New Player here. Just beat Act 4. Impressions/Thoughts.

New Player here. Just beat Act 4. Impressions/Thoughts.

Edit: So this got way more attention than I thought it would. Thanks so much for the replies, comments, and advice. I'll read through them all and try to answer anyone who directly asked a question.

I saw the release of Path of Exile’s expansion over at /sub/games a few days ago. I regularly watch some twitch streams—Kripp’s included—and thought I’d finally give the game a try. I played D3 quite a bit and, although it wasn’t a fantastic experience, it was good enough that I thought another ARPG could be fun.

I went into the game mostly blind. I had some vague memories of reading about the passive skill tree and how a lot of games core features differed greatly from other ARPGs. I play video games a lot. I’m only stating these things so you have a rough idea of how I approached the game.

Early Game

With next to no information provided during class selection, I narrowed my choice to ranger or witch because I don’t like playing melee classes. I know now that skills aren’t tied to classes like in other games but I didn’t know that at the time. I went with ranger.

The game starts properly on the beach with your character facedown in the sand. You click to move and get right to playing the game. This is good. No bullshit gets in the way from starting to play. The game’s visuals are functional. Not really impressive but good enough. I went through the usual awkward period of remapping buttons and the like. Health bars over enemies should be on by default in my opinion but that’s only a slight problem.

I encountered my first issue with the game before reaching the first town hub. The mini map and, by extension, the larger map you can enlarge with tab, is quite possibly one of the most ugly things I have ever seen in a game. And I played games in the 80s. I couldn’t find a way to unlock it from being focused deadnuts on your character’s position. My guess is that the game designers wanted it to be something that remained transparent so it could be enlarged without blocking your view of the area. The end result is something that is barely functional and still gets in the way.

Combat was sluggish at this point but I expected that. The game is in its introductory period. Some people might be brand new to the genre and it’s always good to start things off with a gentle difficulty curve. This was also good because the idea of skill gems—socketing them, leveling them, etc—isn’t common and you get to learn how they work in an easy environment.

My only issue with this learning period in Act One is the passive skill tree. It looks awesome. I like how everything is spread out. I believe Final Fantasy 10 did something like it for each character. Even seeing it before, it feels unique. It’s a cool way of differentiating each class instead of tying abilities to them.

The problem is that it’s incomprehensible to a new player. If you’ve played PoE a lot you might be angry or disagree vehemently with that statement. “The skill tree has depth! It’s one of the ways PoE is awesome!” you might be thinking. And I have no doubt you’re right. But hear me out.

Learning how to assign skill points to the tree is easy. Deciding on a build and what goals to set is impossible without spending hours researching and googling. Reading the tree won’t even be enough. Let me walk you through my thought process when I browsed the tree for the first time:

1) Holy shit that’s a lot of skills. How many points do I get? Can I reassign them later? Are they permanent? I don’t know. Maybe I should save them all and see what I’ll need first. 2) Wow some of these are way better than others. Acrobatics sounds cool. But is that efficient? There’s a huge drawback. I might end up gimping my character. 3) Lots of health nodes. Lots of damage. What’s more important? I should wait and see what I need as I play the game. 4) What the fuck is Chaos Inoculation? HP to 1? What’s chaos damage? 5) ...Okay there’s a dozen others like that. I have no idea what to plan for.

So after getting to level ten and not spending a single skill point, I caved and googled a newbie guide. Because I don’t even know if I’m going to enjoy playing the game for longer than twenty hours and don’t want to invest another twenty reading every wiki page so I can understand something as essential as the passive skill tree. It’s a huge timesink—don’t get me wrong, it’s one I’m sure I’ll enjoy once I get to the endgame and want to plan out builds. But for a new player it’s a hindrance at best and an intimidating gamekiller at worst. I wish there was some sort of suggested path that the game could provide that isn’t optimal but still enough to get you playing without worrying that you’re ruining your character or resorting to google.

I finished Act One and my opinion of the game was mostly positive. Combat was picking up. I had more skills to try. The lack of a currency was confusing but now it’s another unique, charming thing about the game.

Mid Game

Act Two and Act Three. I was playing for the game, not the story, so I ploughed through all of the dialogue and missions. I was learning more about how sockets and skill links worked but, aside from added complexity from that, the game bewilderingly stayed as easy as it had in Act One. I never died. I never felt like I was in any danger unless I purposefully overextended by running past enemies instead of stopping to kill them. I was consistently 2-4 levels higher than the zone level on the map and I never stopped to grind. I tried to fully explore every map so maybe that’s how I remained ahead.

