Item Progression Feels... Bad

Hello, travelers. I'd like to discuss the current and theoretical future of item progression as I've experienced it.

Overall, I've found itemization feels very samey across all my characters, despite my primary interest in build experimentation. Especially once I have a build put together with build-enablers and mostly T15+ rares, I can clearly see the remaining progression available and quickly lose steam knowing how long it could take versus the small amount of additional game content it would provide. What should be exciting item drops feel more like rewarding tedium with more tedium. By the time I manage to find a 4LP for a slot, I'm too burnt out from hunting and forging exalted items to care, or vice-versa.


To illustrate where I find the good and bad feels, I'll step through an example of starting and taking a character to high level. Afterward, I'll get into more nuance and some thoughts on 1.0. Also, for the places I use it: please excuse my hyperbole. My points are my own perspective and I recognize they may turn out to be minority opinions.


Right now, I think this is the best part of the game. Even with a minimal loot filter, you're constantly swapping items with stuff you find on the ground and making incremental progress. Any unique could be a huge power or speed increase. Ten seconds in the forge can get you great items for the rest of the campaign. Collecting high-FP bases to forge later feels good because it comes alongside consistent progress.

What makes this part the best is probably the focus on skills versus items. Once you're practiced, you can often bring a new character through the Acts with random Act 1 drops or less. During this, the amount of time you need to spend playing skills you don't intend to keep is just a low as the importance of gear progression. This is excellent for the new player experience and gives any player ample time to figure out what gear and affixes will fit the skills set they've settled on.


Once I'm using the skills I want to build around and have a feel for the play style, things start to spiral downward toward tedium. Within the filter builder itself (no wiki or 3rd party tools required), I can research every base type and affix I could want and effectively design my perfect gear set of non-uniques. Being around mid game here, I'm prepping to chase specific uniques and set up my progression to have T19 to T21 items in each other slot for my primary offensive stats plus a baseline of defenses. I know what idol mods are my best in slot and maybe I've found one already.

At this point, I'm still having tons of fun. Upgrades are still frequent and new bits of the game are becoming available. My filter isn't too strict, so I'm looking at a lot of drops and keeping a lot because "hmm this might be good for something." I'm collecting certain bases and hoarding certain shards via shatter/removal. Basically, there's a lot of excitement anticipating the bigger better items I'll eventually equip.


Now I've figured out my skills and gear, and the focus of progression changes to blessings. It's strange to me that I can't look these up in game like I can with items bases and affixes, but I suppose I end up on the wiki or item database at some point for every game I play.

There are three kinds of blessings, as I see it, in order of priority: build mechanics, affix gaps, and item quantity. The non-empowered versions are largely irrelevant, as I will farm the empowered version of any blessing that is important to the build. While item progression has certainly slowed down, I'm still making regular forging attempts to improve gear slots where I can. The game continues being fun and engaging since I am still encountering new experiences in the playthrough and have short term goals being reached on the way to long term goals.

However, the tedium creeps in again as the number of useful item drops decreases and short term goals start to fade. Acquiring my empowered blessings is in sight. I know what LP uniques and exalted bases I'll be hunting for Julra visits. I have a plan and carrying it out means playing the game more. This is excellent. Let me just take care of some of this screen clutter...


Far beyond equipping random drops, I disable probably half the rules in my filter, letting the final "hide" rules reveal much more of the screen. My specific "show" rules have one base type, maybe two, per gear slot, and at least one affix defined. No more gambling with 19FP white or blue bases. No more runes of discovery. No more runes of research.

My build is fully functional, primary defenses are defined, and resistances are capped or close to it. I don't care about any set or weaver's will items, unless they are a specific part of the build. I'm cranking through echoes and look at everything that survives my filter, as it could potentially be "the one."


Maybe more commonly known as "the grind," this is where my struggle starts. It hasn't taken very long to get to this point, and I'm already feeling a sense of same old same old. There's not many items showing up to look at and almost none of them spike my excitement anymore.

