As the release date for Path of Exile: The Fall of Oriath gets closer and closer, fans of the popular ARPG are rolling up their sleeves and putting their theorycrafting hats on. And for good reason. Lots of features and mechanics are being revamped, overhauled, and adjusted, and one of the most significant of these changes comes in the form of a strong nerf to the game’s damage over time (DOT) calculations. To compensate for the nerf, the folks at Grinding Gear Games have added eleven new support gems. From what we can tell, the dev team wants to encourage a playstyle that focuses on combining support gems and DOT abilities, while also making it slightly more difficult for these abilities to scale. Let’s dive in, friends.
Current Damage Over Time (DOT) Calculations
The way that DOT is currently calculated in Path of Exile is fundamentally broken, and has been since the game was released. Let’s use poison as an example, and assume a 100% chance to poison to make our calculations a bit easier. Currently, poison scales off of chaos damage, so you’ll often use an ability that does chaos damage, or use the Added Chaos damage gem. In other words, you’ll mostly do chaos damage with both your initial and your DOT hits on an enemy.
Here’s how you calculate the damage of your initial hit. First, you add up the flat damage dealt by your ability plus flat modifiers. If the ability dealt a base of 60 damage and you had Added Chaos Damage contributing an additional 40 base damage, you’d be dealing 100 damage per hit before percentage modifiers. Then you go through and add up the modifiers from your abilities and tree. Percentage changes are all applied to the base damage total, so they can be added up and applied all at once. Let’s you have a +50% bonus chaos damage modifier from your tree. 100 base damage plus the 50% bonus would be 150 damage. Pretty easy, right?
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Here’s where it gets confusing. DOT scales off of most of the same modifiers. In this case, your base ability and poison damage both scale off of chaos damage. DOTs are also based on your initial hit as well. Without any direct modifiers to poison, you might think you’d still be dealing the 100 + 50 = 150 damage. However, this isn’t the case. You see, when they calculate DOTs currently, they don’t revert back to the original flat amount. Instead, they take the final damage of the first hit, post-modifiers, and calculate the DOT based off of that total. When you go to calculate the poison damage, you don’t start at the 100 base, you start at the 150 that your initial hit did. With only one 50% modifier, your hit goes from 100 to 225!
As you might have guessed, this can easily snowball out of control. I’ve used low numbers for easy math, but if you give realistic numbers, the results are ridiculous. Right now, I have a basic Blade Vortex build utilizing poison, and even though it’s primarily defensive, my poison damage per second is in the millions. The only downside? It takes a second to stack, so it’s not amazing at clearing. For taking down bosses, however, poison stacks are incredibly overpowered, particularly with skills like Blade Vortex.
Changes to DOT in The Fall of Oriath
That was a lot of math, wasn’t it? Thankfully, the changes to DOT that we’ll see in The Fall of Oriath expansion will make the mechanic work the way it should. Now when you go to calculate DOTs, you work off of the initial flat damage, not the modified numbers. You’re doing the 150 damage, not the 225.
It’s a more balanced way to make the calculations, but in the current patch, these changes would entirely destroy DOT builds. As it stands, Path of Exile is balanced around the fact that DOTs are calculated after modifiers, and DOT support was never released. Now that they are correcting DOT calculations, it’s the perfect time to add in new gems to fill the void. Unless you’re running an insane build, you won’t be able to hit millions of damage per second, but that’s probably for the best.
Support Gems and DOT
What new gems are being added in Fall of Oriath? There are eleven in total, and you can find the full list here. I’d like to highlight a couple of the more interesting ones.
First, let’s take a look at Chance to Bleed. By itself, this gem isn’t that strong, since bleeding isn’t that powerful in general. However, this gem could be incredibly effective, especially as part of a Facebreaker build. Every point of damage you collect with Facebreaker builds gets multiplied by eight. This gem adds flat physical damage. At level one, it only adds 1-2 damage, but if an earlier leak is to be believed, this scales all the way up to 50-75 bonus damage. With a good pair of Facebreakers, that’s an added 400 flat damage, which is, of course, then subject to all modifiers.
There’s also a new set of DOT support gems. Vile Toxins increases your poison damage (and base damage) per stack of poison. Immolate increases your burning and fire damage across the board. They’ve added a skill that increases each DOT by a significant margin in order to keep these options viable and competitive.
However, Grinding Gear Games didn’t stop there. Efficacy increases the damage of all your DOTs significantly. There are additional support gems for some of the other individual DOTs. For example, in addition to the damage boost from Immolation, Ignite Proliferation adds more damage and allows ignites to spread to nearby enemies. They’ve added enough support gems that now you can link up all the DOT support you could ever need.
There’s no point in beating around the bush: DOTs are getting nerfed massively. However, they aren’t dead. In fact, I think these refinements will make way for a host of new DOT builds. Personally, I’m extremely excited to play a poison build, especially since the Lesser Poison gem that’s been added will let me use DOT from low levels. The amount of support for this style of play will keep it alive, which I’m grateful for. Overall, the adjustments to support gems and DOT will be a good thing for Path of Exile. No more one second Shaper kills unless you’ve meticulously pieced together your end-game gear. DOT will still be viable in The Fall of Oriath, but it’s finally going to be reasonable.