I didn’t see any interesting drops. Chat was full of people spamming these weird tarot cards, skill-tree jewels, and unique loot drops. I was stuck sorting through a seemingly endlessly pile of white and blue shit. It was around this time that I thought the game should have a way to filter out the immense amount of crap that drops and then I found out that is actually a thing! I followed a youtube guide to add a filter and game’s loot system became immeasurably better.

Speaking of chat—this game’s community has a real problem. It’s not quite as bad as League of Legends but it’s still worse than, say, World of Warcraft. There was always someone either spewing homophobic slurs or ridiculing new players for asking questions. Corrupted skill gems were being posted often. What does “Corrupted” mean? “It means look at the wiki.” How do you link items in chat? “You link them by looking at the wiki.”

In the community’s defense, some people are helpful. But speaking in chat at all runs the risk of attracting the ire of some asshole with an inferiority complex. Nothing brings this out faster than the hourly mention of “kid game, casual crap, LOL SO BAD” Diablo 3. It was actually pretty entertaining seeing how quickly some people went into a shit rage after the briefest mention of the game.

For the record I think that PoE is mostly the better game.

Anyway, I continued on leveling and killing monsters. Thematically, Act Two was my least favorite. I’m not a fan of jungle settings. Act Three was better. I died for the first time in the fight with the final boss of Act Three. The blood acid rain, or whatever it is, got me before I worked out what was even damaging me and that you need to go under the domes. There were some other packs that almost killed me too with insane, dramatic damage spikes that were so much higher than anything else the game had thrown at me until then. The same thing can happen in D3 so I was okay with it. Different builds, gear, and randomness can make that happen.

Late Game (for normal difficulty)

At the start of Act Four, I believe I was at around 15 hours played? Roughly? I’m not sure.

Visually, Act Four is my favorite. The aqueduct was a cool first zone. The other zones felt really different and was closer to the variety found in Act One rather than the Act Two Jungle and Act Three City of Townsville. The only exception was the biological hell caves at the end of Act Four. The eyes in the walls were well done but, eh, I don’t know. Not my thing.

Combat was still easy. Loot picked up, however, with far more rares and currency items. I was hoping that completing the Act would be like the end of an extended tutorial, sort of like in D3, and that the game would gradually increase in difficulty and loot choices after that. So much of the game on normal had been so faceroll easy that I just assumed it would continue to the end and start proper with the jump to Cruel. Maybe you’ve already guessed where this is heading.

Voll was easy. I believe that was the first boss? Kaom was next and was a welcome jump in difficulty. He reminded me a bit of the Smelter Demon from Dark Souls 2.

And then I got to Daresso and Piety and wanted to quit the game forever. It only got worse from there.

I’m honestly dumbfounded at what happened, because it’s not like the entire act is a massive difficulty spike. The trash mobs are still the same mindless trash. The zones aren’t any harder. The first boss was a joke and Kaom, like I said above, felt like a smooth increase.

Daresso killed me over and over with his sword wave-projectile attack. He would dash close to me and, if I wasn’t already moving away, would clip me with it every time. It applies a slow which makes avoiding the next waves more difficult to dodge. This was also the beginning of a trend—I’m convinced that the bosses from Daresso on are bugged or the servers were having issues. The attack often missed me by a mile and I would still be slowed. I would take wildly inconsistent damage from it from barely a scratch to wiping me down to half health.

It was during this fight that I actually had to wonder what the penalty for death even was in the game. I think I died about six times all told to him and then continued on to Piety, where I must have died about 25 times and discovered the hilarious mechanic that is death-zerging bosses with no apparent punishment from the game. How is that even in the game?

Piety, like the other three bosses between her and Malachai, follow the same basic formula of having two or three abilities that layer over each other and need to be avoided. I died the first time I saw her death beam. Then I died a second time after improperly managing the blood orbs she throws out. Simple, I thought. Just keep away from her when she throws out the orbs and then get in close so you can easily run around when the beam comes out. You keep the path clear and can easily outrun it.

At least that’s what the fight SHOULD be like.

Instead, the beam fires without any ramp up or warning. The direction she faces snaps randomly when the beam fires. Sometimes she would point it right on me and I would die instantly. I can’t really overstate that. I would explode the same instant that the beam appeared. There is no way this can possibly be intentional UNLESS your character is meant to have built toward high health and resistances—if this is the case, then the game failed hard in communicating this to the player when it didn’t steadily increase incoming damage between Act Three and Four.

