Thoughts Inspired by PoE Ruthless Mode

I’ve been messing around with a new character in Path of Exile and trying out the new “Ruthless” mode. This is a new mode which is made more difficult by drastically reducing the number of drops (and useful drops) as well as reducing the access to skill gems. There are numerous other changes, but the net effect I’ve felt, at least on my first character, is that the pace is far far slower, and there’s a lot more thought into individual drops than before. There’s no more just assuming you’ll have access to XXX skill gems for your build, I think only a few of the quests grant gems as rewards now, and I haven’t seen any support gems thus far. I’ve had one gem actually drop in the first few hours, zero uniques, and maybe 2 usable rares. Everything else I have is magic or even normal at lvl 30. It’s a completely different experience in many ways. Some of the named monsters can be pretty tough to kill, I don’t know if they’ve been enhanced or if it’s just the lack of having better skills/equipment.

I understand this isn’t the type of experience many (most?) people enjoy from their current ARPGs. But honestly, I am really enjoying it in a way that reminds me of early Diablo and Diablo 2. Without a teleport power and fast boots, I actually pay much more attention to the surroundings, as I’m spending more time in each area and am more able to appreciate graphical detail I’d largely just ignored in the past. Every time I open a chest I have a glimmer of hope something useful might drop, or in this case, anything might drop at all. There’s very little freebies and much less “waste” in this mode. I took a quick look at the Trade and it looks like most regular skill gems are going for an orb of alchemy, of which I’ve so far seen zero. Again, putting together a build is not going to be an easy affair without some serious playing and planning.

So of course while I’m playing I think a lot about Last Epoch. I’ve played the opening so many times now that I’m definitely in that mode of just rush through it. Sometimes I’ll try to slow myself down to look for something I might have missed, but inevitably I just rush. Which is a shame because I know a lot of time and effort has gone into the artwork (and reworking) of making the environments.

The way loot drops work I feel could still use an overhaul. Or maybe a separate mode like this where drops are more uncommon? I don’t know what players would prefer. I know some people like using filters and just having a million things drop but only 2 show up that are filtered. I’d much prefer to just get fewer drops and evaluate them myself the old school way. Maybe chests could give a better chance of getting something (or a certain type of loot) so they’d be worth the effort to click on, and generate some excitement.
The way builds work right now is good, but I also feel could use either some more thought, or again a different mode where your choices have more weight and permanence. I know many people prefer being able to change builds at a whim, but I still think you end up caring more when your choices are not so easily reversible, or maybe that it’s just not so easy to take for granted that xxx skill will always be available whenever you feel like. I don’t know how that would be implemented in LE, maybe by limiting the cross class skills and/or ease of taking back passive points?

Anyway, just some idle thoughts. Curious if there are others who also still enjoy the slower, more thoughtful pacing and impactful choices of old school Diablo 1/2, or if the vast preference is the super sped up “modern” ARPG style - rush rush rush to endgame, etc.

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Not sure how serious you are with this comment, but I thought I’d address it regardless.

A couple days ago I ran into a tough boss that I wasn’t damaging at all before getting one shot. This is still relatively early in the game, I think Act 2 or 3. At that point I almost decided to quit. I knew my other choices would be to cheese it with a random group or keep grinding levels, both of which I’ve done before. But as luck would have it my friend came on and helped me kill it quickly and I was able to move on with the game.

What struck me was the odd double standard there is with an ARPG of this type vs a game, like, say, Elden Ring. ER is praised for it’s difficulty, if you say it’s too hard people ridicule you and/or claim it’s artistic vision or whatever. Or they claim you just have to keep grinding away and eventually you’ll be able to take on the boss (sound familiar?). The difference is I can tell you from experience that I personally could never progress past even the first boss after my first 20 hours or so, not with a friend’s help due to the clunky multiplayer, not with extra levels and better gear, etc. I simply don’t have the right reflexes or whatever. And yet somehow ER is touted as game of the year (I don’t disagree, I loved the game for different reasons after I used cheats to complete it) while an ARPG like PoE or LE is labeled as “too hard” in a mode like this - which btw you have a choice to NOT select, unlike ER.

Sorry for the sidetrack, I just think it’s really weird the way the gaming community works sometimes, particularly when it comes to this sub-genre. I don’t typically enjoy hard games, I almost always play Easy mode or use cheats so I can experience the content. This is the only genre where I like more of a challenge, because I know if the game is balanced well, it should only just take a little more patience and smart/strategic thinking/planning, or in desperate times, help from a friend, to get me past whatever barrier is in the way.

Anyway, I’ve played a few more hours of PoE Ruthless and I still maintain it’s a more satisfying mode all in all, and I think it’s something LE could learn from in the future. For the first time in a long time I am exploring almost every nook and cranny and not rushing to just get to the next location. I take my time clearing areas, sometimes multiple times for more xp, just like the old days. I feel more like I’m earning my boss fights and being smarter about collecting the right loot. I actually made good use of the weirdo items to make just enough improvements (an extra slot or a color change) to be able to use a new piece of gear and make a difference to my build.

