I want to take a moment to talk about a few things but in particular, the changes to the Purposeful Harbinger notable that we announced a few days ago.
If you are not in the loop, here’s what happened – The Cluster Jewel system in Path of Exile: Delirium introduced 281 new notable passive skills, including one called Purposeful Harbinger. This notable grants “10% increased Effect of Aura Buffs on You for each Herald affecting you”. There were two issues with this notable. Firstly, it is severely numerically overpowered. Secondly, it was broken in that it affected game mechanics that it shouldn’t have — anything that was internally classified as an aura — rather than just auras from skills as intended.
Players quickly began to use the intended effects of Purposeful Harbinger in ways that were extremely strong. It became clear that builds centred around Purposeful Harbinger were the most powerful options in the game. The power level was so strong that people were skeptical that it would remain in the game in its original state, and some people avoided building around it because of this. At this time, a community member asked for clarification about whether the node would be receiving any mid-league changes. We had a look at its power level and realised it was uncomfortably strong.
However, we are aware of how mid-league nerfs affect players’ enjoyment and try to avoid doing this whenever possible. So with these things in mind, we announced that we would not be nerfing its power until next league. This confirmation gave people the greenlight to start heavily investing in the build. Unfortunately at this point, we did not realise that Purposeful Harbinger was also applying to a number of mechanics that it wasn’t intended to. When we confirmed that we were not intending to change it mid-league, we only had the numerical power in mind as we were not aware of the broken functionality at the time. This was very much our mistake.
At the moment that we should have really worked out that something bad was going on, our company was disrupted by the government-mandated lockdown. We moved our computers home, set up all sorts of remote-working stuff, and tried to adjust as a company to work remotely. The fire with the Purposeful Harbinger notable burned stronger in the background, with us unaware of just how broken things had become.
Once we realised what was going on, and that this passive skill had become one the most unintentionally and counterintuitively powerful mechanics to ever exist in Path of Exile, we realised that there was no option but to fix it. We also knew that this was going to cause a lot of upset.
As soon as we made the decision to fix the functionality, we announced it to give people as much notice as possible. However, this did not mitigate the time and currency that people had invested into playing this build based on our previous comment.
We made a series of errors that caused many players to waste valuable game hours at a time in the world when people most need distraction. Purposeful Harbinger should not have been released in its initial form. When it became popular, we should have taken time to investigate it more thoroughly. At minimum, when we were questioned about the build’s ongoing potential we should have taken a pause to reflect as a team about this, rather than giving our default response of “no mid-league nerfs”. In turn, this would have prevented us from wrongly confirming that it would not be nerfed and would have prevented people from investing in the build.
This won’t happen again. We are so sorry for people’s loss of time, currency and faith. Online games are supposed to be a place where you can enjoy yourself and be distracted from the woes of the real world and in this instance we have failed to provide that for some people. That really sucks. Since the announcement, we have had many discussions about what went wrong for us internally and how we can do better going forward. We are so sorry.