In the end I death zerged her. Ditto for the next three bosses. It’s not just the damage that spikes hard, but also the health of bosses. Shavaronne seems to want you to dodge her lightning balls, weave in a few attacks, and then navigate the maze of exploding books. It’s a cycle between those two mini-phases with her insanely high health as the test of your endurance. But her lightning balls do either zero or heavy damage, and the radius that the books do damage also varies. Sometimes the explosions triggered early. Sometimes I was safe and still died. No idea what the fuck is going on there.

Darktongue is the easiest of the three before Malachai. There’s some trial and error in finding out what each aura in each third of the room does, and then making sure to follow the pattern so you don’t end up in the purple slow one. Darktongue herself is a massive bulletsponge with a simple attack pattern. Like other bosses, her projectile was inconsistent in when it hit me and how much damage it did. Sometimes it would land on the other side of a rock I was using for cover and still take off a third of my health. Othertimes it would smack me right in the face and only scrape away a sliver. Even as the easiest fight, I have no idea what’s supposed to make this boss fun. With so much health, it’s a chore. Follow the lights on the floor. Hit when you can. Dodge the red ball. Really tedious.

Maligaro was the worst of the three. I couldn’t find a way to avoid the red spew lines. Stay far away and run constantly? Still get clipped. Stay close and duck behind him? Still get hit. Go in the middle and always be moving? Still get hit. Purple mines go on the floor. Sometimes they explode when I move even though I don’t go near them. Had no choice but to stand at the door and death zerg. It was strange that this was also the most efficient way, as I had better luck just tanking his red lines and spamming health potions. More damage time.

Malachai was surprisingly okay compared to these three. His attacks actually felt avoidable and hit/missed when they were meant to. The only problem was the insane damage they did do on hit and how there’s just a million effects layered over each other. The tentacle cone also applies a slow on hit, which makes me wonder why they didn’t just make it deal more damage instead of frustratingly slowing you so you take more than one hit. The layered randomness of the tentacles, blocking zombies, blood circle, red traps, etc, felt unfair but when I died at least I could look through it and see why. His damage was just tuned too highly and not bugged.

Anyway, I mentioned some of these things in game chat and got crucified for daring to criticize the game. If these bosses aren’t bugged—and this is the intended spike in difficulty—then the game utterly, completely failed to communicate with the player that they need to focus more on survivability. They had a lot of time early in Act Four to make this clear and, if anything, I think the first few zones are easier than the end of Act Three.

Transitioning into Cruel was odd. There was no announcement of what was happening. You’re just plopped back on the beach with the same poor guy about to get munched by the zombie. Hillock was a joke. I’m curious if the end boss of the Act is the same as the end of Act Four or if it was just an anomaly.

I think I’ll continue playing but that decision will be harder to rationalize if things become as wildly inconsistent as they just did at the end of the campaign.

Thanks for writing all that!

I think I agree about the skill tree being super confusing at first and not quite newbie friendly. But I think they want you to just make a character and just experiment on your own in order to learn the nitty gritty. I mean, I have tons of hours in this game and I still don't know some of the more obscure interactions.

Your comment about Doedre was interesting to me, as a melee character she was actually the hardest of those three by a long shot. I didn't die to Piety a single time, but I died twice to Doedre, whereas Maligaro and Shavronne were easier. Interesting

But I think they want you to just make a character and just experiment on your own in order to learn the nitty gritty.

As much as I like the game, I think that this fundamentally doesn't work.

The problem with Path of Exile's skill tree is the combination of the following factors:

The game doesn't tell you how many points you're going to get, meaning that a new player has no idea how far through the web they'll be able to go. The weblike design of the passive skill tree makes it nigh-impossible to gauge at a glance how many points it will take to get from one location to another. You can't even measure based on how far apart things are, because the distance between nodes varies so much. The stats and nodes that are useful and important early on are frequently very different from the nodes that are useful late-game. The earliest choices that you make (AKA the ones when you know the least about the game) are also the hardest to change. The game has a high difficulty level, which means that if you're using a subpar build, you can hit a brick wall and be unable to progress. It is prohibitively difficult/expensive to respec.

The last one is the clincher. Players aren't able to learn the right choices early on, are severely punished for making the wrong choices, and are unable to correct those choices. As a result, anyone that wants to experiment is essentially forced to repeatedly re-create their character in the hopes of getting it right. And the story missions don't give anywhere near enough respec points to fix the kind of major mistakes that they'll inevitably make.

Or they can look up a guide, and bypass all of that stuff... but also lose on the experience of experimenting.

