D3 PTR Testing: ML1 = Crazy Hard Fun!

I was finally able to get onto the D3 PTR tonight, and while most of my time was spent in some very enjoyable play time on a level 1 Demon Hunter on Monster Level 10 (I’ll write something about that tomorrow), I did try out my Paragon 10 Demon Hunter for some Inferno Magic Finding, on Monster Level 0, and then another game on Monster Level 1. And the difference is amazing.

Earlier today, I read this quote and it got me to wondering:

Must be bugged then, because MP1 the bosses tear through my char where normally it was only the rarest of the rare that could do that with my MF set.
Lylirra: Are you a) playing on your witch doctor and b) using a very similar build to what’s in your profile? This is just for context so I can pass on the information (though you might also want to report this in the PTR Bug Report forum).

Yes. This. One hundred times this. Though Blizzard has repeatedly said that Monster Level 2-3 is equivalent to v1.0.4, after an hour of testing I have no hesitation in saying that ML1 is VASTLY harder than the current state of affairs in v1.0.4.

Click through for more slightly-ranty details.

Update: As many readers pointed out in the comments, the huge jump in OMGWTF I experienced was largely due to me only having time to test the ML1 in Act One. Since ML1 takes all monsters in Inferno up to level 63, this makes a huge and very noticeable difference in Act One… but ironically, makes much less difference in Act 2, and no real difference in Act 3/4. So while ML1 in Act Three is harder than ML1 in Act One, since Act 3 monsters are tougher, the difference between ML0 and ML 1-3 isn’t going to be that noticeable in Act 3/4, while it makes a huge difference in Act One.

First, the disclaimer.

As always in D3, your experience will vary greatly depending upon your gear. As I was fortunate enough to realize fairly early on that the Auction House would ruin everything, my chars have all paid the iron price for their kit. This gives me more fun and satisfaction, but it also means that my gear quality is at the low end, and thus my DH happens to be right at a power level so that going from ML0 to ML1 made a very noticeable difference.


My first testing was with my main Magic Find character, a Demon Hunter, on ML0 (thanks to Blizzard hiding the Monster Level enable button in the options menu, I played first without enabling lit). I was surprised how much easier it was. The monsters were noticeably softer; not so much in their dying speed, but in their damage. I was able to take 3 or 4 hits without any real risk of death, even in my full MF gear with 220ish resistances and about 24k hps.

The profits… felt identical to v1.04. Same rate of loot, though there was one obvious difference. Since the minimum Ilvl for Inferno is now 58, I didn’t have all those useless ilvl 56 shoulders and such. Instead, I had a ton of ilvl 58-60 items, but it didn’t seem like I was finding any more ilvl 61-63 stuff than usual, while in Act One. If that’s the case, the v1.05 minimum ilvl change won’t make any real difference, since for every item type (except maybe jewelry) ilvl 55 is essentially identical to ilvl 60… both are junk. Armor has a bit more potential variation, but with weapons you really might as well just leave anything ilvl 60 or below lying on the ground, since there’s no chance it’ll spawn with mods good enough to make it viable.

So what was ML0. Much easier since the monsters hit much more softly, and it’s almost exactly as profitable as v1.0.4 Inferno. If there’s any real effect of this change in v1.05, it will be that more players will get through all of Inferno difficulty, as Acts 3 and 4 should be a lot more doable without uber gear.

Monster Level One

Monster Power hidden below Elective Mode.

With that tested, and the ML enable box discovered in the options interface, (right beside the equally-hidden Elective Mode button, of course) I was curious to see how the Monster Levels compared to v1.0.4. I started off easy, just raising the ML to 1, for the sake of experiment. Was there even a noticeable difference? After all, Blizzard has been telling us that ML2-3 is equivalent to v1.04, so ML1 should have been cake.

Hah. Hah. Hah hah hah. No.

It was OMG WTF harder! I only did the Crypts and the Weeping Hollow, and it almost felt like the first time in Inferno. It wasn’t that bad since I know how to play on Inferno now, and also since the monsters aren’t dealing the one-hit kill damage. But they’re MUCH tougher to kill. Glory to their implacable approach as they simply ignore the knockback from DiabloWikiStampede, or the chill from DiabloWikiFrost Arrow, thanks to their ilvl 63 nature.

