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Oxygen

On Loot Boxes and Morality

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2 minutes ago, Oxygen said:

I think this is a point many are neglecting; although Heroes does shower you with loot, it's generally very unappealing because most of it is fluff and overlaps; I have about 9 Zeratul skins, for instance, but I only ever use one of them.

DotA II was thinking ahead with its cosmetic system, and the Heroes devs certainly didn't pick up on that.

The RNG system for Heroes definitely likes to give you stuff you don't want. I have ALL the Tychus skins from "Sun's Out, Guns Out!" Summer Event, and I HATE playing as Tychus.

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Yeah it feels like this was a "Have to" addition to the game, without many considerations... When the marketing team asked "What else can we give in lootboxes?" they never thought about if sprays or voicelines that are decent (but still uninteresting) in Overwatch, would even work at all in a MOBA... Actually the whole feature is so poorly implemented that it requires the player a great deal of effort to get to the shop or the crafting screen. As a developer I always take into consideration that any screen that is not obvious and/or takes more than 2 clicks to get to, drastically reduces the chance that players will use it. Especially if it's monetization... The first time I was looking for boosters it took me 2-3 minutes to find it. It's waaaaaaay to long, during that time the player can easily reconsider buying anything so impulse shopping is out of the question. 

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3 hours ago, Makrangoncias said:

Yeah it feels like this was a "Have to" addition to the game, without many considerations... When the marketing team asked "What else can we give in lootboxes?" they never thought about if sprays or voicelines that are decent (but still uninteresting) in Overwatch, would even work at all in a MOBA... Actually the whole feature is so poorly implemented that it requires the player a great deal of effort to get to the shop or the crafting screen. As a developer I always take into consideration that any screen that is not obvious and/or takes more than 2 clicks to get to, drastically reduces the chance that players will use it. Especially if it's monetization... The first time I was looking for boosters it took me 2-3 minutes to find it. It's waaaaaaay to long, during that time the player can easily reconsider buying anything so impulse shopping is out of the question. 

Actually they added options for crafting straight from your loadout. Therefore you don't necessarily need to navigate through Shop screen. Blizzard is often refining the quality-of-life assets to make easier for players to access the HotS Shop with less clicks.

I don't want to sound rude, but I honestly don't understand how it took 2 to 3 minutes to find the boosters (Stimpack) screen. You click on "Shop" and then "Stimpacks" (which is the last item to the right).

Edited by Valhalen
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2 hours ago, Valhalen said:

Blizzard is often refining the quality-of-life assets to make easier for players to access the HotS Shop with less clicks.

Yet you still can't try out mounts... :)

They really don't want to sell them.

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I don't really mind HOTS lootboxes, but the inherent RNG of card game packages is annoying... especially considering HS is digital, so you aren't even paying for cardboard, but you're paying for data/bit/bytes on a database that blizz owns. That's my main problem with HS and why I don't play it at all anymore, everytime I try to go in, and craft a good deck it turns out I gotta spend 2 months or 100$ to get a full set of cards. (or it seems that way at least, i get bored before actually getting anything.) HOTS did the loot system right though, I don't spend money for crates, I spend money for the stimpack. That's how they get me, the exp boost so that I can get more crates faster, by leveling heroes. (and it's not that bad a deal, like 60$/year or so, if you buy the stimpack during the sale week). 

I was getting tired of HOTS, so I went to go play LoL... then Riot decided to copy HOTS' system, but not include any of the parts that make it feel rewarding, like infinite leveling of heroes, and a chest for every lvl, oh and being able to get heroes out of a box randomly completely free. Blizzard knows how to make the game feel rewarding, like I get AT LEAST 1 loot box everyday, if not more. New players probably get even more than that, and i'm only like, lvl 326. Riot tried to copy it, but failed by only giving you a chest per ACCOUNT lvl up, and those chests only give you tokens, towards TEMP heroes, or TEMP skins, unless you destroy them, to get currency... oh and they removed currency gain from completing games, and they don't have a quest other than a "first win of the day" thing, but that doesn't even start till 30... I could go on, about where they fucked up, but this thread is about heroes.

I love the HOTS lootboxes, but I also HATE lootboxes, which is a very weird place to be, in my mind. I think I like the way we gain the lootboxes, because it feels like I'm being rewarded for doing well in the game, and i'm rewarded often (as blizz probably made sure of in testing) the lootboxes for account milestones are really nice too, cause they have LOTS of "better" quality loot in them, as arbitrary as that may be. The best part, is that they don't give you an edge in combat, they might just make you look cooler doing it. As opposed to HS, where you do get power from them. 

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3 hours ago, Valhalen said:

Actually they added options for crafting straight from your loadout. Therefore you don't necessarily need to navigate through Shop screen. Blizzard is often refining the quality-of-life assets to make easier for players to access the HotS Shop with less clicks.