Unfortunately, I don't know that there's a good solution to this. Drastically increasing the number of respec points that you get from Orbs of Regret might help-- if they gave something like ten each, new players could feasibly do a full respec if they mucked up their build too badly. Or just increase the droprate on Orbs of Regret so that they become fairly common. Sadly, either of those solutions would probably create significant problems for the endgame economy.

There's a key thing people are forgetting to mention... You can adjust the map opacity in PoE

The biggest problem I have is knowing what type of damage some abilities do. Piety's laser is all red, but it does 50% physical 50% lightning damage. Vaal Oversoul's smash looks like pure physical, but it's actually 50% physical 50% fire.

The only way to know what to build for is to notice that something does a lot of damage (maybe die to it), and then prepare better for next time. But if you don't know how to prepare, then it's a problem.

Something that the community knows that a new player wouldn't: PoE is kind of an ARPG made especially for ARPG enthusiasts. It doesn't attempt to alienate new players, but it also doesn't make many concessions for them. It's not a very hand-holdy game even in the early going, and part of getting better is failing miserably with sub-par builds that can't get out of late Cruel. Being beaten down like that and forced to go back to the drawing board is actually a draw for some, me included, because it lets you know you're playing a game that's challenging.

D3 right now is basically "commit the time and we'll make sure you can beat T6". PoE is "commit the time...and if you can figure out where you went wrong, you'll do better with your second character...and then you might beat Merciless with your third" (assuming no build guides). Under level 30 it's way faster, and fun when you save gear, to just re-roll your toon rather than try and re-spec.

Of course, even in Cruel/Merciless you can always put off doing something suicidal until right after a level up. Then you're back to no penalty again.

Cruel and Merciless are where you start getting punished for "death zerging". You lose 5% (10% in Merciless) of the XP towards your next level every time you die. . Side note: I didn't do a whole ton of research but I still feel like my build is working fairly well. "Hit 'em hard, hit 'em fast. Don't miss and don't get hit" is the basic idea of it. I might post it somewhere once I've started getting fully into the end-game. . Actual side note: If you're looking for friends that play in Standard message Oni_Shitsuji (my main character) and ask to join the Order of Chaos. (I've semi-regularly been running through random Cruel difficulty stuff with guildies lately so just ask if you're having trouble.) . I should probably get around to finishing Normal and Cruel Act 4 huh?

"Suggested path" is a great idea, could even align starter builds with the respective class archetypes. RIFT had to add preset builds and their skill trees are much less complex/much easier to reset.

If these bosses aren’t bugged—and this is the intended spike in difficulty—then the game utterly, completely failed to communicate with the player that they need to focus more on survivability. They had a lot of time early in Act Four to make this clear and, if anything, I think the first few zones are easier than the end of Act Three.

You hit the nail on the head. Even as a "veteran" that knew to stack defense early, I resorted to death-zerging Act 4's final bosses too.

It looks like they're nerfing those bosses (recent hotfix) rather than increasing danger in the areas leading up to them, so I hope Cruel's difficulty is more of a gradual increase. (Which, btw, previous transition from normal to cruel had credits roll. Would that have eased some disorientation?)

Great post!

And yeah, pretty much everyone I've introduced to PoE commented on the dreadful minimap.

As a newer player myself I would like to add my thoughts about Act 4 and the game in general as well.

The most important thing I have learned so far is that research and preparation is really the fist "difficulty" of the game. I have spent an amount of time equal to an entire run through of the game just planning for each character. While I currently find this rewarding, as a new playing I would likely not even try the game knowing how much time it would take to even begin playing. I feel like there is simply too much depth to figure it out as you go. It doesn't help that you are severely punished for not optimizing your character correctly.

