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For those of you who are living under a Path of Exile rock, the current league in progress is the Delve league. The special mechanic is that you delve as far as you can into an infinite dungeon, facing harder foes and collecting all sorts of interesting items. Due to the nature of an infinite dungeon and the potential content within it, it was clear from the start that this league was being prepared for permanent status, more than any other league in the past. However, as with any league it was released with its share of issues. The PoE Announcements since Delve’s release have been entirely focused around improvements, preparing Delve to be a permanent end game goal for Path of Exile.
EMPs, or ElectroMagnetic Pulses, are attacks that certain monsters use in the mines. They turn off the cart’s light, forcing you to either drop a flare or mitigate the life loss some other way. Unfortunately, at release, the EMPs were extremely overtuned. They were almost impossible to predict since the mobs themselves weren’t distinct in any way. They also lasted far too long, forcing many players to migrate to standard prematurely. You would also encounter them nearly every delve, if not every delve, and often multiple times per.
This was blatantly too strong, and within a couple days they patched it. Now the EMPs last half as long as they originally did, and the animation the mobs use to cast them are much more noticeable. In all honesty, I think they turned down the EMPs too much, it feels like they aren’t an issue at all anymore. That said, I hated them when they were too strong, so this is a nice middle ground for now.
Both flares and dynamite were extremely frustrating to use when they were first implemented. Flares dropped at your feet with a travel time and then had another delay before they lit up. This made them difficult to see, difficult to know exactly where they were, and difficult to survive long enough for them to activate. This caused many threads angered at deaths or difficulties in general, and they were quick to rush out a change. Now flares go where your mouse is pointing, and light up instantly upon landing. This makes them incredibly easy to use, and they very rarely cause undeserved deaths.
Dynamite wasn’t difficult to use mechanically, but it was a pain. Dynamite came out working exactly how the changed flares – to throw at the location of your mouse. This caused a lot of confusion since the flares and dynamite worked differently. However, this wasn’t the issue. The issue was that the walls you are meant to destroy with dynamite very quickly outscaled any hope you could have of destroying them. I myself tried to destroy a wall not too far down into my mines and realized that with three explosions and a few upgrades to damage the wall wouldn’t budge. This was very frustrating and seemingly arbitrary. They decided to change it so that every destructible wall is blown up in a single use of dynamite. The upgrades were left in so that the dynamite can be used on monsters if you see fit – and not to invalidate those who already upgraded it.
The delves being account wide has been a bone of contention. Originally absolutely nothing about delve was account wide. Every single character had to level up everything and delve as far as they could solo. This was obviously a huge issue for people who wanted to play more than one character throughout the league. There was quite a large outcry, and after enough public discussion, GGG decided to change this rule.
You still have to delve to your lowest depth on each individual character, but the upgrades to your mine cart, flares, and dynamite are all account wide now. This means that you can collect sulphite throughout the story and have enough to jump around twenty depths by the time you hit mapping. It’s a huge step towards keeping the system going long term. I’m very on the fence whether or not the delve depths themselves should be shared. I get why each character has to push down, but perhaps there are simply too many depths progressing too slowly. I’ve played two characters to 90 so far this league without hitting depth 200, while specifically targeting downwards delves. Doing T15 maps and only having level 76 delve monsters doesn’t feel good. But that’s a different issue.
Party play is the one part where Delve is still lacking. Currently, there are a lot of wonky things that happen in party play, and that’s ignoring the obvious glitching issues. First off, sulphite is shared between party members. It is shared equally, regardless of how the party’s sulphite is, which includes giving an equal share to people with full sulphite. The azurite in the mines also isn’t shared, meaning that a two-player party will each get half the sulphite that they would alone. This wouldn’t be an issue except that the cart’s upgrades are an average of the party members’. This means no one can just hop in with a friend for a few delves unless you want to both die.
The fact that sulphite is shared is also creating rotas where five people go and find the sulphite, then the sixth just hops into their maps to get it from each of them before continuing to delve. Since the sulphite is the main thing holding players back from pushing, this is a huge boost to pushing far into the mines.
There are other issues with party play such as the fact that items get better the further you go, and parties will always inherently push much further than a solo player. However, within the scope of what the game offers now, this is unavoidable. If the sulphite costs and azurite splitting is fixed then Delves will be much more conducive to party play.
Delve is shaping up to be one of the best leagues Path of Exile has ever had. Even if the league itself may have had many issues, the fact that they are doing so many improvements just shows their commitment to adding an infinite dungeon to the main game. Delve is something that players will be exploring for years, and it’s largely due to these balance and mechanic changes, making the delves feel as great as possible. Great job GGG, I look forward to seeing how far I can push into the delves every league going forward! Thanks for reading PoE Announcements.