Chris Wilson and I had a fruitful and informative conversation about Path of Exile: Synthesis, and he was kind enough to answer more of my questions throughout the preview.
Speaking of Diablo 4, players have been joking that the Immortal Syndicate was somehow in reference to the Diablo: Immortal announcement. Could you finally address these rumors?
“We already had [Betrayal] in development, the story, the voice acting, and then that announcement happened. We noticed the similarities but we still ran with it since it’d be too difficult to change.”
Path of Exile once had a battle royale as an April Fools’ joke. Are the designs or mechanics for Synthesis’ Memory Nexus influenced by battle royales?
“That’s interesting to note, but this new content isn’t really based on that. There are [some comparisons] with how battle royales have this slowly closing ring around you.”
Is there an endgame to Cavas’ story or is it more sandbox in nature?
“There is a deep backstory regarding Cavas and even final bosses.”
Will Synthesis’ gameplay be more in-tune with hardcore players? If so, how will that affect the majority of the player base?
“The core Synthesis gameplay will be effective for a wide range of players. You’ll get lots of cool, new items and that’s there for everyone. It’s mostly the advanced crafting systems and challenging Nexus runs that would be understood in-depth by the top 10 percent of players. We’re hoping that other players engage to a reasonable degree and maybe feel inspired to delve further into complex mechanics.”
Will Synthesis’ new items and fractured items crafting affect Path of Exile’s economy?
“We’re hoping it does. It’s good to mix things up once in a while. In Synthesis, you’re making new base types of items or finding fractured items with great mods locked in place. In both of those cases, you might want to trade it to someone else so they can finish the crafting. Also, maybe you’d want to trade for a finished good that has perfect implicits and explicits.”
How will this affect the current best-in-slot (BIS) items for certain builds?
“We want to have a slight amount of that happening. We do want to push boundaries, we want to make new items viable. If we have a new expansion [with the mindset] that you can’t get something better than what you have, then it’s no longer interesting. But we’re only pushing it by a little bit, that’s why our focus was on crafting out implicits. There will be some new BIS items, but they’re only going to be 10 or 15 percent more powerful — enough for players to work towards, but not enough to feel as though old items have become redundant.”
I closed out the interview by asking something that gamers might be concerned about: Tencent. Tencent’s investments (Epic Games, Reddit, and the like) have gotten gamers up in arms.
Given that Tencent has invested heavily into Grinding Gear Games, has the company influenced Path of Exile’s future direction or development?
“No, they haven’t. Their influence doesn’t extend to giving us game direction of that type. We have complete creative independence to change the game however we want to. We’ve done that in the past and will continue to do so.”