I feel that the difficulty curve of the acts really does fit a player that has a general plan for their character. Act One is simple. You can face tank everything up to Merveil (even her with cold rings) with simple flask mechanics. Act Two is lack luster in my opinion. The bandits don't feel rewarding and the end boss feels simply adequate. Sure, it has mechanics and introduces one-shots. Act Three is really where I like the game. There is so much depth to Act Three that gets over looked. The questing feels perfectly paced, though perhaps a bit long. There is no running all over the place for lackluster rewards like Act 2. Its not nearly as linear as Act One. The bosses feel great. Piety was the first boss that felt rewarding to defeat. This is the first fight where it feels like understanding the mechanics is an accomplishment. Dominus is my favorite fight in the game so far. The whole encounter has a great build up to it that feels great. Dominus the boss also feels great. Phase one is all about positioning and feels very rewarding. Phase two feels appropriate and is honestly about flask usage and damage mitigation and isn't fancy, this is what I dislike about Act 4. Act 4's progression feels similar to Act 2's but is much more rewarding. The bosses all feel great and fill a specific purpose. Kaom is one of the best fights in the game. Positioning is key here and great positioning is rewarded. Daresso seems really confusing at first, but players are rewarded for quickly learning the mechanics and movement patterns. Piety is the only boss that is lacking. Not because the laser is unfair, but because the fight is simply too linear. Don't get hit by the laser, don't stay in the circles too long. That's it. For such a simple fight, her HP is too high and it drags on. Doedre, Maligaro and Shavronne all feel fine and really prepare you for Malachai. Doedre is just a long fight that rewards you for paying attention to ground effects. Shavronne rewards positioning and Maligaro rewards flask usage and degen mitigation.

I have mixed feelings about the final fight of Act 4. The first phase feels great. All of his abilities are very easily recognizable and players should react instinctively to them. Nothing feels unfair. The small room size forces you to maintain perfect positioning. The Piety breakpoints are also very good. I like that a previous boss mechanic is introduced and focus must be switched. Phase Two is what I don't like. In Act 3, Dominus' form changes and so does the entire fight. Everything that players were rewarded for previously they are now punished for and must adapt extremely quickly. In Phase Two of Malachai there is no transformation, there is no adaptation, it is simply the same fight again with more AOE saturation and different breakpoints. This is what feels so lack luster about the ending for me. The fight is so long and requires perfect positioning throughout then it ends so anti-climatically. I feel like an entire fight dynamic needs to be changed here.

To address your post directly: I think that the problems you may have had with boss difficulty spikes may come from a few places. Firstly, proper resistance management. Understanding what types of damage abilities do is the first step in understanding how to defeat them. Secondly, damage differences in some abilities can come from a few places. This can be anywhere from debuffs to the abilities having a large damage range and high variance. Game difficulty progression does penalize players for "Death-Zerging" with EXP loss which can be VERY devastating on merciless. One thing I do like about Cruel and Merciless is that some the bosses do introduce completely new mechanics that feel appropriate. I wouldn't say that things are inconsistent though.

This game has been very rewarding for me so far. I have had to spend almost as much time planning for the game as playing. Personally, I do not mind this and enjoy it. Without someway to teach players how to at least prioritize passives and efficiency of pathing, I would honestly not recommend this game to a casual player and even for newer players there is a steep learning curve to understanding the game.

Fixed opacity is a fickle thing when transitioning between dark/bright zones.

In darker zones (dungeons), you can turn the opacity down to 20%. But then if you hop over to brighter zones (Sarn), you can barely see the map at 20%. Which means you need to crank the opacity up to 70%. Setting the opacity somewhere in the middle still means you're blinded half the time.

There needs to be some sort of auto-opacity, based on the level of lighting in different zones.

The map system is ripped straight from D2. It might not be the prettiest, but it's fully functional and nostalgic. Customization options for it would be great, though.

Path of Exile was made with D2/LoD fans in mind, since Diablo3 was literal garbage compared to the previous game. A lot of elements in PoE are reminiscent of D2, for better or for worse.

That sentiment is also the purest bullshit. Intentionally making a new player fuck up their character, and expecting that everybody happily just trashes it and starts over can only limit the potential customer base. First impressions are extremely valuable. Two guys I know just started playing the game. They couldn't even get behind the idea to start over every 4 months in a new league, because all their hard work means nothing there. I had to explain the idea behind it very indepth to make them even consider that it's a good thing. One of them still stuck with the game, but only because he has me who can explain everything to him that comes up. The other one seems to have lost interest pretty damn quickly.

As usual, if a new player needs outside sources like guides to even get a basic understanding of what the game actually is, the game design is flawed and needs to be fixed.

Imo, an on-death damage statistic would be great. "what did I die to" sorta deal.

Been playing this game for a while, also found the act 4 damage spike to be a little ridiculous. It'll be that way in Cruel and Merci as well. People have been getting their OP friends to do Cruel Malachi for them on Tempest league rather than risk dying.

I do think they made the final bosses of act 4 too high on the damage. It's Normal difficulty ffs. It's stupid that Act 4 Normal is harder than Act 1 and 2 Cruel. They had it perfectly tuned so that the damage felt like it was getting more and more intense the higher you got when there were just 3 acts, but act 4 is now too much compared to the next difficulty act 1 and 2.