I've seen all the bosses and dungeons at least once. I've got more keys than I can extract any value from. The only interesting slot machine pull left is at the re-completion of monoliths to see if I get the blessing I want and how well it rolls. Everything just feels repetitive and washed out. I don't frequent the arena as that just exacerbates the issue. When I occasionally die for whatever reason, I feel... nothing.

Logically, I still want to improve the strength of my skills. Layer on some more defensive options. Visit Julra more often. The gameplay has vastly improved with every patch and feels great to play, but even that isn't enough to stop me from eventually thinking during every playthrough at this point: "I know exactly how this will feel after however many hundreds of hours it will take to truly finish, so why bother?"


If I keep playing at high level, my filter gets very strict. I'll usually start adding things for next builds, so maybe I see more stuff, but I feel ever increasing resistance to continue.

The usual nail in the coffin: completing entire echoes without a single item surviving the filter, even the post-completion rewards and chest. I've deliberately avoided pushing too hard or playing too much each patch while still in beta to mitigate burnout (and is also why I don't pursue spots in alpha testing). But regardless of how good things might be going, getting zero drops, sometime multiple echoes in a row, just plain sucks wicked bad. I tend to get killed when this starts happening as I get distracted or zone out, and then quit.


In short: it feels like there is not enough complexity. As soon as I've determined my skills, the rest of the game is a very linear feeling grind-and-pray, with little variation or top-end content to strive toward. I get to this same point on every character I play into end game. Even separate classes' primary skills eventually feel the same as each other to play, making my choices and itemization feel unimportant. The dynamic of progressing a character, especially the items, is far too homogenous across different characters.

On top of this, I find the game is missing the mark on the feeling I should be getting from something "big" dropping, especially from boss encounters. I meander through broad empty patches between monster packs, most of them fall over without pizazz, kite the boss encounter to death, squeezing out few affix shards and a rune. I port out and bust the unique-armor-polyhedron to see a 3LP version of the 2LP I'm using. I never think "YEEEESSSSS! FINALLY!" Instead, I think "Might as well go see Julra and hope the mod I miss isn't the important one. I've got all these keys, anyway. Oh, wait, that's a bad roll. Extra mod won't make up for that." Then I open the chest and get another couple shards. Ugh.

To be clear, I'm not crying in opposition to the RNG gods. It's that incremental progress should feel like progress and I should feel an incentive to pursue it and excited when the option presents. As things are right now, I simply don't.


I want to dig a bit more specifically into a couple points.


I really like the system we have. Everything is inside the game and the UI is easy to use and understand. I've never felt like I need to go find someone else's filter collection to import or have anyone teach me some "right" way of setting it up. I have some default rules I've set up myself and can tailor higher ordered rules to the current character rather quickly. It also strikes a great balance between hiding stuff I know I don't want and showing stuff without too many parameters so I do need to manually inspect items that show. I like this.

At the same time, the ability to effortlessly design my perfect item set through a loot filter interface effectively forces me to do so. Once I know what I'm playing, I can't not go search the mod pool for all the possible skill-specific affixes for my build, identify the ones I "need", count any overlap, and define what opportunity costs I accept thus directing how the remaining affix positions are selected. In other words, the filter system becomes a build planner that I'm obligated to complete lest the fomo overtake me.

I have no idea how to fix this. I don't want to lose what we have, and I think it's really well implemented. I'm hoping this naturally resolves through additions to the game that increase the complexity, which I believe it could. As it stands, though, the journey to best in slot items does not feel like a maze. It feels like a railroad. Which brings me to...


Smashing together uniques with non-uniques is very cool. Unfortunately, it has only added an extra tier to the concept of best-in-slot. It used to be I could have one item in a slot. Now, I can have roughly 1.8 items in a slot. Why would I chase anything else?

My end game grind is to accomplish one of two things for each gear slot: either farm 4LP versions of the uniques I need and forge exalted items for them, or farm 4LP versions of whatever is the best-in-slot uniques to overlay the exalted items I'm using otherwise. Sets, weaver's will, and sealed affixes have no point or place in end game.

