Path of Exile

Investigations on Hexblast

Content of the article: "Investigations on Hexblast"

The new Hexblast skill revealed in the Curse rework is a very, very interesting skill. It introduces a lot of mechanics that have not been seen in the past, making it rather complex to figure out what's going on. I wanted to discuss my research and see what you guys think.

1) Mechanic Priority

In this image, we note three things: The white explosions (Profane Bloom), the purple explosions (Hexblast), and the circles above monsters' heads (Curses being consumed by Hexblast). Let's break this down:

  • Profane Bloom: Cursed Enemies you or your Minions Kill have a 25% chance to Explode, dealing a quarter of their maximum Life as Chaos Damage. For enemies to explode with Profane Bloom, they must be Cursed when they are killed, indicating that the Curse consumption occurs after Profane Bloom.
  • Hexblast shockwave: If the target is cursed with a hex, it consumes that hex and causes a shockwave around that enemy. Hexblast's central AOE consumes corpses and causes shockwaves from each enemy (not necessarily killing them). The Temp chains icon continues to exist at the frame the Hexblast explosion goes off, indicating that Curse consumption occurs after the shockwave. Profane Bloom is not visible in this frame, so we can assume Hexblast precedes Profane Bloom.
  • This means that the damage order is Hexblast hit -> Hexblast shockwave -> Profane Bloom -> Curse consumption. This is important as it permits Profane Bloom to chain on itself, and curses on the enemy are used for the damage calculations at the time of the hit.

2) Ailment Application

Although Hexblast is a chaos damage spell, it has some elemental-themed properties that make it special. For one, the damage it deals has the ability to ignite, shock or freeze.

For this mechanic, we can refer to the item Zerphi's Heart. It also has the line "Chaos Damage can Ignite, Chill and Shock", which has a key difference of being able to Chill but not Freeze. Chaos damage innately has no chance to inflict these ailments; you still need to get ailment chance or crit in order to inflict them.

  • In this frame we can see a shattered corpse. This indicates that Hexblast has the ability to Freeze, and no enemies were Chilled but not Frozen in the preceding moments.
  • In this frame we can see a single Ignited corpse. The player doesn't have any obvious chances to ignite, didn't ignite all enemies so not a crit, and is using Temporal Chains, so Hexblast likely has a chance to inflict ailments within the gem itself.
  • Note that the elemental curses (Flammability, Conductivity, Frostbite) only provide ailment chance to damage of their respective type; they will not increase the Chaos damage's chance to inflict ailments.
  • Modifiers to elemental damage (e.g. Elemental Overload) will affect the ignite damage, but not the base hit damage.
  • Secrets of Suffering override the ability to inflict the base ailments in favour of Brittle, Sap, and Scorched. Unsure if it functions properly, but if it does, -All Res, Base Crit, and Damage Reduction on a Crit build would be incredibly powerful.
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3) Resistance Value Override

Although Hexblast is a chaos damage spell, it has some elemental-themed properties that make it special. Secondly, it deals damage based on the lowest resistance the enemy has! For example, this lets you use an offensive hex such as Flammability and still make use of the fire resistance reduction that it provides.

This is perhaps the most unique mechanic of Hexblast. I would draw parallels to the mechanics of Doryani's Prototype, except that instead of using your Lightning Res as the enemy's Chaos Res, it uses the Enemy's lowest Res as their Chaos Res value. This specifically means that Elemental penetration will not take effect, because it is not dealing elemental damage. Chaos Res penetration (e.g. Eternity Shroud may or may not work. Reductions to Chaos Resistance (e.g. Despair, Void Gaze will not further increase damage unless it makes the Chaos Res the lowest value, but may still be useful to scale the damage of Profane Bloom or Doomblast explosions.