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You can’t compare PoE to ER. In ER, you are fighting usually one enemy at a time, or just a handful at most. There are a variety of ways you can continue on your path without dying. You can grind more, you can get friends to help you, or you can just “get good” – dodge more, don’t get hit as often, and you win.

In PoE, that’s not the case. You are fighting dozens of enemies at a time. There is so much going on on-screen, that you don’t know what’s happening. It’s hectic and it’s chaos and it’s far from what I’d consider a “strategic” game. If you die, you often don’t know why, you don’t know what you could do better next time to not die. And, in late game, you often don’t get the option to face it again. If you encounter something in a map you can’t get past, you just die a few times then move on to the next map and eventually that same thing will show up again to kill you and you’ll have the same problem. You could ask a friend to help you, but you don’t learn anything that way and it doesn’t solve the problem.

But not in Elden Ring. In ER, you can face the challenge again and again if you need to, until you beat it, and afterwards, you don’t have to worry about it again.

And, unlike ER, PoE is designed around its difficulty in such a way that only the best meta builds will work. If you go in blindly, you will fail. What’s happening in Ruthless mode is you don’t get all the help you need to beat the game. You can’t get it. If you’re not playing the meta build, you will fail. You will die a lot more in a game that already is too hard, and you lose 10% EXP every time you die meaning you’ll never progress.

That might sound like fun to you, fine, whatever, but it’s NOT fun to me, and I do NOT want LE to turn into that.

You all (OP and whomever else) can flag my posts all you want but if LE turns into PoE, I will not be playing it. They’ve already got my $35 so I guess they don’t care and there’s nothing I can do about it but hopefully it means something to them if players stop playing their game.

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I am definitely NOT saying I want LE to “become” PoE, but certainly it can learn and use ideas that are fun or do work. I’m mainly saying a different mode where a billion drops weren’t constantly falling and every choice you make isn’t readily reversible might be interesting. Or some way of slowing the game down just a tad so people are encouraged to explore the detailed environments that have been designed. As much as you say you don’t want PoE, LE feels much more influenced by PoE than D2 in terms of pacing and decision making.

As far as the Elden Ring comparison, I’m not saying the gameplay is exactly worth comparing, but the way the games are treated baffles me. From a “bird’s eye view” we are talking about RPGs which have character levels that increase power, but also require player skill to advance (the amount and type of skills are different but that’s not the point). In one case the game’s overall difficulty (which includes things like irreversible choices as well as needing more “git gud” skill to advance) is lauded as part of the game design, where in the other it’s frowned upon. Imagine if LE had skill and passive point choices that were fixed, a lot of people would freak out and criticize the game for not being flexible enough. And yet the very same thing in a game like ER is just considered part of the artistic design. It’s a double standard and I’m not sure how it came about.

How much have you actually played ER? Stat point choices are definitely NOT fixed, you can change them as soon as you beat the 2nd boss which is fairly early on and it requires a rare item, but one you can find plenty of so it’s not really a big deal, and it changes ALL your stats not just one at a time (a la LE or PoE).

You’re right that LE was inspired by PoE and that’s probably a reason I like it. I used to like PoE. But it’s changed for the worse. And the new Ruthless mode is just part of it. They’re willing to do THAT for people who “want a challenge”, but they won’t make the game easier for those of us that don’t? I’m trying not to complain about PoE too much because last time I got flagged. Maybe this isn’t the place for it. But I’m trying to get my point across that I don’t like the way PoE is becoming, and I wouldn’t want LE to become that. I like it the way it is…

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I totally agree with the OP. I would actually also add some exp death penalty making you play more cautious. The hardcore mode is way to punishing for me and I don’t think just making the monsters harder is the way to go.

I’m definitely on the opposite camp, I find the idea of Ruthless mode kinda repulsive just less diversity early on and more grinding. PoE was my first ARPG(forsaken masters), I quit it a couple of years ago and realised games with droprates and RNG balanced around solo play like Last epoch and Grim dawn felt so much better(for me atleast). I also enjoy levelling as your final build even if its not optimal (stuff like ignite beastmaster or chaos dw guns in GD) and Ruthless would just demotivate such play.

I’m not a Soulsgames pro only played ER (though I finished Elden ring 5 times lol) but I definitely don’t think its right comparing them. You lose pretty much nothing from dying to learn a boss in ER while PoE has you waste resources and potential loot as well as requiring more grinding just to reach the boss. ER in particular to me felt more like choosing the right tool for a boss, every build has various good weapons that can be swapped to for no cost for example on my Strength char I can use heavy colossals/dw greatswords/greatshield+thrusting weapon/use a str scaling seal for spells/dw bleed curved swords/heavy weapon with a ranged ash of war(fallingstar beast jaw) all by just swapping weapons and 4 talismans with no respec.