I don't want to sound rude, but I honestly don't understand how it took 2 to 3 minutes to find the boosters (Stimpack) screen. You click on "Shop" and then "Stimpacks" (which is the last item to the right).

Yea, personally, I have like, almost 5k shard, which is a bit lower now, cause I just bought the BW voice pack... but yea, they made it REALLY easy to craft stuff straight from the loadout, so i'm not sure what he is complaining about there. 

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39 minutes ago, Oxygen said:

Yet you still can't try out mounts... :)

They really don't want to sell them.

They do have the preview, but I think they should have it so that when you try it on in the loadout window, it renders your character riding it as well, or have a toggle to enable the character riding the mount. it's probably a lot harder to do that than we think though...

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On 03/01/2018 at 5:39 PM, Oxygen said:

I'll certainly look into that and amend the post to reflect that if my findings are interesting enough. Thanks for the comment!

I used to play an MMORPG that’s been around for 15 years called Project Entropia (now Entropia Universe) that has a microtransaction model (pretty much every action in game costs small amounts of in-game currency, and killing creatures/mining stuff/crafting stuff yields items you can convert into that currency which is bought and can be converted back to real-world currency).

Personally I’m ok with the model, though the more control you have over the randomness the better. In HS I guess that control comes from dust. The model allows anyone to play for free and have some fun. At some point you have to decide if you want to be competitive and if you’re willing to splash out the necessary cash. For HS like someone else posted above, that’s about $50 every four months if you play a fair bit too (ie. enough to complete all quests and farm a bit of extra gold). I forget exactly what I spent initially to reach that status quo, but it wasn’t crazy amounts (I joined late in OG and was making Legend each season in Karazhan with a cheapish pirate warrior deck - only after MSG was I able to play a choice of competitive decks).

What I like in HS over some other games is that it doesn’t go crazy on the whale hunting. Sure, if you want that golden collection you can go mad but you don’t need to be a whale to be at the top of the ladder (unlike in Supercell games for instance).

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17 minutes ago, Bozonik said:

making Legend each season in Karazhan with a cheapish pirate warrior deck - only after MSG was I able to play a choice of competitive decks

See, that's an interesting comment. Control decks tend to be arbitrarily more expensive than aggro decks, and this is true of all card games, because of the nature of legendary cards. It's weird.

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23 hours ago, clepsydriska said:

TL;DR - The question isn't "Is this ethical?", it's "Is this something that should be regulated, and if so, how?"

For example, one could suggest that digital marketplaces (such as the HotS collections tab) which use pseudo-currencies ("gems") should be required to show real currency price conversions alongside the gem prices on all items.

*At least in my opinion. One could argue ad nauseam about business ethics, which I don't really want to get into here, but my stance is that corporations are inherently non-ethical entities. If we as consumers / society wish them to behave or not behave in certain ways, then it's our job to regulate them, not their job to behave ethically out of the goodness of their nonexistent hearts.

I agree on the point hugely that businesses are not ethical. From ads to the randomization of getting items within a game. I mean; so many games now are all "farming" (not restricted to any particular genre) just to get items and usually the farming is not a fun endeavour. 

For lootboxes; personally I believe that if they are only for cosmetic items; the randomization is fine as you progress. You play more; you get more virtual recognition (abit on a random note). Sure they're purchasable too but it's down the to the person providing the wallet/purse to be responsible for their decisions. But when they affect gameplay and they are random or are only purchasable (when the alternative is to grind or there is no alternative) that is gambling 400% and should be monitored completely. The backlash from Star Wars definitely brought that up so I agree with clepsydriska about how the consumers of the game should be the ones regulating the output of the companies in terms of in-game items.
 

PS: On the note of ethical; there's a popular thing now with multiplayer games (think the new Star Wars) where purchasable lootbox rewards/purchasable items are a thing which affect gameplay that; if you buy such an item, the next few games you play using that item, you'll get matched with/against people you have a skill advantage over (statistically) anyway to make you feel better about how great and awesome of an impact that item you just bought had. And thus you'll buy more since it made you "better". 

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This post opened my eyes. I never really thought there is SO MUCH manipulation behind such a simple system. I wouldn't be even surprised if there was study which went to detail at proportions and how to maximize profits.

 

In the end, I'm yet to see harm it does (if at all) to HotS. I spent 10 euros on Mecha Dehaka skin prior to 2.0 and after that I never had reason to spend anything, In less then a year I'm only missing 1 hero, 3-4 for which I don't care and I'll have everything I want for now. Granted, it's possible that someone else wouldn't have spent as much time as I did, But at current rate that I'm going, I'd say roughly 2 hours per day, I'm able to get more than 10000 in between 2 hero releases, so it's easy to keep up.

