Monday, 20 August 2012

Diablo 3 - 1.04 patch preview thoughts

So the developers at Blizzard just released more details of what the next patch to Diablo 3 will include.  This time around, there's a new mechanic added to the game, as well as some wholesale changes to many things that are already in the game.  Here are some of my thoughts about the changes. 

Paragon Levels

This is probably the biggest thing with this patch, which was just announced today by Blizzard.   So they are now adding 100 extra levels that you can gain after you reach 60.  From my understanding, your character will stay at level 60, and XP gained goes towards this paragon system.   The amount of XP needed is going to make the next level will take off from where it left off (approx 2.25 mil from 59-60), and will scale up from there.

Each paragon level gained will give you base stats as if you leveled up, and you will also gain 3% magic find & 3% gold find.  So you will now have a permanent magic and gold find stat.  Also, they are added a cap to your magic find and gold find stat.  It will now be capped at 300 (before Valor bonus).  So when you reach the maximum paragon level, you will not really need the MF/GF items.  To help, the Valor bonus will also stack a 15% experience bonus up to the maximum of five stacks.  Yay!

Its nice to have something else to shoot for, since I've beaten Diablo on inferno.  It will be nice that it will be easier to find the higher level items, but as of right now, it does not look like the monsters scale up either, so you will become quite powerful.  But eventually, that will get boring.  With magic find being progressively easier, this could have some implications to the auction house as more items will be discovered, so in theory, more would be available to bid on, and maybe prices will become reasonable.  But then, if that were to happen, then gold will lose its value as well.  It'll be interesting to see how the economy changes after and what Blizzard will do if things don't go as planned.

Auction House Update

The auction house search itself is getting some upgrading.  You will now be able to search for more stats.  Instead of the three, you will be able to specify six attributes.  Very nice to finally get this option added in.  They've also excluded gem bonuses in the search results which is a nice feature, as I am sure that I was not the only one who had a hard time finding good empty socketed armor.

Also, all the columns are sortable (finally!).  So you can sort by Time remaining, or buyout price etc, instead of just by armor.  Hopefully later on, they can add in more columns to list the stats on the chart, and allow me to sort through those as well.  You will also now be able to see stats of items you just sold.  Although I got used to it, figuring that if it was useful to me, I would've kept it anyways, so I guess its good to have a record of how much something was sold for and which stats were actually on the item.

Blizzard is also adding in a way for you to cancel an auction as long as it has no bids on it already.  Which is nice when you have some dead items that aren't getting attention, and you suddenly find an item that you know will sell.  You will now have the option to take down an existing auction, to start a new one.  Now if they'd left me put up more items, and/or re-list items directly within the auction house without the need to send it back to my stash, or maybe allow me to access the auction house in-game via a vendor...  One day.

Promoting Build Diversity

So, as most players who are trying to make it through Inferno difficulty will know, there's only a few, if not only one builds available for each character in order to playthrough without dying a lot and thus incurring huge repair bills.  My wizard build was very defensive, and relied more on my hydra to deal damage while I hid behind a wall of duplicates.  So, instead of nerfing the commonly used skills, Blizzard is buffing the lesser ones, either at the core, or buffing the runes.

This was one of my complaints at first about the game (when I reached inferno on my first character), for any player who is still on their first character, it was very hard and painful to even gear up for Inferno.  You had to use a very defensive build until you eventually found good gear to help you survive, or not die enough so you can have enough gold at the end of the day to purchase an upgrade via the auction house.

For more details on the changes to each class/character, see the links below.

Co-op is being promoted rather than being penalized

To me, it never made sense that the monsters got way more powerful as you had more players in the party, to the point where it because detrimental to have a bad mix of characters, not just the actual characters, but also how they were geared and the skills they had equipped.  It became a matter of making sure your group DPS scaled up as much as the monsters did, and if it didn't, adding the extra player could potentially make the game unbeatable for the group at that time.  So now, the monsters won't progressively become tougher with the number of players in the party, it will actually just be a linear increase, which is more logical.  

This will make the game a lot easier, and will promote more co-op play, which I think should have been like that from the start.

The game will also be made a bit easier as elites will be toned down, and some attributes will be nerfed, and some completely eliminated.  The enrage timer will be removed now, and the elites will not fully regen their health if you leave them alone for a while.

Regular monsters will get bumped up a bit to compensate though, however they will have an increased chance to drop a rare item compared to its current rate.  While I agree, it was frustrating at times to run into certain combination of mobs, it became less of a problem as a group who worked together and knew how to deal with each combination.  So I do agree with toning it down, but removing some maybe a bit too much, as part of me enjoyed the challenge of some of the combination.  Especially when you run into stacked groups in the tower (LOLs).

Legendaries will actually be legen... wait for it.. dary...
So finally, maybe more of these items will be useful, and not just some fancy item destined to be broken down for materials.  I've found only a handful of legendary items, and only two set items in all my time with the game so far, and Its safe to say that 99% of the items were useless, not just to me and my build, but useless at the item level it is at.  They'd have high stat rolls on useless stats, or just did not have enough DPS to even be used.  So it is a good thing to see that this is going to be changed.  Blizzard is also adding a bunch of new things to the weapons, to further separate them from regular rare items, which will be interesting to see.

Also in the patch, level 61 and 62 items can potentially roll stats as high as level 63 items, which will be nice.  This should flood the market with more items, and normalize the auction house pricing further.

Final thoughts

So a huge amount of changes to the game, and glad to see Blizzard is trying to keep up with the demand of the players.  I just hope that all these changes don't make the too easy now since some players won't ever experience how challenging the initial build was.  Maybe one day they'll let you go into a mode that switches things back to the way it used to be.  We'll see.

Moving forward...

There's still a few more things I'd like to see changed/added, even though quite a bit of my initial wants have been addressed with this upcoming patch.  First, I'd like more pages in the stash chest, so I don't have to use mule characters as much (since apparently I'm a hoarder in this game). 

I'd like a few more options with the social aspect of the game, like being able to hide my online status and also the privacy of a game should remain on whatever setting the host has it at.  Right now, if I invite someone into a game which I have quick join turned off, if the player I just invited has quick join turned on, the whole game will be available for quick join, it should be the other way around.  It is a bit anti-social, but I'd like to have the choice of who I want to play with, but also when they should join.  It may be scary or just annoying if you are in the middle of a boss fight, and extra players join in, then can't join in your boss fight because you are in the middle of the battle.  If they don't clue in and leave right away, the boss scales up because of the extra players sitting in town waiting (not sure if this is in the 1.04 patch or not), and your battle just became that much harder.  I've done that to friends accidentally in the past, and its happened to me as well, so its nothing personal.  Of course, having an in-game voice chat system would help, but that would probably add more server load, which might cause even more latency issues.

It would also be nice if followers were actually able to do a bit more damage now and not just be there for the few seconds of passive bonuses they provide before they are killed off by a mob.  But since they are making co-op play easier, this may be a non-issue for anyone with a decent amount of time in the game, but it still would be nice way to help new players.

Also, a little thing Blizzard can add is an icon on each item that you can potentially dye, to represent what color it currently is.  Or if the item is even eligible to be dyed.  its a minor detail, but would be nice to have as someone who likes to have things color coordinated.

Last thing, I would like to see the return of the diamond gem, it would be nice to have something that helped with all-resist stats like it did in Diablo 2.  But there's still time.

My builds:

My Barb hasn't been touched since I switched to my Wizard and Demon Hunter.

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