Limiting Skill Selection: Build Diversity Concerns

As I delve into the end game of Last Epoch, I have been thoroughly enjoying the overall gaming experience. However, as I reach this stage and focus on creating a well-rounded build, I have encountered a significant limitation that hinders the realization of certain build concepts. Upon examining the wide array of available skills, I consistently come across builds that I find intriguing but are unattainable within the current game mechanics. This is primarily due to the restriction that allows players to acquire only two out of the four skills associated with the masteries they did not choose.

One of the key aspects I relish in action role-playing games (ARPGs) is the ability to engage in theory crafting and experiment with diverse build combinations. I must emphasize that I recognize the existence of numerous viable builds within the current state of the game. Nevertheless, I fail to discern the advantages of constraining players’ freedom to mix and match skills from different masteries according to their preferences.

I am curious to understand the rationale behind this limitation. Is there a specific benefit to confining players to only the initial two skills from other masteries, even if they are willing to invest the requisite 35 skill points to unlock additional skills? If there are valid reasons supporting this design choice, I would greatly appreciate hearing them, as it currently appears that certain content is needlessly withheld from players without a clear justification.

I had made a former post before on this topic, but it was done without any sleep and I feel this better represents the idea.

Can you go into detail about the particular builds you are having conecerns with? The point of not getting all the skills from other masteries are exactly that, you did not choose that mastery. IMO we are lucky to get to invest into those trees if we find suitable nodes, other games you are just flat locked out. Imagine if PoE let us get all the best nodes from Slayer and Champion.

Since you experimentation, create a new character and pick the mastery that looks interesting.


Most builds benefit from a few points in the off-spec trees, but I do think it would be interesting to have full freedom of choice.

My main concern is your build would start to get diluted quickly the further you straddle the various trees, as they get increasingly focused based on the class archetype.

I really think the choice by the devs boils down to a desire for clarity of focus. Sure, they could balance mobs around all the different permutations that would occur if we could pick points in all masteries, but maybe they’d rather spend their resources on something else.

What really limits build diversity is just how many Idols and Exalted items you need to make a build actually function the way you want it to, because those are what consume the vast majority of time it takes to get to a working build if it isn’t efficient enough to just work on the Unique and Set items already in the game.

You could suggest adding more Unique and Set items, but the variety is already pretty wild. I think a better way to make more builds viable is just to up the base damage that a lot of the wimpier moves do, so that you don’t need insane gear or obscure bonuses to use them. That would be my main mission if I were to look for ways to improve the game.

While I comprehend the presence of restrictions concerning the selection of a mastery, it is crucial to acknowledge that these limitations do not necessarily contribute to an enhanced sense of enjoyment in the game. Furthermore, even within the chosen class, such as the Primalist in my case, access to skills from other classes like the Sentinel or Acolyte remains unavailable. If the issue revolves around the allocation of points to other masteries, an alternative approach that would yield better results is the removal of point requirements for obtaining abilities, replacing them with a baseline player level prerequisite. The primary objective should be to provide players with access to the complete array of skills within a class, enabling them to mix and match them as desired. From my perspective, the benefits derived from such an approach far outweigh the current restrictions.

It is worth noting that the game has a total of approximately 114 skills spanning across all available classes and that you aren’t able to dip into another class’ skill pool. This inherently necessitates specialization within the range of 22-26 skills within the chosen class, further narrowing down to a maximum of five specialized skills that can be actively utilized. It is also important to recognize that additional benefits are still attainable through the selection of a specific mastery.

My primary concern revolves around the notable restriction imposed on each class, wherein approximately 4-6 skills are denied, creating an impression of an artificial barrier. I suppose the main question is this: Does the removal of access to these 4-6 skills per class ultimately enhance or diminish the overall quality of the game?

The difference between what you think and what they think :wink:

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So you say there will be a meta in LE like in every other ARPG? Well duh?