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18 hours ago, adondriel said:

I don't really mind HOTS lootboxes, but the inherent RNG of card game packages is annoying... especially considering HS is digital, so you aren't even paying for cardboard, but you're paying for data/bit/bytes on a database that blizz owns. That's my main problem with HS and why I don't play it at all anymore, everytime I try to go in, and craft a good deck it turns out I gotta spend 2 months or 100$ to get a full set of cards. (or it seems that way at least, i get bored before actually getting anything.) HOTS did the loot system right though, I don't spend money for crates, I spend money for the stimpack. That's how they get me, the exp boost so that I can get more crates faster, by leveling heroes. (and it's not that bad a deal, like 60$/year or so, if you buy the stimpack during the sale week). 

I was getting tired of HOTS, so I went to go play LoL... then Riot decided to copy HOTS' system, but not include any of the parts that make it feel rewarding, like infinite leveling of heroes, and a chest for every lvl, oh and being able to get heroes out of a box randomly completely free. Blizzard knows how to make the game feel rewarding, like I get AT LEAST 1 loot box everyday, if not more. New players probably get even more than that, and i'm only like, lvl 326. Riot tried to copy it, but failed by only giving you a chest per ACCOUNT lvl up, and those chests only give you tokens, towards TEMP heroes, or TEMP skins, unless you destroy them, to get currency... oh and they removed currency gain from completing games, and they don't have a quest other than a "first win of the day" thing, but that doesn't even start till 30... I could go on, about where they fucked up, but this thread is about heroes.

I love the HOTS lootboxes, but I also HATE lootboxes, which is a very weird place to be, in my mind. I think I like the way we gain the lootboxes, because it feels like I'm being rewarded for doing well in the game, and i'm rewarded often (as blizz probably made sure of in testing) the lootboxes for account milestones are really nice too, cause they have LOTS of "better" quality loot in them, as arbitrary as that may be. The best part, is that they don't give you an edge in combat, they might just make you look cooler doing it. As opposed to HS, where you do get power from them. 

The loot boxes for leveling up only give you champions, the ones you get for getting S's on champs give you the skin shards.  Besides, skins are really supposed to be purchased in the store, the loot boxes were a thing they added in waaaaaaaaaaaay later and they didn't remove the option to just straight up purchase skins (I am sure it was to their monetary benefit, but in general you only get a few boxes a year, up to 4 a month unless you spend actual money on them), unlike HotS (although you can kind of buy them, they increased the amount of money it costs substantially and you only get 1 skin tint instead of 3 like before).  The way they changed blue essence does feel less rewarding, only getting them from level up, but the math does add up and it does give you more, especially for new players who are trying to just get a good collection of heroes.  I really like the league loot system, I think it is far superior to hots, plus I think league does skins far better then HotS does.  I have spent ALOT of money in league (saying league is a free game is like saying cocaine isn't addictive because you can't become chemically dependent on it) and I don't regret any of it.  I have also spent a lot in hearthstone and some in HotS, and often regret every cent (generally because the amount of salt hearthstone generates in me, but I will continue to spend money on it, because I have a problem).

 

13 hours ago, MurkyFelix said:

For lootboxes; personally I believe that if they are only for cosmetic items; the randomization is fine as you progress. You play more; you get more virtual recognition (abit on a random note). Sure they're purchasable too but it's down the to the person providing the wallet/purse to be responsible for their decisions. 

 

While I generally agree with you, the part that really leaves a bad taste in my mouth is that HotS went from one of the easiest ways to purchase skins, ie listing actual dollar amounts, to weird conversions that make it hard for you to tell how much they actually cost, on top of that, they made the ability to purchase the skins a lot more difficult, and more expensive.  HotS skins were already a bit on the pricey side, but you at least got 3 tints, now you only get 1 tint and it costs quite a bit more.  On top of that, the cosmetic items that most people want are, unsurprisingly the skins, but having the random loot boxes from Blizzard gives players this feeling of generosity from blizzard (look at all the free stuff they are giving out!), yet  most people only want a few skins, while most of the stuff they actually get they wouldn't have purchased anyway (so blizzard loses very little for giving away all the stuff), which means, for the most part, if you were going to spend money on the skin previously, you still will now, since your chances of getting what you want is incredibly low.  On top of that, the entire loot system in heroes is designed in such a way that it is extremely detrimental to ranked play (need to play 1 more specialist for your quest, who cares what your team needs to win, pick sylvanas, ditto for that last little bit of a level you need for thrall when your team already has 3 assassins, and this DOES happen, even in high levels of play).  In short, the system has been changed in a way to make Blizzard out to be the good guys, all the while being detrimental to the game, and hugely increasing the amount of money people actually spend to get what they really want (and getting less for it to boot).  While I applaud Blizzard on the clever and highly manipulative move (I mean it is sort of a masterpiece of corporate engineering if you think about it), I don't really like it.  Now to be clear, there is nothing inherently wrong or unethical about it, but it did drive me, and probably a lot of other people away from the game, which is a shame, but it is the free market in action, don't like it, take your money elsewhere (although I doubt there will be enough money lost from the dissatisfied people to make blizzard change it).

