Path of Exile is an online action RPG where you need to survive on the continent of Wraeclast and take revenge against those who betrayed you. Set in a dark fantasy world, the game recently received the 3.2.1 update which contained some quality-of-life changes and improvements including buffs to bows.
This guide will tell you whether you should league start bows and whether the buff is good enough.
The first change is the addition of new arrows, one of them is part of a new cluster having 4 points in the skill tree and in the range of Timeless Jewels for endgame players while being easily accessible for fresh builds.
Every Ranger build will have to go through the nodes on the outside to unlock the bow nodes meaning that every Ranger will eventually have access to it which can be added bonus as you get extra projectiles.
Apart from that, Master Fletcher also gets additional projectiles which are a huge deal, especially in the early game as well as mid-game for bow builds. However, it comes at a cost as you do lose a lot of damage after unlocking the Master Fletcher node. The lack of damage can be noticeable during the early game when you don’t have access to good gear especially when you are in the level 50-60 range.
Similarly, nodes leading to Master Fletcher have also been downgraded in power such as the Bow Attack Speed. Previously they granted a 10% increase in damage and a 4% increase in attack speed which have been reduced to only a 5% increase in attack speed.
This means that you have traded 10% damage for a mere 1% increase in attack speed. This is evident across three nodes which translates to around 30% loss in damage.
On the entry node called Bow Damage, you lose 6% accuracy which when combined with other nodes means around 26% loss in accuracy. On the other hand, you do get a 50% increased damage if you take the Mastery and a 15% increased attack speed.
There are also other nodes where the loss is noticeable such as the Mastery Spell Suppression and unlocking it will lose a 100% boost in the critical strike. This is equivalent to losing a permanent Diamond Flask or a Watcher’s Eye modifier. According to calculations, it means that you will lose 7-8% CRIT on every single build now.
Next up, there are also changes to the Flask Charges against Marked Enemies node which is a favourite of all bow players. This will affect you when you reach the red maps as the smaller nodes have become more lacklustre.
It now gets increased flask charges instead of a 20% increase in damage and a 10% increase in marker effect which was present earlier. The marker effect provided a big damage boost and which bow players will certainly miss.
Similarly, they have removed the 25% increased effect of Mark’s Mastery node. You can now either choose the massive damage multiplier or the guaranteed Frenzy charge uptime.
Overall, the new transactions are a buff for bow league starters and the reason behind it is that the Premiere Elemental Bow League Starter is Artillery’s Ballista that offers some important projectile hitpoints which cannot be hit pretty easily.
The first one is the helmet which increases your projectiles from 6 to 8 and the second one further increases the projectiles from 8 to 10. The increase in projectiles will offer you a ton of extra damage which will help you on those early leagues starting on single targets, especially on early maps feel pretty easy.
Apart from that, when you are completing tasks like breaches or completing tough parts of Legion, it will increase your clear as well as damage in those scenarios.
In the early parts of your league, you will be using lightning arrows or ice shots alongside your Artillery Ballista which will be your next destination for a bow build. A lot of your time will be devoted to upgrading your lightning arrows and clear to make that the focus of your build.
At the beginning when your character is just getting started, you do not have access to projectiles, awaken GMP, your +2 bow, +1 quiver and the rest of the stuff. However, now you have access to +2 arrows and this has a huge impact on the clear speed as a bow character.
This means that you get 7 arrows from a lightning arrow build, 2 from the dead eye, 4 from GMP and 1 Baseline and now the addition of 2 extra arrows means 9 arrows in total.
When you are playing in the early parts of the league, you will have a lot of spare skill points This is important because every point you invest means an 8 to 10% increase in damage especially in endgame bow builds.
Instead of spending these skill points on the three travel points to unlock Multishot, it is a much better deal to invest them in nodes like Sleight of Hand or Wills of Blades. Skill points are extremely valuable for bow builds and using them for extra projectiles isn’t worth it especially when you have insane gear.
Overall, bows have received a huge buff in this update for players looking to try them in the early game or mid-game as they feel much smoother and better than before. If you liked bows before, you will love them even more at the league start and if you are an end-game player then you will be disappointed because of the nerfs.