Balancing decision. Easier for developers to restrict your choices then reflect back to the player to say ‘captivity breeds creativity’…instead of allowing many more combinations for you to potentially fail at

I have no idea why any developer would relish having less options in their game for players to choose assuming they can balance it properly, and if it were so you then just have less points to allocate to your main mastery so it would be a tradeoff

Path of Exile is the only aRPG that allows you complete freedom to horrendously fail, every other game is on rails forcing you to make decent decisions. In PoE you can actually take the wrong gems from the vendor right away and have no skill to use and no currency to buy more, you can allocate all your passives wrong, you can even take a passive that makes you deal zero damage - and people have complained ‘why am i doing zero damage’ BEcause you took the Ancestral Bond keystone…

GD/Diablo/LE even making ‘incorrect’ decisions will still give you a character than can clear the game as your level ups consist of ‘do a bit more damage’ or ‘do more damage’ either way you are going to be ok

Masteries are about making each class feel and play differently. If you could use absolutely every skill from every mastery, then no matter which mastery you picked, that class would play the same. Then every class would basically narrow down to the best five-skill combination it has. Not only would you know for a fact that’s how that class should be played, but you’d know you’re hamstringing yourself for not playing it. So would other people, who might choose not to play with you based on that.

To put it differently, skill restrictions by mastery don’t exist to limit build variety, but to create a larger total number of optimal builds across the same number of skills. Instead of having 1 or 2 per class, you have a minimum of 3 per class. This means there’s at least that much more to do that is considered valid, as long as each mastery is about as useful as the others for that class.

Masteries also exist to create a distinct gameplay experience that is different from one you would have with a different mastery. As long as each mastery gets to specialize in doing something a little different than the others, then it can be considered a unique way to play the game. Rather than many more builds with all the skills that become irrelevant, each one can be tweaked so that it gets something only it can do. And you don’t have to worry about balancing the specific things that mastery can do against every other skill you don’t have access to in the other masteries. This means each mastery can get something that is ridiculous and interesting without it breaking or invalidating what other masteries get that are exclusive to them.

Imagine in the extreme that you could use every skill of every class on the same character. Well then, every single character regardless of class would fundamentally play the same and do the same things. Not only would it be impossible to balance all the skills against each other such that changing one or making one strong without making several others pointless or less useful would be impossible, but it would also be a nightmare for players to keep up with unless they stuck to what the community identified as the meta for each patch. Moreover, the incentives to avoid that complexity and stick to the meta would increase exponentially, because for all you know, you’re going to pick a bunch of skills that are useless and waste your time. Might as well get the good ones, with some small variation at most.

In reality, you’ll find that complexity does actually emerge from restrictions in the exact same way. If you just think in terms of running, if you can run anywhere at any time for no reason, you probably will never just set off running. But if you set a finish line, then you have a race. This same principle applies to every game: I know this is a philosophical point, but if you think about the rules of other games, you’ll realize that the rules themselves are restrictions. But those restrictions create more interesting ways to act in the world, because they create goals, as well as a pattern for acting out the game across multiple iterations.

All of that to say that if the developers didn’t have the option to make some abilities exclusive to certain specs, they actually probably couldn’t make the game as complex and interesting as it is.


One crucial distinction to make is that unlike PoE, LE retains restrictions on skill selection and leveling within the chosen class. Therefore, the introduction of the few remaining skills wouldn’t result in a complete free-for-all, but rather expand the potential build options within reasonable boundaries. Considering the current framework, where each class has four outstanding skills that cannot be acquired, the potential build variations remain within manageable limits (In my opinion).

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Thank you sincerely for your response.

I believe it is crucial to differentiate between diversity and viability in the context of skill options. In every ARPG, there will inevitably be certain meta builds that players can pursue for optimal efficiency and effectiveness. This is an inherent aspect that cannot be entirely avoided. However, build viability pertains to the notion that, despite the existence of meta builds, there remains a plethora of off-meta builds capable of successfully completing all game content, albeit at a potentially slower or less efficient pace.

