In a surprise move, Grinding Gear Games developer of Path of Exile releases a large number of “balance” changes to the game in the middle of the league. This stirred up a lot of controversy around the forums and Reddit for a number of reasons. The most questionable was the patch changes taking place in the middle of the league in the first place. It’s like suddenly having your race car crash into the wall in the middle of the race because the track owner shot your tire. Mid-league changes like this can drastically affect a large number of player’s rankings in the league.
One of the changes that has been quickly relabeled to calling it a “nerf” in the community is the added immunity of taunt effects on The Shaper. If the boss cannot be taunted at all, then it poses a major problem for builds for example the Chieftain Ascendancy tree that works around taunt affects using totems to help keep enemies off the player. By making any enemies completely immune to taunt, it kills the core mechanics of the characters build.
Many argue that this nerf was needed since it makes the boss to easy. But many counter-arguments have come forward. Here’s a sample of what people had to say on the forums and Reddit about the change:
Main post author says – “…I agree that taunt is broken. But just like Pathfinder and BV, and vinktars, it should be left alone until the league ends. Many people played these builds to take down end game bosses. Well, now some of those builds are hindered because of this change. Yet, vinktars pathfinder BV, or ball lightning, etc are unchanged and get to farm those bosses as if nothing has happened. A better way to handle taunt wouldve been diminishing returns. If you use something too much it gets less effective. So, if you avoid using that particular mechanic for a given amount of time then it becomes effective again.”
Followed by nearly 500 replies
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Immunities are shit mechanics and “fix” nothing. Taunt is a mechanic literally made for a diminishing returns mechanic, why not implement something like this? Depending on how fast the effect diminishes the mechanic can be balanced around and made fair. Immunities however don’t fix shit.” Reply
“Meanwhile in D3 there are no immunities, instead it has dimishing returns. Elemental damage? Armor works against everything (IIRC) and resistances further diminish that, however there is no %. The more the have, the more you reduce. So in the end, you can apply anything to anything, freeze Malthael if you want to, but if you continue doing that it’s gonna get less effective each use, but the resistance resets if you stop using that for a while. A simple system that avoids of the problem making the bosses simply immune to everything.” Reply
“It’s sadly a pattern with GGG’s “balance.” There have been several builds, items, and/or mechanics over the years where there was an obvious abuse but they showed no real understanding of what the root cause was and, instead of fixing an actual problem, they overnerf something tangential.” Reply
“I think any respectable company would make adjustments to something they feel breaks a game encounter and goes against how they were planning for the encounter to be. While I know it sucks for certain players, I believe it’s overall a good thing to try and fix something that you’ve overlooked as opposed to letting people take advantage of it until the end.” Reply
“Path of Vinktar. Diversity = none. Your choices : Blade Vortex, Barrage or maybe Ball of Lightning + Vinktar’s. Just use Vinktars and the fastest hitting skill in game no matter how boring it is. Seemingly no one is playing Path of Exile for its build diversity anymore.” Reply
This was only one aspect in a long list of other changes that occurred in this patch. It’s unfortunate that GGG is not communicating with the community as they seem to have done more in the past to explain with some reasoning for these changes.
As for my opinion, I have to agree that adding boss immunity to skill effects, especially those effects that are so heavily built into the very Ascendancy trees they themselves created for the game, is a poor way to address the issue. Diminishing returns is by far a better way to approaching balancing of broken skills. I also agree that nerfing skills mid-season or mid-league is a poor way to handle something like this. Unless it is game breaking bugs or completely ruining a ranking, then a developers oversights shouldn’t be covered up by nerfing the builds players are justifiably taking advantage of.