Path of Exile: Lake of Kalandra Character Balance Development Manifesto

The upcoming Lake of Kalandra expansion for Path of Exile will be introducing a series of balance changes aimed at flattening the game's power curve and making sure its minion-focused builds aren't as mindlessly dominating. And this here development manifesto outlines these upcoming changes.

Here's an excerpt:

Minion Balance

Path of Exile is a game about finding items to improve your character. Minion builds historically got most of their power from their gems, and didn't have as many strong options to benefit from finding better items. The overall goal of these changes is to improve the variety of viable minion builds, but also make minion builds more reliant on items.

Problem: There are limited options to invest in minion-related stats on player gear, meaning that their base stats have to be inflated to compensate. This leads to most minion builds caring too little about itemisation, and also limits the potential to scale high-end minion builds with better items.

Solution: Lower minion base life and damage, but provide more ways for players to invest into minions on their own gear, allowing minion damage and survivability to each be higher than previously possible for a character with strong items.

Problem: Some minion skills are clear outliers in terms of inherent power, so become the default choice for many minion-focused builds.

Solution: Reduce the power of a couple of overperforming minion skills, and increase the power of others, with the goal of providing more minion options that feel good to play. These changes are in addition to the global minion changes detailed above.

Problem: Because minions are monsters, they inherit some stats from monsters that can significantly affect build choices and power. As these stats are not detailed anywhere in-game, they are a cause of confusion for a lot of players (as well as rendering minion ailment builds near-impossible except for minions specifically designed around them). The large damage bonuses granted to minions by frenzy and power charges also crowd out alternative options, especially for shield itemisation with Necromantic Aegis and utility-focused spectres.

Solution: Split potentially-confusing monster stats into minion and non-minion versions so that minions can behave in the manner players would naturally expect.

Problem: Investing in minion critical strikes has been possible in a very niche manner for some time now, but has never been a fully-supported build option. Additionally, the removal of a large amount of potential critical strike chance from power charges in the above change would render critical minion builds near-impossible without further changes.

Solution: Add more sources of minion critical strike investment. These changes are not intended to fully compensate for the lost critical strike chance from power charges, but instead to more than make up for the lost damage via the addition of multiple sources of minion critical strike multiplier.

Problem: The Necromancer's Unnatural Strength notable passive skill is extremely strong for almost all minion builds due to how well minion skills scale with gem level. This skill makes it hard to justify using other ascendancy classes for minion builds.

Solution: Change Unnatural Strength to provide a less universally applicable stat, and allow more access to minion gem levels on items instead (as detailed above).