I appreciate your point regarding the distinctive gameplay experiences that masteries offer. However, it is worth noting that even without the mastery system, granting players access to the complete range of skills within a class would result in a broader spectrum of potential gameplay experiences compared to the current restriction. By having all skills available from the start, players would have more opportunities for diverse playstyles and build variations.

I want to emphasize that my stance is not against having restrictions on skill point allocation or the unique benefits tied to each mastery, such as the additional companion for the Beastmaster. Rather, my concern lies specifically with the denial of the last four skills within each class. When confronted with these four greyed-out skills, I can’t help but feel a sense of missing out on something that should be inherently accessible when choosing this class over the other four.

It is crucial to strike a balance between providing players with meaningful restrictions that promote build diversity and ensuring that the limitations do not hinder the enjoyment or sense of fulfillment within the chosen class.

Only four to six skills would be opened up to each class that are already in the game, so your concerns of over complexity wouldn’t be an issue. Fortunately, LE provides a notable advantage in terms of skill flexibility, as it offers a more streamlined process for changing skills compared to a game like PoE. This ensures that players are less likely to find themselves in a situation where they perceive their time as wasted while attempting to refine or adjust a build.

While I agree with your assertion that restrictions are an essential component of game design, I respectfully hold a different viewpoint regarding the value of the last remaining skills within each class. In my perspective, these particular restrictions may not necessarily fall under the category of “beneficial” limitations.

I think you’ve got the tense wrong there. There already is and has been for some time.

@Shrukn I’m so confused, I don’t know whether to disagree with you on principle (and my inherent contrariness) or not!!!

One major aspect for locking certain active skills or even passives behind certain mastery is also class identity.

Last Epoch does have a very good and clear class identity, while still offerings tons of freedom within each class.
When you see gameplay of a LE build, in a lot of cases you can visually see what mastery that build is.
In a game like PoE you can not see what Ascendancy they are for the overwhelming majority of builds.

The next thing, which can be paradox at first, but when you look into it more.
More choices does not realistically increase build diversity.
Just because the theoretical number of combinations will be higher, doesn’t mean that there will be more diverse builds.

A lot of builds will always gravitate towards certain tried and true combinations of skills.

Path of Exile is a great example for this. There are millions of different combinations possible, yet you will always see a lot of repeating pattern, especially in the defensive, utility and movement department.

One example for Last Epoch would be Holy Aura. If that skill would be available for all Sentinel Masteries, you would see it on a lot of Sentinel builds, very likely on the vast majority of Sentinel builds.
Another one would be Death Seal.

Third aspect would be, that the devs have a lot more freedom to actually design and enable insanely strong skill, knowing that they are mutually exclusive with other skills. (this is also very similar to limited dual wielding capabilities, where EHG can design certain items, because they know which classes are able to DW them).

TLDR:I think LE’s build diversity is already really good and opening more of the currently mastery exclusive skills would not necessarily increase build diversity, while definitely will eleminate class identity.


Skills themselves are the function of the character. If those are not restricted ever for any reason, then nothing is actually restricted. You can’t be for specialization and differentiation of masteries and against any skill ever being restricted. These two concepts are opposed to each other.

Moreover, all those skills have to be balanced against each other and none of the masteries would actually be different in ways that significantly affected how you played the game. A class, in other words, is more what it does than what its stats are. And that is because doing is what the game consists of.

Say you were on an American football team where every player decided to play quarterback instead of blocking or running down field to catch. If every player in a sport chooses to do the same thing, it will dramatically affect the way the game itself is played. In this case, every class would just be its best 5 abilities, because too many of the abilities would clash and not be able to be balanced against each other, and ultimately the meta for that class would boil down to whatever the devs decide to elevate over the other skills as they update and change the game.

This is essentially what PoE does. There is a build per class every season that is so in favor, you’re basically required to play it. That is the only way they can inject variety because you have access to too many of the abilities in the game too often. So in order to change what a class does, they have to dump dramatic amounts of favor into one item or spec, to make it the obvious “new thing” you’re supposed to do.

