 (previously 25), up to +858 Armour at gem level 20 (previously 429). Buff no longer grants 20-29% more Armour. Now grants 35% of Damage from Hits is taken from the Buff before your Life or Energy Shield at gem level 1 (previously 30%), up to 40% at gem level 20 (previously 35%).
- The Brass Dome: Unique is being redesigned to more properly embrace its identity of a high Armour Body Armour, while not providing as extreme of a difference compared to a Rare Body Armour with top tier Armour modifiers.
- Memory Vault: No longer grants “Gain Armour equal to your Reserved Mana”. Instead, it now grants “1% increased Armour per 50 Reserved Mana”.
- The Formless Flame and The Formless Inferno: Now grant “Armour is increased by Overcapped Fire Resistance” (previously Uncapped Fire Resistance).
- Craiceann's Carapace: Now grants 200-250% increased Armour (previously 300-350%). It provided just a bit too much Armour compared to Rares when considering all the other stats it provided.
- Transcendence: Keystone Passive Skill now grants a larger penalty to all maximum Elemental Resistances (previously -5%).
- Mask of the Tribunal: No longer grants “Nearby Allies have 4-6% increased Defences per 100 Strength you have”. Instead, it now grants “Nearby Allies have 1% chance to Block Attack Damage per 100 Strength you have”.
- “Avatar of the Chase” Raider Notable Ascendancy Passive: No longer grants “35% more chance to Evade Melee Attacks during Onslaught” or “35% more chance to Evade Projectile Attacks during Onslaught”. Instead, it now grants “10% more chance to Evade Attacks during Onslaught”.
- The Snowblind Grace and The Perfect Form: Now grant “Evasion Rating is increased by Overcapped Cold Resistance” (previously Uncapped Cold Resistance). Its other stats are being improved.
- Willowgift: No longer grants “Fortify Buffs you create instead grant 30% more Evasion Rating”. Instead, it now grants “4% chance to Suppress Spell Damage per Fortification”, but removes the less damage taken from Fortification. Existing items will no longer provide Evasion Rating while you have Fortify, though you will need to use a Divine Orb to obtain Spell Suppression from the item.
Characters who rely solely on Armour are not protected against Elemental Damage.
Add more Maximum Elemental Resistances to areas of the passive tree that have Armour in them.
Specifics: Spoiler More access to maximum Elemental Resistances has been provided to Armour areas of the Passive Skill Tree in order to shore up the weaknesses of Armour-focused characters.
- More information on Passive Skill Tree changes will be coming later.
The Veiled modifier that increases quality on equipment was required to maximise the Energy Shield from an item. This is a problem because you cannot pick up the best Energy Shield items off the ground.
Stacking the "Energy from Naught" notable passive on Cluster Jewels was too efficient as a way to maximise your Energy Shield.
Replace the Veiled modifier and lower the power on the Energy from Naught Notable. Compensate all characters for the loss of maximum energy shield by increasing the strength of all Energy Shield base types. Add more Energy Shield to the passive skill tree.
- Energy Shield provided by base types can now be up to 20% higher, as part of a variable base type system detailed below.
- The Veiled crafted modifier that provided Quality and Strength/Dexterity/Intelligence, no longer provides Quality. This is to keep the top end at about the same while bringing lower investment Energy Shield up. Instead, it now grants up to 25% chance to Avoid Ignite, Freeze, or Shock, depending on the Attribute, also providing another way to allow characters to solve their Ailment problems.
- The Energy from Naught Cluster Jewel Notable Passive Skill now grants +60 to maximum Energy Shield (previously 100).
- Added new passives that grant Energy Shield to various locations on the tree that didn't have many Energy Shield passives.
With the desire to increase Armour, Evasion and Energy Shield power across the board, we felt that the base values on items were too low. In addition, we feel that our item system needs more base type heterogeneity.
