Path of Exile

Item Heterogenization needs to be significant, not a mere annoyance

It was quite surprising to see GGG consider adding a random non-modifiable quality modifier to items as a suitable solution to fix or improve item heterogeneity.

From the manifesto:

Problem: 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.

Solution: Base Types are now generated with a random 0-10% higher base defense, 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%.

The proposed solution does nothing to make items more interesting. If the modifier can be item-filtered, it will have no effect at all as players will just filter out the lower rolled items. If the modifier cannot be item-filtered, it will only introduce annoyance instead of adding interesting aspects to the items. I suspect in the latter case, most people wouldn't interact with the modifier until heavily min-maxing. It seems an uninspired solution.

Item heterogeneity is a multifaceted issue that ties into other problems of the game such as item bloat. This also is due to similar item archetypes having different types of base items dropping at different item levels, usually differing only in base attribute values. We have some differences in items by them having small variety in implicit modifiers. We've seen more items been added in the past that have more interesting implicit mods, but there's so much more design space here that should be investigated instead of adding RNG pseudo-quality.

Right now we have multiples of base items that become redundant as character level and item levels it has access to increase. There are rare edge cases, where item bases that drop in the campaign retain any meaningful utility or preference over top bases of a specific item archetype. I understand that the bad item bases need to be there to make the good bases have value, but what if we retain the value of good bases through rarity, target-farmability or alternative cost instead.

I'm genuinely surprised that item heterogeneity wasn't approached instead via the venue of adding more interesting and differentiating implicit modifiers. Allow every base item some sort of identity. GGG has tested this with atlas drop bases, heist bases etc and I think they've been resounding successes. Leverage this idea.

Every item base should have an implicit modifier, not just differ in basic stats such as armour, evasion or ES values. We don't need 10 bases that only slightly increase in their ES, Armour, Evasion or damage values, automatically making 9 of them redundant in late game as a base item. Instead have 10 different bases in one archetype that have wildly variable implicits – make one base the top tier raw defense base, another base have flat mana, another have block etc. This way you have a preferred base you want to farm as it allows you to min-max, retaining their relative value, but not making the other bases redundant for 95% of characters.

These heterogenized bases should have different item level brackets, so you can make more interesting base items drop in specific sections of the game, but would allow you to use the same base item type that synergizes with your build archetype the best throughout the game, replacing like for like, not from trash base to the eventually inevitable single best base item. Item variety needs to be meaningful instead of incremental base stat increase.

GGG, please, make item bases interesting, even if that means fewer labels of junk white items that you've said you want to have drop less anyway. Introduce item value through other measures than to force dumpster diving.

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