Things have never been better for Path of Exile. December’s Betrayal launch was their biggest in the 6 years the game has been live. In 3.5.0 they recorded more than 180,000 concurrent users at peak. Compare this to 2.3.0 when they had a peak of over 40,000. With this kind of a boost, it shouldn’t come as a surprise at all that more content is coming to Path of Exile, this time in the form of Path of Exile Synthesis.
So what can you expect to find in Synthesis? Well to begin with there is the Synthesis Challenge League. In these league players will create new characters and play under a completely new set of rules. The word synthesis, in this case, refers to the fabrication of two things, in particular, world area and items. In the league, the idea is to find the best items and clear the high content first. The developers have warned that this expansion does have a slight bias towards existing players, but, new players will still find it accessible as well.
Players will meet a new NPC who introduces himself as Cavas (the Latin word for Hollow). He’s a spirit who has forgotten all of his memories. But, it is clear that he played an important role in Wraeclast’s history so players will pledge to help him return his memories. Players will encounter memory fragments as they play and have to stabilize them to restore Cavas’ identity. This is a moderately story heavy league, something the developers were keen to return to after players enjoyed it so much in Betrayal.
In the Synthesis league, every world area has a portal that leads to a memory. As you get close Cavas will approach you and open the portal for you to enter. Once inside you’re taken to an area that is full of monsters and rapidly decaying. While in there your goal is to tag 2-4 memory stabilizers before the area decays completely. If you’re successful at stabilizing the memory you’ll be given a memory fragment for later use. The number of connection points on the fragment represents how many stabilizers there were in the level.
At a certain point in the gameplay, Cavas will lead you to the Memory Nexus, an area that is floating in the sea of his memories. There he shows you that you can view nearby memories on the memory map as well as place memory fragments there. The fragments need to be placed on the board carefully to create a path so the memories can be reached in a single run. Some care is needed when placing memory fragments as they can only connect at connection points. Once you’ve placed a memory it only has a certain number of runs before it too decays. Memories that have decayed completely can be replaced with similar pieces later. Memory fragments also have mods on them that are applied to monsters in the area. While generally, they won’t make an area too difficult, there are some that will give you pause as they make things considerably more challenging. For highly experienced players there is also the global mod system which will stack together the longer your chains of memories get.
In addition to the reward memories, there will also be some advanced rewards in the form of Fractured and Synthesized Items. Fractured items can only be found within memories that are damaged due to decay. While Fractured Items themselves do have some downsides, like some of their properties being stuck in place it is still important to collect them for use in Synthesized Items.
To create a Synthesized Item you must travel to the Memory Nexus and interact with the Synthesiser. To use it you must insert 3 Fractured Items of the same class, for instance, 3 fractured rings. These are consumed to create a Synthesized Item with random implicit mods.
Two new character archetypes are also going to be introduced, Chaos Spellcaster and Holy Spellcaster. The Chaos Spellcaster is a promoted archetype that uses a variety of new and existing Chaos damage spells. One new skill is Soulrend which fires a slow-moving homing projectile that causes Chaos damage over time on things near it. While most Chaos spells require the use of multiple spells in combinations Soulrend is as the developers call it a “one-stop Chaos shop” and fills the hole of being a good introductory Chaos damage skill.
The second new archetype is the Holy Spellcaster, an archetype that..you guessed it, uses Holy spells. Mechanically speaking the skills are a mixture of elemental and physical damage. This is the first time Holy spells make an appearance in the game. The new skill the developers highlighted for Holy Spellcaster is Divine Ire, a channeling skill that damages nearby enemies as it charges up. The more enemies that are nearby the faster it charges, so getting right in the thick of things is encouraged. Once it’s charged a very large Holy blast is released in the direction you’re targeting. This skill can be a bit challenging to use as it does require being close to enemies to properly use. But, once you’ve mastered it you’ll find yourself having a blast. (Pun intended.)
Path of Exile Synthesis will introduce 16 new unique items to the game that will have interesting effects and change how people play Path of Exile. One such item is the Eternity Shroud. When the player is hit the Eternity Shroud will trigger the Glimpse of Eternity skill, a new skill that was created just for the Eternity Shroud. Glimpse of Eternity will create a time dilation bubble around you that will slow down the action speed of enemies making it much safer for you to be surrounded by them. Of course, there is always the risk of the time dilation bubble dropping before you manage to kill them all. But, that is just a risk you’ll have to take.
Path of Exile Synthesis is launching on PC on March 8th, Xbox One on March 11th, and PS4 sometime in Mid-March. Just like in 2018 the development team is planning on following a 13-week release schedule which means you can expect content March (Synthesis), June, September, and December. Plus this year will be the first-ever ExileCon in Auckland, New Zealand which is being held in November. There players will be able to experience the 3.9 expansion as well as next year’s mega-expansion 4.0.