Base Types are now generated with a random 0-10% higher base defence, as an inbuilt currently-non-modifiable property. This means that all base types can be better than they currently are, and armour base types are not homogeneous any more. Energy Shield values on base types instead vary from 0-20%.
Energy Shield is most often used with leech and regeneration like Life, rather than embracing its unique recharge mechanic.
Increase the base recovery rate of Energy Shield recharge. Rework the downside of the Wicked Ward Keystone. Move improvements to Energy Shield Recharge to the core modifier pool for Energy Shield gear, away from specialised item mechanics.
- Energy Shield now recharges at a base amount of 33% per second (previously 20%).
- The Wicked Ward Keystone Passive Skill no longer grants “50% less Energy Shield Regeneration Rate” or “50% less Maximum total Energy Shield Recovery per Second from Leech”. Instead, it now grants “40% less Energy Shield Recharge Rate”. This brings the recharge rate with Wicked Ward down to 19.8% per second, while before it would have been 20% with or without the keystone. It also allows you to invest in other forms of Energy Shield recovery if you would like to, like including Energy Shield Leech in your build. Recharge also has more avenues of scaling as mentioned below. This combined with the faster natural recharge is almost entirely a buff.
- New Suffix modifiers have been added to all Energy Shield-based Body Armours and Shields that provide up to 66% faster start of Energy Shield Recharge on each item slot.
- Crafted and Influenced “faster start of Energy Shield Recharge” modifiers on Rings can no longer be obtained.
- Faster start of Energy Shield Recharge has also been added to areas of the Passive Skill Tree where Energy Shield is found. Crafted modifiers have also been added.
- New Suffix modifiers have been added to all Energy Shield-based Gloves, Helmets and Boots that provide up to 38% increased Energy Shield Recharge Rate. Crafted modifiers have also been added.
- Percent Energy Shield Regeneration modifiers can no longer be obtained on Energy Shield-based Body Armours, and are no longer in the Influenced modifier pool.
- The Ghost Reaver Keystone Passive Skill now prevents your Energy Shield from Recharging (previously 50% less Energy Shield Recharge Rate).
- The Crusader modifier for Gloves that provides increased maximum total Energy Shield Recovery per second from Leech now provides 15% (previously 10%).
- Increased maximum total Energy Shield Recovery per second from Leech has been improved on the Passive Skill Tree, so Energy Shield Leech is now stronger with investment.
Builds wanting to invest in both Evasion and Energy Shield rely heavily on Ghost Dance, requiring them to be a Trickster.
Give everyone access to Ghost Dance as a Keystone Passive.
Specifics: Spoiler Every 2 seconds, gain a Ghost Shroud, up to a maximum of 3. When Hit, lose a Ghost Shroud and Recover Energy Shield equal to a percentage of your Evasion Rating. Cannot Recover Energy Shield to above Evasion Rating. We're still deciding on the specific value.
The Trickster Ascendancy will be changed as it no longer grants Ghost Dance.
Builds wanting to invest in both Armour and Energy Shield have no mechanic that gives a synergy between the two.
Add a new Keystone Passive Skill, and add more hybrid Armour/Energy Shield Passives to the Templar section of the Passive Skill Tree.
Specifics: Spoiler New Keystone Passive Skill called Divine Shield: Percentage of Total Physical Damage prevented from Hits Recently is Regenerated as Energy Shield per second. Cannot Recover Energy Shield to above Armour. We're still deciding on the specific value.
Some areas of the Passive Skill Tree, the Shadow area in particular, have no defence against (and very little life regeneration to overcome) Damage over Time effects.
Improve Life Regeneration modifiers on gear, and add a new Keystone between the Witch and Shadow area on the Passive Skill Tree to heavily dampen the initial impact of Damage over Time.
Specifics: Spoiler Greatly enhanced flat Life Regeneration modifiers on gear, to be closer to 2-3% of an expected character life at their level. Percentage based Life Regeneration has been removed from non-Unique equipment modifiers, and the Influenced modifier pool. This is now reserved for Uniques and the Passive Skill Tree.
