Starfield | Securing The Scientist
Path of Exile is an ARPG that has a new league as they call them every couple of months with the latest one called Blight.
Blight league itself has been out for around a month now. The league is focused around a tower defense style of gameplay. Where the players set up all different kinds of towers from construction points they earn to defend the pump. Once the pump reaches zero its game over for that encounter and they lose.
Overall I have really enjoyed how different and yet not over complex this league was. The player really just needs to learn the basics of what all the different towers do and work out how they want to use them. The end game blighted maps with all the different tiers they can drop in make it really assessable to most of the player base if they could afford to run them and did not have performance issues. Perhaps the hardest part was just working out oil combinations which thanks to community efforts and trying to get a blighted map to drop. The loot while not crazy provide a consistently that for me at least was fun and rewarding enough to keep running them.
Normal Blight Encounters
All maps (zones) in the game have a basic encounter that gives players the opportunity to defend if they choose to activate the encounter. If they successes in keeping the pump from getting destroyed they get to open Blight chests. In addition, a loot explosion around the Blight pump itself from all the monsters they cleared appears when the encounter is done. The higher the zone the harder but more rewarding the Blight encounter can become as monster difficulty and the number of branches increase.
The pump itself has a durability bar and when monsters reach the end of the branch where it is placed at it they can start doing damage to it. Normal monsters can do one tick of damage while bosses can one or two-shot a Pump depending on how powerful they are. Which would result in the player losing but they still get some loot from the monsters they cleared as a result.
To prevent this players can acquire construction points to build towers. Players are giving a set amount of construction points to start and they earn more as monsters are destroyed. These then can be set up on certain points that get randomly created that the player can interact with.
In total there are six base tower types: chilling, summing, fireball, empowering, seismic and shock. They can be upgraded to tier four and have the associated construction costs 100, 150, 300, and 500 points. While each tier they get more powerful the final one presents the player with two power options for the final upgrade.
Many of these towers have great synergy when paired or used in a smart matter out on the battlefield. For instance, the fireball tower as it is increased in tier starts to gain quite the range until it’s final form where it can cast down meteorites from a great distance. The chilling tower, on the other hand, has quite a small range but it can be upgraded to cast glacial cages holding monsters in place for a short time. As a result, you can have many upgraded fire towers raining down on trap monsters. This works really well when it’s a boss.
If you were lucky enough for a choke point to form with a bunch of tower locations you could even further compound such a powerful combination with using an empowerment tower that increases the damage output of the other towers around it.
In fact, setting up in strategic areas where there is a group of tower locations together and having a few different types can become quite key more so later on in blighted maps. In the non-Blighted map zones, you tend not to needed max out towers and are far more limited on construction points so just having more and planned out can outperform a couple of high tier towers.
Another important thing to pay attention to is the information bar that is proved. In the above screenshot, two branches have monsters that will ignore the damage and stun capabilities of seismic towers. On top of that, the second branch has a symbol above the circle to indicate a powerful boss will come out of the summing portal. As such you really want to make sure that has heavy fortification when that boss spawns otherwise it can be a quick loss.
One of my personal favorite towers so far outside of the fireball has been summing towers. They spawn in a bunch of minions that the monsters have to fight through and they themselves will even travel up the lane a little bit if a target comes within range. As the minions die they respawn and it can be and it can upgrade into powerful snipping tower with a huge range. The other upgrade at max tier four is a tanking minion which I like to have in front of my pump if I can for an added layer of protection to give me time to kill anything powerful.
While I am often found running around all over the place in these encounters to take out big packs before they become an issue. For high damage players that might not be as reliant on the towers, they could even upgrade an empowering tower and pick the final upgrade that boosts their own damage if they are in range. They might even be more interested in using the shock tower that can increase the damage monsters take as well.
Sometimes the pump will spawn in a very closed in or tight area. While you might have six branches, for instance, they could be double or triple stacked as a way for the game to deal with such restraints. In some instances, they might be right next to the pump itself if you got really unlucky and there was not much room for it to spread out more.
These normal encounters take a couple of minutes to run. For a speedrunner, these are taking too much time and not being rewarding enough. I, on the other hand, loved having some setup time and things not requiring massive actions per minute to be able to enjoy them. This for once is something all players can do even if you are not some hardcore speedy player.
Overall I found it refreshing that these were not overly complicated. You really just need to learn the tower types and understand the capability of your own character so you don’t end up getting killed. More times than not if you are paying attention you have enough lead time to take out or build up towers to deal with any trouble coming down towers the Blight pump.
The end game content for Blight league is special maps that drop. The really great thing here is they can drop as tier 1 to tier 16 maps and allow players from all kinds of skill and gear levels to enjoy farming them.
In the over 600 maps I’ve run I only looted two blighted maps making them rather rare from what I have seen. They can also sell for quite a lot due to that rarity. A white tier 1 map like Blighted Jungle Valley could go for 25 Chaos Orbs. Meanwhile, no one was even trying to sell a tier 16 map at the time of writing this. Even a tier 15 map like Dark Forest was going for multiple Exalted Orbs (386+ Chaos Orbs).
One of the biggest issues and why I’ve delayed writing this overview for so long have been performance issues. In a normal setting, approximately two screens around the player are active at any given time. While everything else is frozen and not causing any performance issues. Due to the massive size of the Blighted encounter, hundreds of monsters from my guess can be active and from a great distance as well. Causing instance drops, server issues, performing issues and even screen lockups for the player.
They have over the past month worked on and put out a number of patches that have been focused on increasing performance; along with, buffing rewards. This has been another point of contention with players feeling it's not rewarding enough. I think the ladder part is quite tough as you could have issues with degrading worthwhile drops into having low value if not careful.