  • Do note that this does not mean the Chaos Damage is dealing Elemental Damage – it is only using the Resistance value to override Chaos Res, based on the wording.
  • Occultist's Void Beacon provides -20% to Cold Res. In combination with exposure from Frost Bomb and Elemental Equilibrium, it is possible to reduce Cold Res by 95% in addition to any additional scaling from Elemental Weakness, Frostbite, and -Cold Res helmets. Eye of Malice may reduce it even further.
  • High burst damage, low enemy Cold Res, and Freeze duration on Frostbite (may be changed in patch notes) allows for potent, long Freezes.
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4) Damage Calculations

If the target is cursed with a hex, it consumes that hex and causes a shockwave around that enemy. Similar to Impending Doom, the more Doom the supported hex built up, the greater damage the skill deals.

Without seeing the gem, it is impossible to see the best way to scale this skill. However, we can debate a few things:

  • Consuming any hex causes the shockwave to occur, which is likely a fixed damage value and not % damage unlike Profane Bloom.
  • It is not specified, but it is likely that it consumes all Hexes when used. It is unknown whether consume additional Hexes will deal more damage.
    • If Hexblast consumes all Hexes on an enemy, it is unknown whether it will use the highest Doom value, or the total of all Doom levels to calculate its damage.
    • It is unknown if it will provide flat Chaos damage, more Chaos damage, or more generic damage with Doom levels.
  • Based on Bane, Curse Effect will not affect damage.
  • Based on the findings in section 1, curses on the enemy will modify the Hexblast hit and shockwave damage, so it is preferable to maximize your offensive curses on the enemy before using Hexblast.
  • It is unclear if Spell Damage modifiers affect either part of the skill. The video does not show the player clearly using Controlled Destruction, although some of the support gems' letter codes have been changed.
  • Although Hexproof will no longer be an issue in 3.12, not all curse immunities may be removed from the game. This may be problematic with monsters such as the Goddess, Bameth, and Totem bosses if not addressed.

5) Build Ideas

I see 6 main build archetypes that might stem from Hexblast.

  • General Chaos AOE Occultist – non-crit Occultist taking Malediction and Withering Presence. Good AoE clear, league starter friendly. Scales AoE, chaos damage, and -Cold res mechanics to scale Hexblast. My variant uses an Impending Doom Temporal Chains, with Despair, Ele Weak, Frostbite, and Punishment in a Vixen's Entrapment.
  • Crit Chaos AOE Occultist – same as above, but takes Forbidden Power over Withering Presence. Most likely CI or LL. Uses Zealotry, Bottled Faith, Frost Shield; may or may not use Assassin's Mark. More of an endgame variant. If Secrets of Suffering works – big pog.
  • Ignite Hexblast – uses the high base damage of Hexblast and -Fire res scaling to scale Ignites. Likely to be a Trickster. May optionally scale generic DOT Multi and use Bane or ED as supplemental damage. Builds similarly to a Stormfire Ignite build – Hexblast can provide EE with flat cold or lightning damage. Will need to reapply Flammability and Ele Weak after Hexblasting either through Vixen's Entrapment or a manual Bane.
  • Archmage Hexblast – assuming that Hexblast has % more modifiers and not flat Chaos damage per Doom level, manual trigger of Hexblast may be viable with Archmage. Avoid using Unleash as it will not boost subsequent Hexblasts after the first. Very nice synergy with Cursed Concoction.
  • Spellslinger Hexblast – ignoring the Doom mechanic entirely, focuses on using Curse on Hit or Spellslinger to apply Curses and detonating them instantly. Only viable if the shockwave damage increases with additional Hexes consumed. Not recommended.
  • Poison Hexblast – most likely going to be a Pathfinder. Might need some more testing on this one, but great potential AoE with Plaguebringer.
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I have a suspicion that Blasphemy curses cannot be consumed, because they're not technically on the enemy – see Act 4 Doedre's interaction with Blasphemy.

Feel free to comment with any other ideas you guys have! Looking forward to play Hexblast in 3.12.


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