Path Of Exile's Big New Expansion, Synthesis, Releases In March

The Synthesis expansion releases on PC March 8, with console versions out shortly after.

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Now Playing: Path Of Exile - Synthesis Official Announcement Trailer

Path of Exile continues to keep new content rolling out at a steady pace. Following the Betrayal expansion last December, the developers at Grinding Gear Games still have big plans ahead for the online action-RPG. In addition to the launch of their next update, Synthesis, the developers will also bring the long-awaited release of the PlayStation 4 edition in March.

The Synthesis expansion launches on March 8 for PC and March 11 for Xbox One. It will shake up the game's familiar spell system for something more tactical and user-friendly, while also introducing some new features that will give greater incentive for players to revisit past locations. Along with new additions to the game's league system, allowing players to either start fresh with a new character or continue with their existing character, there's also a new storyline that deals with restoring the memories of a mysterious character who has access to a large arsenal of spells and loot--all set within a bizarre dreamscape.

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Managing director Chris Wilson spoke with us at great length about what to expect for Path of Exile's newest expansion, and how this one will be the beginning of an eventful year for the online-RPG--culminating at year's end with another substantial update.

"The title of this expansion relates to the actual Synthesis league--which is for the new content in the game--but the other part of this is for the really big rebalance and changes in Path of Exile," said Wilson. "It sounds like a routine thing, but the scope of it is a bit unprecedented for us. The goal is to try to open up a lot more viable build combinations for players. And honestly, as compelling as it is to release new leagues and other forms of new content, the rebalances often add more replayability to the game."

Along with new updates to Betrayal's syndicate gameplay, which will be rolled into the main campaign, the next expansion also rebalances a number of combat skills and spells in the main game. However, the main conceit of Synthesis is the larger quest to help the new NPC Cavas restore his lost memories. Scattered around the world are secret portals that open up the pathway to Cavas' memories. Upon entering, you'll explore a miniature world full of dangerous monsters and valuable loot. Once you reach the finish, you'll acquire a Memory Fragment.

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Eventually, you can take these fragments to the Memory Nexus, Cavas' base of operations. Fragments can then be used to fill out spaces on the Memory Map, an ethereal space where new memories form a continuous set of mini-dungeons to explore on the map. If you're able to complete a full sequence, you'll acquire special loot and rewards from Cavas. However, the memories will eventually decay, making them unstable, causing some strange effects while within the memory. Once fully decayed, they'll be wiped from the map.

In addition to the new gameplay loop with the Memory Map, one of the more substantial changes coming in Synthesis is the rebalancing of the spell system. Wilson stressed that this was the most difficult part of the expansion, which was also a long time coming.

"It's not just numerical values we're adjusting on the spells, we're kind of fundamentally altering how they work," said Wilson. "There's about 40-ish caster spells are all augmentable with several hundreds of support gems, and also compared to the over 110 different skills you can use as well. They can go through all these different shapes and timings, like a meteor-spell for instance. Having them all balanced was a very difficult task for the team, so it needed a lot of effort."

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Here's a quick breakdown of features coming with Path of Exile's newest expansion:

  • The Memory Map: Over the course of the Synthesis expansion, you'll acquire Memory Fragments which can be placed onto the Memory Map, creating a series of mini-dungeons to explore. Successfully exploring a full sequence will yield valuable loot and special rewards.
  • Fractured Items: The fractured items are special items that have powerful buffs applied to them, but they also often come with a downside. To combat this, fractured gear can be re-rolled to shuffle stats and buffs.
  • New Spells And Rebalancing: Over 40 spells have been overhauled and rebalanced. Furthermore, new spells and skills have been added into Path of Exile, including the first-ever Holy-elemental attack.
  • New Unique Items: 16 new unique items have been incorporated into the game. Coming in the form of armor, weapons, and accessories, the unique items of Synthesis are among the most powerful items that Path of Exile has seen yet.
  • Synthesized Items: In the Memory Nexus, players can use the synthesizer to turn three different fractured items to produce a new item with a set of new mods.

Throughout 2019, Grinding Gear will release three additional expansions following Synthesis. With the next ones coming in June, September, and December, the developer also plan to reveal the game's most ambitious expansions yet in November at Path of Exile's fan convention in New Zealand. During this event, two new major updates will be revealed--one of which is referred to as a mega-expansion by the developers. At this rate, Path of Exile's continued growth, which has been going for six years now, won't be slowing down any time soon.

For more on Path of Exile, including the launch of the upcoming expansion and PS4 edition, be sure to visit GameSpot in the weeks ahead.

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