 

Also on a note on personal responsibility: A large amount of the player base are under the age of 18, which makes the waters far more murky, on top of that, there are more then a handful of people who play these games who have mental disorders that makes them highly impulsive, or not particularly mindful (like seriously depressed people who don't really care).  Also, things like loot boxes are very easy to impulse buy for people who play this game while, say, drinking (which also happens quite often, RIOT limited the number of chests in league that you can purchase in one day because of how easy they are to impulse buy, especially when inebriated).  This isn't to say that personal responsibility shouldn't be a factor, but that there are often other issues at play, and it is worth a certain amount of consideration and discussion.  

Edited by VaraTreledees

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46 minutes ago, VaraTreledees said:

...On top of that, the entire loot system in heroes is designed in such a way that it is extremely detrimental to ranked play (need to play 1 more specialist for your quest, who cares what your team needs to win, pick sylvanas, ditto for that last little bit of a level you need for thrall when your team already has 3 assassins, and this DOES happen, even in high levels of play)...

In draft you don't have to follow any criteria, both lore and class wise.

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3 minutes ago, SleepySheepy said:

In draft you don't have to follow any criteria, both lore and class wise.

No, but the point is, daily quests and the level up loot system heavily incentives you to play either what ever you need to finish your dailies or what ever hero is closest to leveling up, and people in hero league will pick extremely sub optimal champions in order to get their gold or loot chests or what not.  Team needs a tank, so you pick a warrior like sonya or D. Va because they are the closest warrior you have to leveling up, even though they don't actually fill the tank roll on the team.  Your team has 3 assassins and a warrior, but you are 2/3 on your quest to finish up specialists, so you pick xul over lucio.  This happens a surprising amount of the time, even in higher levels of hero league, because people are selfish.  A large part of playing competitive heroes of the storm, that is heroes league, is being able to draft a competent team, and some heroes are just bad on certain maps, others are terrible in certain team comps, others will almost gaurentee you lose the game if you first pick them (like abathur).  Yet here we have a system designed by blizzard that encourages you to play certain champions or roles.  A lot of people only have small amounts of time to dedicate to playing games, because of work or school or family or what have you, so for people who enjoy hero league, they are often left in a catch 22, do they gimp their team and complete their dailies, or do they slow their income of gold and chests down to pick what the team needs and give them a higher chance to win?  

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1 hour ago, VaraTreledees said:

No, but the point is, daily quests and the level up loot system heavily incentives you to play either what ever you need to finish your dailies or what ever hero is closest to leveling up, and people in hero league will pick extremely sub optimal champions in order to get their gold or loot chests or what not.

True, but I think Heroes lets you complete class-specific dailies with any hero class in draft to avoid this very system. Doesn't work particularly well for the other issue you stated, however (that is, of wanting to level specific heroes for some benefit).

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27 minutes ago, Oxygen said:

True, but I think Heroes lets you complete class-specific dailies with any hero class in draft to avoid this very system. Doesn't work particularly well for the other issue you stated, however (that is, of wanting to level specific heroes for some benefit).

Hmm, that is actually pretty neat.  Was that introduced with 2.0?  I mean it is a step in the right direction certainly, I never really got into competitive HotS that much, league was always my thing as far as that went.  But I used to play quite a bit casually with some IRL friends who played ranked quite extensively (and proficiently, one of my friends ended grand master 197 last season, was super cool).

 

Edit: Didn't actually end the season grand master, got bumped out during the last week, and it was season 5.

Edited by VaraTreledees

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1 hour ago, VaraTreledees said:

A lot of people only have small amounts of time to dedicate to playing games, because of work or school or family or what have you, so for people who enjoy hero league, they are often left in a catch 22, do they gimp their team and complete their dailies, or do they slow their income of gold and chests down to pick what the team needs and give them a higher chance to win?  

Im just missing the issue with games like HOTS, versus "nonissue' games like WoW  -  Eventually you get a character so high, that gains in gear or AP come so infrequently that a fraction of the time spent on an alt will net you such large gains to really make your time better spent on alts.  

Could you still play your main and spec 100%?  Pinching and scraping every point of AP you can?  Yes.  Nobody is stopping you.  It will still accumulate.  

I'd hardly call it a catch 22, by any stretch of the term.

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15 minutes ago, VaraTreledees said:

Hmm, that is actually pretty neat.  Was that introduced with 2.0?

I believe so, but I've been wrong before and I will be again.

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On 04/01/2018 at 10:29 PM, Oxygen said:

See, that's an interesting comment. Control decks tend to be arbitrarily more expensive than aggro decks, and this is true of all card games, because of the nature of legendary cards. It's weird.

Interesting, didn’t know that about other card games; apart from a few hours in Gwent, I’ve only played HS.