Before tonight’s run on the PTR, I hadn’t needed to cast Stampede twice on the same boss in Act One, in memory. Other than The Butcher, everything died during the first Stampede, or shortly after before the cooldown expired. Tonight, on v1.05… I was averaging two Stampedes per pack, and sometimes 3 or 4, and this was while engaging in wild kiting races around the Weeping Hollow. It was crazy harder, but quite a bit of fun too since the monsters were clearly only buffed in survival; not in damage. That’s why it didn’t feel like the early days of Inferno, where it was just one-hit kills galore and no fun at all.

I wasn’t dying… I just needed 3-5x as long as usual to kill the bosses. Which was fun and exciting, since they were scary and chasing, but weren’t slaughtering me with the BS damage we saw in the early weeks after release. As such I’m not even really complaining, except that the difficulty is vastly different than Blizzard estimated it would be.

Concluding Disclaimer

As I said earlier, YMMV depending on your gear quality. I knew that going in, but I was still quite surprised at how much harder ML1 was than v1.04 is now. I’m curious to see if/how Blizzard nerfs it a bit more. I’d guess the whole deal is the way all enemies get to be ilvl 63 once you’re on ML1 or higher, and that there are just inherent properties for monsters of that level that put them well above the expected difficulty of Act One Inferno enemies in v1.04.

Have you guys gotten to test PTR yet? What did you think?

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58 thoughts on “D3 PTR Testing: ML1 = Crazy Hard Fun!

  1. You’re running Act I, which is why it’s so much harder. If you’re already in Act 3 or 4, you won’t see that jump because monsters are already level 63.

    AFAICT, Blizzard’s estimate of ML 2 or 3 being roughly equivalent to 1.04’s difficulty is correct for Act 3 or 4. The difference is that with any amount of monster power enabled, Act’s 1 and 2 become as hard as the latter acts.

    Essentially they introduced the flat difficulty Inferno that they planned earlier in development. Which is cool, farming the same act over and over gets boring.

    • ^This.

      Flux misunderstand the idea of Monster Level. When you enable it, all monsters in inferno will have flat 63lvl no matter which act your in. That means ML1 will be very big jump in difficulty for act 1 and 2 of inferno. And ML2-3 will be like act3 inferno is right now.

      No monster level for bad geared casuals, nuff said.

          • I think by casual’s he meant the millions of people of played this game and left 2-3 months in (like me and my friends) because this game doesn’t offer anything but a time sink past 100h of gameplay. I would play diablo but its just so… non-competitive, and theres no way to even be better than someone else, literally me and 6 friends all made around 3-4 different characters, and there was nothing seperating my barb from my friends barb, my friends WD from my wd, literally the only different was time played=items, the more time one of us had on a barb meant our barb had more gear, and thats it, why play a game like diablo past a couple playthroughs if the maps arent random, theres no competition, theres no skill gap between players, and theres 0 way to be unique.

    • Yep, this precisely. Since I’m taking it easy in HC, normally MF farming a1 and a2 only, the bump in difficulty I experienced after setting A1 MP 1 is bloody high. Normally I’d never go below 90% HP while farming. Now, I was taken down to 50% in moments even on trivial packs. But that’s fine. As long as the experience and loot are as good as A3, I’ll be fine 🙂 Might drop my 110% gear MF and put on another 10k dps/20k hp, who knows.

    • I dunno… Doesnt it feel like this entire Monster Power system totally contradicts having 4 difficulties in the game? Seriously why even have inferno at all with monster power…

      Stupid ass developers.

  2. Flux – when it became clear that you were talking about Act1….the reason for the difficulty change became obvious. You’re going from MP0 mlvl 61 monsters to MP1 mlvl 63 monsters! Every single monster in inferno gets bumped up to 63. So there is zero surprise that you had such a hard time with it.

  3. Kind of bummed about additional CC reductions due to level 63 monsters. I guess I didn’t realize that was the case, but I was excited with the 1.0.5 changes with regards to CC (CC is awesome), but if the tradeoff is that knockback and slow don’t do much anymore, that’s pretty lame.