IMHO they need to give Piety II a little bit more room. I love that the fight is not hard for melee compared to ranged but even if you are close trying to run around to avoid the laser you still have to deal with blobs. Move the blobs out a bit and make the room a bit bigger.

Nerf Piety II and Malachi damage in Normal and Cruel. Nerf Normal Merveil. Buff Vaal Oversoul Normal and Cruel, Buff Piety I in Normal and Cruel. Buff Cruel and Merci Brutus and Cruel Merveil. All this would smooth out the damage creep. Merci difficulty however seems quite smooth. Everything can kill you with their OP dodgables and can be gear checked on everything else. Although I'd still love some space in Piety II, barring that I'll take a damage nerf.

I never had a problem with Daresso. U got 75 cold resist? Don't stand in the wispy sword balls, they do way more damage than everything else. I suppose giving those more defined edges would be nice.

A final thought: Kaom SRS do too much damage at all difficulties. It's kind of silly that nothing in the fight is super threatening except these little balls of fire. Scale those down a notch and give him a true skillcheck (should be slow and easily telegraphable tho, more so than other ones the game offers) and that fight is perfect.

Kind of went on a tangent there... but anyway, thanks for the post, OP. Stick with the game, it's more fun the better you get. Game is hard for a reason.

Focus on life and resists, get a mobility skill, pick one kind of damage and one kind of damage mitigation for your tree. That alone is enough to get you to Merciless and probably maps.

Yes, normal is quite easy overall and it is designed that way to ease people into the game. Experienced players beat act 3 (old end of normal) comfortably in under 3 hours (and some much faster than that).

If you keep playing into cruel, merciless, and eventually maps you'll notice this trend does not continue forever, and you'll end up hitting a wall eventually where all the content seems quite difficult, not just the bosses. Where that wall is for you will depend on how good your build is, how lucky your drops are, and a few other things. So, stick with it, the game just gets funner and funner as you go.

Nice post. Regarding your confusion of when you are hit and not - what is your ping and are you using lockstep? If your ping is under 100 and constant, try forcing lockstep by going Options -> UI -> Networking mode -> lockstep

Good post, could you please post it to the Feedback forum as well if you have not done already.

https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-forum/feedback

Thanks for the honest and detailed feedback.

Your first character is supposed to be something you'll throw away and then make another proper character. Actually, most likely the first few characters you roll are going to be bad until you figure out how to build and level properly.

That is something completely unrealistic to expect from new players to know.

Or like the screen can freeze over if you got killed by cold damage, catch on fire if you get burnt to death, blood splats if phys, snap crackle and pop if you get shocked...

http://i.imgur.com/hAcv9io.png E.g. the 'freeze' graphic would creep across the screen over say 5 seconds.

Or like the screen can freeze over if you got killed by cold damage, catch on fire if you get burnt to death, blood splats if phys, snap crackle and pop if you get shocked...

E.g. the 'freeze' graphic would creep across the screen over say 5 seconds.

Nerf Normal Merveil.

What? That must be a typo or something. You can already do Merveil normal with 0% cold resist if you just know the fight.

I was actually going to post a thread on this myself!

Wall of text incoming

I should specify that I only have about 53 hours into Path of Exile, so I am also quite new. Although I have reached Merciless on one character (I have like 8 characters) before The Awakening came out.

I don't know if the issue is that the bosses in the later portion of Act 4 do too much damage. But rather that they attack too quickly. Or more specifically, use their abilities too close to one another. There is too little room for error. All of the act bosses , all deal large amounts of damage. But the other act bosses have a larger amount of time in between their attacks/abilities. Giving you time to react, attack, and then prepare for the next attack. In many cases the bosses in Act 4 have at least two to three things going on all at once. And while I don't think this is a bad thing I think it should be tweaked just a little.

Example, Shavronne has her storm call ability. While the arena is filling with runes showing where the storm calls will hit, she is throwing ball lightning at you. Meaning you have to dodge through the runes avoiding being hit by storm call, to avoid the ball lightning. If you move in the wrong direction you get hit by either one of them, or both if you're unlucky... which in my case would lead to death. If there was a short pause between the storm call, and the ball lightning it would have allowed me to parse what was going on and give me a better chance of dodging the different projectiles.

In this case, if her timings were tweaked the damage could remain the same because there is less overlap making it more viable to dodge her attacks.

My experience was much different than yours though. I actually found Maligaro to be the easiest of the three bosses before Malachai. I only died to him about three times. Whereas Doedre and Shavronne killed me about four and five times respectively. Maligaro mostly attacked by Chaos Golem, and I just melted him with Arc-Added lightning-Spell Echo. I almost killed him in one go, unfortunately he killed me a couple times before I could kill him.