It certainly is easier to make a decent cheap aggro deck than it is a decent cheap control deck. Whilst optimised aggro decks may contain some legendaries (eg. patches, Leeroy) you can generally make a viable suboptimal deck without them. My original pirate warrior (pre patches) had reckless rocketeer in place of Leeroy. It was ok.

But there’s a lot of choice when it comes to small minions. My standard collection has 26 pages of 0-3 mana neutral minions. It has 7 pages of 7+ neutral minions, most of which are epic or legendary, of the 15 common/rare cards half are completely unplayable and only one is good (and it’s more likely to appear in an Aggro deck than a control deck...). Control decks tend to rely on a few high quality big minions as finishers, so a cheap version is going to be at a massive disadvantage against an optimised control deck. Whereas a cheap aggro deck will just be slightly unfavoured against an optimised aggro deck.

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On 1/4/2018 at 1:21 AM, clepsydriska said:

PSA: Basically everything that you like triggers dopamine releases in your brain. That's why you like it. Saying something is "designed to trigger dopamine releases in your brain in order to get you addicted" is basically just describing anything meant to appeal to people.

That's not to downplay the seriousness of people's problems with addiction. I'm not here to make light of anyone's struggles. But lately people seem to throw around talk of dopamine and addictiveness as if it's inherently a bad thing, when in reality it's pretty much part of the basic functionality of human brains.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dopamine#Drug_addiction_and_psychostimulants

"Drugs in this group can have a high addiction potential, due to their activating effects on the dopamine-mediated reward system in the brain."

It's common knowledge that certain drugs are addictive because of how they affect the dopamine system. What's less known is that gambling and social media work the same way. It's brought up a lot these days because people (specially kids and their parents) need to be aware of what's really going on.

These gaming companies aren't simply behaving mildly unethically to get ahead in a free economy, they're literally behaving like street dealers, camping outside schools pushing mdma pills to your 12 year old. 

Edited by Scambug

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Eventually, everything can become a drug... even things that normally don't cause pleasure at all (though I'm not really aware of how exactly that something that's normally painful can instead cause pleasure happens).

 

and that's why you don't wanna get involved with some things

Edited by Leadblast

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21 hours ago, VaraTreledees said:

Hmm, that is actually pretty neat.  Was that introduced with 2.0?  I mean it is a step in the right direction certainly, I never really got into competitive HotS that much, league was always my thing as far as that went.  But I used to play quite a bit casually with some IRL friends who played ranked quite extensively (and proficiently, one of my friends ended grand master 197 last season, was super cool).

 

Edit: Didn't actually end the season grand master, got bumped out during the last week, and it was season 5.

By the way, that's what I meant, guess I wasn't clear enough. :)

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I saw several times the comparison with drugs here. Some of you agreed other not but I think it's pretty right to compare it.

The thing is that mental problems are still viewed differently, compared to physical problems. We still underestimate the effect of mental problems and we still laugh at ppl who behave strangely. We are still not comfortable with telling others (even close ones) about a mental problem we have while we have no problems with most physical issues we might have. (ofc there are exception, too)

It about awareness, personal, social, political etc.

Most drugs are addictive by nature and often both mentally and physically harmful and therefore illegal in most countries for good reasons. Furthermore they get modified to be cheaper to produce and to be more addictive to increase profit.

It's pretty much the same with the games. Due to not being physically harmful it gets less attention by those who would otherwise care about their effects on the customers/consumers.

I don't want to say games should become illegal, hell no :D, but everyone should be more aware of how they are and they should be regulated in some way. But maybe it will be in vain, they will come up with something else then because we humans are pretty good in harming others in order to increase our own profit and/or give us an advantage.

Edited by Caldyrvan

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That awkward moment when you kill the golden goose of your own creation by taking it one step to far.

EA pioneered the modern lootbox in 2008 when they released Fifa '09 and implemented the Ultimate Team Mode where users could buy MS points and exchange them for card packs that would contain random players. They made a *killing* off of this system, and have continued to do so for the last decade as the mainstream gaming community at large ignored or was ignorant of its existence. But this type of a "pay to win" lootbox system, where more money invested directly correlates to a more powerful team (better players, better stats, easier to win) has been something fans of sports games have been pouring a ridiculous amount of money into over the past ten years. EA's Ultimate Team system was pulling in hundreds of millions of dollars a year (800 in 2017). 

Then, they got greedy, They took it too far and attached their pay to win lootbox system to one of the most mainstream and recognizable franchises in the history of media. Of course this was going to blow up in their faces, to go from implementing a pay to win model in what one subset of the gaming community has been conditioned to accept (sports) to another subset of the community (FPS) that *they already knew* was pay to win averse. They literally have only themselves to blame for the rise and the fall of the lootbox. It's just amazing to see it all come full circle. 