New Keystone Passive Skill added to the Shadow Area called Lethe Shade: Take 75% less Damage over Time if you've started taking Damage over Time in the past second. 100% more Duration of Ailments on you.
A few specific mechanics grant a lot of Life Regeneration, especially with Endurance Charge stacking, but for many other sources Life Regeneration is not very powerful.
Remove various sources of Life Regeneration per Endurance Charge or lower their values, review effects that give Life Recovery Rate and high values of Life Regeneration. Add new passives in the Strength area of the tree that grant Life Regeneration and one source of increased Life Regeneration Rate.
Shadow attackers don't have a form of Life Recovery that they excel at, while almost every other core character has a signature special Recovery method.
Add new passive skill clusters to the Shadow area of the Passive Skill Tree, allowing investment in a combination of Life on Hit, Life on Kill and Life Leech. This also includes a source of Maximum total Life Recovery per Second from Life Leech in the Shadow area of the passive tree.
Witch and Shadow casters don't have an accessible form of Life Recovery.
Add new passive skill clusters to the area of the Passive Skill Tree between Shadow and Witch, allowing investment in Life on Kill and recouping a portion of damage taken as Life.
More information on Passive Skill Tree changes will be coming later.
Block is a pretty fundamental form of defence available to characters, seeing as it is available on Shields, but the Gladiator Ascendancy is far more efficient for Block investment compared to any other class because of the Gladiator's "Versatile Combatant" notable skill that grants as much Spell Block as you have Attack Block.
Give everyone access to a weaker form of Versatile Combatant as a Keystone Passive, and replace the Gladiator Ascendancy skill. Also improve how much Block chance and Spell Block chance you can get from other sources.
- Versatile Combatant is now a Keystone Passive on the Passive Skill Tree: Grants +2% Chance to Block Spell Damage for each 1% Overcapped Chance to Block Attack Damage. Also grants -25% to maximum Chance to Block Attack Damage, and -25% to maximum Chance to Block Spell Damage. This means that if you have a 75% chance to Block Attack Damage, allocating this Keystone Passive grants you a 50% chance to Block Attack Damage, as well as a 50% chance to Block Spell Damage.
- More access to Spell Block has been added between the Templar and Witch sections of the Passive Skill Tree.
- The Suffix modifiers that grant Attack Block and Spell Block on Shields have been improved, and new tiers have been added. These now grant up to 16% Attack Block and 15% Spell Block respectively at the highest tier.
- The Gladiator’s Block Ascendancy Passive Skills will be reworked. We’re experimenting with a new Notable Passive that makes the Gladiator’s chance to Block Attack Damage lucky, which helps offset the downside of Versatile Combatant.
- We'll be making further changes to Passive Skills and the Life granted by Bone Offering.
The pool of modifiers available on Shields includes some that have values that are too low or aren't relevant to shields. The power level of shield modifiers in general is also too low.
Remove irrelevant modifiers from Shields and add some really powerful ones.
Specifics: Spoiler Modifiers such as Chance to Block Projectile Attack Damage, Chance to Avoid Stun, Increased Global Physical Damage, Global Elemental Damage, Global Attack Damage, flat Mana gained on Block, percentage Life Regeneration, and Increased Cast Speed either felt out of place, or generally did not have impactful values. These can no longer be obtained on various Shields.
These changes are meant to make Shields feel more cohesive as a defensive piece of equipment, as well as to make their core modifiers more impactful. This will also make it easier to roll powerful Shields and obtain Shields with a specific modifier you’re after.
As mentioned above, modifiers such as Block Chance and Spell Block Chance were significantly improved and new tiers were added. Block Chance now goes up to +16% at its highest tier, and Spell Block Chance goes up to +15% at its highest tier.
