Path of Exile: Betrayal League 2nd Day Musings

Betrayal league looked to be shaping up as one of GGG’s best leagues yet. The mixture of past content along with the new league mechanics seemed to indicate a sure fire home run for the burgeoning company. But how is this league thus far?

As per every launch, GGG’s servers were filled and you were guaranteed to be placed into a queue. This is a pretty big problem right now at the start of every league and can be frustrating, especially as those who might get in, can get booted out and placed into another queue. This did happen to me but server instability is something that really needs to be corrected by GGG to make this game feel truly polished in my book.

Once you get out of the intro zone and speed out of town, you immediately are greeted by Jun Ortoi, who is investigating a cult calling themselves the Immortal Syndicate. Like prior leagues, GGG wants you to become familiar with the new league mechanics by having you encounter them in every zone. With Betrayal, you will face a random set of events from the reverse escort quests, to mini hideouts to battling down fortifications. While in your travels, you may be randomly ambushed by someone within the Syndicate, generally one you have encountered previously.

As with many league mechanics, there’s little hints of what to properly do and you pretty much are left to figure it out on your own. Upon defeating the encounter, you’ll face 1-2 members where you are presented with two choices to help provide you information to lead towards the end game encounter for this league.

I mentioned this in a previous post, but the basic mechanics are somewhat similar to Incursion in that you need to survive and hose down each encounter. The reverse escort quests are the ones that are most like Incursions as they are timed. But the main difference is that rather than being set at a 12 encounter limit prior to generating something like a temple, you continuously build up these four factions before getting to do a temple-like encounter.

The real meal ticket to me here is the crafting aspect linked to items that may drop that provide special crafting bonuses to the new crafting system. These aren’t guaranteed nor how and when they drop specified. But I suppose the real benefit is being provided a more clear choice of crafts rather than relying on pure RNG for the bonuses you may need.

The thing about Betrayal to me when it comes to the Syndicate is that the fights are not easy. At first, they may start off at a reasonable pace but things can get hectic quickly. Unlike Delve and Incursion, thus far I do not find these encounters to provide good experience nor great loot. For the most part this league, I felt that I’ve been pretty ungeared and that the drops have been poor than usual. That makes these encounters even more frustrating and often times I just prefer avoiding them, especially the reverse escort quests.

I did manage to do one Syndicate hideout which was really confusing. It’s basically a long gauntlet with monsters and beams coming at you from all directions. Effectively, it’s a mini map since you end up at the end with an arena fight with one of the Syndicate members. The fight is pretty hectic so for a low level character, it can be pretty frustrating.

Once you defeat the boss, you get a few loot rooms. There might be timed boxes, which to me is really stupid. You’ve already won the fight so why be presented with a ridiculous 8 second window to grab anything? I suppose the idea is like one of those game shows where people grab as much money as possible. But I find the interaction really stupid. You can’t even preview the items you’re going to get so you can’t plan on figuring out what to pick out, unless you really are familiar with the game. I only realized what it was from a screen shot on reddit. I can’t imagine how an uninformed player would know what to do in a situation like this.

In general, I’m not a huge fan of this Syndicate stuff as is. It feels like a more confusing version of Incursion. Perhaps, my biggest complaint about it was just the disruptive nature of the way events occur. I know that the intent is to accost you at any moment but it’s one of those things that really just makes you want to hurl your keyboard at the wall and do something else.

The real element I was looking forward to the most wasn’t the Betrayal mechanics but the incorporation of Beastiary, Incursion and Delve leagues along with the revamped masters. It sounded great on paper but how does it hold up?

Thus far, I’ve only done Beastiary and Delve stuff do to my level. Beastiary started off a bit confusing but in truth, it’s probably the most straight forward mechanic this league. Pretty much your main purpose is to bring an encounter to low health then let Einhar handle the rest. And what a powerhouse he is! The best part about Einhar is that he’s effectively an escort quest but he does stuff! And he won’t just react against monsters he’s targeting but come to your aid. What this means is that you can use him for more difficult encounters (besides boss fights), including taking down the Syndicate.

Once you finish your encounter, you’ll be able to do some beast crafting. That part is pretty similar to the past league in that you’ll go to your menagerie and fight down the thing you captured to sacrifice it for an item. The encounter can be a bit rough especially without Einhar’s help. But you can produce a few decent leveling uniques (I got a Lochtonial Caress a bit late).

In some way, it’s not dissimilar to Tora’s old quests. But it can get annoying depending on where you encounter Einhar. Some areas may require you to fight 5 encounters. What isn’t clear in these situations is where these encounters may take place. For instance, you might end up in a multi-level area where the last encounter is on a different floor. What ends up happening is that you end up being forced to search every nook, which can be very time consuming, especially early on where you lack speed.

