Grinding Gear Games is doing something different when it comes to character balance changes in the upcoming Path of Exile expansion, Sentinel: nothing. No buffs, nerfs, or anything of the like will be applied once the new content goes live. Why, you may ask? Well, the reason is simple: GGG is trying to save you all some stress.
Class balance changes come to every Path of Exile expansion, but that’s being put on pause for Sentinel. I previewed the new content ahead of today’s livestream, in which the decision was revealed. During the preview, GGG’s Chris Wilson spoke about why the developer decided to eschew said changes. The reason is because Wilson and the rest of the team want players to dive right into the expansion. Wilson said that, generally, people tend to seek out new class builds before playing a new PoE expansion, and these changes often throw a wrench into things.
When character balance gets changed, it potentially mucks up previously made class builds the community shares online. The concern for the team is that players eager to jump into Sentinel will seek said guides before jumping in, without considering that the guide is now incompatible. What follows is someone using a class that doesn’t mesh well with the new changes, which obviously would be a source of frustration. No one wants to make impromptu respecs after finding out their chosen class just doesn’t work. “Decision paralysis” is another factor that the team wants to avoid.
“Often, there’s a degree of decision paralysis, where a new release is coming out and there’s a bunch of complicated changes,” Wilson told us. “And while some of the players love exploring that and working out the best builds, others are just petrified that they maybe playing the wrong thing.”
Just play the game
Instead, Wilson wants players to be encouraged to choose a build guide and go into Sentinel without worry. It’s a bold strategy, Cotton, one that Wilson said was inspired by Blizzard. Back when the latter company released Diablo II: Resurrected, it confidently stated that it would do so without a balance patch. Those who played and enjoyed the game back in the day can do so with familiar character builds.
That has since changed, but GGG has decided to follow suit, showing it has some confidence that all the parts will mesh. Wilson did joke that it could all “backfire horribly,” though. We’ll have to wait and see.
Depending on how things go, Wilson said there may be future releases that go without balance changes. There will be a patch bringing balance changes to Path of Exile: Sentinel, however. Wilson said that the team has plans for an update, which should come in patch 3.19.