Last Epoch developers would appreciate it if you’d stop committing forgery, please

In response to gold generation and item exploits in action rpg game Last Epoch, developer Eleventh Hour have released a statement on Steam admonishing those responsible and reaffirming their commitment to preventing further exploits on “both a technical and user level.”

The statement, which also mentions nefarious goings on involving the very much banned RMT (real money trading), details the recent fixes released to combat these issues, as well as the identification and banning of accounts found to have broken the game’s terms of service.

“In response to the gold exploit, we have reviewed gold activity on an account level, identifying, and banning those accounts which have been participating in illegitimate gold generation,” reads the statement. “We don’t want to speak too much to how this was tracked, as it could only really serve to provide bad actors information to try to avoid detection.”

“We have also banned accounts with duplicated items from the first exploit, and we have been and are continuing to process and ban all accounts linked to RMT services (both buying and selling),” it continues. “These regular account bans for RMT involvement are actively removing significant amounts of gold from the economy, which we expect will help bring down inflation.”

This is where it gets interesting to me, as talk of inflation, deflation and the like in such games point to the place where simulated economies spill over to actual consequences, something I’m fascinated by even if I’m not too knowledgeable about. The statement goes on to mention both Lightless Arbor (a dungeon) and Rune of Creation (an item that duplicates others, with some drawbacks) by name, saying that:

“generating legitimate duplicate items has also been contributing to the perception of item dupes. Some of this comes from awareness regarding that these legitimate duplicates are possible, as well as to what extent. It may be surprising to know that Lightless Arbor’s Vaults of Uncertain Fates can actually produce up to 12 duplicates of the exact same item. These legitimate duplications can produce some very suspicious-looking listings on the Bazaar.”

Eleventh Hour go on to say they’ll be introducing “mirrored item card graphics,” to assuage any doubt over whether an item is a legitimate duplication, so you’ll know exactly when you’re being faked out by a real fake instead of a fake fake.

“We don’t think it’s a very controversial statement to say that abusing an exploit, ruining the game for all players is not acceptable, and that doing so should result in a ban,” reads the statement in closing. “We also acknowledge this isn’t just on bad actors, but it’s also our responsibility to do everything we can to prevent these exploits from being possible in the first place.”

While both this statement and the developer actions it describes seem both fair and beneficial to Last Epoch’s player base, there’s something to be said, I think, about the nebulous definition of what exactly counts as an exploit in a genre where min-maxing is such a crucial pillar of the experience. It’s not something I get much out of personally, mind, but I can appreciate that theorycrafting efficient builds, and the tricks that compliment this, comprise a lot of the appeal of loot-based ARPGs.

I remember a lot of criticism surrounding Diablo 4, for example, and its various ‘balance’ patches that the community felt were more anti-fun than anything else, increasing grind and decreasing player power. I didn’t play the game long enough to speak to the legitimacy of these complaints, but amusing community video titles like “Patch Notes: Fixed An Issue Where Players Were Having Fun”, while sensationalist, do provide a time capsule of community feelings at the time.

This becomes an even thornier issue in games that feature some sort of premium currency, since you could argue that developers have incentives to keep rewards locked away behind enough grinding to make you consider shelling out for ‘time savers’, to use some particularly noxious nomenclature.

These caveats aside, I think its fair to say that all most exploits achieve is sucking the fun out of actually earning stuff for yourself. Sure, this could well be a tedious process in some other RPGs, but we reckon Last Epoch isn’t one of them. “The mid-complexity crafting and gear systems, along with the character building, makes it easy and, dare I say it, actually fun to engage with minor percentage increases,” wrote Alice Bee in our review, “I never thought I’d see the day.”

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