Path of Exile

My thoughts on 3.14 Ultimatum as part of the 0.1%

Normally when a new PoE league launches, I'll go hard to the point of it being unhealthy. I'll start planning builds and practicing with my team weeks beforehand. I'll book time off work and ensure I have no responsibilities for the coming week. Once the league launches, I'll often play for 24 hours on launch followed by daily 12+ hour sessions. I'm not proud of this, but I mention it to illustrate the reality that absolutely nothing can hinder my enthusiasm for PoE. Or so I thought. At this point in Ultimatum, I have less than a day of /played time, and struggle to play a 30 minute session before closing the game. My childlike enthrallment has morphed entirely into a sentiment of frustration and ennui. So what went wrong?

1) League Launch

It goes without saying this was one of the worst league launches in PoE history. Getting a good spot in the queue and waiting for 3 hours for launch only to be kicked into a 100k queue after 10 minutes of gameplay immediately put a damper on my mood. Moreover, I couldn't even play with my team due to everyone being out of sync and a party bug causing even more disconnects. Normally, we're able to finish the storyline with all skillpoints / trials around the 3 hour mark. This time it took over 8 hours, with around 4 of those simply being time spent in queue / loading screens. Combine this with the fact that some people who weren't even sponsored streamers got to skip the queues simply because they knew the right people at GGG made the league start a frustrating and unenjoyable experience.

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2) Lack of Endgame Content

The reason I nolife the game so hard for the first week is to take advantage of a good economy and acquire enough currency to make a true end-game build. This league, it seems as if there is no real end-game to look forward to. Lots of the most fun builds have been nerfed into the ground, along with the corresponding end-game farming options such as fractured delirious maps. At this point, it feels as if flipping is the real end-game, which doesn't make much sense to me. I have no problem with sitting in hideout and doing tedious flipping for hours as long as it's a means to an end. Right now, flipping is essentially the end itself, and I don't see any point in acquiring lots of currency if there's nothing fun to use it on.

3) Tedium of Atlas Progression

Related to point 2), Atlas Progression was always a means to an end of reaching true late-game. In 3.14, it feels as there isn't as much incentive to go through the tedious process of spawning all conquerors over and over, yet it's basically impossible to sustain maps or play the game at all without doing so. The progression itself also felt worse than usual. I got stuck quite often and had to whisper 50 people on the trade site just to buy the couple of maps I needed. Normally, simply chiselling + alching + vaaling red maps was enough to complete atlas progression, but this league I found myself using sac frags, prophecies, map device crafts, and the few master missions I had while still not sustaining.

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4) The League Mechanic

Ultimatum was fun the first few times, but after a while it just feels tedious. The risk:reward ratio is overtuned, given that it's essentially a more challenging version of Ritual with worse reward choices. There also isn't really any end-game to it other than the odd Inscribed Ultimatum. I lost count of the amount of times I completed 5 rounds in a 140+ quantity red map only to be offered some garbage 1c rare for the 6th. At this point I basically just skip the mechanic, which makes me feel like I'm playing a nerfed version of Standard.

In summary, this league has accomplished something I never thought possible: making an extremely enthusiastic player like me feel bored and annoyed with the gameplay not even a week in. Normally, taking time off work and living a pretty unhealthy lifestyle for a week is worth it for me simply due to how fun PoE can be. This time around, I feel as if I would have been better off doing literally anything else instead of playing 3.14.

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