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Path of Exile's Vaal Skills will be getting a bit of a rework in the upcoming 3.3.0 content update for Grinding Gear Games' action-RPG. Originally envisioned as super-powered versions of normal skills, in practice there was rarely a reason to use most of these limited use rechargeable skills. The update will attempt to address that and make them both easier to use and more effective against bosses. The individual skills will also get tweaked and rebalanced. Here are some details:
In Content Update 3.3.0, we're reworking the core mechanic of Vaal Skills. We've done this to improve some of the problems that most Vaal skills have. Vaal Skills were always intended to be super-skills that can be used at pivotal moments for a big burst of power, so we're making various changes to help them better achieve this goal.
Here are some major changes to the Vaal skill system. These are intended to address some problems with the Vaal skill system, noted below.
We're also reworking and rebalancing a huge number of Vaal skills. Some are to make the Vaal Skills better fit with their base skill (so they can be fully-linked more effectively), while others are simply to give the Vaal skill its own unique epic feel.
- Vaal Skill Gems now grant the regular and the Vaal version of the skill. This is to remove the socket pressure that Vaal skills suffered from, so you no longer have to give up an Aura, Herald, Triggered Skill or a well-linked secondary skill, and you can justify using a Vaal gem in your best set of linked sockets.
- Unique and Rare enemies now grant souls to Vaal Skills as they lose life. Longer fights will generate more Vaal souls for your skills. We'll reveal the exact mechanics once we're completely happy with them. Most Vaal skills couldn't be used more than a couple of times on bosses until this change, and couldn't be used at all on stand-alone encounters like Izaro. You won't be able to use them as frequently as in the past when killing lots of enemies, but they'll still play a part and have an impact on boss fights.
- Vaal Skills now prevent gaining Vaal souls for a short duration when used. This change was made so that we no longer need to balance Vaal skills around their ability to generate their soul cost back again when killing many enemies. Because of this change, we can increase the power and reduce the soul cost of many Vaal skills.
- Vaal skills no longer have higher soul costs after your encounters with Kitava. With other changes, Vaal skills no longer need to get more expensive as you start encountering larger monster packs.
- Vaal Souls are now stored per skill, rather than per gem. This is to prevent you having multiple copies of the same Vaal skill gem and switching the gems out mid-fight.
- The Ancestral Call Support can no longer support Vaal skills. The same is still true of Multistrike Support and Spell Echo Support. This is something we'll reassess in future, but at the moment duplicating Vaal skill effects causes too many technical, performance and balance problems.
Vaal Lightning Strike
The skill now strikes the ground in front of you or hits an enemy, creating an orb on the ground or attached to the enemy. This orb then repeatedly unleashes cones of projectiles, aimed at nearby foes. Even if the enemy is killed, the orb continues to fire projectiles.
The skill is now a much more reliable ongoing damage skill, and interacts much better with extra projectiles.
We've reduced the skill's chain count to match regular Arc, but it now splits every time it chains, meaning that even with four extra chains, it can now hit more targets, much more rapidly. It also always applies a long-duration, high-effect Shock. This makes the skill more useful for Arc builds against tougher bosses. It now deals much more damage with a higher minimum damage, so it is much more reliable for clearing out a pack of enemies. Both it and regular Arc now deal more damage for each remaining chain, making the first few hits more powerful, great for targeting tough foes.
The skill has lost out on the rare situation where it can bounce between three tough enemies repeatedly, but the new bonuses and damage increases make it much more consistent and worth the time spent casting in any situation.
Vaal Detonate Dead
The skill now creates a locus on the ground that regularly pulses, detonating up to 8 nearby corpses. After a short delay, it repeats this effect. If it was able to find corpses, it repeats again after an even shorter delay, repeating until no corpses remain or the delay reaches 0. This makes the skill great if you're able to repeatedly generate corpses, creating a huge amount of damage from a single skill.
It now uses the new Detonate Dead mechanic resulting in more reliable damage over a larger area of effect and a better-looking series of explosions.
Though the skill was very epic, it often created a huge performance loss when detonating a huge number of corpses, and its potential damage meant the soul cost had to be very high. It can now be much more affordable, and a good addition to a Detonate Dead build or alongside other corpse skills.
Vaal Storm Call
The skill still strikes nearby enemies with lightning, but the lightning strikes now deal damage in an area of effect, making it much more powerful against groups of enemies. The skill also strikes a fixed number of times over its duration, making reductions to skill duration a damage per second increase, rather than a damage loss.
This is because the Less Duration Support Gem is often used with Storm Call, so we wanted it to be a good support to use with Vaal Storm Call.
Vaal Double Strike
We've doubled the number of Doubles spawned by Vaal Double Strike, doubled the Duration, and doubled the number of uses that can be stored. The Doubles' base movement speed has been almost doubled and further increases as the skill levels, growing to 100% more Double movement speed. There is no longer a limit on the number of Doubles you can have active at once.
Both Vaal Double Strike and Double Strike now deal additional damage against Bleeding enemies.
The Doubles also have new effects on them that make them stand out from other skills that duplicate your character.
The Doubles from Vaal Double Strike were one of the few autonomous ways to do weapon damage, but were greatly limited, so we've changed the skill so you can try to get multiple Doubles active at once. They're invulnerable and use your weapon damage, so make a unique kind of clone build.
Other Vaal Skills are receiving significant reworks and numerical adjustments, but we want to wait until they're further along before we talk about them. We also have a number of entirely new Vaal skills coming, which we'll reveal in the weeks to come.
We'll also release more information on the individual balance values of these skills as testing progresses. As with our previous Skill Revamp posts, any of the above changes might not make it into 3.3.0, as our balance and bug testing continues.