Last week, I talked about the traditional way of traveling by boat in MMORPGs, and how public features need to make a comeback in upcoming games. Today, I'm going back to Path of Exile to discuss the recently released "Ruthless" mode. It's an "extreme item scarcity" challenge mode that effectively sends PoE back to the original days, and I think it's the perfect content for the casual player. We can POE Items at MMOSO.
In a game where experimentation and flexibility are at the forefront of what players enjoy, Grinding Gear Games introduces a mode that upends these aspects in favor of upping the ante. Not in a "health bar rowing on enemies" fashion, but by restricting players to certain playstyles based on RNG drops.
In their words, "Relentless is a mod about friction, tension, and anticipation." The number of items dropped has been drastically reduced, skill and support gems are no longer purchasable from vendors, and the range of crafting items has been limited as a "Mighty Luxury" for powerful items. Because of these changes, and why the developer explained that Ruthless clicks "for certain types of players," every player-led feature in regular Path of Exile is a lot more challenging.
Given its focus on extreme item scarcity and how the developers compare the mode to hardcore or single-player self-discovery, casual players dabbling in Path of Exile might think Ruthless is for most die-hard fans, but in reality, I Think casual players will probably get the most fun out of playing Ruthless.
progress over time
In regular iterations, PoE thrives on its complex character builds and how it stacks up with end game content. Leagues like Forbidden Temple and Kalandra Lake have seen their fair share of die-hard fans sprint through content to get to that apex, but many who want to play here and there aren't willing to tackle PoE like that.
When die-hard fans are already experiencing peak content, they'll be in two- to three-hour sessions on days of the week, at which point they'll be doing more trekking through the campaign. It won't be long before the momentum of that alliance changes with the patch, and soon another alliance is coming.
Ruthless is the remedy for casual gamers looking for a solid PoE experience with a dopamine hit. It "re-imagines" the traditional understanding of games, conveying the end game through the entire player experience. Older maps are now full of potentially rare gems and gear, making players a scavenger, mixing and matching what's best for surviving encounters.
The uneasy feeling of fitting into a weapon that doesn't fit your frame or stumbling upon an unlikely pair of gems is exciting, though it can be limiting. More than ever, choosing your path through the massive passive tree and shaping your character through the many variations - thanks to paltry drops - gives substance to the casual experience.
As casual players progress through Ruthless, the core experience of the mode remains consistently engaging, only improving when they're ready to push the envelope.
a challenge you can come back to
One advantage of this new way of playing Path of Exile is that going slow and steady isn't a problem. You play Ruthless to limit and feel the hype of finally getting a rare weapon. This challenge is one that you can go back to and not see your experience drastically change, only tweaks from the developers that they feel best reflect their intent.
Sure, starting at level 68, you'll miss out on movement skill gems and suffer character experience penalties, but there's a well thought out reward system for those who stick around. You get what you've got at a slower, methodical pace, with a tilted helmet that probably doesn't have mods and a magic sword that drops from a boss that freezes you to death a few times.
Those items that keep your Exile going are the glue that sustains your eventual ascension to higher campaign maps, and what motivates you to fish for better rewards. I believe the general audience will appreciate what this mode of pet projects is trying to offer the PoE community. Not as deeply embedded in regular PoE as hardcore fans, Ruthless is an interesting mod for them to try yet another game that tries to reward play over time.
Another week of Game Design Spotlight concludes! Have you tried ruthless mode? Do you think challenge modes in multiplayer should cater to the hardcore, casual, or both? Let us know below! Also, feel free to comment on games you'd like me to cover in future stories if you have any suggestions!
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