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    • By Blainie
      As you many of you likely already know, the latest Path of Exile league went live yesterday, alongside the release of Diablo 3's Season 20. We've put together a list of the best starters from our sister site, PoE Vault!
      As many of you probably already know, Icy Veins has a sister site, PoE Vault, that specifically caters to Path of Exile. The release of the latest league for PoE coincided perfectly with the new Diablo season and, given our post outlining the updates to our guides for Diablo, we felt it was only fair to put together a list of the best starters for the Path of Exile fans among you.
      Witch

      Elementalist
      The Storm Brand Elementalist has solid clear speed, strong output on most bosses, has awesome defences, and is quite mobile; however, it must rely on traps for additional single-target damage. The Triple Herald Elementalist has great clear speed, formidable defenses, powerful life leech, is immune to physical reflect, and has good single-target damage output. Unfortunately, some map mods are not efficient, and you’ll have to keep an eye out for mechanics, due to this being a melee build. Occultist
      The Herald of Agony/Rain of Arrows Occultist has absurd defenses, is viable in all Leagues, can do all map mods without any effort, and has a ranged playstyle. Unfortunately, proximity shields are difficult to deal with and can put you in awkward situations. You’ll also be relying on AI for your minion and the playstyle might feel a tad clunky due to this. The Herald of Agony/Ball Lightning specializes heavily in applying strong curses via curse-on-hit setups, has great sustain, and easily obtains a huge energy shield pool. As before, you’ll be relying on AI for your minion, which isn’t always all that smart, and the playstyle might feel a tad clunky. Cold skills got greatly buffed during 3.5, and the Occultist Ascendancy has great synergy with all of them. The Vortex/Cold Snap Occultist is quite versatile, but bear in mind it can be quite pricey, and damage-over-time setups are not for everyone. The Essence Drain & Contagion Occultist build offers great balance between clear speed, single-target damage, and defense, but you’ll have to get used to using two skills instead of one. Necromancer
      The Raise Spectre Necromancer build offers a very easy playstyle, but is not a good idea for SSF and the minion AI can be somewhat silly. Ranger

      Deadeye
      The Tornado Shot Deadeye is one of the best builds when it comes to clear speed, but keep in mind that it is poorly suited for high-tier mapping and boss killing. While typically focused on Magic Find, our build includes options for more general usability as well, as would be the case during the Flashback event. Pathfinder
      The Kinetic Blast/Barrage Pathfinder is also an insanely fast clearer, has extremely strong defenses (95%+ chance to avoid attacks without flasks active), is very nimble on its feet, and most importantly, is very, very, very fun to play. While better than the Tornado Shot Deadeye at single-target and boss fights, the build still struggles without proper gear (such as Queen of the Forest) and links, and can sometimes feel too fast. Raider
      The Spectral Throw Raider is very high-tempo and engaging (which is both a blessing and curse). You also get great mobility, awesome clear speed and the confidence which comes with feeling powerful in virtually any environment. Do note that this is the only build in this list which we do not recommend for Hardcore play. Scion - Ascendant

      The Ancestral Warchief Ascendant has very good single-target potential, it feels, and is, quite safe to play, and you won’t ever have to worry about damage reflect. The clear speed isn’t that great however, and totem builds don’t appeal to everyone. Duelist

      Slayer
      The Cyclone Slayer is a well balanced build, is very fun to play, combining the allure of high single-target with decent clear speed and sustain for a good ol’ beefy melee brute. The downside of this build is that it’s necessary to deal damage in order to survive, due to having practically no health regeneration. The leveling experience is smooth, however, and you’ll have no issue in dealing with most types of content. Gladiator
      The Double Strike Gladiator can definitely be used in hardcore, but keep in mind that your main focus will be on gaining a larger health pool in order to prevent one-shots. Champion
      Champion is the king of Imaples, a very powerful mechanic that allows you to stack tons of extra Physical damage on enemies. The Imaple Cyclone Champion makes a great use of this mechanic at the cost of little to no investment. Marauder

      Chieftain
      The Holy Flame Totem Chieftain is perfect for an SSF environment due to its lax equipment requirements. The build feels quite safe to play, has a great life pool and decent life sustain mechanics. The build’s clear speed isn’t all that good, but you’ll find that bosses are no problem at all. Juggernaught
      The Molten Strike Juggernaut can become stunningly powerful if properly equipped. This build can get quite pricey, but with the right luck, you can achieve more than 90% physical and 80% elemental damage mitigation. Specifically created for running Labyrinths fast and efficient without a shred of danger for your life, the Uber Labyrinth Farmer Juggernaut is an extremely tanky build. Albeit not that good at handling late-game content, we do believe it’ll help you rise to the tops of the Flashback Juggernaut ranks. Shadow

