Finding a balance between order and chaos
Path of Exile players all agreed that Harvest was the best league, crafting-wise. The ability to control and choose the modifiers to put into equipment was such a boon for crafters everywhere. Players could save their PoE currency and still get almost perfect gear. Now, though, every kind of crafting is back to the slot-machine-like PoE crafting methods, and there’s no way to guarantee getting wanted mods.
Path of Exile Harvest Crafting Methods
During the league itself, players would have their own garden. They’d plant seeds and take care of them, some monsters would burst out, and defeating them would grant mods for the player to use. When the mechanic got added to the standard leagues, players would encounter maps with two seed pods. Choosing one will wither the other, so choose wisely.
With the ability to pick and choose which mods are going into gear, many players were able to craft high-end gear relatively cheaply. They could save up their Exalted Orbs for trading what they can’t craft. It was the golden age of Path of Exile crafting. However, it didn’t fit GGG’s vision of the game.
Back to RNG Crafting
Now, it’s harder to get useful or good mods from Harvest. It would take many tries and encounters to find the good ones again, and players are limited by the orbs they’ve collected or farmed. The randomized aspect of crafting was supposed to push players to keep playing for the perfect gear. There was supposed to be a loop of collecting currency and spending it to get better gear. Then they’ll use the gear to get more currency.
There’s also the aspect of PoE trade. Currency items are used to trade with other players. It’s another method of getting better equipment, for a price.
A Balance is Needed
Sure, randomness can be good in small doses. However, if players don’t get the mods that they want, they’ll grow disillusioned with the system and boycott it. Players don’t like wasting time, and farming all these orbs and currency to get nothing of use is just useless.
That’s one of the reasons why players loved the Harvest League. Deterministic methods are easier to manage, and you can ensure that everything turns out well. Players never feel that their time is wasted, rather, they’re rewarded with usable gear.
The balance between randomness and determinism would let players still gamble their gear. Then at a certain point in Path of Exile crafting, they should be able to get the mods they want. Pure RNG will make it too long (depending on luck), and too deterministic would make PoE crafting too easy. Players have been spoiled by the Harvest League, and now they’re crying because it was pushed toward the RNG side.
Why Path of Exile Crafting has to be Better
Being able to craft good gear lets players experiment with builds because it isn’t too expensive to do so. This helps in character build variety since it isn’t punishing to get new equipment. The current status is too random and as mentioned before, players were spoiled by harvest mechanics.
A system that makes good gear accessible but also has the element of randomness would be the best compromise. Gacha games have a pity system, where at a certain point players can get a good character or PoE item even if they’re unlucky. While that system isn’t really applicable to PoE crafting, the point is there must be some element of guaranteeing a mod in the system.
Something like being able to store good mods but unwanted for the build while rerolling with Chaos Orbs. Later, the player can choose whether to apply those mods or not. They can either be kept for the next round (has to be the same type of equipment) or well, they’ll be gone afterward. The gear with good mods but unfit for their build can then be sold on the market. The player then gets more currency to try again.
That’s random, but at least the player has a little control in the process. Of course, there could be other ways to achieve the balance so players won’t think PoE crafting is futile. This is just an example of what could be a good way to have both randomness and deterministic methods in Path of Exile crafting.
PoE items are important, yes, but gating players with what is essentially a gambling mechanic is not the way to keep players. Like a carrot and the stick, if all they see is the stick, they’re not going to hope for the carrot. Ensuring that they get the carrot at the appropriate times makes a good hook.
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