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    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.

    Background

    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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