I myself have suffered massive lag to the point I was not able to run these encounter for quite some time until recently. I do have an older system and their servers as well were having issues with instances. There are some things I’ve found to at least help like not using summing towers, and playing the game in full screen instead of windowed borderless mode. I am also playing a witch summoner which appears to be hardest impacted of them all when it comes to performance due to all our minions.
With that out of the way, Blighted maps have hands down when there are no issues that have been a blast to run. Like any other map, they can be placed in the Atlas device to be started. You can even have oils applied to them which is talked about further down in the oil section.
In these maps after a short setup time, you need to survive five minutes and clear out any remaining monsters after that without the Pump being taken out. If you do it’s an absolute loot fest with chests all over the place. If you fail you could be out quite a lot of currency as these maps get pricy to buy and have a low drop chance.
They can even have a decent loot explosion at the end around the pump. I looted an exalt that dropped before I took the screenshot without thinking. Darn it!
Otherwise, it’s just like the normal encounter just massive! Nothing like getting the heart pumping when you see a boss getting close to the pump and knowing it can finish it off. When you realize you are out of points to put up a proper defense and rush over there hoping with what is up you are able to target it down in time.
It was also great you don’t have to learn anything new as you have already been running these. You just really need to understand what you are doing before you start one. Otherwise, you could have a bad day.
The Blight chests for the player to open if the pump survives can contain a very wide range of items depending on the type of chest. There is also some loot from the monsters that are killed.
Some of the Blight chests drop normal stuff like currency, armor, weapons. While that can be great for Chaos recipe as you can get a lot of rings, amulets, and belts from these chests. I have not gotten anything crazy like an Exalted Orb from the currency chests as they mostly drop low tier stuff.
While other blight chests can drop some items from past leagues and have their own icon above them to indicate as such. Such as eye jewels from Abyss league, incubators from Legion League, veiled items betrayal, and fossils from Delve to name a few.
While some of the aforementioned items can be worth quite a lot. These are however not the main reason to be running Blight encounters. As far more pricy stuff can drop like oils and blighted maps. There is also Blight league only armor and weapon drops which I have not gotten so I really can’t speak about them.
Oils themselves drop in a wide range of rarity. They are used in a number of different ways as well. They can only be obtained from the special Blight oil chest. The best thing is they don’t have to be combined with each other like in some past leagues where you would need a hundred of an item to make a full one!
Their prices have for the most part gone down considerably in the month and no doubt will be different than displayed blew but it should give some idea into their value. You could get something rather basic that you can get out of any map like Clear, Sepia or Amber Oil that are around half an Orb of Alchemy in value. Then you have your more mid-range ones that are seen more in yellow maps like Teal, Azure, Violet, Crimson, and Black Oil ranging up to 8 Chaos Orbs each. Finally, you have your high-end stuff like opalescent, silver and the rarest of them all that only drops in the highest red maps Golden Oil that is worth around 235 Chaos Orbs!
As far as use case use can talk to Sister Cassia who can be invited to your hideout. From there you can apply them via anointing item option when speaking with her for things like jewelry and Blighted maps.
The Amulet, in particular, allows you to have a passive skill that will be applied to you. This is also where some of the more expensive oils tend to be used as three of them are needed. This could be anything from gaining the agility node for +30 Dexterity or something like Ravenous Horde that many summoner classes are using right now for a bunch of minion stats like damage and speed. Thankfully a massive list has been compiled by other Path of Exile players and so I’ll share the link to the google document .
You also have the rings that take two oils and they provide a bonus to a tower type for Blight encounters. This could be anything from extra damage or something far more interesting like an extra meteor firing at the enemies. Since you have two ring slots it is tempting to double on having the same anointment. That, however, might not be the best choice if you get a large number of monsters that ignore that type of tower so using them for different helps negate that risk.
Oils can also be applied to Blight maps to increase the risk vs rewards. They are limited to up to three and have to also be applied using Sister Cassia. They all increase the pack size of the monsters but also buff something else as well. Things like Clear oil will slow down monsters, Sepia oil increase tower damage, and Teal appears to give you a chance at getting “better” chests to spawn via lucky chest.
While they don’t have a large number of uses it does seem to be enough to give the harder to acquire once a decent price point. There is also a reason for players to keep using them so they remain useful even after you acquired rings and amulet enchants. It does feel like there could be too much supply of oils at some point since they are now dropping in blighted maps as well. Only time will tell if there should have been more ways to use them or not.
The Blight league was and still is not over the top in terms of drop rates or having to work out complex and confusing gameplay mechanics. It was quite accessible for most of the player base to just enjoy it. Those who master it got to enjoy some of the hardest things it had to offer.
Like past leagues, one of the biggest downsides to having this kind of content updates at the rate we get them is they are rarely perfect and require a lot of patching and messing with the numbers to get them right for the players. Sadly sometimes after they get added to the core game is when they become amazing and fixed. I’m hoping we are near to them finding its final form so we get to just enjoy it for the remainder of the league.
There was this pure fun of running Blighted maps and overall I might enjoy them even more then Delve. For those who don’t know, I really love me some Delve so that is saying a lot. With them only lasted a few minutes and not requiring the player to grind something out for hours if they could afford to buy the maps from another player. While trying to get those maps to drop yourself it’s still ridiculously hard to come by. Thankfully many players rather not take the risk of running them and sell to others.
I enjoyed the loot not being over the top with a large amount hard to come by stuff that becomes worthless after the first week. I think in the past that has been an apparent issue. While many are unhappy with it not being over the top crazy I feel Blighted maps with all those chests can give the average player that sensation and enjoyment they crave.
We are only a month in and I still want to play. Even more now, they have fixed quite a few performance issues. I just wish I had more time to enjoy it.