I want to discuss the prospect of never adding Trade to LE here. First off, a little about me:
I normally love Trade, have played all major ARPGs with and without Trade for decades, and usually find it to add more excitement to loot-hunting.
After playing through Monolith progression for a good while now, I must say though that I think Trade would probably cause more issues than it would solve in the current iteration of LE’s itemization/crafting balance.
Loot feels in a very good spot right now, with the help of crafting functional gear is fairly easy to reach, and the hunt for Exalted drops is incredibly motivating and, in my opinion, satisfying.
Now early on the prospect of a bid-only Marketplace was discussed, as well as severe restrictions to Trade (likely: no Exalted items, no boss drops, etc). This gives me confidence that EHG have a similar perspective of the matter, but in any case:
A full-blown Trade economy would be, in my opinion, quite detrimental to the current state of the game. This under the disclaimer of potential major shifts in the future, naturally, and based on the current state of things. In any case, as it stands right now it is rather easy to get to T15ish items with the right mods, with a bit of drop and crafting luck up to T20 is possible - and this level of gear is already pretty much overkill for the majority of the content. The hunt for Exalted items then begins, which is immensely fun imo, as they are rare chase items and RNG-bound, as it should be in an ARPG endgame.
Right now the game strikes a sweet balance between determinism in helping you get the most out of drops, and late game RNG chase goals.
A Trade economy poses the question of what should be tradeable, and if we assume, for example, that items up to T20, along with crafting materials, might be tradeable, it has the potential of pretty much killing the sense of natural progression by making them too accessible - or conversely, if only via a bidding system, being essentially a sidegame and basically superfluous as simply playing the game would be more efficient and fun (in that case, no reason to add it at all).
A Trade economy poses the very real risk of trivializing basic gear progression and cutting gameplay loops short, on top of discouraging players from engaging with both the Crafting and the Filter system more, both strong points of the game and really, the whole point.
Let’s assume the above example: items up to T20 are tradeable, in a buyout or p2p trading environment. This would essentially coerce gameplay to prioritize gold over drops, because buying it would be more efficient than finding/crafting it. In turn, this would make basically all Monolith rewards up to Empowered practically meaningless for progression (if you can buy very well-rolled basic gear, most rewards will be pretty irrelevant to you).
I think a bidding system is a very good idea to make Trade less convenient and powerful, but it also begs the question of why it needs to exist at all, then. Keeping the game economy-free would force players to engage with the Crafting and Filter system more, which in my opinion is the way the game should be played, and where it can really develop its strengths in comparison to many other representatives of the genre.
Trading with Friends/Party, btw, would be great though. I’m simply advocating for keeping the economy aspect out of the game entirely, as it would simply unnecessarily complicate itemization/progression balance. If loot becomes too trivial, difficulty needs to be ramped up, if difficulty is ramped up, getting very good loot becomes mandatory, and the cycle continues.
This may be an unpopular opinion with some (and I know I have been a strong proponent of Trade in many other games where people don’t actually enjoy it), but I feel like what makes LE special and a great alternative is not falling into this trap, and focusing on the core strengths of ARPG gameplay.
I for one don’t want the LE community to grow in Multiplayer and be filled with complaints of people feeling “locked out” of progression because they don’t have enough gold etc, despite the game being perfectly viable and very enjoyable without any economy at all (a situation many may have witnessed elsewhere).
Trade without restrictions is dangerous, Trade with restrictions borders on pointless - so just don’t even open that Pandora’s Box at all, if you ask me.
Anyway, those are my two cents on a game I enjoy immensely and look forward to playing for years! Thoughts and discussion welcome.