This is all a matter of philosophy. Do you want a class that does nothing except the best thing it does, or several different things that are each a little different. Most of the time, you want to create as many meaningfully different experiences as possible so that people have stuff to do in your game.


Yeah but right now it’s EA/Beta so it’s fair to give balancing a little bit of slag because balancing a game throughly is something that’s made at last and as an ongoing process. I ment there will be a meta after release.
Right now you can play a Rebuke only Pala and finish empowered monos most likely. When there is some balancing and we realy know what is considered endgame and where builds should end up we can finaly say what is OP and how much it needs to be nerfed to get to levels where the endgame should happen.

IIRC the devs considered 300 corruption as some kind of pinacle levels but I might have gotten that wrong.

I’m generally against nerfing things. At the low end, skills can be useless. But at the high end, having skills that are strong is fine. Some of them will inherently be better than others, just by virtue of them not all being the same.

What I care about a lot more is making the characters fun to play, and for some reason that never enters into these conversations. I suspect this is because people think “fairness” is the ultimate moral virtue and having fun is somehow less than. May also have something to do with ladder and competitive modes, which I think should never take things away from the single player experience and just how good the game feels to play in general, if those modes exist in a game. Multiplayer games melting down into a grey mass of homogeneity has been the story of a bunch of the games I used to enjoy.

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I don’t see any issue with restricting characters to 1 mastery… By the way, we aren’t restricted to 1 mastery, we get 1 full mastery and 2 halves of the other masteries… So really, we aren’t constrained. It’s a glass half-full issue. If you think about it, you’re getting more than most games have to offer, you’re getting access to 2 masteries that you didnt specialize in.

If you ignore the “meta” and “build guides” you will enjoy LE a lot more. There’s really no reason to look up builds, or feel limited, because any build can be viable until a certain difficulty hurdle.

Just play the game, and build what you think is cool - I promise there is enough gear to make anything viable ahaha. Just forget about being “optimal” and you will enjoy your experience a lot more.

I make a character, pick a couple skills I think are cool and build around them. I don’t look up “builds” or “meta” or “optimization” until I reach an insurmountable difficulty obstacle, which doesn’t occur until upwards of 200 corruption monos … Up to that point you have dozens of hours of fun gameplay to experience while you’re leveling up and building your character. It can take between 10-30 hours to get to empowered monos per character. That’s a great amount of playtime per build that you enjoy. The journey is more interesting than the destination.

I have over 20 characters. I have not got bored of building builds yet. I don’t look up builds. I don’t need to. I dont care what’s optimal. I don’t care what’s the “best”. I play what I think is interesting, and that mentality has gifted me over 250 hours of great fun in this game.

There’s gear for every build type. Just play it. Enjoy the journey more than the destination.

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And I only discovered this by chance, my first online char is a primalist druid. I wanted to take the increased dodge chance from beastmaster passive tree :joy::joy:.

Having played several PoE leagues, I can confidently say that I have never relied on meta builds, yet I have successfully cleared the game’s main content. It is expected for a meta to exist in any ARPG; however, the problem arises when the game becomes nearly impossible to complete without using a meta build. The advantage of LE lies in its accessibility, as it is considerably easier to grasp compared to PoE. This means that players can progress through all of the game’s content without the need to consult external build guides (unless they aim for optimal performance by utilizing meta builds, which is a separate matter). Hence, the concern of players being limited to only one or two builds is not a significant issue in LE.

Considering the nature of ARPGs, it is likely that players will choose meta builds to efficiently traverse content, particularly with the inclusion of cycles, if my understanding is correct on those being like seasons/leagues. Nevertheless, players typically have one or two additional characters that allow them to explore off-meta builds for recreational purposes (while still being able to do max content with them, just at a slower pace). While the game will inevitably have those renowned “top builds,” it may not be prudent to restrict the options available to other players, even if the limitation is minor, such as restricting access to a few skills. Such restrictions primarily aim to manage those who are inclined to min-max the game regardless of any changes implemented.