As for Malachai, I feel the same way as I do with the others. It's not his damage so much as his timings. There should be more time between his attacks.

I found the mechanics of his fight to be very fun, although I have no idea how you're supposed to kill him without dying. In his second phase, there were at least four things going on at all times. By the end of that phase I think it's probably six or seven things that you have to avoid.

You have to watch out for and avoid the red orbs that fire in three directions, Malachai's teleport explosion, his tentacles, the blood he throws onto the ground, the mines he places, the zombies, and the red swirl on the ground.

I don't think that any of these do too much damage by themselves. I think they do too much damage together. I found that there was little to no room for error in his fight. If I got hit once, I would get hit again and die. No exceptions.

My suggestions would be to stagger his attacks and abilities.

Perhaps make the three fire balls appear with a half second interval so they go off in a sequence instead of all at once. Perhaps Malachai shouldn't be able to place mines while also throwing the 'blood bombs'. Perhaps Malachai shouldn't attack as frequently when you're supposed to attack the Beast's Hearts. Perhaps the Zombies shouldn't spawn as frequently all throughout the fight. Maybe they should be more like the Atziri fight, where they spawn very frequently for a short time during the fight's different 'phases'.

Although I haven't fought Malachai on anything but Normal, so I can't comment on the other difficulties... But I found that his damage was probably fine, but that there was just too much overlap in his high damage attacks.

TL;DR: The bosses damage isn't too high. They do too much at once. Giving no room for error. Their damage is probably okay, but they use all of their abilities too quickly in conjunction with one another making it too difficult to dodge.

I don't agree at all, Merveil should give a taste of the harder fights to come. If you run in there with 0 resists she should hurt. How else is the game going to teach newbies to keep their elemental resists up?

Besides, if you equip a Sapphire ring or two, she hits like a wet noodle. If you don't have any cold resist, you better dodge the attacks.

I think a major point here is that he isn't a casual gamer. He also isn't approaching this with the expectation of it being a casual game. Still, he's running into all these 'design errors' in the first difficulty that can easily drive away people that would enjoy the game quite a lot once they get things figured out.

Yes, for advanced players that's true.

For somebody that's palying PoE the first time?

Ranger means bows. Shadow means daggers. Marauder means big far two hands. Witch means spells.

So highlight some simple nodes for that principle.

It's actually kind of theme in PoE that everything is easy, and then you die. Most of the encounters will be trivial. Then suddenly there's some confluence of dangerous mobs, bad positioning, and a moments distraction. That's how it tries to keep tension, with varying degrees of success.

It communicated it by killing you over and over and over and over and over again

But this doesn't communicate that. Being overkilled by triple makes you just as dead as being overkilled by twice your HP. Defensive gear or passives or skills wouldn't change that in a new player's eyes (and they'd be mostly right). He recognized it was a more mechanical fight, but so much of the arena makes mobility and timing frustrating to figure out.

A better method is a more gradual ramping of difficulty were you can notice you're taking more damage and closer to dying in sketchy situations. You begin to realize you wont survive the next ramp up and so you focus on defenses appropriately in a gradual manner to match in preparation.

Yeah, but in diablo 2 at least, there is a smooth progression throughout all of the acts. Each one is only slightly more difficult than the last, and the main progression comes from moving on to the next difficulty. In PoE, there is a smooth progression from 1-3 and 4 is completely brutal. Increasing difficulties actually makes the game EASIER and, to me at least, that just feels extremely wrong.

If you are playing default standard leagues I don't see the point of fight resets if you die. If you want harsher penalties for death then you know what to do.

Even as an experienced player with over 1000 hours played, the difficulty spike toward the end of Act IV is jarring and seemingly out of place. It goes from easy to insane almost immediately, and I think it's a pretty big problem. Act IV normal feels harder than Act III Cruel. That doesn't make sense. To a new player it's going to be very discouraging.

Ya, I was fairly interested by that as well, especially because he was avoiding temp chains and not vulnerability. Doedre, on ranged or melee, seems like the hardest of the three by far.

Quality post. The tree definitely should have some highlughed paths with a color coded explanations of what each direction represents in the long run. Simple things like "Elemental damage path" or "Melee path".

Games are not either "hardcore" or "casual" and this dichotomy is absolutely stupid.

What if you literally like every mechanic that PoE has but don't want to play the spreadsheet game before you make a character?

