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The upcoming Delve challenge league for Path of Exile is now less than two days away, and if you're the type of player who likes theorycrafting and coming up with a unique build beforehand, you might enjoy going through the complete Delve patch notes. You may also want to check out this developer manifesto that outlines the balance changes coming to the game shortly. And then, have a look at all the new skill gems.
The patch notes are quite extensive so I'll let you explore them on your own. Instead, here are the planned balance changes:
Trap Throw Time, Multitrap, Cluster Trap, Minefield
Traps and, to a much lesser extent, Mines, on certain skills were more powerful than we were comfortable with, invalidating other ways of using many skills. We've increased the throw time on traps and the damage penalty on Multi Trap Support and Minefield Support, while lowering the number of traps thrown by Cluster Trap by one. We'll be increasing the damage of trap skills and mine skills like Lightning Trap and Fire Nova Mine to compensate for this damage loss.
We've changed what it means to be "instant" to mean the skill can be used while performing other actions. They can't be used while you're unable to take any action, like when you're stunned or frozen.
We've made a large number of effects instant, mostly buff effects. Most of these are reservation effects, to make applying your auras and heralds faster, but we've also applied this to Molten Shell, Phase Run, Blood Rage, Convocation and Righteous Fire.
Most of these have been otherwise untouched other than adding a short cooldown. Only Molten Shell was increased in mana cost at lower levels. We'll be monitoring these skills, and being mindful of adding future instant skills so that they need to be timed well rather than using them every time they're off cooldown.
We've changed how Spell Block is gained, so it is only available from flat sources of spell block. All existing sources of attack block to spell block conversion have been changed to a flat source of spell block, and we've added spell block to more places in the passive skill tree, with higher values than were previously available. The Gladiator passive skill now uses your attack block as your spell block.
This change was made partially to remove some restrictions that impacted design, but also to let spell block be something all characters can have access to, rather than being very powerful for very high block characters and weaker for characters that haven't heavily invested in this.
Movement skills are a core part of gameplay in Path of Exile, both for survival and efficiency. We've tried to reduce some of the disparity between different movement skills, so builds have different choices on how to approach their mobility. This is just a first step. We intend to make further changes incrementally over time without destroying the feeling of mastery that their speed grants.
The movement portion of Shield Charge is no longer affected by local weapon speed modifiers on weapons. The total weapon attack time will still affect the build up and end animations of the skill but your travel time will only be impacted by movement speed and global attack speed. This makes using certain weapons (called Brightbeak) far less powerful with the skill, flattening the playing field when it comes to what weapons to use. We'll be further reviewing the effect of attack speed on the skill in future, but for now we're just adjusting this one aspect of the skill.
Flame Dash and Lightning Warp
Flame Dash and Lightning Warp are the two primary caster-based travel skills and they have fallen behind the effectiveness of Leap Slam, Shield Charge, and Whirling Blades. We're shortening the cooldown on Flame Dash, lowering its cast time slightly, and increasing the range it can travel to be consistent with other skills. It also gains cooldown recovery rate as the gem levels. Lightning Warp now has a shorter cast time and starts with 20% reduced duration at level 1 of the gem, scaling slower as it levels. This is so the skill doesn't feel as bad when used at lower levels.
Sunder is a very powerful leveling tool that provides strong damage and great crowd clearing from a safe distance. We've left the damage intact but we've lowered the length of the rectangular damage area by 20%. Sorry, Sunderboi.
Kinetic Blast had some mechanical quirks that made it very powerful at area clearing and situationally powerful in some boss encounters. The skill now deals 35% less area damage, from what was previously 25% less. We've also changed how the areas are placed. They can now be placed in slices around the central impact so that they can't overlap. Against walls, some won't be able to spawn at all.
Vaal Soul Gain Prevention Time
We've now changed all Vaal skills that are affected by duration modifiers to have their soul prevention time also affected by the duration modifier. This means that when increasing the duration of Vaal Haste's effect, you're also increasing the soul prevention time. This keeps certain skills that could get very long durations from being recharged during prevention time, and is beneficial for effects like Vaal Storm Call and Vaal Earthquake that would likely already have duration reductions.
Vaal Righteous Fire
Vaal Righteous Fire now takes the combined life and energy shield sacrificed from Energy shield before life, to better support Low Life characters using Vaal Righteous Fire.
Earthquake and Vaal Earthquake
The aftershock damage multiplier is now consistent at all levels, the same value it was at gem level 20. This is to make the skill better to use while leveling, before you've had opportunities to invest in it.
Physical Projectile Attack Damage Support
The Physical Projectile Attack Damage Support has been renamed Vicious Projectiles Support, increasing its readability by 70%. It now grants more chaos and more physical damage to supported attacks instead of Poison and Bleed damage, letting it apply to the damage over time of Caustic Arrow and Toxic Rain.
Passive Tree Changes
We've adjusted a large number of minion passives, added new starting minion passive paths for the Witch and Templar, added a new large minion wheel above the Templar's elemental wheel, as well as reworking the minion clusters near the Templar starting area. These include effects that let increases and reductions to minion damage also apply to you, and the same for minion attack speed. We've also included a number of minion accuracy increases.
The Templar starting area has been significantly reworked, improving bonuses as well as pathing, and better enabling the minion/attack hybrid.
The Witch starting area now has a minion path replacing its existing mana and mana regeneration path. The mana skills have been moved to a path alongside the Energy Shield path, with a new mana notable that grants increased mana, flat mana regenerated per second and flask mana recovery.
The Guardian no longer has a notable that affects Warcries. We've taken those bonuses and placed them on the passive tree. One cluster between the Templar and Marauder grants you and allies attack, cast and move speed if you've used a warcry recently, removes the warcry mana cost, as well as some other smaller bonuses. The other cluster between the Marauder and the Duelist makes Warcries instant, lowers their cooldown slightly, as well as other minor bonuses.
The Guardian Ascendancy
The Guardian now has two new notable skills that reward having minions while being directly involved in combat, as well as empowering the Herald of Purity skill.
The Pathfinder Ascendancy
The Pathfinder now has a four-skill paths replacing its previous two-skill poison path. This path includes more potent poison bonuses, chaos attack damage bonuses, general chaos skill effects, and a bonus for the new Herald of Agony. It is intended to work well alongside the new Chaos bow skills, as well as any poison attack character.
Bow Passives Now Affect Skill Damage Over Time
Previously, almost all weapon passives gave damage from ailments with attack skills while wielding a weapon of their type. They now grant a bonus to damage over time instead, letting them boost the damage of Caustic Arrow, Toxic Rain, and Decay.
Sources of Secondary Damage, like corpse explosions or the blasts from Explosive Arrow, can now be blocked or dodged. The block and dodge type required is based on the source of the secondary damage. This is to make Explosive Arrow easier to mitigate in PvP, but also prevents certain monster abilities like corpse destruction bypassing defences of block or dodge based characters.
Frost Bomb, in addition to reducing life regeneration rate, also reduces energy shield regeneration and recovery rate. This is to let players have ways to mitigate very defensive energy shield characters, which may also come in handy against certain Grandmasters.