So its been a couple weeks since the latest Diablo Patch has come out, and having spent a decent amount of time within the various monster power levels, here are my thoughts on the latest changes & additions.
Updates to Existing Events.
So a few patches ago, they disabled the effect that a player's magic find stat had on chests, so 99% of the time, the big glowing chest was just a huge sign of disappointment for the players. In this latest patch, they took a step back, and now a player's magic find stat does have an affect on what comes out of the chest, plus it becomes affected when a player has five nephalim valor stacks. Another nice thing that Blizzard has added is that these chests count as a valor stack, so if you have three, opening the chest will give you the fourth stack. If you are at five stack, it will reset the countdown timer.
In addition to the changes to the resplendent chests, the random side events have also been reworked with a similar mechanic. Completing these side quests will now grant a valor stack, and they now all end with a unique monster. I am unsure if the valor stacks affect the quality of drops from these unique monsters, but from what I have experienced, its been a mixed bag of a bunch of blue items, to getting a legendary item from another.
Two New "Endgame" Mechanics
Monster Power Levels
This is a new feature added to the game, where the player can select a higher difficulty level to play on to test themselves. Each monster power level adds monster health equivalent to adding an extra player into the game, and at medium to higher levels, the monsters will also do extra damage. This is a great addition to the game and allows some players to challenge themselves when they feel they have geared up enough. Blizzard added additional bonuses to item drops, magic find and extra experience for these higher levels to entice players to play them. However, after a week or so, a lot of the players who are still leveling up through paragon levels, or just want to continue their item hunt have stuck with being overpowered on lower monster powers in the name of efficiency. The idea being that you want to maximize the number of drops you see over a period of time versus spending extra time at a higher monster power level and not getting an equivalent benefit from the added magic find stats. So will there be a time when MP10 is the place to farm? Not likely unless Blizzard changes the rewards for playing at higher MP levels to make it worth while, but even then, people will always want more items to roll versus rolling less with a slightly higher chance for quality items.
In addition to Monster Power levels, there is a new event. This new event requires the player to collect three keys from keywardens. There is one keywarden for each of the first three Acts. Once you have one of each key, you combine these at the blacksmith for what is called the Infernal Machine. To teach your blacksmith how to make this machine, there is a keywarden in Act 4 which drops the plan. Luckily, you only need the plan once, but you will need a lot of keys.
Why do you need a lot of keys? Well, the jist of it is, each infernal machine opens up one of three potential portals. The first machine you use in the game will open a random portal, if you are still in the game, using a second infernal machine will open a second portal, and using a third machine, will open the last possible combination. By doing this, you eliminate the randomness of this event. So why do you want to open these portals? On the other side of these portals, are a pair of "Uber" bosses. Uber bosses are stronger versions of the bosses you've encountered during the game. By defeating each pair you have a chance for the game to drop a unique organ, each set has their own organ drop, therefore, you can collect three organs. So with these organs, you can take it to the jeweler, and he can use these pieces to craft a very special ring. The plans for this ring can be purchased from the little girl vendor in Act 2.
So what's so special about these rings? Well, you get to choose which main stat the ring will roll, and it will randomly roll a couple other stats with that main stat. Above these stats, each ring will have a 35% bonus to XP stat, and a special ability to randomly launch a fireball while your character is attacking. Sounds awesome right? Its great if you are lucky enough to get one that rolls with desired ring stats, such as critical hit chance, and attack speed.. but if you don't, then you'll probably want to build another, and thus, you now have a new end game. For those who don't know, you maybe asking "Why not just buy them from the AH?". Well, these organs, keys and rings are all account bound, and can not be dropped or traded. You can salvage the rings (which you don't even get a brimstone out of it).
So that is why you will be farming for extra keys from each keywarden, to build lots multiple machines, to farm for organs, to build rings till you get the desired stats. Unfortunately, your magic find stat will not increase your chances of getting these components. Instead, the drop rate is related to the monster power you are playing at; At monster power zero, you have a 5% chance for these things to drop, at monster power 1, its 10%, and each monster power after that will add 10%, all the way up to the 100% drop rate at MP10. I'll go over the strategies for this in another post for effective farming and battle strategies for each Uber battle.
I liked that Blizzard added this new event to the game, it really adds an alternative to just regular farming. You now have an extra goal and a nice distraction to the regular item hunt. This will at least hold a lot of players over for a while.
Changes to Drop Rates and Item stats
The last major change to the game as a whole was the changes to how the stats on the item roll. In inferno, Blizzard has made it so that no item below item level 57 drops, and the random stats will roll be able to roll based on the monster level it came from. What does this mean exactly? Well, one change made related to monster power is that at 1, all monsters are now effectively level 63 monsters. So any item dropped, will have a chance to roll the higher stats that in the past were only available to item-level 63 items. Its great for casual players who still have yet to graduate to efficient farming status as it will be easier for them to get decent upgrades. The only difference now, is the base armor ratings of each level's gear. So an item-level 63 item will in the end, be the piece to get for the added armor. This has caused some people who used to only pick up high level items, to now check lower level items in case they get great stats. Also, Rings and Amulets will now roll higher stats, which opens up the jewelery market quite a bit, and allows you a bit of flexibility in gear choice. You no longer need to have both rings to have critical hit chance, if you have one that has 6% (the maximum roll on a ring), and 10% on the amulet, that's equivalent to having a 3% crit chance ring with max rolls on the other ring and amulet (under the old 1.04 system where max rolls were 4.5% on rings and 8.5% on the amulet.).
In addition to this change, Blizzard also doubled the drop rate of legendary items. So you will less likely run into a huge dry spell of not finding a single legendary for days/weeks (assuming you play often enough). Blizzard has also made it easier to know when a legendary item has dropped. You will hear a distinct chime when a legendary item drops, as well as a huge beam of light is coming off the ground from the item. A ping on the mini-map will also happen for a few seconds after the initial drop to further alert the player that there's something worth looking at.
All of this sounds great, but here's what I've experienced in my game. Good drops (w/ good to excellent stats) are still hard to find, and also, because there's more available out there, the market value of the mediocre items has devalued as there is a lot more supply now. Same goes for legendary items, you still need luck to get a good item that is worth a decent amount of gold. A lot are still only worthy of salvaging to a brimstone, and some people will notice that those legendary items will drop more often than the better ones. So in the end, you will still need to play a lot, and roll the dice more often to get a chance at the lottery item. Although now hearing the chime and seeing the beam of light is quite satisfying.