What Happened with Purposeful Harbinger

Hi everyone,

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.

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34 thoughts on “What Happened with Purposeful Harbinger

  1. Speaking as someone who’s just getting to yellow tier maps, there’s still a good chunk of us having fun who missed this crazy powerful build. Thanks for providing that to us

  2. Will you consider not changing Replenishing Presence as splash damage? There are many using this notable that aren’t using Purposeful Harbinger and it really sucks that it’s getting hit as well.

  3. Glad to hear it. The story is about what I expected, and I’m honestly not that offended in the first place. Mistakes happen, this is extenuating circumstances for both the build and the world conditions, and I don’t think there was any malicious intent or neglect involved.

  4. This was a very well written statement, and is exactly what people needed to hear.

    On a less related note, no April Fool’s joke this year?

  5. It was the right thing to do.

    Can you please clarify some confusion, based on the wiki’s description of the Guardian’s ascendancy notable:

    >Radiant Faith is a notable Ascendancy passive **skill**

    Does a “passive skill” count as a “player’s skill”? i.e. after the nerf will Radiant faith no longer be scaled by Purposeful Harbinger?

  6. Thank you for GGG team fixing a part of an issue, but please, start having a test development team for new leagues instead using NASA-based computers with utter performance.

    I can’t keep supporting a game that does not want to solve itself first.

    edit: for those who doesn’t get a humble joke, I am asking for performance updates, which keeps to be ignored every league ¯_(ツ)_/¯

  7. We already knew most of this.

    Honestly, i don’t even care that it’s nerfed, but I do feel bad for the people who farmed like crazy, waited for confirmation that it wasn’t going to change only to lose 80% of the value of their items overnight because of it. Aura stacking will still have a place, it might even be the strongest build, but you can tell that a lot of people saying “durr you should have predicted GGG was going to nerf it becuase it was so strong! even after they told us it was fine” have never actually lost a bunch of money suddenly.

    If i put a mirror into a build and that mirror suddenly was worth 20ex the next day because markets just crashed, sure I’d be sad but it happens.

    If i put a mirror into a build and that mirror suddenly was worth 20ex the next day because GGG went back on their word and said ‘nope’. I’d be pretty upset.

    It doesn’t have to be mirror, it could be 5ex, 20ex, whatever. Everyone’s situation is different, but it still sucks to have this happen.

    Obviously there’s the people who still have a really functioning build who can fall back on this. Heck you could argue that the aura stacking in some form will still be fine (minus guardian, rip to that). But there’s definitely a good chunk of people whose only fallback is the gear that lost 80% of it’s value overnight who rightfully feels hurt… It just sucks all around.

  8. I’m just glad alteration price went down after the announcement, so I can start crafting something thats not purposeful harbinger jewel. The build is so powerful it broke the economy, so I think it was the right decision to nerf it.

  9. >This won’t happen again.

    Except it will. Don’t beat yourself up over it; people make mistakes. Companies make mistakes. I respect that GGG tries very hard to not do things like this, but there will be times again in the future where something like this happens. It may be many years before it happens again, but never say never.

  10. The change to Purposeful Harbinger I totally agree with. But why change Replenishing Presence as well? It’s purely a numerical change, something that shouldn’t have been done mid league.

  11. Personally, as someone who invested in the build, (NO I did not RMT, NO I do not play the game 20 hours a day, I made efficient use of my limited time and invested every bit of currency I found into incremental upgrades) I think that the most frustrating part of it is that even after the mid-league nerf was announced, there is still a lack of clarity as to exactly which interactions will or will not work. Some interactions, E.G. Harbinger of Time, grant the character a skill. Would the slipstream auras provided by this skill still synergize with Purposeful Harbinger or is it also being nerfed because the aura is provided by the minion that is summoned by the skill? Radiant Faith from the Guardian ascendancy is for all intents and purposes a “Passive Skill” and is worded with the implication being that it grants an aura. So are “passive skills” not skills? does ” Grants maximum Energy Shield equal to 10% of your Reserved Mana to you and nearby Allies” not imply that this passive functions as an aura? I still very much enjoy the build, I have already looked into many ways to continue playing this build post-nerf and will continue to do so because this is honestly the most fun that I’ve had with any build since I chanced a Headhunter back in Breach League.

    TL:DR, Not Angry, just wish for more clarity going forward. Also Verbiage needs work.