And yet, the difference between 11 slots with legendaries versus 11 slots with T22+ or required unique items is... what? A few more notches of corruption? A few more positions in the arena? I do realize that the pinnacle of min-maxing in most games is well beyond what's necessary to demolish all content. The point is I'll never strive for anything else. There are only two kinds of character equipment completion: perfect bases and affixes before I get legendaries, then whatever legendaries I manage to upgrade them with. With the path to both of these so plain, any complexity of lesser power is disregarded and lost. This is just like skill point allocation: how can I take the interesting complex option with no damage increase when there's a damage multiplier I could take instead? The decision should be between this cool thing or that cool thing, not between more power or NOT more power.

There was a thread about removing LP from the game. I agree with the desired result, but LP is a cool thing and I think cool things should stay. In lieu of removing it, I believe the other categories of items need to compete better with legendaries, especially sets. Those other categories, and any new ones in the future, need to very clearly define where they fit in the game (and be extremely accessible there) or otherwise be strong and rare enough to compete with legendaries. There are far too many character building choices where the game effectively tells me what is the correct choice, rendering them all a choice only between, again, more power or not.

C) 1.0

There is a huge item progression change coming with 1.0 that I obviously can't avoid here...


I've mentioned on the blog posts about trade that I'm feeling generally good about the faction design. I think I'm still there, but now having explored my position on the state of item progression, I naturally have some new thoughts.

We haven't seen the full extent of bonuses you get from fully leveling into each faction, so I'm speculating quite a bit here. That said, with what we do know, it seems to me there is zero incentive to take CoF over MG unless you are a devoted SSF enjoyer. Once you reach the end-game legendary-hunting-loop, you are easily many times more likely to obtain bases and 4LP's you want via trade than from your own farming with a boosted rate. 100,000 players filling the bazaar (ya I said six figures for LE, no questions, put your hands down) will give you far more chances to find your gear than "Rank 6: Uniques are twice as likely to have LP." Even if rank 30 is 10x more likely, the full contingent of trade has much better odds.

As an aside, I hope that higher ranks in a faction are not just bigger numbers for lower rank boons. That would be really boring.

Let's pose a hypothetical with some assumptions. CoF at max rank with item quant blessings in heavy duty echoes gives you 100x the chance to find your 4LP uniques AND your exalted bases can drop up to T10 affixes. Max rank MG gives you... nothing. Now you play SSF+CoF four hours a day, which translates to 400 hours of farming those uniques and bases. I would love to believe that playing a game for 400 hours would mean you find every item you want, but that is not in any way guaranteed. Now also consider how many tens of thousands of hours of playtime per day accumulate across the MG players. I certainly don't know the item drop math for LE, but in terms of hours of farming, SSF is no match. Even conservatively: say there's only 1000 players farming end game for a mere one hour a day. That still beats 4 hours with a 100x multiplier, and those T10 affixes don't matter if you can't find them. I don't think it's a stretch to assume trade players will sell the good stuff they find; that's why they're in trade.

Maybe I'll be way off and CoF will be super over powered for SSF and reduce the item progression time frame to less than 1% of the current prospect. But there is still the problem of why you care to and how fun it is to achieve. Maybe CoF will get us to 120% power in the same time we get to 95% in SSF now, while MG will get you to 95% in half the time. What does it matter if you only need 60% of character potential to blast through everything? I don't mean to be pessimistic on trade factions; I just want the decision and benefits to matter more than the difference between opting for SSF or not. We already had that.


I won't presume to have any enlightened recommendation for how to fix the issues I find with items and progression. However, I believe a number of things about the game which might be in scope of solutions or a path to them.


I would guess most of the people here have seen the videos of people removing all or most of their equipment in the middle of an encounter and observing almost no difference in capability. This is a monumental problem. It must be made true that my choices in skills, passives, and items are all hugely impactful to the success of my character. And indeed any bad choices I make with any of them should have consequences impeding that success accordingly.