    Then again, currently my WD slows stuff in A3 with GotD, so maybe there’s just some confusion – are you saying that Frost Arrow gave absolutely no “chill” benefit to you with monster level bumped to 1?

    But, yaaaaay lack of spiky damage. Very glad that’s what they moved towards.

    • Snares and knockback reductions/thresholds depend only difficulty, not monster level. And in 1.05 the snare intensity reduction was reduced to 25% (from 40%) in Inferno.

      • Right, that’s what the Blizzard posts we’ve seen so far said. But how do you explain that when juxtaposed with Flux’s report that Frost Arrow was no longer applying chill and Stampede no longer knocking (elite?) mobs back under Monster Level 1, but presumably still chilling and having knockback properties under Monster Level 0?

        I’m just looking for some clarification, but either Flux or the Blizzard posts are wrong since the two statements directly contradict one another.

  4. Flux, you cannot do this test in Act 1 Inferno. Anyone that can only farm in Act 1 Inferno in 1.0.4 is going to get WTF owned at MP1 in 1.0.5. You are no longer fighting level 61 enemies. You are fighting level 63 enemies.

    MP2/MP3 in Act 3/4 Inferno in 1.0.5 equates to 1.0.4 Act3/4 Inferno. MP2/MP3 in Act 1 Inferno in 1.0.5 does not equate to 1.0.4 Act 1 Inferno — because simply turning MP “on” makes all Act 1 level 61 enemies level 63.

  5. you get only 55 shoulders? i get 52 54 57 58 items in act 1 and 2.

    i am envious, can’t wait to try inferno act 1!!! 🙂

  6. I tried a Butcher run at MP-3, just to see how accurate their statement was, and it was much harder. Fun, as you said, to once again be on the precipice of danger instead of driving the ol’ steamroller through Leoric’s dungeon, crushing everything into a fine paste of rotting flesh and decay (goes great on toast!).

    Didn’t have enough time to play through and judge drops, but by the look of it so far, it’s going to be an interesting step to up the risk factor. Let’s hope reward gets equal treatment!

    • If MP1 shifts all mobs to lvl 63, with all the items dropping with lvl 63 affixes, it could hardly fail to be more reward. I’m looking forward to it, even if I need to shift back into a more defensive build.

      • I dont think you will have to make your build more defensive. As mentioned in the 1.0.5 notes, the damage of the monsters will be decreased. I understood this as Blizz wants to advantage more offensive builds for all classes generaly (also, thats why defensive spells are nerfed).

    • Lol, im never going to get this, changing statistics of monsters/spells doesn’t really do anything, just because the games more difficult doesn’t mean its more fun, everyone keeps missing the point in diablo, its supposed to be fun to play no matter the difficulty, its the gameplay, the actual randomization of maps, items, and different looking monsters that keep you interested, not a monster stat.
      Does anyone remember when the game was pre-beta they said monsters at higher difficulty’s would get new ability’s and AI? christ the monsters in diablo 3 bore me to death, I killed the same looking thing 999999 times on every difficulty, atleast in diablo 2 they took the time to change the way of monsters looked in later difficulty’s.

      • IIRC, the only monster, which looked different on later difficulties, were act bosses. That is, if you can call a simple palette shift redesigning of graphics…

  7. I got on and messed around with my Barb and WD in acts 1 and 2 at MP level 1. Aside from the difficulty in both acts feeling about the same as the new Act 3 @ MP level 0 (as we’d expect), the drops were definitely improved.

    Not just better mods on lower level items, but more 62-63s overall. So it appears to also give you the A3+ drop rates.

    It doesn’t make everything drop with ilvl 63 mods, however – it just makes it possible. I still got some stuff like Doom Pauldrons with lvl 60 mods and lvl req of 59. but OTOH, I found a lower lvl ring with +78 all res and an amulet with 10% crit chance.

    Difficulty-wise… if you can run at least late A2/early A3 in 1.0.4, then you should handle acts 1 and 2 at MP level 1 well enough.

  8. I think they should require you to unlock monster power on each character by defeating azmodan in inferno after 1.0.5. This should help reduce the level of surprise

    • And I think “monster power” aka “difficulty settings” should have been there at release right up front on the character select screen.