New players don't even know about orbs of regret or other methods of getting those points.

There are a ton of ways to measure "hardcore" and one of them is "You play the game for 1000 hours" which is bullshit to some people, but it's what PoE asks of you just to enjoy the content. If you want a hard game but can only spend 20 hours, what, you're supposed to play a "casual" game? Is that a real answer?

It's shitty game design to say "No, this is only for a certain type of player, we have to keep it pure of everyone else." The opposite of that is not "Let's make the game shitty so that everyone can enjoy it!" - that's a straw man. The opposite is "Let's convert players into our type of player through our very well designed game!"

To be fair, there isn't a thing in this game that really suggests you should focus life over damage.

I know as a newbie (way back in the original closed beta), and for quite an embarassing while afterwards I assumed "killing things faster means they'll have less time to hurt me!"

Once I changed over to focusing on health nodes the game substantially improved for me.

I wish the map was made out of simple, clean lines instead of the mess it is now. Also, arrows pointing to teammates would be spectacular.

Yeah, that would be horrible.

You mention not liking the two slowing abilities used by act IV bosses, but I think GGG made a good decision here. You can have abilities that instantly kill that must be dodged (skill check), and you can have abilities that can't be dodged and must be tanked (gear checks). In my opinion one of the most interesting mechanics though is an ability that can be avoided with skill, gear, or a combination.

A slowing channeled attack is a good way to do this. The time you have to respond is based on your build's ability to tank, how long it takes to get out of the situation is based on your reaction time and your build's mobility. These attacks manage to reward skill, build mobility, and build defense. I would suggest taking a movement ability to the fight like Flame Dash, getting tankier is also an option.

It communicated it by killing you over and over and over and over and over again.

This argument would be fine if the game actually did this before the last act. Unless you're playing with a blindfold it feels like you have to try to get killed before Dominus on normal, and even act 4 is faceroll until the last few bosses.

So the game tricks the new player by making the first 3 acts harmless, leading them to think that speccing damage is more correct because the game doesn't seem dangerous, and then suddenly LOL SCRUB GET ONE SHOT.

If they want to communicate this, make Brutus and Merveil dangerous so people figure it out before investing much time.

Yeah that is weird as well. Why did GGG bother making an arena with closed doors if they don't implement the Bandit Fight Mechanic?

When you port out of a Bandit fight, guess what happens. You start over again.

And no one is complaining that the bandits are too hard.

I bet you could design the other important fights the same way. Reduced damage a bit and bam game suddenly isn't about zerging bosses down, the cheapest tactic ever which destroys all effort of GGG for players to learn the game mechanics and be actually good at the game.

It's not a question IF you can be Dominus/Malachai, but just how many deaths or portals it will cost you.

except people did complain about bandits when they were actually difficult and most people did them in groups. if you couldn't use tps in bosses every build would be life/manaleech and basically every endgame build would have to be regretted to hell or boosted through the entire game.

I feel like I'm the only one that likes it :( I really can't imagine a better way for them to do it either.

i agree with your points, and for me that's a great draw!

but what about new players like the OP? wouldn't it have been handy to have a tutorial popup explaining the skill tree? maybe a link to a youtube video, or links to basic guides that will get you into merciless for each class type.

these things exist on the forums, here, and on youtube for those that look. you really want these things to be incorporated into the game though. this way new players don't feel overwhelmed instantly and become intrigued instead.

i think the best solution would be for a tutorial popup that linked to a forum post for each class. GGG could create a "passive tree intro" video, then highlight some general build suggestions and skill setups to go with them. along with recommended gear choices.

this would be a great way of showing people the forums, and giving them more information. because the new player experience certainly requires some work!

Just turn off global and trade chat. :) I never have it on while I play.

It is not a game that you can just pick up and play and master. You wrote you've been playing games since the 80's, so you should now alot of old games also took alot of learning before you mastered them. People not up for the challenge, def are not the demographic this game has. Unlesss you just want to finish normal and then leave for good.

It is very engrossing and I myself feel great accomplishments in learning such an in depth game, where you see how much thought have gone into making everything. Learning the ins and outs to succed. Something liek this I find very appealing. Hope you start to feel the same or do already and keep on going. It's a masterpiece of a game for the type of player I am.

Cheers

There is a setting that gives you a corner mini map too, for those who prefer more traditional (as far as other games go) maps

Stamina was also in D2 and no one misses it.

Just because it was in D2 doesn't mean we have it mindlessly copy it.

D2 is not perfect and improving on it is only reasonable.