As far as I can tell, it is still true that damage multipliers on skill trees is dramatically more important than any other component of your build. This is quite demoralizing as a build experimenter. I definitely had no motivation to play for a while after seeing the first of those videos. Even without this issue, we still have the problem of differences in item power. All the time I spend finally getting T20+ in every slot should mean something. Having all T10 instead is not different enough.


I want to see more items survive late-game filters. I don't mean better items becoming more common. We currently have equipment, idols, forging materials, keys, potions, and gold. The first two are all but gone once you learn the item filter. Materials are a mindless click-to-continue. Keys, potions, and gold aren't inherently interesting, they're just a means to an end and often irrelevant. We need more than this.

I'm so bored of piles of suffix shards from bosses and chests. There's no drops that make me go "Ooo, what's that!?" There's no big ticket items hitting the ground I want to place in a display case. There's no flashbang I can get on screen that would induce a reaction-culture twitch-streamer distorted-scream chair-jump run around the room (gawd I hate that). Where are the strongest potions? The tiered currencies? Collectibles? Socketables? Echo manipulators? I'm assuming many such things will be introduced through cycles, but I would expect the base game to include the biggest possible dopamine hits. I'm not feeling them right now.


While crafting in LE is a great experience with lots of player agency and accessibility, the items themselves are pretty boring. For the most part, offense is on prefixes and defense is on suffixes, and even with only 2 of each affix per item there's little to no opportunity cost across the 11 equipment slots. This leans into my previous points about how every build eventually feels the same.

Assembling character gear: Use class items with whatever is the best option for skill prefixes. Use non-class items with whatever prefix stats I'm scaling. Cap my resistances with suffixes. Maybe some idols and blessing make room for dodge or life instead of fire and void res. *YAWN*

I believe there should be build defining affixes available on non-class items. Unconventional ways of scaling offense and defense shouldn't be exclusive to uniques that only certain builds can use. I appreciate maintaining the identities of the different classes themselves, but those identities can be clearly defined by the classes' skills and passives. Items should be more versatile and have more impact on designing builds, rather than build designs simply finishing out by slotting in whatever affixes fill gaps.


Why is there not a progression of bigger badder bosses that I've never encountered myself because my build isn't yet strong enough to get there? Where's the trio of mini-bosses carrying pieces of the key to the mega-boss in the only place you can drop certain items? The moment I've completed my first empowered echo in a play through, it becomes a struggle to stay motivated to play. Even the most fun builds I've put together and come back to, battling the most fun areas of the game, can't keep me interested for very long.

Yes, there are challenging encounters that can be made numerically more difficult (in theory for more chance at reward). But "make the numbers bigger" is far less aspirational than "earn access through skillful build design, discovery, and gameplay." Completing a boss 5 seconds faster is not aspirational. I want moar, and I want the progression of my item power to be important to how accessible it is.


I think there are a few things causing this. First, the speed of progression through the campaign areas feels very inconsistent. It seems like the expected power level of players doesn't quite match the challenge of the areas done in "normal" order (I know you can jump around a bit). Variation in difficulty is a good way to hold attention, but I don't think it should be arbitrary. Variations in difficulty during the campaign should be associated to build diversity, such as mobile enemies being harder for melee versus ranged, or element resistant enemies being harder for mages than rogues. These things do exist, of course, but feel much less impactful than zone designs and area levels.

Second, there is a huge drop in difficulty when starting monoliths after completing the campaign, and this persists until empowered. Overall, I think the time from level 1 to empowered monoliths is too fast. The campaign is inconsistent in an unexpected way, then monoliths are easy and fast, then empowered is suddenly slow and difficult. I'd find this really confusing from a new player perspective. We step through: occasionally challenging with wake up calls, then deceptively easy, then suddenly "what am I doing wrong?"

And finally, when I've learned and practiced well enough to be cranking out empowered monoliths, I reach the aspiration-lacking grind far too soon. With each new playthrough the game feels smaller. Back to one of my early points: we need more complexity. Complexity can slow progression while keeping it fun and engaging, plus providing options to the grind so it becomes less of a grind and more of a series of choices (and hopefully important ones).