      • You are right – my suggestion is bad for anyone not in inferno. Ok – what if you cannot use monster power in an inferno game before finishing act 3? You can use it otherwise prior to inferno, but once you get to inferno it becomes greyed out until you finish act 3 with monster power off?

        The mechanic overall is weird because it does different things to the monsters depending on what difficulty you are in.

        • Does anybody know (or care?) how it affects mlvls pre-Inferno? I guess it would be kinda weird if playing MP1 from the start means you’ll never fight mlvl 61-62 monsters.

        • This doesn’t work. I’m one of those that haven’t beat act 3. I’m a 100% self found gear person. No AH. And finding gear to get me thru act 3 is f’ing ridiculous. What I’m hoping with monster level is that it further smooths the upgrade curve so that I can actually progress, find better gear, and eventually get to be able to go to M1. I do want to play with M1 tho right away in act 1. I can do about half of act3 before hitting a wall. My barb can beat Siege Breaker and quickly runs into a wall when going into the crater. Being able to apply M1 will be awesome so I can go back to other areas of the game I’m really familiar with.

          • Monster 0 act 3 is easier than monster 1 act 1. I think it should be required to unlock the system for inferno.

            I don’t think monster power does anything to monster level before inferno. Otherwise you could farm 63 gear in hell.

            The whole system is sort of duct-taped together at this point. Play through game 3 times. Now the 4th time you play thru once, then turn on this thingy to make the 4th time evenly hard throughout.

  9. “The profits… felt identical to v1.04. Same rate of loot, though there was one obvious difference. Since the minimum Ilvl for Inferno is now 58, I didn’t have all those useless ilvl 56 shoulders and such. Instead, I had a ton of ilvl 58-60 items, but it didn’t seem like I was finding any more ilvl 61-63 stuff than usual, while in Act One. If that’s the case, the v1.05 minimum ilvl change won’t make any real difference, since for every item type (except maybe jewelry) ilvl 55 is essentially identical to ilvl 60… both are junk. Armor has a bit more potential variation, but with weapons you really might as well just leave anything ilvl 60 or below lying on the ground, since there’s no chance it’ll spawn with mods good enough to make it viable.”

    This. Diablo really needs to bring back their interesting, deep, and RANDOM item system back.

  10. Can you queue public games with different monster power settings?

    I’ve been doing act3 for a while now, so MP1 will be a nice change act1 was always my favorite, with act2 coming in second.

  11. OK, I’m still confused.

    Is Act 3 ML1 the same difficulty as Act 1 ML1? That is, when ML is on Inferno has flat difficulty that depends on the ML? In that case, I can see how Act 1 ML1 being harder than Act 1 in 1.0.4 is consistent with the statement that currently Inferno is the equivalent of ML 2-3.

    Or is Act 3 ML1 harder than Act 1 ML1? That is, when ML is on Inferno has the same increasing difficulty it’s always had, but the overall base difficulty depends on the ML? In that case the fact that Act 1 ML1 is harder than Act 1 in 1.0.4 doesn’t make sense if currently Inferno is ML 2-3.

    • All acts of inferno should provide equal challenge and rewards starting at monster power 1. Monster power 2-3 is what act 3 feels like now. So until you can clear act 2 easily, it’s probably best to leave the setting at zero.

      • Gotcha.

        My best character can clear Act 2, but not safely/quickly enough to really making farming it worthwhile. So the advantage to me when 1.0.5 goes live is that I may be able to farm Act 2 ML0 the way I farm Act 1 now, and hence get better drops than I’m getting in Act 1 now (but not as good as if I could farm Act 1 ML1)?

        • 1.0.5 is nerfing monster damage about 25%. So yeah, if you can clear a2 now without dying too much, you may be able to get mostly through a3.

          If you can’t clear ML 0 act3, you can’t use the system at mlvl 1 effectively in any act. What flux describes in his post is how it feels to play a DH that doesn’t use the AH in act 3 right now.

          • Thanks!

            I play a DH and *do* use the AH, but I don’t have much money and thus don’t have impressive gear. 🙂 I managed the beacon-lighting and catapult-raising quests in Act 3 with difficulty, then decided to stop there and spend time farming Act 1 and getting my Wizard through Hell instead.

