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A week or so ago, the team over at Grinding Gear Games announced Synthesis, the next challenge league expansion for their action-RPG Path of Exile. Since then, the developers have been revealing various tidbits of information about the expansion directly through their website.
As a result, we got a chance to check out some new auras, a couple of new chaos spells and three new holy spells. We also got a few samples from the game's updated soundtrack. And on top of that all, we learned all about the developers' decision to turn the main feature of the current Betrayal league into a core game mechanic. Here's more on that:
Betrayal was a huge league for us in a number of ways. It wrapped up a sequence of expansions that started with Bestiary where we added fully-featured masters to replace the Forsaken Masters that were originally introduced in 1.2.0. Niko, Einhar and Alva were all integrated into the game, and the old masters and their associated systems were removed. As well as being massive in scope, we hit several records for player numbers!
In Betrayal, Jun wasn't quite as integrated as the other masters, as she was tied to the league mechanic. In 3.6.0 she is going core, and we get to make changes to the Betrayal mechanics as permanent systems.
In 3.6.0, Jun is introduced in Highgate in Act 9. There are some quest-controlled encounters shortly after. Once Jun is introduced, she does not reduce any chance for encounters from other masters in the campaign. The chance for encountering a master has been increased, and the other masters will be as common as they were in 3.5.0. In maps, overall master encounters have been increased from a 33% to a 40% chance. The chance to encounter any individual master is equally weighted across all five masters.
When an area has Jun, that area will contain three Betrayal encounters. There will be either a Transportation or Fortification encounter, as well as both a Research encounter and an Intervention encounter. Care has been taken to make sure that the encounters don't overlap while you're completing them.
As this is a very different breakdown to encounters compared to when Betrayal was a league, we are testing and refining the Syndicate member choices and outcomes.
With Jun's addition, there are now five daily Atlas Objectives. There is now a 20% chance (up from 16%) on completing a map to have an Atlas Objective appear. Again, the integration of Betrayal does not reduce the chance of the other options occurring.
Because you encounter fewer overall Betrayal encounters than when Betrayal was the active league, you also encounter fewer Safehouses. Their rewards have been adjusted somewhat to compensate for this. However, specific rewards that were far above the curve of other rewards have been reduced in value.
Upgraded Breachstones were an attractive reward and concept, but we did balance the benefits too far ahead of other rewards. The experience gain reward was very attractive, and became a dominant motivator in the league. Tul, Esh and Xoph upgraded Breachstones have had their increased experience gain modifier reduced to 100% for all tiers (down from progressive rewards that went up to 250%). Uul-Netol upgraded Breachstones have been reduced to 150% (previous maximum was 300%), Chayula to 200% (previous maximum was 350%).
Pack size modifiers for upgraded Breachstones have also been reduced. All Pure Breachstones have had their area level lowered by one. Charged and Enriched Chayula Breachstones have also had their area level lowered by one.
These nerfs only affect experience gain. Boss item rewards from these Breachstones have not been affected.
Cartography Scarabs, Divination Scarabs and Sulphite Scarabs have all been reduced in power. Cartography and Divination Scarabs are around 50% less effective, while Sulphite Scarabs are 60-70% less effective depending on tier.
Several other rewards have undergone minor adjustments.
A number of changes are being made to the Mastermind encounter, predominantly making the fight easier. Completing the fight no longer resets your entire Syndicate, but reshuffles the organisation and removes one rank from each member. (EDIT - New plan is to do this: When the Mastermind is killed and the Immortal Syndicate is reset, more syndicate members are now given initial jobs and their ranks are on average higher than before.)
Overall the goal is to make the cycle of Syndicate encounters, Safehouses and Mastermind appealing to players, and the correct way to play. By flattening aberrant rewards, and making the cycle more efficient, we want to make the most fun, varied, and complete experience also the most rewarding and one players are happy to repeat. We do not expect that reality will match our exact vision on just the first iteration, but we are committed to ongoing changes to match the goal we want.
As well as the Immortal Syndicate, Betrayal introduced Veiled Items and an updated, streamlined crafting experience. We have seen a need to make several adjustments for Veiled mods when they are added to the core game.
We have reduced number of ranks on many Veiled crafting modifiers, and most modifiers require more unveiling to gain higher tiers. Some high-value modifiers, like Additional Totems and Non-Chaos Added as Chaos are becoming Elder or Shaper mods. (Edit: Clarification - the removed ranks of veiled mods are the initial lower powered ranks, to account for the later introduction of Jun.)
We don't normally have a need to discuss the lore when a league becomes a core experience. In Betrayal we focused heavily on making the lore accessible, interesting and deep. We have received much more feedback about the characters and their interactions in Betrayal than we normally do, so thought we should cover this.
Some players have noted that some game lore has been lost from the game with the removal of the old master conversation options. We will be looking at places to re-include important elements of this information in future content.
Thank you to everyone who played Betrayal. We really enjoyed bringing the expansion to you, and we also look forward to it being part of the core game with some adjustments to make it a fulfilling long term experience, along with the other new masters!