Path of Exile: Synthesis Weekend Review

With Synthesis now in full motion, I went reasonably ham (with respect to my time allotment and overall weekly exhaustion) this weekend in trying to get through as much as I could. Unfortunately, the weekend is about to end so I only can talk about what I managed to accomplish for this small period.

My initial impressions with the video were a bit reserved at first. Naturally, I was looking forward to the new league mechanic but I interpreted the memories as a type of Incursion/Delve type of mechanic while the map piece as a combination between Delve and Incursion. As with all leagues, they pretty much slam the feature in your face in almost every zone, so it’s hard not to partake in it. Right now, I feel confused mostly with regard to the whole map building piece.

ZiggyD did present a video introducing how the league mechanic works. While his video does provide the basics, I feel that whoever works on this stuff over at GGG really needs a lesson in UX. The mechanic feels clumsy because like Incursions, it’s timed and provides random maps that are troublesome to navigate. The crappy landscape and a bad movement skill can totally kill the experience since you can end up in a dead end.

I get that the intention is exactly to provide that level of frustration but there’s some elements that just are pure bullshit in its current form. Like arriving in a tight area where you can’t maneuver and monsters with high life block you, causing the memory to dissipate and you to lose out. Also, you really have no idea which way to go quite often. The worst by far are areas with lots of doors and hallways that lead in every which way. It’s easy to arrive at a dead end and then get blocked by the memory.

While there is no penalty in hitting the blue area, I can see in higher tiered maps how this mechanic might go from somewhat frustration to keyboard smashing level. Also, the monsters are quite overtuned while the loot can be very underwhelming. Compared to Delve, Incursion and Abyss leagues, the loot drops here are pretty shit.

Now, when it comes to the whole map building portion, it’s just….let’s just say I wish the designer gets Oberyn Martel’d. You get to the whole map building piece and you have these little pieces you’re supposed to place. Without ZiggyD’s video, I would have given up completely on this part. You’re not really told when to use what. When it comes to the memory gathering parts, you simply can continue doing them, even though you eventually hit a limit. But limit of what? You’re not prevented from continuing so you might as well continue.

It’s shit like this that’s completely unpolished UX. Like what do I need to do to collect the right pieces? What type of maps should I collect? Because of how RNG is added to the collection of memory nodes, you don’t know whether or not to just go ahead and start a whole map thing.

Also, once you start doing the map thing, what are you supposed to do? We know the map thing starts to decay after running it. But how long do we stay in it? The memory node collection taught us to quickly do our thing then get out. Then this one says stay in until something happens. Oh, when it starts decaying. But how long should we keep going?

And this is my point for the whole terrible UX thing. It’s just overly complicated making it feel not worth doing until later on. I mean, I feel that I wasted too much time trying to figure out what the fuck was going on rather than progressing to maps. I really hate when a game requires me to watch a video to figure things out. And I hate it even more when after watching that video, I’m still confused and frustrated.

So there is a huge reward strategy locked away somehow. With Betrayal, it wasn’t too bad once you realized you could farm Bridge or Ossuary and understood how to manipulate the Syndicate members. But this one just is a giant mess.

The one thing I was looking forward to more than anything though was Synthesized items. Whelp, turns out this entire system is crap. From what I’ve read and what I’ve experienced, most of items are just garbage. Kinda like Veiled Items except far worse because you could eventually use Veiled Mods for crafting. With Synthesized items, you first need to make sure you have items of a similar class to even Synthesize. That alone makes nuclear radiation seem pleasant by comparison because not only do you have to find three items to make this work, but find the mods you want.

All the items I synthesized just had pathetic modifiers. I mean there was a few okay items for leveling but the vast majority were pee pee poo poo. I suppose the real attraction will be getting these in much higher levels just to get a good base to craft from. But I’m willing to bet that you’re just better off finding something lucky off the ground or buying an item on trade rather than crafting this shit.

Maybe I’m being a bit cynical here but the game is in a very bizarre state. Ever since master overhaul, I feel the mechanic of having these guys show up at random intervals has made the game very distracting and unfocused. It’s great that there is a ton of content per area but the lack of focus really hurts.

Part of the problem that I see is a kind of lack of commitment by GGG in picking a course of action. Basically, the overuse of RNG might end up alienating the game along with constantly shifting metas. It’s effectively marketed as new content but it’s not in my book.

I think there’s an inherent fear by GGG of community backlash in making the game too casual (whatever that means). Generally, that implies giving too much power to players, which is where my thesis of the lack of commitment comes into play. But I find some contradicting layers here. Such as maintaining a leaderboard in the form of Delve yet not really having any power scaling mechanic for characters. The most obvious choice here would be to allow something like an elder/shaped item with Veiled and Synethesized mods. Instead, we see a nerf hammer. Why?

Let me show where one such oversight exists. +1 max totems on shields being craftable. A bunch of idiots complained that it was OP because you could craft it on a good shield. However, it’s a 2ex craft and you still had to discover it. Now, it’s a shaped mod and you can buy it for as little as 5c on poe.trade. I never really saw the +1 max totem shield become a meta last league so I’m curious where people felt this was OP. The only build that I felt could make use of such a thing was Ancestral Warchief. You would think all those Hierophant builds would’ve gone after this too but instead they went back to Soul Mantle. Unfound paranoia on GGG’s part perhaps?

Then let’s get into how Betrayal made its way into Core. You won’t see this until Act 9. But you get 3 instances per zone when it occurs. That means if you get Intervention on a high powered map, you’re pretty much screwed. Probably even worse for HC because you can no longer lock down the feature using Research.

That whole thing makes absolutely no sense to me. It’s just lazy design on GGG’s part. Hey let’s just randomly toss the master shit into maps x3. Feature checkmark complete!

Bullshit!

If you get a Delve node how can that compare at all to an Syndicate Intervention node which can totally fuck you? This just makes no sense to me whatsoever.

I think they need yet another master rework. It’s a very simple fix. Basically, make the entire master system a Zana map mod that scales in difficulty depending on how much you pay. Therefore, you can just target farm the master you really want as opposed to being at the mercy of lazy RNG. They already do this for past league mods so I don’t see why this should be handled differently. I say if someone wants to farm tier 1 maps with Syndicate let them.

At any rate, my current leveling experience in this league has been pretty painful. I think I screwed up going with a non-meta for a league starter by choosing Ancestral Warchief. I probably should have gone with my original plan in choosing Storm Brand Inquisitor. The damage output for Ancestral Warchief is just super low, the range is pathetic, the clear speed abysmal and the play style not rewarding. I only went this route because you just need 2 major uniques to get this rolling and neither are expensive at the start of the league.

But I feel up until I hit level 67, my progress was pretty bad. It took a while before the damage became reality and it’s clear to me that doing a build like this really needs a Tabula Rasa to start just because you’re missing too much. Honestly, I probably would have been better off just doing tectonic slam instead.

I think this build should do okay for a while now that I acquired a Bringer of Rain. The only other major expensive piece is a +1 max totem shield. I’m looking at a few around the 20c mark, which isn’t too bad all things considered. The whole idea behind doing this was to keep the initial price down until I could farm up a Tablua Rasa for a 2nd character.

Speaking of 2nd characters, the sad thing is that I found 3 pieces of starting gear so far, all at a later stage. But most of the drops have been pretty miserable. I did find a corrupted 6L bow. It’s pretty shitty so I’ll probably sell it for a Divine Orb and then convert that into some chaos to use in buying that +1 max totem shield.

 

 

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