Path of Exile

Communication and the Sacred Orb

Hi everyone,

I wanted to post myself to clear up some misunderstanding, because when our communication about new items is through bite-sized single sentences and pictures that are designed for easy sharing on social media, some explanation and context can be missed. This often leads to fun speculation by the community, but can occasionally lead to misunderstandings.

This league, we've been working hard at improving our communication so that we are more transparent about what to expect from future changes and what our intentions and thoughts are when making these changes. When we posted the Sacred Orb teaser earlier today, there was a strong reaction to it which is understandable given that we failed to provide enough context for how rare this item is. I am really sorry about that and I hope that I can clear things up by explaining our thinking. The senior designers and I have spent a lot of today going through your feedback and discussing it. We feel that this explanation will help you get the full picture so that you can evaluate the item properly.

As you know, Path of Exile: Scourge introduces variable base defences on armour pieces. This means that the built-in Armour, Evasion of Energy Shield values on an armour piece can vary from their current values up to approximately 15% more (it varies item to item). While the individual impact of slightly higher base defences is relatively modest for most items, these values matter more and more as you face harder Path of Exile content and need to min-max your characters more.

So what are the consequences of introducing variable base defences to Path of Exile?

  • For new players, the impact is low. As the per-item base defences averages a spread of around 15%, a good or bad item you find is going to deviate by plus or minus 7.5% from average, an amount that is entirely dwarfed by whatever mods it has.
  • For players who want to craft from base types, it creates a situation where base types matter a lot more. It's far more interesting if you have the opportunity to spot a good base type to craft with, rather than them all being exactly the same. Don't worry, you can filter for it.
  • For players who want to have and collect trophy uniques or other perfect items, it gives them another axis for the item to be perfected on. Having a unique with close-to-perfect mod values alongside close-to-perfect base defences is even more impressive.
  • Finally, it does help slightly with 3.16's goal of improving character defences. This feature was moved from 3.17 to 3.16 because it made more sense alongside other defensive buffs.

So the next question was whether to allow players to modify base defences. Is it okay for an item to drop that has great mods and has a low base defence roll that can't be eventually fixed? Well, yes, the game would still technically function if items had defences locked in stone forever. But it is far more interesting if there is some very-difficult way of modifying values like this. You can reroll your explicit mods with Divine Orbs. You can reroll your implicit mods with Blessed Orbs. You can change conqueror influence with Conquerors' Orbs. You can even reroll sockets on corrupted items with Vaal Orbs or the new Tainted Orbs. In pretty much every case, there's an end-game expensive way to tweak almost-perfect items, hoping to get them more perfect. The key thing is for that mechanism to be really rare.

Over time, Divine/Blessed Orbs have become more common as the Divine recipe gets easier to achieve and these high-end Orbs are given out more frequently from league rewards. With the Sacred Orb, which rerolls base defence values on armours, it was our opportunity to actually pitch the rarity appropriately.

We don't normally talk about drop rates, but in this case it will help solve a miscommunication. The Sacred Orb is more than three times rarer than an Exalted Orb. It is currently the second-rarest currency item after the Mirror of Kalandra. Its purpose is that a near-perfect item can eventually be perfected, at incredible cost. This is not a trivial alternate-quality system or something that is going to undermine the jackpot value you'll get when you find an amazing item that also has perfect base defences.

Have a play when Scourge comes out next week and let us know what you think. In playtesting so far, I am personally finding my interactions with base types a lot more interesting than before and get excited both seeing a perfect-defence base type drop and knowing that it would be technically possible to fix a non-perfect one with enough investment, if the item was godly enough to warrant it.

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