Path of Exile devs hope to appease frustrated fans as Diablo 4 looms

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Path of Exile developer Grinding Gear Games is attempting to navigate heavy community fallout after a series of recent updates leave fans frustrated with the state of the game. Path of Exile has long been considered one of the best ARPG games on PC since its release in 2013, but several of its more recent patches and seasonal updates have proven unpopular with the fantasy game’s usually dedicated playerbase, leaving GGG searching for a salve for the issues as Blizzard’s Diablo 4 release date looms over the horizon.

The newest Path of Exile expansion, Lake of Kalandra, launched on August 19. It promised a cool new way for players to earn endgame gear by exploring the titular lake, which has the power to reflect entire encounters from elsewhere in Wraeclast. The expansion also looked to offer exciting lore around Kalandra herself, a figure known for being the creator of the Mirror of Kalandra, one of the most powerful Path of Exile currencies – an endgame crafting item with the capability of creating a duplicate of any item it is used on.

However, players found that while the concept for Lake of Kalandra was interesting, the expansion didn’t add much new content and felt rather unrewarding. This lack of hype for the new expansion, explains Path of Exile YouTuber ZiggyD in a video on the topic, meant that players weren’t distracted from previous issues they were already having with the game, such as the Archnemesis system, Harvest crafting, and Tainted fusings. “The Path of Exile playerbase is the most united I’ve ever seen,” says ZiggyD, “unfortunately, it’s over being very unhappy with the current state of the game and developer GGG’s initial response to their complaints.”

The Archnemesis system was introduced in a previous expansion, allowing players to create custom enemy monsters by stacking challenging modifiers on them. The general consensus was that the system was very rewarding, but that the monsters themselves became increasingly frustrating to deal with. Players were dismayed, then, to find that after the Archnemesis league ended the modifiers were added to the pool used for all rare monsters in the game – meaning that the frustrating variants could now show up anywhere, but without any of the increased rewards to compensate for dealing with them.

Another big complaint has been with Harvest crafting – a previously popular system, but one that was limited in its interactions with trading. A rework of the system to make it compatible with player trading seemed to be a positive change, but the volume of crafting available was heavily nerfed by Grinding Gear Games in the new revamp, and many of the most powerful crafting options were removed. Another popular system, Tainted fusings – which gave players a fun way to reroll gear to obtain perfect gem slots – was also heavily nerfed, making them a much less viable way to obtain the best endgame gear.

Perhaps the straw that broke the camel’s back, however, was players noticing a significant drop in… well, drops. According to ZiggyD, initial reports of players getting fewer worthwhile loot drops was written off as coincidence, but players continued to notice the trend happening in increasingly consistent fashion.

In a community post titled “What we’re working on” that aimed to address some of the most vocal complaints, GGG noted that it had “removed a massive historic bonus to item quantity and/or rarity that applied to some league-specific monsters” and replaced it with a 2-3x increase. While ZiggyD says the calculations aren’t exact, he estimates that this led to a roughly 50-80% reduction in notable loot drops from the monsters that tend to drop the most worthwhile gear in Path of Exile’s endgame maps.

In addition, ZiggyD notes that the community as a whole felt that GGG’s response to the various complaints, while a step in the right direction, was overall very conservative compared to the scale of the issues in question. Another post titled “An overview of upcoming changes” outlines more upcoming changes, but fans took exception to the post’s language. As one example, the post uses phrases such as, “We are aware of feedback around Harvest crafts but don’t have any commentary on this yet.” This led players to call for more transparency around the potential plans.

Grinding Gear Games community director Bex_GGG posted additional follow-ups to the prior post on the game’s subreddit. She added that the current situation “feels like a rock and a hard place where if we communicate where we’re at currently it’s a joke because there’s no conclusion, or we don’t communicate until we have the conclusion and then people are unhappy with our lack of communication.” It’s certainly a difficult situation to be in – and many responses to the post express understanding that such decisions aren’t always a quick fix.

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Nevertheless, it’s been far from smooth sailing for Grinding Gear Games – a studio that has long been praised by the Path of Exile community for its clear communication and the quality of its game. Even the most recent update has been criticised by players, who explain that the planned changes to Harvest crafting to reduce its power feel “hostile” to the playerbase and that “it feels like we’re being told that things can either be awkward and hard to access and shitty to work with, or they can be unrewarding.”

It remains to be seen whether this will simply be a rough patch to navigate for Grinding Gear Games, or whether it will have greater ramifications as GGG plans to transition into its 4.0 update – where the game is planned to officially become Path of Exile 2. With players concerned that these changes are part of a shift towards how GGG wants PoE 2 to look, it’ll be interesting to see what the team’s next move will be. In the meantime, if you’re looking for other games to play, the Diablo 2: Resurrected PTR just got a brand-new feature, and we have plenty of the best co-op games on PC for other options to play with friends.

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