            It will be nice to be able to do some Act 2 farming when 1.0.5 comes out. Act 1 is my favorite act, but it does start getting repetitive (and I don’t even farm very much compared to people who are really serious about it).

        • Progression in difficulty (inferno) in 1.0.5:

          Any act monster power 1
          Any act monster power 2

          What is going to be weird with this patch is that monster power 1 will be easier than the current act 3, but more difficult than act 2.

  12. This is interesting.
    As stated above, the monster level does jump from 61 to 63 so yes, the difference is signficant when compared to act.

    I produced a pretty handy little spreadsheet that shows the monster HP (not damage) for the first monsters in act 1 (risen) vs the first monsters in act 3 (Demon Trooper) at each monster level.


    I also have a level ten demon hunter that I spent a signficiant amount of time in act 3 with. It was marvelous. The changes are amazing for build diversity.


    Build was super tanky

    With the changes. The new bandolier is amazing. each mine does 825% weapon damage and you can stack it. Basically you drop a turret, and then spam bandolier spike traps. on top if them. Then the caltrops. The goal is to keep putting bandoliers down as fast as you can and a second and third turret each time they come off cooldown. Despite having 3 charges the bandoliers pop really fast and utterly destroy everything. Even elite packs will pile up on top of them and if you have 5 there, you can do 5x 4125% weapon damage. With gloom in there to blunt damage and the aura from the turrets plus numbing traps, you become quite tanky. The bat is better than the boar because this is a super hatred intensive build… and super ridiculously fun.

  13. My query exactly. What happens in public games? Monster power can’t be turned on -> deserted public games; everyone playing in diff lvls of monster power -> deserted public games.

  14. so i can report the following. I’m one of those no AH persons. I have been forever stuck in Act 3. Farthest I got was beating Siege Breaker and then running into a wall in crater lvl 1.

    MP0: I was able to switch to my 2hander. Absolutely cruised thru and beat inferno.

    So for many of you who have been stuck, you will finally be able to beat it. I did find a couple decent items but no upgrades for what I had. I’ll be experimenting with MP1 next. I am not going to be jumping to higher MP’s. I want to see what the progression is actually like.

    • If it is now possible to “cruise thru and beat inferno”, the entire idea behind inferno seems rather pointless. I can’t tell why it exists anymore. I suspect neither do the developers.

      • Keep in mind that my gear, while not great was good enough to get me thru Siege Breaker. I could farm act 1 and 2 fairly easily with MF gear. I spent many many hours on farming. In my mind I should have made it thru inferno by now.

        I think they actually finally get it. This should have been the design from the get go. Let players set the damn difficulty to whatever they want. That monstrous gear check was freaking retarded. The only way people got thru it was by using the AH. Now we don’t HAVE to. And that to me is the best thing to happen since release.

        Now we get to set a difficulty to what is most efficient for us. I’m sure it will take further balancing but at least they haven’t stopped working on the game.

        Obviously its not THE end game solution. But it is a major part of it.

      • To be another next level of difficulty beyond Hell?

        I know people who play D3 who don’t read fan forums (I suspect most D3 players don’t) and they were expecting Inferno to have the same relationship to Hell as Hell had to Nightmare and ended up quitting the game in disgust when they discovered it didn’t. To people who just bought the game and don’t follow it in online communities, the fact that Inferno was supposed to be impossibly hard wasn’t obvious, or necessarily welcomed when discovered.

      • Yeah I agree yovargas. There are now 3 difficulties with a volume knob. Inferno at zero is sort of its own thing. Then there are 10 flat difficulties at the end game. It’s what happens when you need progressive play through all acts, then a place to farm items once you’ve gone through all progression.

    • ya I’m one. I’m not a WW build. I use Frenzy/Rend/Leap/Warcry/Wrath/Tough as Nails/Nerves of Steel/Inspiring.

      See right above for my experience on MP0. I’ll share more in the forums or in an appropriate news thread as I play MP1 over the next couple days.

  15. If you couldnt farm Act 3 1.0.4, MP1 is going to be hard for you. It is not that the difficulty is too hard, it is because you couldnt survive Act 3 1.0.4 in the first place.

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