Path of Exile ‘loot goblins’ highlight RPG’s magic find woes

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Path of Exile ‘loot goblins’ are the talk of the ARPG game’s community right now – a description for players spending hours upon hours farming with minimal rewards in search of one extremely high-payout enemy. Many fans say this phenomenon, which has become the focus of much endgame play in PoE patch 3.19, is emblematic of both big problems with the magic find system and ongoing frustrations about the Path of Exile Archnemesis mods.

To put it in plain terms, ‘magic find’ is a phrase used by Path of Exile players to refer to the equipment stats ‘increased rarity of items found’ and ‘increased quantity of items found’ (although the latter is sometimes called ‘quant’ for clarity’s sake). The term is derived from the equivalent stat in Diablo, and essentially boils down to your chance of finding rare items and currency. The higher your magic find, the more good stuff you’ll get and the better it is likely to be.

Magic find has long been a popular thing to build for, because who doesn’t want more good loot to drop? However, you do have to make sacrifices to include magic find in your build, because it takes up stat space on your equipment. The more magic find you have, the weaker the rest of your build is likely to be – a fair trade-off, all things considered. However, this has lately combined with the recently introduced, extra-challenging Archnemesis mods to dramatic effect.

A series of special Archnemesis modifiers referred to as ‘god-touched’ (each tied to a different god within Path of Exile’s pantheon) turns monsters into much more dangerous versions of their usual form, but with their dropped items converted to valuable currency and other rare end-game items such as maps and divination cards. These creatures can drop a wealth of PoE’s high-level currency when defeated – and this is only exacerbated by defeating them using a character with a high magic find stat.

So what does this all mean? Basically, Path of Exile players are spending hours trying to get these valuable mobs to spawn – clearing tens or in some cases even hundreds of endgame maps to do so. To do this efficiently, they use a build designed for high damage output and fast map clear times – meaning they likely aren’t rolling with much magic find. Instead, when they find the special foe, they call in the services of a monster-popping mercenary known among the community as an ‘MF Culler.’

MF Cullers get their name from having a build focused almost entirely on magic find – to the point where they are almost useless for general map clearing – and the Culling Strike ability they use that lets them instantly kill any enemy with less than 10% health remaining (to compensate for their usual inability to fight). The job of an MF Culler is to show up just for the one god-touched enemy, wait for its health to be brought down, and then burst it in a shower of incredibly valuable rewards – so much so, as it turns out, that it usually more than makes up for all the hours of grinding beforehand.

Some players who run in multiplayer groups include one person on an MF Culler build; others will hire one from game chat or Discords as and when required, usually handing over a percentage of their bounty in return for services rendered. However they go about it, though, the community appears to be in almost universal agreement – spending hours and hours farming enemies that are extremely unlikely to drop anything worthwhile just to get one big but very rare payday is an incredibly unsatisfying way to play.

One long-time player on the PoE Reddit says, “You may as well remove the regular mobs from the maps completely because you won’t find a single thing from them. It’s really sad and boring how years and years of a system we had where general loot from mobs felt good is now gone in favour of a few mobs that drop X expensive or whatever stuff.” Another says that after finally encountering their first god-touched rare after hours of farming and being unable to kill it, “I just quit the game and started watching Netflix. I don’t want to farm any more, or even try to play.”

On the other end of the scale, a particularly fortunate player shared their haul – one of the biggest posted to the subreddit so far – leaving players staggered by a single encounter dropping “more currency than I make in a whole league.” One new player even asked why the game’s usual ‘very positive’ Steam user rating has plummeted to ‘mostly negative’ in the recent reviews section. The responses did reassure them that the majority of the game is still fun, and that “you will need several hundreds of hours into it, to even recognize the problems. For newcomers the game is 100% dope and totally worth it.”

Nevertheless, for a game like Path of Exile which has long been driven by its most dedicated fans and its rich endgame experience, this sort of widespread dissatisfaction certainly won’t be taken lightly. Grinding Gear Games will hope that it can win over Path of Exile fans with the upcoming 3.20 patch and the road towards 4.0, when the game will transition into Path of Exile 2. In the meantime, the Diablo 4 release date grows ever closer, so competition for the title of best RPG game on PC will likely be rife moving into 2023.

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