      Saboteur
      The Arc Mines Saboteur is a jack of all trades. The build has remained a powerhouse despite recent nerfs and is arguably the most dominant of all  Arc variants, and is a great choice for both Standard and SSF leagues. The Arc Mines Saboteur offers a wide variety of modifications, is a very fast clearer and can deal some heavy amounts of damage with very little investment; movement speed is also pretty crazy on this one. Trickster
      The Caustic Arrow Trickster does not require a specific set of uniques and a simple Silverbough will do you well until you manage to get your hands on some more currency.  Kaom's Heart and Devoto's Devotion will give you a very nice boost in survivability and clear speed. Damage-over-time builds are an acquired taste though, so choose wisely. The Divine Ire Trickster makes good use of the brand new Divine Ire gem. Overall, this is a well balanced build which is great at killing monsters off-screen. You will have to stay still in order to channel your skill and deal damage, however, which can put you in some tight situations. The Kitava’s Thirst Flame Surge Trickster is very high-tempo and does a great job at making your enemies explode into hundreds of pretty lights. The  Flame Surge skill is carefully woven around  Kitava's Thirst in order to create very strong single-target damage with potent energy shield restoration mechanics. The randomness of effects might affect your gameplay a tad though, and all the lights could be off-putting to some. The Soulrend Trickster is a good Chaos-based option for pretty much any league (SSF, Hardcore and Softcore). What’s essential about this build is that it is created with survival and comfort in mind, all while maintaining a very high rate of experience per hour. You can reach Level 100 safely and on a very tight budget, which is perfect for the Flashback event. Storm Burst is another great channeling skill which earned more love during 3.6. The Storm Burst Trickster offers nice single-target damage and great range, but doesn’t do that well in elemental reflect areas and the best equipment can become quite pricey. Another build that is expected to be extremely powerful is Furty’s ED/Contagion Trickster, which allowed him to be the 5th player hitting level 100 in a SSFSC environment. The build is very versatile, easy to gear and strikes a great balance between offense and defense. Templar

