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Path of Exile’s new Lockstep mode banishes desync problems


Path of Exile had a problem. Desync issues plagued the game, meaning players would be in one location in their game client, but the server placed them elsewhere. This led to lots of monsters killing players who thought they had moved to safety. 

But thanks to a new piece of netcode desync is a thing of the past. The new “Lockstep” mode keeps everything on the client and server synchronised, and stops those unfair deaths. 

“Path of Exile’s netcode has been completely rewritten from scratch to fix desync,” explains Grinding Gear Games’ Technical Director Jonathan Rogers. “The new mode is called “Lockstep”. Lockstep mode works in the same way as you would see in an RTS or MOBA like DotA. In this mode you will not experience desync and can rely on the fact that the monsters are always exactly where you see them.”

Lockstep does come with a small downside though. The system has to wait the length of your ping before your actions are carried out by your avatar. No biggie if your ping is just a few milliseconds, but those with pings of 100ms may start to see some lag. “We still wanted to support players with higher pings, so we are keeping the old Predictive mode,” says Rogers.

To try and keep as many players under 100ms ping, Grinding Gear are going to be opening up a new set of data centres to serve America and Europe. The new centres will be on both the East and West coast of North America (currently there is only one centre located in Dallas) and for Europe new centres in the UK and Germany. With more serving centres, more players should be able to play with lower pings and take advantage of the new Lockstep netcode. The new infrastructure should be all set up by the time The Awakening update is released later this year.

Have you been playing Path of Exile since Lockstep was introduced? Have you noticed the difference?