Path of Exile’s Synthesis expansion arrives in March, brings new way to progress

Grinding Gear Games has announced Path of Exile: Synthesis, the latest expansion to its long-running online action-RPG. The expansion, which introduces new “memory fragment” maps and a map-building Memory Nexus meta-game, will March 8 on PC. Xbox One will follow on March 11. The PlayStation 4 version — the game’s first appearance on the console – will appear sometime mid-March.

New expansion, new meta-game

Synthesis, like previous expansions, will add a new meta-game that offers unique progression and a new challenge. Through your journeys in Path of Exile, you will meet a character named Cavas, who will open a portal to one of his memories — a side map full of monsters.

Past expansions added similar features, but this expansion has a new twist. The memories are decaying. They close in around the player, who must try to stabilize the memory by tagging key locations before the memory is lost completely. If you’re successful, you’ll be rewarded with a Memory Fragment.

The Fragments can later be used in the Memory Nexus, a hub floating in a sea of Cavas’ memories. There, players can insert the Fragments they’ve earned into a Memory Map. Each Fragment can only align with others in certain ways and contain randomized modifiers. The goal is to arrange the fragments in a way that provides a path to the best loot, without creating a stack of modifiers that makes completing the map too difficult.

Past expansions added similar features, but this expansion has a new twist.

As with most things in Path of Exile, this system becomes very complex, very quickly. Players can easily face over 10 modifiers. Some might be beneficial, increasing the drop rate of certain items, but many will be hostile, making enemies more difficult.

Chris Wilson, the co-founder of Grinding Gear Games, says customization is the goal. While players can load up Fragments to make a challenging and rewarding experience, taking it easy is an equally valid option. GGG thinks the high-end will appeal the most to Twitch streamers, who’ll see conquering the most insane Fragment combinations as a badge of honor.

Synthesis also adds the features of Betrayal, the last expansion, to the core game. Players will still be able to hunt down the Immortal Syndicate.

Even more ways to tweak your gear

A Path of Exile expansion wouldn’t be complete without adding subtle ways to tweak your gear. This time around, players will gain new Fractured Items as loot from Memories. These items have certain modifiers that are “damaged” and can never be changed. Though often a disadvantage, players will be elated when they find a piece of gear with great stats on “damaged” mods they want. It means they will be able to alter the gear to their heart’s content without every losing those bonuses.

That brings us to the expansion’s namesake, Synthesis. In the Memory Nexus, players will be able to Synthesize multiple Fractured items to create new items. These items will have modifiers based on whatever is synthesized. That means players can put together multiple items with desirable mods to create a single, top-tier piece of kit.

It’s all rather complex and players can go as far down the rabbit hole as they want.

It’s all rather complex and, as with the Memory Nexus, players can go as far down the rabbit hole as they want. Simply throwing together Fractured Items with good mods will give good results, but hardcore players will be carefully tallying the results to try and figure out exactly what is needed to earn the best gear theoretically possible.

You’re in an action-RPG, Harry!

The new expansion will also come with some quality-of-life updates. Balance changes, with a focus on “handcasting” skills, will improve skills that are cast by clicking directly on an enemy. GGG wants to counter the trend toward skills that are more passive, like totems and traps. Aside from better balance, this should encourage players interested in a traditional spell-zapping character, as opposed to one that summons something to deal damage for them.

This will be further promoted by two new archetypes. One is based on Chaos damage and has a new skill called Soulrend, while the other is based on Holy damage and has a new skill called Holy Blast. These archetypes and skills will players some new options if they would like to use these damage types.

There are also new unique items, of course, though only 16 this time around. GGG says the game already has more than 850 unique items, and they’ve hit a limit on adding more without them starting to feel like filler.

Launching next month

Path of Exile: Synthesis will launch March 8 on PC and March 11 on Xbox One. It’ll also launch sometime mid-March on PS4. That version will be the game’s debut on Sony’s console, and GGG plans to reveal the exact release date a couple weeks prior to launch.

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