Now, Delve was the one I mostly was interested in because of how the Sulfite and depth mechanics work. Truthfully, in its current form, Delve as part of a starting league mechanic, is a total disaster. Because of all the adjustments that were made during the Delve league itself, the cost of delving and the need for basic resistance along with Azurite are in a very bad state.

The chief advantage of the previous league was that you started with Delve so that you could build up your resources. Now, you are limited to encountering Niko periodically, which means your ability to Delve is also very limited. Now, here’s where all the mechanics are absolutely fucked: your resistances, light radius, etc. are pretty much in the shitter and the cost is through the roof. Unfortunately, you start off gaining Azurite as if you were a lower level character. It’s really a huge discrepancy that must have been overlooked.

I think the only way to really fix the Delve aspect is to either adjust the amount of Azurite at lower levels (since you start around level 32 rather than 1) or you make Delve encounters more common. Of course, the real issue is SulfiteĀ  because it’s limited (fuck you stupid streamers who turned this mechanic into shit). Honestly, they should just get rid of the Sulfite gate and let people push as far as they want in Delve. I doubt the leaderboards for Depth are going to be a thing any longer outside of privileged streamers like Havoc who take advantage of their communities and essentially fuck the game over (and hopefully GGG should take note and not balance the game around people like that; or better yet just ban them for exploits if it pisses their devs off that much).

Either way, I’m pretty disappointed in the way Delve turned out. Although I haven’t got there yet, I think Incursions will be much better. Not that I can see them changing but the fact that at low levels, they felt overtuned. You really needed AOE heavy builds that could damage from afar to do well. Hopefully, my basic sunder jugg will do fine. I still have 2 more acts to go to get there.

Now, the real elephant in the closet we need to talk about is the various nerfs to skills and stat sticks. I really have no idea why this was a thing. As each league progresses, the new content seems to get progressively more difficult. So why the nerfs?

I feel that there’s a lot of knee jerk reactions by GGG in responding to the community about non-issues. When the community sees people abusing certain mechanics like Gluttony of Elements, then that becomes the target of a huge mechanical nerf. But it makes no sense in that perhaps the real answer would have been just to remove the item from the game or better yet the players that overabuse mechanics in the first place.

What ends up happening from my viewpoint is that the game ends up feeling even shittier. Take movement skills like Leap Slam. Right now, it feels like utter dog shit. Having a stat stick to help improve the base attack speed in giving Leap Slam a little oomph is better than my wrist feeling like crap after a few minutes of struggling to move around with my shitty no-movement speed boosted boots. It’s already a struggle to find reasonable gear early on to give you enough stats without the RNG crapfest added on. Now, you let the community dictate that something is OP with no solid rational outside of “we need the game to slow down!” This is retarded.

And here’s the thing: these nerfs have no real compensation. When you nerf something, you pretty much need to trade something in return to make up for the missing element. Like, I don’t see a lack of density nor slowness nor lack of health and damage from mobs. In fact, I feel the opposite occurs. So what’s the point?

If the problem was two handed melee weapons sucking, then fix those. You didn’t need to change the mechanics of a basic one handed offhand weapon. I read the issue with many basic elder/shaper two handed weapons where the mods they could receive weren’t good. So make them better. Do crazy stuff like allow for triple support gems that would give you a 9-socket type of item. You think that’s crazy? It’s not because you already have issues just finding a worthy base item to get 6 sockets in the first place. The three potential extra sockets with good mods would just be available to provide a new dimension to existing builds that would have a tough time normally getting six sockets.

These aren’t hard problems to solve, but just blindly nerfing things because some ADHD stupid little fucks need to click more and faster aren’t true solutions. They aren’t even band aids since you’ll end up being forced to revert these changes rather than sitting down and figuring out a better long term solution.

I think this league will end up being a real mixed bag. My take is that while the intent of combining all three previous leagues into a new one was good, the outcome in terms of competing interests against the main league mechanic end up damaging Delve (mostly) and potentially Incursion too (just because you’re building up a temple that requires 12 incursions to be able to access).

This approach of fearing that players would not focus on the main league mechanic is wrong (that’s my interpretation of events anyway). The way the new masters were assigned to certain zones at specific acts felt arbitrary, especially Delve. If they wanted to retain the previous league mechanics for Delve, why not introduce it from Act 1? Didn’t have to be in the zone after the town but I don’t see a great reason to force people to rebuild their mines and attributes without some compensation.

What really sucks for me is that I really enjoyed Delve last league. It had certain issues for sure but the basics were straight forward. It definitely was better than the stuff for Betrayal. But I knew that GGG would do something stupid like the way they placed Abyss all the way into Act 6.

At any rate, I still want to finish up this sunder character. If I do more characters, it’ll be due to new builds coming from the new skills. I can’t tell at this moment whether or not going Sunder for the league starter was a good choice. But I am disappointed in just how things turned out. Hopefully, GGG will realize that the community (besides myself) aren’t always right and to trust their initial instincts and leave the good things that are good about the game alone.

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