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Image via Path of Exile.

Path of Exile Looks to Player Retention, New Game Updates

Apr 23, 2019
Image via Path of Exile.

Last week Bex announced that there would be a one-month event to finish off the last month of Synthesis league. It is no surprise that this league’s player retention has been quite low, and the POE Synthesis event is meant to bring interest back up before the next league launches. Alongside the planned changes for next league, there’s a lot to look forward to. Let’s dive in.

Synthesis Player Retention

Synthesis has had one of the hardest player drop-off rates in a long time. Without having any true numbers, it feels like the worst since Bestiary, easily. This is due to a variety of factors. The first and foremost is that the current league content is confusing, and at launch it was very difficult to interact with. Since then they have made many changes to the system, making it more player friendly and rewarding, but many of the players who left refuse to return.

A large part of this is due to the difficulty of engaging with the Synthesis system. Once you understand the tile system it’s fairly easy. However, understanding how it works with all the changes takes a bit of work. Work that players who were already frustrated with the first iteration will not be wanting to put in. Anecdotally, I have lost two of the four good friends I had playing to nothing but annoyance with the league mechanic. I’ve tried to explain how it works now, but they had such a bad experience the first time around that they refuse to engage with it again in its current state, and I can’t entirely blame them.

The items themselves are even worse. Once you understand how to manipulate the nexus and the tiles, memories can be a very rewarding experience. Personally, I find them quite enjoyable as well with the changes. That said, fractured items remain tedious at best. I’m not at the point of ignoring them, like many players are, but I’m starting to feel like I should.

I’ve played a character to 100 so far, and four more to 90+, all doing normal mapping and nexus content whenever it’s available. I have over 70 nexus bosses killed. In all that time, I’ve only found about three exalts worth of fractured items, picking up and identifying every single valuable base and all jewelry. This is running exclusively level 83 content. The drop rates for useful gear is just so low that it isn’t enjoyable at all, even if you understand the system.

For those who don’t, it’s just a confusing system where you put three crappy items into the synthesizer and get one crappy item back out. The enjoyment is nonexistent, and the profit margin just isn’t there for anyone except the top handful of crafters.

My fractured item stash. So many items and nothing of value. Image via EsportsEdition.

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Flashback Announcement

Just like in Bestiary, when player retention is low, a new league event is rolled out. The POE Synthesis event is one month long, tentatively starting on the 10th of May. There has been no definitive word on what the event will be, but they are looking at either Turmoil and Mayhem back to back events, or one long Flashback event. Personally, I’d much prefer Flashback, as you can truly sink your teeth into the content, and it isn’t void at the end. I’ll explain what both are, though.

Turmoil and Mayhem are essentially the same event, but at different frequencies. What happens is, every single map that you enter has a ton of a specific mod, or mods. This can be strongboxes, breaches, rogue exiles, etcetera. Every hour the mods will reroll, and each map will retain the modifiers that they have for that entire hour. This means that if the Beach map has Rogue Exiles, it will have Rogue Exiles every time you enter it until the end of the hour.

So, what’s the difference between Turmoil and Mayhem? Quantity. Last time these events were on, the quantities were five and ten. That is, in Turmoil a map with Rogue Exiles would have five of them, while in Mayhem a map with Rogue Exiles would have ten of them. It’s just double the madness. Both events would be back to back and each last two weeks, or ten days, if it’s like the last time they ran.

Flashback, on the other hand, lasts for one month. Rather than having insane numbers of modifiers in each map, they choose three previous league mods and add them to the map. They rotate the same way as Turmoil and Mayhem: each hour they change. The maps themselves can be quite juiced up, running things such as Breach, Beyond, and Nemesis in the same map. Not quite as insane as Turmoil or especially Mayhem, but still very fun. I’d prefer this event simply because of the duration, I’d rather one one-month instead of two two-week events.

Plans for 3.7

Along with the end-of-league announcement, GGG announced that for 3.7 their plan will be a massive melee rework, akin to what they did with 3.6’s spell rework. However, they emphasized that this one would have a much larger focus on the mechanics rather than the simple number changes that were applied to most spells.

Their announcement stated that “in addition to animation system improvements and melee skill rebalances, we are experimenting with changes to systems such as accuracy, melee splash, leech, fortify, various ascendancy classes, the passive tree, hit/miss feedback, melee base types, movement skills, and melee damage availability on items.”

Clearly there’s a lot that they have planned. It sounds like they understand why people aren’t currently playing melee, and have great ideas how to fix it. Feel is often more important than raw damage!

In addition, they have stated that the 3.7 league will be “a simpler scope than the last few.” The last few leagues have all been massive, and it’s starting to catch up to the game. Players are getting burnt out by the surplus of content that feels forced, and the many systems being added feel like they are beginning to clash. Having a league that slows things down and focuses on rebalancing old systems rather than adding new ones will be a welcome break for everyone!


The POE Synthesis event and 3.7 news has finally been launched, and so far everything looks great. Early May players can expect to take part in an event incorporating tons of old mechanics and ridiculous amounts of loot. When 3.7 rolls around we can look forward to a full melee rebalance and a simple league of bashing in enemies.

Synthesis hasn’t had the best retention, but GGG is a great company and they are clearly doing their best to keep everyone happy. Hopefully we see nothing but glowing reviews for the next few months of content!

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Mar 11, 2019
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Feb 26, 2019
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Stephen Draper
Stephen has a degree in English from Brock University. He grew up playing video games and card games, always having an affection for strategy. He picked up League of Legends in early Season One and has since achieved Diamond rank multiple times. He also picked up Hearthstone in Beta and has since achieved Legend consistently. When he isn’t reading, writing, or gaming, he’s probably watching other people game.
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