  12. >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

    I keep seeing people asking GGG for better QA and testing before a league is released. This is always followed by a parade of zealots responding on Chris’s behalf, “Chris says they don’t have the time with the current release schedule”.

    I have refused to believe that any company with such a close relationship with their community would consistently put quantity first while letting the quality of the game degrade. Because I refused to believe this, I have always ignored those that say GGG is not going to change.

    Now I’m questioning who’s right? You guys had a spot light shined on a problem and no one took the time to look at it, and ultimately you admit it hurt your player base. Is this the culture of GGG? Are you guys really just steamrolling forward to try to push out half baked new content as quickly as possible? …that would be really sad bc I have always imagined the great potential of this game’s future. I really want PoE to become a polished AAA title that acts as the framework for future ARPG’s. I hope one day people are saying, “oh it’s a Path clone” instead of “oh it’s a Diablo clone”… But now I don’t know… Things have been looking bleak.

    Trying to keep hopes up.

  13. I’m curious how [[Whakatutuki o Matua]] existed for over 4 leagues, and had so many guides using it to scale “unintended auras” intentionally, yet this issue was not addressed at all. Did not a single person report this as a bug?

  14. I understand that you are sincere and trust that the information was received by ggg in the manner described.

    But please, don’t say “This won’t happen again.” because we all know it could, and saying that now just comes across as a time bomb.

  15. I don’t understand why all of the dialog is around Purposeful Harbinger.

    You and other GGG representatives have stated that nerfing builds midleague is never done lightly, however the decision to nerf Replenishing Presence seems to have been made very casually.

    While the adjustments to the obviously broken notable gets multiple apologetic posts, every build relying on Replenishing Presence gets gutted with no more justification than because you want to be able to keep an entirely different build overpowered.

    I feel like I, as a player, matter so little to GGG that the build that I invested in and enjoy can be nerfed as collateral so offhandedly despite not taking advantage of any broken mechanics.

  16. Let’s be honest. GGG wronged us something fierce. As compensation I think we should all get one free day of posting toucans with no bans. Who’s with me? Who’s bloody with me!

  17. This is probably the right decision and I cannot blame GGG for doing it. It was beyond broken and was obvious that it needed to change. But still, I invested 3 weeks of very intense playing into mastering the build and enjoyed it. I was the first person to post a video of it and dedicated all my time to perfecting it and becoming something of a community resource as it gathered so much attention. Once Bex confirmed that it wouldn’t be receiving nerfs I made another video encouraging others to try it out and sank over 60 exalts into min-maxing. Now I suddenly feel that most of that time was wasted, and just don’t feel the urge to play any more. It’s really shitty that I can go from having the most fun I’ve ever had playing PoE to not wanting to play at all in one day, but I concede that it needed to be done.

  18. I think everyone was expecting that releasing 280 notables couldn’t be balanced in such a short time as 3 months

  19. Why then, did you nerf the health regen on guardian? If purposeful herald was being used as your originally though it was, the regen would not have been touched. But now you’ve very directly nerfed guardian and in more ways than just affecting builds such as the herald build.

  20. The number one problem with this whole statement is you say the team didn’t know it was affecting all these “internal aura effects” yet you legit released an announcement days before that saying “it is affecting GROUND MECHANICS AND WE ARE CHANGING IT TO NOT MULTIPLY GROUND MECHANICS.” Lol if you knew it was boosting the effect of internal auras like ground effects, why would you say you didn’t know?

    But oh well it’s legit 3 days. If people could farm 200+ ex for this build in a week, they can use their remaining 140+ ex to keep farming. Mistakes happen.

  21. Why u dont make mid league buffs to skills like ‘seismic trap’ that are so bad that nobody plays them?

    Games are supposed to be fun.

  22. Not intended as criticism, but this nerf really altered the economy.

    On [poe.ninja](https://poe.ninja) you can see almost all the uniques shooting up in price as the massive black hole people were sinking currency into just disappeared. Crazy stuff.

    Also, don’t say that “This won’t happen again.”, because let’s both be honest, it will. And that’s ok, mistakes are ok. Don’t lie or put on a false front in your apology. We all know you don’t playtest your games and never will as seen from past leagues and the first week of this one. But we the playerbase have come to accept what it is.

  23. This could all have been avoided if you had listened to that one engineer complaining about technical debt.

    Things are being classified as auras because nobody had time to refactor the code.

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