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Every release, we choose some specific game balance issues and gameplay limitations to address and adjust. The patch notes tomorrow will provide the comprehensive list of changes but today we'd like to cover some specific changes and the reasons for them.

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Stat Sticks

The use of "stat sticks" has been a feature of Path of Exile for a very long time.

A stat stick is an off-hand weapon that is not valid to use with a skill you are using when dual wielding. You get all the benefits of the stats on the weapon, while not having any limitations it might have affected the use of the skill. You can use a weapon that has the attack speed and/or damage you want for the skill, while the off-hand weapon provides excellent stats without its speed or base damage limiting you.

This use started off as an interesting gameplay element to use as part of a build, but over many releases, as more powerful modifiers on unique and rare weapons have been added, the power of stat sticks cannot be ignored when planning builds and is stifling other choices including genuine dual-wielding.

In 3.5.0 we are removing the ability to use stat sticks, through the following changes:

You will no longer be able to use skills that require a specific weapon equipped if you are dual-wielding and one of your equipped weapons is unsuitable for that skill.
Skills that could be used with two weapons, but were main-hand-only when used, now use both weapons when dual wielding.

We found that with this change it was important to make skill binds specifically to your weapon set. You can now have an entirely different set of skills bound to your main set of weapons and your second set of weapons.

Energy Shield Recharge

Energy Shield Recharge is no longer interrupted by non-damage changes to your Life or Energy Shield.

(For context, we announced last week that Eldritch Battery now causes you to have 50% less Energy Shield Recharge Rate.)

Initially, this change was explored as a way to make it easier for casters to use Eldritch Battery to solve many issues. One major issue standing in the way Eldritch Battery being effective is that it doesn't work very well on its own, needing something like Zealot's Oath to go along with it.

While there were concerns that this might introduce issues with other builds when tested it was a justified change and was beneficial for a variety of cases.

As a further support for Eldritch Battery and Energy-Shield-based builds in general, more flat Energy shield has been added on the tree.

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Balance Changes in Path of Exile: Betrayal