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In a couple of days, Grinding Gear Games will be launching the Heist challenge league expansion for their free to play action-RPG Path of Exile. Among many other changes, the expansion will introduce a number of new skills and revamp a few of the existing ones. You can see the new and updated skills in action below:
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In Path of Exile: Heist, we're introducing several new skills and reworking some past ones. Today's news post covers more detail of new skills like Blazing Salvo, Steel Skills and the long-awaited Discharge rework.
Blazing Salvo releases a torrent of fiery mortars that can hit enemies as they fly and land in rapid succession, with each mortar causing an explosion. When targeting up close, the explosions can hit a target multiple times, while targeting at range causes them to spread out and have a higher explosion radius, giving you a wide damage spread.
The skill rewards clever positioning, making it well suited to casting by hand or by being careful about placement of totems, traps and mines. Multiple Projectile supports result in more damage up close and more reliable area spread, while Fork lets the mortars split into two if they hit enemies, with each exploding separately. Combine the skill with Void Sphere to draw enemies in for a concentrated salvo, or use Flame Wall to add fire damage to Blazing Salvo while applying the Flame Wall's burning effect to enemies hit.
Crackling Lance shoots out a wide beam of lightning that has secondary areas of lightning that split off it, striking enemies in a wide spread. Crackling Lance comes with built in Intensity, so each cast builds in damage, while the secondary areas angle in, until all the lightning fires in a single wider beam.
The skill has powerful single target damage capacity when handcast, while having reliable area coverage when used with triggers, totems, traps or mines. Its damage bonus is multiplicative with the Intensity support, allowing it to build up incredible single target damage, and its high damage is great for creating very powerful shocks on enemies.
Intensity and the Pinpoint Support
Intensity was introduced as a high-risk, high-reward mechanic for handcasting that lets you build up powerful concentrated damage while casting repeatedly, as long as you don't move and at the cost of area of effect. To improve the mechanic, we're lowering the base maximum Intensity to 3, while increasing all bonuses to compensate. This will make it faster to build up and lose intensity, while also putting more power on the passive tree notable that gives maximum Intensity.
We've changed the Intensity mechanic to be one we can build into other skills and supports, like Crackling Lance and the new Pinpoint Support. Pinpoint Support gives 3 additional projectiles, while each stack of Intensity will reduce the number of projectiles you fire by 1 while greatly increasing the skill's damage. By increasing your maximum Intensity you could lose all projectiles, so this support works well with spells that can easily gain additional projectiles.
A classic Path of Exile spell, Firestorm has been reworked to give it more powerful visuals, more reliable area coverage and a greater reward for casting fewer, more powerful Firestorms. It is now a level 28 skill, increased from level 12. Firestorm now calls down a single, powerful meteor followed by a smaller ongoing storm of fire over a duration. It now has a limit on how many ongoing storms can be active at once, so you can call down as many meteors as you'd like but can't stack up the ongoing fire storms by extending their duration and triggering or casting the skill rapidly. This has allowed us to greatly increase the area of each impact and the overall damage per cast (and improves performance).
The Icestorm skill granted by The Whispering Ice has received a visual overhaul to modernise the skill, while also receiving some balance changes. It has a storm limit like Firestorm, though the limit is much higher than Firestorms so it works better with triggering and rapid cast mechanics. Its impact area of effect and damage has been increased, while the impact frequency has been lowered.
Discharge is another long standing Path of Exile skill that hasn't received much balance attention due to how dependent it has been on specific mechanics that can very rapidly generate charges, forcing the balance to be focused on a small handful of unique items that can generate huge numbers of charges as quickly as you can use the skill. To make the skill more accessible, Discharge’s base damage has been almost tripled and its area of effect now scales significantly with the number of charges consumed, but it has been given a short cooldown. This makes keeping up with charge generation much more manageable for a wider selection of builds. Its damage penalty when triggered has been replaced by a damage penalty to ailments, as it can now create a very devastating ignite.