Here's a likely contentious idea: move speed should not be an affix and remaining access to move speed should be equal for all classes, perhaps in an automatic way (like level based). The threshold of character power beyond which all content is viable does not preclude maximizing move speed in all available ways on any character. That is, at no point where I could opt for more move speed do I need to consider anything else I might opt for instead. I can invest as much as possible into move speed and still have more than enough room in a build to scale past all content.

The problem is this means move speed is a required investment for the value of my time. Consider multiple characters beyond that power threshold, but one of them has more move speed than the others. That faster character will objectively collect more frequent rewards and progression than the rest. I know I'm treading on fun versus efficiency, but playing a more fun build should not necessitate less reward. Fun and reward should not be on opposite sides of the scale (which I consider true for all game aspects, not just items and builds).

I will say that I have plenty of fun on slower builds that are fun in their own way. But faster builds are the only ones I stick with. The end game loop pace, dodging boss abilities, skipping mobs I don't want to bother with, and other move speed enabled gameplay options always win my attention in the long term. But the game could instead provide and be balanced around an even field of move speed across characters. How fast a character can reach the end of an area does not need to be part of that character's identity. The ability to move out of one-shot attack range does not need to be itemized. Eschewing move speed bonuses should never feel like "I'm doing it wrong," but it always does.


Thanks for reading. I want to emphasize as usual that I still love the game and every patch realizes more of its potential. Though I've spewed a lot on this post, I am extremely hopeful for 1.0 which I have a strong sense will come with tons of content and complexity we've not even heard about yet. I just really hope it's the kind I'm looking for that will fuel my drive to push characters farther than ever, which is the main point I hopefully presented effectively here.

1 Like

I mostly skimmed, however I think these feedbacks fall into two situations.

Game isnt released yet, more loot, more item types, more affixes etc all come with time. this very much feels like comparing a game not even in 1.0, to one with 10 years of content. These things will come given time.

At the same time you can also make the argument of audience.

Ill tell you right now, if this game had some of the things you are describing, it would have less players. because it would just be the lite version of another game.

Things like aspriational content, and other things will come. they have said they will. But a key pillar of design for this game has and most likely will remain ease of access. the second this title has the “well I wont touch this build it cant do uber uber x 500 corruption boss because doing any other content is trash” is the time me a 2k+ hours player will probably quit. Because I can get that vibe in other spaces in the genre.

I do agree with your overarching points however. That right now gear progression feels pointless. at this point still too much power comes from passives/skill and not enough from gear.

However, the answer to that imo is actually something everyone will cry about, and thats simply to nerf everything. I really dont think items need to be brought up in scope, they can be made more complex, but they are imo actually fairly decent in terms of values presented. you can easily get 800% increased damage on a staff, your passive tree wont give you even close to half that in most cases. going from 400% inc damage to 1200% inc damage is a sizable damage jump. a good staff vs a bad one can be the difference of 800% total inc, or 1200%, which is sizable power upgrades!

The problem is that skills are simply unbalanced. some skills you struggle to get 40% more damage, and some walk up with an aggregate 1k%+ more multiplier. the skills are strictly unbalanced. go play some of the weaker skills and you wont just breeze up to 300 corruption, while some skills do it basically naked.

Until skills are a bit more inline with each other, I dont think we can make assumptions about gear being too weak or boring because right now you dont even need to look at your equipment for anything sub 200 corruption on some builds because the skill has so much damage built in.


The gear in this game is borderline useless and a complete joke compared to the power of the passive and skill trees. If EHG isn’t changing the system fundamentaly it’ll stay a joke. Sadly this is kind of old news and I highly doubt we see changes before release and the game starts with another flawed system in place. I still think LE needs a lot more time in development because a some stuff needs to be changed to deliver the best possible version of LE instead of a mediocre game that people forget about in days after release.

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed 90 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.