Path of Exile – Blight League

Blight League is the new league set to launch On September 9th, 15 days from this article. This league and Sister Cassia (a new Master) brings about a potentially interesting mechanic for some, while many may not be interested in it at all with Tower Defense being the theme. What is far more interesting are the changes to the Assassin and Necromancer. Additionally a huge change to the base game being the addition of an additional skill bar, allowing far more abilities to be used quickly, or available for toggling at a keystroke. This will allow far more versatility for boss fights, rare mobs, and encounters requiring a stance change or aura to be turned off or activated.

With fundamental changes to the “Mine” abilities, we see them being thrown, allowing for safer gameplay and faster clear, as well as more clear, and the ability to fight on many fronts. As the mines power up through quantity being used, you can chain many together to clear sweeping masses of blighted enemies, or focus them on a single target, making this skill line far more desirable to play vs. traps, which rely on an enemy to trigger them.

Tower Defense - “set up your towers to defend, Chill, Shock, Stun, Burn, Summon, Empower, Petrify and Debilitate”. This sounds interesting in theory, but if you aren’t into setting up a tower defense lane, this will be a task you have to complete to get down to the fun of killing dudes. Until we’re able to get our hands on this mechanic, we’ll withhold our judgement on it being fun or not. My biggest concern is for console players, this may be a real challenge mechanically, on top of an already difficult to use interface due to the limitations of a controller for this type of game. Adding on additional skills makes build choice far more limited on console. Totem builds and Aura builds like Righteous Fire will still be the most smooth to run on a controller as you can minimize the number of menus to navigate during a fight.

The enemies will stay in their lane, following the blighted path they’ve spawned on, unlike most other league mechanics which have all the spawned enemies converge on you. This means you have the option to ignore a few lanes if you bit off a bit more than you can chew, or to utilize it as a decoy until you are ready to clear that lane. This boils down to what is really resource management, time being the resource. I believe we’ll quickly see some builds grow to prominence in this league, focusing on chain skills and fast clear, rather than screen clear, as you will likely want to finish off a lane at a time, rather than try to fight every lane at one time, although time will tell and we may see mass clear stay at the top at the high end. With no real penalty for activating more lanes than you can clear, just shoot for the sky and do as much as you can with little risk of being punished with a death, by simply choosing to not bother with engaging a lane you can’t handle, and being rewarded with a chest of goodies for each success.

Speaking of goodies, there are new rewards for the mechanic. Oils to anoint weapons and gear with unique abilities, a unique set of items that can have up to 5 abilities active. This is the first time we’ve seen a real set of gear with that actual bonus, while we’ve seen a couple pieces with synergy, a customized set of items is something entirely new, opening up new build potential, which I’m sure we’ll see a lot of broken builds coming out of, as there is simply too many combinations to test without the masses. You can combine two Oils to enchant a Ring with a potent tower modifier. Combine three Oils to enchant your Amulet as well, giving us some early game potential for powerful upgrades early on.

With the changes to the way Master Missions work, you can now build them up and choose when to engage in them, similar to the way you would a map. This means you can now skip over missions while leveling or grinding, and then go spend a few hours or even days chewing through your cache of missions. This is a boon to many, making it advantageous to just play the game when you can, and not worry about having to try out content you are not ready for. I believe we’ll see far more engagement at the endgame, whereas many playing Hardcore, or working for a server first 100 in a race were choosing to ignore league mechanics wholesale. Now with the option to engage in them later on, this will change the race, with potential for someone to find a great path of content for the most experience gained at the least amount of risk. You can also add these to maps, making for some really incredible map combinations, as well as the benefit of not getting poorly matched mechanics to maps, no more Breach encounters in a tunnels map, for example. With better rewards from Betrayal, deeper depths to plumb in the Delve, Legion and Synthesis bosses added into the core without the need to engage those league mechanics, we’ll see players flooding the trade system with more items than ever.

Assassin ascendancy updates are looking very juicy. We’re getting five new Skill Gems, including Cobra Lash, a chaining projectile based attack, and a new passive as well. This brings poison back to the forefront of the build chatter, and I’m sure we’ll see some really nutty builds utilizing the poison aura.

The Necro rework brings about a new era for summoners. With new skills, Ascendant options, and new powerful minions, we’ll see players commanding the dead to do their bidding in greater numbers than ever before. The new minion types, including the Carrion Golem, which looks like death incarnate, back to take the souls of your enemies back to the depths with him. The biggest change, is the ability to change minion behaviour, hopefully adding a level of gameplay we haven’t seen with Summoners before. Finally, a new wand base with the ability to roll minion mods, means the summoner base power level has grown exponentially. While I am not a Summoner player typically, I think I’ll be taking a look at this, at the very least to try out the new wands and see that Carrion Golem stalking the fields.

Let us know what things you are anxious to get your hands on, and what parts, if any, you aren’t thrilled about. We haven’t heard the nerfs and buffs in detail yet, but I know there will be some pretty big changes, especially with the devs doing their best to bring about skill diversity and keep players engaged at the end of the league.

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