To preserve the classic trigger Discharge playstyle, a new threshold jewel called Endless Misery has been added which sets the cooldown of Discharge to a much lower value, but also comes with penalties to its damage and area of effect, bringing it closer to (though superior in many setups) the previous iteration of Discharge.
It has also received a visual overhaul to bring it on par with modern skill effects and improve its performance.
Glacial Cascade now has additional mechanics that provide a unique playstyle that rewards clever positioning. The skill now has inherent knockback, a fixed cascade spread, and the final burst of the cascade deals significantly more damage in a larger area. Use the knockback from the cascade to push enemies away and into the large impact, and position the skill carefully on bosses to make the most of the damage overlap. The skill still deals significant damage with Traps and Mines, but can now take much more advantage of the deliberate positioning that totems and hand casting allows.
The skill benefits greatly from increased area of effect, allowing for more overlap between bursts. We've also changed the skill to convert 100% of its physical damage to cold, so no enchantment or threshold jewel is required to fully convert the skill. We're replacing the Enchantment and disabling the Long Winter threshold jewel from dropping, to be re-introduced in a new form later.
Splitting Steel is a new low level skill that uses the shard mechanic. Each use fires a single shard that explodes into additional projectiles when it hits an enemy or reaches the targeted location, creating smaller shards that fly towards nearby enemies before detonating in smaller explosions. The skill has some added physical damage and a chance to impale, something that wasn't previously accessible at such low levels.
Changes have been made to the Split mechanic that means Splitting now occurs before other projectile behaviours; This means that Fork, Pierce or Chain would take place after Split has generated all of the additional projectiles, opening up all sorts of interesting ways to take advantage of these mechanics.
Call of Steel
Call of Steel is a secondary skill granted as long as you have any of the Steel gems equipped. It lets you detonate all impales on enemies in a very large range, causing them to deal their stored impale damage in a small area around them. This includes any dead enemies whose corpses are impaled.
Call of Steel also generates Shards that can be used by any of the Steel skills, generating one for each impaled enemy in range as well as 4 shards when first used, then another 4 every half a second until you're at the maximum of 12 shards. Using a steel skill will interrupt this ongoing recharge, so it's best to time your use of this to when you'll be performing other actions if you don't have enough impaled enemies nearby.
Shattering Steel has received some changes to make the skill more flexible at the cost of consuming two shards. Shattering Steel projectiles can no longer hit the same target multiple times, but instead deal much more damage up close when consuming shards. The skill now has four additional projectiles (from two) and projectile distance is now more reliably modified by projectile speed. Projectiles still explode in a cone area when they stop, and these areas can hit a target multiple times if you can get them to overlap.
The skill now grants buffs that give a chance to block whenever you use it while consuming a shard. You can have up to 6 of these buffs that grant block chance, each with its own duration, so you've got to keep using the skill frequently to keep the bonus active. These give a sizable defensive advantage to keep you alive when getting up close for those deadly close range shots.
Lancing Steel has been completely reworked. Using the attack now consumes 4 shards, creating a whirling cluster of shards pointing forward. The cluster rapidly fires out its projectiles, aiming towards enemies in front at great range or enemies in any direction close to the cluster. The projectiles target enemies the cluster hasn't hit first, letting the cluster pick off weaker enemies before focusing on remaining targets. The projectiles deal more damage to targets that haven't yet been hit by each cluster of shards, to make the skill much more effective at taking out very large groups of enemies that are spread out.
Additional projectiles add to the total number of projectiles each cluster fires, with 50% more projectiles fired for each shard consumed. This means that the skill usually fires three times its number of projectiles at a fixed rate, creating a hail of shards that deal a devastating salvo of damage, especially when combined with the impale effect. You can have multiple clusters active at once, limited only by how fast you can generate Shards.
Because of the high shard cost, you'll likely want to invest in a chance to impale, so that you've got more shards in enemies to draw out with Call of Steel.
Furthermore, if you’d like to learn more about the team’s plans when it comes to balance in this upcoming expansion, you should also check out this fresh development manifesto.