We have added a few impactful modifiers to specific Shield types:
- Armour-based Shields can now roll high values of Reduced Extra Damage taken from Critical Strikes, the value going up to 60% at the highest tier.
- Armour-based Shields can now roll up to 8% additional Physical Damage Reduction.
- Armour-based Shields can all now roll up to 100 Life gained on Block. Previously only pure Armour Shields could roll Life gained on Block, but now this can also roll on Armour/Evasion and Armour/Energy Shield bases.
- Evasion-based Shields can now roll high values of a chance to Suppress Spell Damage taken, up to 34% at its highest tier.
- Evasion-based Shields can all now roll up to +480 Accuracy Rating. Previously only pure Evasion Shields could roll Accuracy Rating, but now this can also roll on both Armour/Evasion and Evasion/Energy Shield bases.
- Energy Shield-based Shields can now roll higher values of Faster Start of Energy Shield Recharge, up to 66% at its highest tier.
- Energy Shield-based Shields can all now roll increased Critical Strike Chance with Spells. Previously only pure Energy Shield Shields could roll increased Critical Strike Chance with Spells, but now this can also roll on both Armour/Energy Shield and Evasion/Energy Shield bases.
As a defence, Blind was equivalent to an incredibly high level of evasion, with minimal character investment. It felt mandatory for all characters.
Make Blind synergise with Evasion so that it's more powerful only if you have built a very evasive character. The power level of the new Blind is significantly lower than before, but has more opportunities for further investment if you want to specialise in it.
Specifics: Spoiler Blinded now causes targets to have 20% less Accuracy Rating and Evasion Rating. This change makes it so Blind is of no defensive help to characters who have no Evasion, but helps if you do.
It also has an offensive component, like if you want to lower the Evasion Rating of Evasive monsters to make it easier to hit them.
Blind Effect is now available on the Passive Skill Tree if you want to invest in this further.
The Saboteur Ascendancy Notable Passive Skill that is tied to Blind is being reviewed, and Flesh and Stone is being changed as noted below.
Because Flesh and Stone blinded nearby enemies, it was incredibly popular. The changes to Blind have reduced its power, so now characters may be missing a low-cost defensive reservation effect.
Reduce the cost of Flesh and Stone and change Tempest Shield so that it is a similarly powerful defensive reservation effect (alongside Arctic Armour and Flesh and Stone). The intent is that there are three competing defensive reservation effects that you are able to pick between, or use together.
- Flesh and Stone has been changed back to a 25% Reservation as a result of the changes made to Blind.
- Tempest Shield has been reworked to become a 25% Reservation Effect that provides a large amount of Spell Block as well as an Immunity to Shock. It still has the property of shooting out Lightning on Block, and the Damage has been significantly buffed.
- Arctic Armour was already buffed to provide an Immunity to Freeze.
Fortify is intended as a defensive benefit for being a melee character, but can often be obtained by spellcasters using melee weapon types that don't actually engage in melee combat.
Change the Fortify mechanic so its effect is based on your melee damage.
Specifics: Spoiler We're experimenting with a system that lets Fortify be applied based on Melee Damage dealt, so that tiny little Melee Damage Hits don't provide a full strength Fortify. This will mean that we'll be able to introduce a Chance to gain Fortify on Hit on Passive Skills or items, which we've avoided in the past, but we're working to avoid a system where every spellcaster wants to run Shield Charge to get Fortify at little cost. Our eventual goal here is that all Melee characters keep Fortify up reliably without a huge cost, while spellcasters and ranged characters won't have access to the mechanic without significant investment (or being a Champion).
That concludes Part 2 of our 3.16 expansion balance changes. Tomorrow, we'll share Part 3, which covers our plans for Auras, Curses and Elemental Damage Over Time. Please keep in mind as we're several weeks away from launch, elements of what we've written here may change after further play testing, feedback and iteration. There's plenty more to discover in our upcoming reveal of Path of Exile: Scourge and its patch notes. See you tomorrow!