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The Siege of the Atlas expansion for Path of Exile will be going live on February 4, 2022, so in other words, next week. And if you'd like to know what to expect from this new bit of content in terms of character builds and general balance, you should check out this new development manifesto.
There's a lot there, so here's just a few paragraphs on hit-based spellcasting to get you started:
Hit based Spellcasting
Most hit-based Spellcasting builds deal too little damage and have too few defensive and mobility options when compared with alternatives like Traps, Totems, Mines, Triggered Skills or Damage over Time.
Adjust the hit damage growth of most spells. The majority of spells gained around 45% more damage at gem level 20, resulting in up to 60% more damage by gem level 25. Some spells have received smaller adjustments or no adjustment. These less affected spells are generally those that provide more mobility or supplemental damage through duration mechanics.
Allow casters to obtain more cast speed through the Runic Dagger mod pool, increase some cast speed values and give rings and amulets additional tiers of cast speed modifiers.
Give Orb of Storms more damage and a mechanical redesign to solidify it as a great supplemental lightning damage skill.
Give Flameblast, Lightning Tendrils and Ice Spear some improvements to make them great skills for dealing high damage against a single target.
Improve many skills that rely heavily on unique Threshold Jewels to enhance their damage and remove or change these jewels. For many such skills, this means granting more damage in exchange for efficient sources of extra projectiles. This includes skills like Freezing Pulse, Frostbolt, Heavy Strike and Cleave. For damage-focused spells, the result of these changes means that their damage has increased on top of the damage multiplier noted above.
Lower the power of the Unleash Support. Because it is the single most impactful support for the kind of build that benefits from the aforementioned buffs, it creates limited options for these builds by feeling like the only option. With these builds otherwise being buffed, there should be more build options available than before.
Lower the damage from Totem, Trap, Mine and Trigger effects to balance out the buff to these spells. The intention is that in general, these builds should deal the same damage at high levels as they did previously. While at face value these changes will look like nerfs, for the most part they shouldn't be due to the buffs to spells. However, we do acknowledge there will be a small number of builds that will be negatively affected by these changes. Additionally, because we've adjusted some support gems that multiply the number of traps thrown, we've provided some compensation for this on non-cooldown trap skills like Fire Trap and Lightning Trap.
Lower the damage of player Ignite by 28% to partially offset the damage increase that many Ignite-applying spells have received. For the majority of high level spell gems, this is a slight damage buff when combined with the above changes. Burning Arrow, Armageddon Brand, Explosive Arrow and several other skills have received changes to compensate for the lower damage of Ignite. Attack skills and a small number of spells that are not typically aligned with Ignites will have weaker Ignites as a result of this change. We plan to introduce a mechanic for Ignite damage with melee attack skills to give some unconventional Ignite builds a new option for enhancing Ignites. Details about this will be included in the patch notes.