Path of Exile's Synthesis Brings A Host Of New Content To The Game
Since its release in 2013, Path of Exile has slowly turned into one of the best action-RPG games of all time. A large part of this has been the desire of the developers to keep the endgame interesting and exciting. The use of Challenge Leagues, which are three-month-long events that feature new mechanics, content, characters, and story, has allowed them to introduce fun new content to the game. Betrayal, launched in December of last year, proved to be their largest launch to date, and players ended up falling in love with the highly narrative-focused content.
Developer Grinding Gear Games has just announced the next expansion, known as Synthesis. This expansion will, as always, be free, and will be available on PC on March 8, Xbox One on March 11, and will be coming to PS4 in mid-March. We were lucky enough to get a sneak peek at the upcoming content, so read on to find out what you will be doing when Synthesis arrives.
To get straight to the meat of the expansion, the word Synthesis was chosen as a name for the new content because it will allow you to build two types of things with more control than ever. These are world areas and items. You will meet a new NPC called Cavas. Cavas is a spirit who has forgotten all his memories. Due to his apparent importance to the game world's history, you then pledge to help restore them.
While playing through the game, you will encounter fragments of his memory, and will need to stabilize them to help him recover his identity. Each area will contain a portal to one of these memories, and Cavas will appear to open the memory for you. Once you enter the memory, it is a race against time. Because nothing is ever easy when piecing together the fragmented memories of a long forgotten spirit, the memory is filled with monsters, and is collapsing in on itself. You need to clear the memory as quickly as possible and make it to the memory stabilizers before the area completely decays. If you succeed, you will receive a Memory Fragment.
As you reach a certain point in the story, Cavas shall introduce you to the Memory Nexus. The Memory Nexus will take the form of a partial map, and you can use Memory Fragments to connect the existing parts together. The memories all have connection points, so choosing a route to reach the new memories involves some tactical thinking.
You will need to decide exactly how hard you want to make each run. This is also balanced against the fact that Memory Fragments only have a certain number of runs until they decay. On the final run, the world will be decaying, the same way it was when you first found the memory. Decayed memories can be replaced, allowing the Memory Nexus to morph and change over time. Making it to the end of the memories will net you all kinds of loot, as is tradition for action-RPGs. I really like the idea of this mechanic, as it should lead to frantic bursts of running and fighting, with breaks in between as you move through more stable fragments.
Memory Fragments can also have mods on them, which change the nature of the challenge while you are in that particular fragment. Mods that increase the difficulty of fragments will generally also have additional bonuses, like an increase in item rarity or quantity in that particular area. Memories can also be affected by global mods, which stack together along a memory path. This results in incredibly challenging runs that very experienced players should end up loving.
Fractured and Synthesized Items
Fractured Items are special items that can only be found within memories. Unfortunately, the decaying nature of the memories means the items themselves have been damaged. This means that some of the item's properties are unable to be changed or be removed. While this is normally a bad thing, as it means you cannot change properties you do not like, Fractured Items can be used to create Synthesized Items. If you're lucky enough to find a Fractured Item that has fixed properties that you like, the unfixed properties can be rerolled, giving you the change to roll what you might consider to be an almost-perfect item.
As such, Fractured Items can either be used as material to create Synthesized Items, or rerolled until they give you something truly powerful. If you want to make a Synthesized Item, you can travel to the Memory Nexus and use the Synthesizer. You will need three Fractured Items from the same item class (for example, three Fractured rings), which are then consumed to produce a Synthesized item with random implicit mods.
In Path of Exile, implicit mods are mods that are connected to the item type itself. Gold Rings increase found item rarity, Ruby Rings grant increased fire resistance, and so on. Previously, the only way to change an implicit mod was to use the Vaal Corruption mechanic from the Sacrifice of Vaal expansion. This would change the implicit mod to a new one, but would lock it in place forever. If the new mod didn't go your way, there was nothing you could do.
The devs have said there is a formula for how the implicit mods of the Synthesized Items are created, based on the mods of the Fractured Items that are used in their construction. They don't plan on letting us know what that is, but eagle-eyed and experimental players should be able to piece it all together over time. This means the potential to find a way to create the exact types of items and mods you want.
A Touch Of Class
Another important aspect is that the Betrayal expansion will become part of the core game. Jun Ortoi is set to become a Forsaken Master, and will appear in the Maraketh Desert from Act Nine onwards. There has also been some rebalancing, you will run into the Betrayal content less often, but will encounter greater Immortal Syndicate activity when you do.
Spells will be getting rebalanced, to try and put the lesser used spells on an even footing with the top-tier ones. There will also be some changes made to try and make the idea of Handcasting more attractive. We don't have a huge amount of information on this, but the developer has said they have tried to make Handcasting a more tempting option, to give some competition to the mechanic of people using Totems to cast spells for them.
The expansion will also see new spells arriving for the Chaos Spellcaster and Holy Spellcaster class archetypes. The Chaos damage spell, Soulrend, fires slow moving homing projectiles that cause Chaos damage over time. The Divine Ire spell for Holy Spellcasters is a channeled spell that will damage nearby enemies, the more enemies are close to you, the faster it channels.
Finally, the game will also get 16 new unique items. These items will have interesting effects that change how you play the game, with the devs saying that at this point there is no desire to add simple filler items. The example that we saw was an item called The Eternity Shroud. When the player is hit, it triggers the Glimpse of Eternity skill, which creates a time dilation bubble around you. This bubble causes enemies to slow. As such, it rewards you for building up a large pack of enemies around you, but the punishment might be that you don't clear them fast enough. You don't want to be surrounded by angry mobs of monsters when the spell ends!
This is just the tip of the iceberg for Path of Exile this year, with three more expansions to come before the end of the year, and the first ever ExileCon fan event happening in November. Due to be held in Auckland, New Zealand, fans can expect to see content from the last expansion to be released this year, and a look at content that will be coming in 2020!
It's hard to know how all this new content will affect the game until I get to play it, but I saw more than enough to make me think that March cannot come soon enough!