The action-RPG Path of Exile has been out since 2013, but it remains remarkably popular and deeply embedded within the top 100 games on Steam. The December 2018 release of the Betrayal update was actually its biggest yet, and today developer Grinding Gear Games unveiled the next big step in the game's progression: Synthesis, a new Challenge league in which players build their own dungeon by assembling different puzzle pieces together.
The main NPC of this expansion is Cavas, a spirit who has lost all his memories and want you to help find them. Each of Cavas' lost memories is a small realm unto itself, accessible via portals that will appear in each world area. When you enter a memory fragment, the world immediately begins destabilizing, a fatal darkness that closes in around you as you race through the level. Surviving this impending darkness long enough to tag a sufficient number of "memory stabilizers" will grant a memory fragment, which can eventually be placed on the Memory Nexus. It's like collecting puzzle pieces that you can then assemble to make your own path through Cavas' memories. The ultimate goal is to create a path to a "reward memory," but memory fragments will decay after a few rounds, so you'll need to plan your placement carefully.
The meaning behind Synthesis is two-fold, though, as players will also even more freedom when it comes to crafting items. You can read more of the nitty-gritty details on Path of Exile's website (opens in new tab), but the gist is that you can now find items with mods that are locked in place and cannot be changed and use them to create new variants of items with random implicit mods. If you're not a Path of Exile scholar, it just means that there's a good chance you might be able to make some very powerful, never-seen-before items.
The release of Synthesis will also see the Betrayal expansion integrated into the core game, with Jun Ortoi becoming a Forsaken Master who appears in the Maraketh Desert beginning in Act Nine. The content has been rebalanced so that it will occur less often than it did during Betrayal, but there will be more Immortal Syndicate activity to deal with when you do encounter it.
Synthesis will also incorporate a whole-game rebalancing of spells that Grinding Gears hopes will bring them all into power level equivalence, and that will put an increased emphasis on manual spellcasting, six new primary damage spells for two new character archetypes—the Chaos Spellcaster and the Holy Spellcaster—and a pair of new support gems.
Path of Exile: Synthesis is set to come to PC on March 8, followed by the Xbox One release on March 11 and the PS4 in the not-yet-specific mid-March. Grinding Gear said that it plans to release three more Path of Exile expansions in 2019, expected in June, September, and December. Details about the Synthesis expansion are up at pathofexile.com.