The first of four of five balance manifestos has been published by GGG on their website, tackling upcoming changes to jewels & ailment mitigation. For the uninitiated, balance manifestos are long chunks of text that try to explain upcoming balance changes in a format that better conveys their design direction than a simple patch note list. As such, we don’t have any concrete, by-the-numbers knowledge of these upcoming changes we’ll discuss, but just what to expect.
The manifesto is on the shorter side compared to previous ones, so I’d suggest you give the whole thing a read. We’ll outline and discuss a few of the changes below.
The problem is as follows: Having to stack several jewels in order to get enough protection from ailment is an issue. I think we can all agree on that one, with how prevalent and dangerous ailments have become in recent times!
The solution to this problem is twofold:
- The values of mods that provide ailment mitigation has been increased, so you need less jewels to get the same amount of protection.
- Regular jewels (not Clusters, not Abyss jewels) now have more mods in their pool that provide Reduced Duration or Reduced Effect for a wider variety of ailments.
Abyss jewels get a few new mods that provide ailment avoidance.
As I mentioned, we’ve got no numbers, and that includes the amount of new mods entering the mod pool for both regular jewels and Abyss jewels. What we should expect from this change is that ailment mitigation requires less ‘jewel investment’ on the passive tree to get the same result as before, but that investment is likely being transferred to currency rolling jewels for the mods you desire – since the mod pool will be further diluted by the addition of new mods.
All in all, it sounds like a positive change, but we’ll know when we see the numbers!
Here’s where things get a bit murky. Let me quote the entire text from the ‘problem’ sub-heading:
Many unique Jewels are not exciting to find. There are a few reasons for this. In most cases they are simply underpowered, or apply to a too-narrow window of usage, or both. There are also many corruption-only Jewels that don’t fulfill a good purpose.
Previously, we were hesitant to revisit unique Jewels and improve them beyond their initial designs because many of their themes are somewhat rigid in nature, meaning there is little room to improve them without completely remaking them.
An example of this is the Fireborn Crimson Jewel. It has no values that we could increase to make it more useful; it simply changes the damage type within a radius which has very limited opportunities for use. Any improvements we could make to this Jewel would have to fundamentally change its identity and would therefore essentially remove the Jewel in its current form from Path of Exile.GGG
Alright, so most Path of Exile players can probably agree that most unique jewels are, indeed, not exciting to find, in part due to how they are designed to be very specialized and fit a narrow sub-set of builds. I’m not referring to juicy morsels like Thread of Hope, or any other deterministic drops like Timeless jewels, of course. There’s some cool jewels that are part of the core drop pool, like Unnatural Instinct (pictures below) which fit a greater variety of builds, but they’re the exception when it comes to the unique jewel core drop pool.
The solution to this problem is a little more complex:
- Every unique jewel becomes ‘very rare’ and ‘highly desirable’.
- Many existing unique jewels are being removed from the drop pool.
- There’s a new set of very powerful unique jewels coming in 3.20, intended to be chase items.
- Some niche jewels are staying in the game, but they’re no longer part of the drop pool.
- Some of these niche jewels will now only be obtained through corruption.
- Others will only be obtained through vendor recipes.
- Others (such as Golem-enabling jewels) won’t be in the drop pool, but will drop from somewhere, deterministically.
Let’s unpack all of that for a minute. First, we don’t have a full list of all the jewels that are being outright removed, which seems like an important thing to get for such a massive change. Judging from the above quote, we know at least Fireborn is gone, because apparently adding another little mod like, I don’t know, “X% increased Fire damage” would absolutely destroy the jewel’s identity so it’s better to simply erase it from existence.
For a game that’s had a very unfortunate three months with the Lake of Kalandra league, a little more transparency – so we could perhaps save some jewels from being asked through the… power of community – would have been appreciated.
On a lighter note, moving some jewels’ acquisition to vendor recipes or ‘deterministic drops’ (whatever deterministic means in POE anymore) is a welcome change. For some jewels that are very niche, this means players that don’t need them won’t ever have to cross paths with them, and those who do make use of them can just acquire them in an easy manner.
Other jewels only being obtainable through corruption, though, is unfortunate. This change still keeps these jewels’ acquisition a gamble, this time costing Vaal Orbs, but it also removes the possibility of corrupting said jewels yourself and netting some valuable corrupted implicit mods.
Lastly, we need to consider the first bullet point: Core drop jewels are becoming ‘very rare’. We wouldn’t generally know what this means anyway, but with the confusing loot changes in Lake of Kalandra, we’re even more in the dark.
In Lake of Kalandra, loot was massively nerfed. There’s been a bunch of patches that fixed some of the issues, but it still feels tangibly less rewarding than before. That’s not even considering the ‘loot pinata’ issue, where the most profitable way to get Divine Orbs (the current ‘valuable trading currency’ after Exalted Orbs were dethroned) is to find a rare monster with the right modifiers, punch it down to low health, hide in a corner and swap your gems for Magic Find gems and a Culling Strike support and one-shot the monster to get a shower of Divines. The upcoming Archnemesis manifesto should have been the first to be published, for a chance that our loot drop and rarity worries would be put to rest.
Unique Jewel Quest Rewards
Here’s a problem that I can’t recall anyone having:
Many of the unique Jewels that are currently granted through quest rewards are not very desirable. Additionally, because they’re offered to all players who make their way through the campaign, they’re extremely common, which inhibits them from having value or being meaningful items to find. We have also come to feel that it’s thematically incorrect to offer unique items as quest rewards, as it undermines their feeling of uniqueness and prestige.GGG
Here’s the ‘solution’:
Unique Jewels will no longer be offered as quest rewards. Most of the Jewels that were previously offered have been removed entirely, though some important ones have had their effects preserved in the form of new unique items or by being added to the pool of rollable Jewel modifiers.
These quest rewards now offer a random Rare Jewel. Because the rewards are not static like the unique Jewels were, they may have a better chance of being useful to the receiver or something that may be valuable to trade to others. At the very least, they should be less predictable.GGG
Now, I think everyone can get behind a quest reward being changed, and one year from now we probably won’t even think about this change. It’s the campaign, nothing you gain from it tends to last by the time you hit high-tier maps.
On the other hand, there’s a little issue with how this sentence is framed: “Because the rewards are not static like the unique Jewels were, they may have a better chance of being useful to the […]”. There’s nothing wrong with the sentence, rare jewels could be better for someone than one of the current unique options. Having parsed through thousands of rare items by this point, however, the most likely outcome is that the jewels is going to be useless for the receiver.
All in all, this quest reward change feels rather bizarre and unwarranted, like GGG figured they were changing unique jewels as a whole and decided to touch every single aspect of them.
I’ll leave you with this brilliant quote:
Players should no longer be burdened with predictable unique Jewel quest rewards but will not entirely miss out on some of the valuable aspects they did have.GGG
The ‘burden of predictability’ is already the highlight of the manifesto for a big part of the community.
What did you think of Path of Exile’s jewel & ailment mitigation manifesto? Let us know in the comments below!
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