Path of Exile Upcoming Changes to Energy Shield and Life

A new Development Manifesto outlines the planned changes to damage mitigation in the upcoming Path of Exile expansion, The Fall of Oriath. The short version is that Energy Shield is getting nerfed, while the other defences are buffed to compensate. Here's an excerpt:

Why was a change required?

The Chaos Inoculation Keystone let Energy Shield entirely replace Life as the resource that made up a character's effective health pool, rather than just augmenting it. Because Energy Shield comes inherently on Intelligence-based equipment and has multiple mods that increase the value from the equipment, we saw a far greater growth in Energy Shield values from well-rolled items than we did life bonuses.

This factor, as well as other factors like the increase to Energy Shield from Intelligence and the power of the Discipline Aura, meant that with very well rolled items, a player could achieve colossal values of Energy Shield. We've seen characters reaching over 25,000 Energy Shield while still having the damage output to sufficiently complete all of the content in the game, compared with the 9,000 Life that a very heavily invested Life character with perfect items could reach.

In addition, the Vaal Pact, Ghost Reaver and Zealot's Oath keystones could be used to compensate for any situation where the build found itself lacking, with the small exception of Life Flasks.

The combination of a huge effective health pool and complete access to recovery mechanics removed almost all of the challenge from the very toughest encounters in the game.

To solve this problem, we've made some changes at certain points that reduce the power of Energy Shield at the very end of the game, without undermining it at lower levels.

Reductions to levels of Energy Shield

All local Energy Shield modifiers on items, as well as the base Energy Shield of items, have been reduced at higher levels. Very low-level items will see a slight increase or no change, scaling up to a 33% reduction at the highest tier of modifiers.

Because of Armour/Energy Shield and Evasion/Energy Shield equipment, we've had to apply this change to the local percentage modifiers on all other armour types as well. To compensate, all inherent values of base Armour and Evasion Rating on equipment are now greater at higher item levels.

We've also increased the defences granted by all Body equipment at higher levels by 20%.

These changes will not apply to already-rolled modifiers, but will apply to existing base types. Rerolling items with an old value will update it to the new values.

We've also reduced the potential to increase Energy Shield from other sources.
  • Chaos Inoculation no longer has a multiplier to Energy Shield on a notable behind the keystone.
  • Elreon can no longer craft 5 to 20% increased Energy Shield on Rings. There are other crafted mod changes as well, mentioned below.
  • Discipline now provides a lower value of base Energy Shield, up to 33% lower at level 20 of the gem. It now also provides 30% increased Energy Shield Recharge Rate.
After all of these changes, players will still be able to reach significantly higher values of Energy Shield than life. Current estimates are that a build that balances offence and defence and is well-geared can reach around 15,000 Energy Shield.


New Item Modifiers

We're also going to be adding a series of new modifiers to items, and replacing what can be rolled on some hybrid armour to both improve Life values and to increase the total defences on hybrid armour.

All armour will have a new Prefix modifier that can be rolled that increases flat defences (Armour, Evasion, or Energy Shield) and grants a small value of added maximum Life.
  • 18 to 23 Life and +14 to 20 Armour/Evasion Rating OR +8 to 10 Energy Shield
  • 24 to 28 Life and +21 to 42 Armour/Evasion Rating OR +11 to 15 Energy Shield
  • 29 to 33 Life and +43 to 95 Armour/Evasion Rating OR +16 to 25 Energy Shield (Not on Gloves and Shields)
  • 34 to 38 Life and +96 to 120 Armour/Evasion Rating OR +26 to 30 Energy Shield (Only on Body Armour)
We'll be changing flat added defence mods on multi-defence armours as well. Previously an Armour/Energy Shield item could roll both flat local Armour and flat local maximum Energy Shield as separate mods. These pieces will only be able to roll a combined mod that has both of those stats, at 75% their value. This means that Hybrid armours will have a lower potential rating of an individual defence, but better total defences. We'll be keeping a close eye on this change during the Beta as it grants a lower effective health pool for Energy Shield characters, but the bonus defences may compensate for this when used alongside other pure Energy Shield items.

We're also going to be adding a series of new suffix modifiers to rare body armours to give them something more rewarding. Body Armours that grant Evasion will be able to roll additional Dodge Chance. Body Armours that grant Armour will be able to roll additional Physical Damage Reduction, and Energy Shield armours will be able to roll additional Energy Shield recharge rate. We may be adding other interesting modifiers as suffixes to other item slots during the Beta, if this is successful.

As you can see, there are a lot of changes to Energy Shield, as well as item defences in general. We've gone for an approach that adjusts a wide variety of factors, so we're relying on the Beta to give us time to evaluate how this affects different aspects of Energy Shield builds. We're looking forward to seeing how these changes evolve during the Fall of Oriath development and beyond.