      Hierophant
      Another decent totem build would be the Frostbolt/Glacial Cascade Totems Hierophant.  Being totem-based, this build feels nice and safe to play, and you’ll have quite a bit of mobility. Depending on the type of content, though, you might need to swap gems here and there. Inquisitor
      The Purifying Flame Inquisitor has lots of life regeneration, decent defences, very high damage at a low cost, and is incredibly easy to play, albeit a little slow at clearing. Guardian
      Herald of Purity & Dominating Blow Guardian is able to achieve a great amount of endgame damage potential while you are mainly focusing on survivability while gearing up. If you've never played Path of Exile before, this might be the perfect time for you to jump in and give it a go! If you're more of a Diablo fan, you can check out our full set of updated guides for Season 20.
    • By Blainie
      We are recruiting for a number of new positions on the site!
      Icy Veins is looking to expand its current team with the introduction of writers for new sections, for games such as League of Legends, Dota 2, and Teamfight Tactics, as well as a freelance Graphic Designer.
      As some of you may have already noticed, we have updated our Jobs page with new positions, with multiple openings for new guide writers to help us in expand into new ventures. The requirements and responsibilities of all of these positions are listed there, as well as notes on the general application process for Icy Veins.
      Graphic Designer Position
      While these positions follow a very similar structure to those of our past posts, this is one of the first times we have reached out to our community in the hopes of finding a freelancer that can help develop the visual standard of the site.
      Rather than simply looking elsewhere, we felt it was best to look within our own community first, to hopefully find someone who not only understands the aesthetic and visuals of the games we cover, but also the look and feel of the Icy Veins site.
      You can find the requirements for the position below and, if you are interested or feel that you have the necessary experience, you can send us an application at jobs@icy-veins.com.
      Given that we are appealing specifically to freelancers, the position will be paid as a traditional freelance contract, rather than our normal, revenue-sharing agreements for guide writers.
      Requirements
      You should have experience in both UI and UX design, with a portfolio demonstrating your abilities and previous projects. You should be a fan of Blizzard games, as well as the site, and have a strong understanding of the visual direction of both. We expect you to bring your own suggestions in terms of how to improve the visual aspect of the site, rather than simply awaiting direction. We hope to hear from some of you in the future and wish any and all potential applicants the best of luck!
    • By Blainie
      As many of you already know, Icy Veins has a sister site for Path of Exile, PoE Vault. The new league starts today and we thought it was a great opportunity to highlight some of the content our hardworking writers have put together for your enjoyment. If you haven't tried Path of Exile before, this might be the perfect chance for you to do so!
      The new Path of Exile League brings with it an enhanced focus on endgame bosses. You can expect tanky and dangerous single targets from both the Metamorph league and the Conquerors of the Atlas expansion, so a good all-around build is important to have, if you want to get off to a good start. We have tons of great guides, including a selection here specifically designed as great league starters, with a few for each class.
      For those just getting started in Path of Exile, take a look at our general Beginner's Guide, while anybody can benefit from the new Metamorph league guide, which will be kept updated as we continue the league. And as always, as the new best builds of the league become apparent, we will be keeping our guides up to date, so be sure to follow PoE Vault on social media to keep up with our latest content, as well as all the Path of Exile news as it comes.
      Duelists
      The "Ultimate Cyclone Slayer" is a great all-rounder, and with the bow meta likely upon us, much of its best gear will be at its cheapest. The 3.8 nerfs were vastly overstated, and this build has remained an absolute powerhouse, both in terms of speed and raw damage output. If you are looking to relive the glory days of your D2 Whirlwind Barbarian, this is the best way in the game to do it!
      If you are looking to ride the bow hype-train this league, the "Tornado Shot Champion" is a great way to do it, with no sacrifices made for survivability. It boasts huge damage, great clearspeed, and plenty of durability for the expected brutal boss fights in the Metamorph League. Its versatile gearing makes it highly customizable, able to suit every playstyle, from Labyrinth farmer to speed mapper, and anything in between.
      The "Bleed Earthquake Gladiator" lets you smash your enemies into bloody chunks, with great speed and high damage. Vaal Earthquake allows you to blitz through maps, while the Gladiator's bleed explosions clear up any stragglers that manage to survive your initial attacks. Gladiators have always made great league starters, and this league is no exception.
      Shadows
      The "Arc Trap Saboteur" just got a hefty buff, with a boost to its targeting range, bringing this build back into the meta. The last time it was around, it absolutely dominated all content, and it has not lost a bit of damage, so it will make an excellent choice in the coming league. The build made its name taking down hard bosses on a shoestring budget, so if you are looking to experience all the league has to offer, this is among the best builds to do it with.
      When it comes to league starters, few are better than the "Essence Drain + Contagion Trickster". It is one of the fastest clearing casters in the game, has great survivability, and offers a perfect blend of reliability and inexpensiveness. It has carried many players to high finishes in a variety of Solo-self-found races, but can still be taken advantage of with the higher powered gear offered by trade leagues.
      Marauders
      Taking advantage of one of the biggest buffs this league, the "Burning Arrow Chieftain" delivers fiery death from afar, making it a great choice for the bow lovers out there. Many reworked or long forgotten mechanics have come together to make this both a great league starter, and an amazing end-game scaling build in the new expansion. 
      The "Molten Strike Juggernaut" has long been a fan favorite, and with an extra projectile added this league, it looks to be a great option for anyone looking to maximize their sheer tankiness. It is a great build to take on just about all content in the game, whether it is deep delving, endgame bossing, or tanking slams from just about anything you want. 
      Witch
      While many minion builds took a hit this league, the "Summon Raging Spirit Necromancer" remains a powerful all-round build, equally at home taking down Uber Elder and speed farming maps. Gear will be much cheaper than in previous leagues, as people migrate to bows and other new builds, but this build is still a perfect starter for anybody looking to play a summoner.
      The "Cold Damage Over Time Occultist" is a powerhouse that excels at chilling and destroying enemies in all content of the game. It also offers an interesting playstyle, with its main damage coming from an instant-cast nova, draining the life from your foes as you run past them, as well as Vaal Cold Snap's ability to kill on the run.
      Ranger
      The "Crit Elemental Hit Deadeye" takes advantage of the Deadeye's power in terms of clearspeed, and Elemental Hit's raw damage to crush any content the game has to offer. Since the rework of Elemental Hit, it has retained top tier status, a chaining, zooming, flaming murder machine.
      With the buff to Ballistas this league, the "Siege Ballista Raider" is a great choice. This build offers raw damage, spread across tons of totems, and you play as a powerful commander of an army of siege weaponry. It also boasts high single-target damage, keeping up with the boss-killing meta we can expect to see this league.
      The "Toxic Rain Pathfinder" has a lot going for it, especially as a starter with the new buffs to Quill Rain. It is a great option to take on the whole game, with extremely high damage, an excellent levelling experience, and a highly enjoyable endgame playstyle. If you are looking for a less traditional bow build, this one is a great option.
      Templar
      The "Spark Inquisitor" is a great option to try out the new ailment changes that have arrived with 3.9, with the build being exceptionally strong in the late-game (while still being a great league starter). It can capably deal with both single-target and clear damage requirements, while still being fairly simple to play. The long distance and CC-capabilities ensure a smooth and safe playstyle that can even comfortably fit into Hardcore leagues.
      Scion
      The "Elemental Hit Ascendant" is an excellent boss damage dealer, something that looks to be a great boon in the new league, as well as having strong survivability and excellent clear speeds. This combination of damage and toughness is a great choice for anyone hoping to head into a Hardcore league.
      The "Scourge Arrow Ascendant" may have received a nerf, but it is still a powerful build, and has come to be one of the best known and most played bow builds. If you are looking to balance drawbacks with immense power, and shred your enemies to bits, this build is a unique and fun option, with lots of versatility. 
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