If you play Path of Exile, Grinding Gear Games’ free-to-play action-RPG, you might have dropped off during the Synthesis League. You’re not the only one though, as it’s garnered tons of criticism for the mechanics and confusing structure. In a recent forum post, studio co-founder Chris Wilson addressed the team’s work on Synthesis and admitted that it didn’t live up to its usual standards.
“Synthesis was more work than we expected,” wrote Wilson. “It was developed over the Christmas holiday, and its gameplay prototype came in very late. We didn’t have a lot of time to iterate on it before release or to make drastic changes that it potentially needed. While our improvements after its launch have helped a lot and many players are enjoying it, we fully acknowledge that it is not our best league and is not up to the quality standards that Path of Exile players should expect from us.”
Wilson confirmed that, unlike past Leagues, Synthesis will not be rolled into the core game when the next update arrives. He also noted that update 3.7.0, which is being revealed in three weeks, will focus on “repeatable fun.” Changes to combat will also help improve the game’s fundamentals. “In order to do this, we have had our heads down, focusing on getting 3.7.0 to be ready as early as we can within its development cycle.”
He also talked about crunch, especially with how it relates to his team and the improvements that it’s able to make. “Some studios make their teams work 14 hour days to pack every patch full of the most fixes and improvements possible,” he said. “Sometimes when we read our own Patch Notes threads and community feedback, we feel that we are being asked to do the same. I will not run this company that way. While there’s inevitably a bit of optional paid overtime near league releases, the vast majority of a Path of Exile development cycle has great work/life balance. This is necessary to keep our developers happy and healthy for the long-term, but it does mean that some game improvements will take a while to be made.”
There’s plenty keeping the studio occupied along with update 3.7.0. The 4.0.0 mega-expansion is taking up a large amount of the studio’s time, with Wilson noting it as “critical because the next generation of Action RPGs is coming and we have to be ready.” ExileCon will also be taking place this year along with the game’s launch in South Korea. “South Korea is a large market and we feel we are years late to release there,” said Wilson. “Due to that, we committed with our publisher to release in Korea alongside 3.7.0 and we will meet this commitment, but it’s yet another project to handle concurrently.”
Path of Exile’s next major patch is out next week, with the Synthesis Flashback League also set to start. Stay tuned for more details on the same in the coming weeks.
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