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Last Epoch’s Item Faction system wants to solve an eternal problem for ARPGs

A system that serves both item traders and hunters
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Any ARPG developer finds itself confronted with the same dilemma at some point in time: What to do about trading? Over the years, many developers have found different ways to engage with this issue – sometimes with disastrous results. Mentioning the word “auction house” at a Diablo fan meeting has a high chance at getting you lynched. See, one half of ARPG players love being able to trade items with other players, enabling them to become more powerful with a very simple transaction. The other half hates that and wants to seek out the best equipment from the loot left by slain foes. So, what do you do that doesn’t aggravate half of your players?

Confronted with this problem, Last Epoch developer Eleventh Hour Games got creative and has hammered together a system that – it hopes – will solve this eternal problem by giving both sides what they want. Most of it, anyway.

Last Epoch, which is graduating from Early Access on February 21, 2024, will feature an Item Faction system to allow both types of players to get the experience they want to have.

Last Epoch screenshot showing the two different Item Factions.

Last Epoch's Item Factions are supposed to offer every type of player a home.

Those who like trading with others and getting useful equipment from the market can join the Merchant’s Guild, while players looking to farm specific equipment through loot can opt for a membership in the Circle of Fortune, two different factions with mechanics that support each of these playstyles.

Joining the Merchant’s Guild allows players to directly trade items with others or peruse the Bazaar to make transactions, while members of the Circle of Fortune gain various bonuses to loot drops that increase their chance of finding items with specific parameters as well as the overall quantity of gear they pick up.

Both of these Item Factions feature ranking systems based on Reputation, which means that the more players make use of them, the more benefits they derive from them. A resource called Favor is very important as well. Gained through quests and defeating enemies, Favor is needed to interact with each faction’s unique mechanics. In the Merchant’s Guild, you’ll need the currency to be able to buy and sell items, while the Circle of Fortune requires you to purchase Prophecies and Lenses (which steer your loot drops a certain way) with it. Players can switch between the factions, but of course staying with one and leveling it up as much as possible confers the greatest benefits.

“Balancing a trade system is one of the most difficult challenges in a loot-based game, because it significantly impacts the item hunt for all players,” explained Judd Cobler, founder and CEO of Eleventh Hour Games, and game director on Last Epoch. “Players are often split over an economy that can add value to their items and builds, and the thrill of the hunt that leads to uncovering unique items. But with crucial feedback from our community, we’ve implemented a solution we believe satisfies both sides of the debate, and is a truly unique take on the action RPG trade debate.”

With Diablo 4 being in full swing, Path of Exile 2 starting playtests in summer, and Last Epoch launching its 1.0 version, ARPG fans are eating well this year.