As promised, here’s part two of my quick but still excessively-detailed Diablo III Beta patch changes write-up.
This lengthy conclusion covers chests and other clickables, destructibles, bookshelf changes, drop rate adjustments, monsters, new and changed boss modifiers, the reworked Fallen Den level, and more.
Update: This article had numerous additional screenshots added on Friday night, 8 hours after it went live.
As the patch says, there are a lot fewer clickables. Not as many chests, and a lot fewer hollow logs, loose floor tiles, piles of skulls, etc. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since there are still plenty of chests and other things to poke at, and honestly, there were too many before. You’d often see 2 or 3 clickable things on every screen in the surface areas, and it seemed kind of silly that the ground was just carpeted in hollow logs full of gold.
There are still dozens and dozens of dead townspeople corpses all throughout the Cathedral levels of the dungeon, and I think those could probably be reduced a bit. I’m always wondering how they all got down there, when the numbers of monsters don’t seem diminished at all.
Most chests now have a faint silver glow around them, which I thought was a nice touch. It made them more visible and they seemed special, even though their drops are actually worse than before. I only saw one Transcendent Chest in my whole Wizard play time, and it was the one that’s always there, on the second level of the Den of the Fallen. (And the drop sucked, too.)
There seemed to be a lot more Armor and Weapon racks on the Cathedral Levels. Several of each per level, when previously I’d see one or none per level. They don’t drop very well; often just a single white item from them, and from chests as well, as part of the general decline in blue item frequency, post-patch.
As you’ve probably noted from gameplay movies, there are a LOT of urns in Diablo III’s dungeons. Especially in the crypt levels, which include the last two Leoric areas. These were hardly worth breaking before, with nothing but occasional gold stacks in them. They’ve been much upgraded in their drop potential now, and not only were there many more gold stacks, but I also got some items, including blues, and several very desirable Pages of Training.
One element of Skill choice that people who haven’t played the beta yet probably don’t appreciate is the value of a nice AoE attack that can quickly smash multiple barrels/urns/destructibles. The Wizard is multiply-blessed with such talents, and while Electrocute and Disintegrate are the best, Wave of Force and Frost Nova are nearly as capable, with shorter range and longer cooldowns.
We don’t know if breakable containers will be as common throughout the rest of the game, but if they are, any player who wants to be greedy for gold and items will forever put additional value on talents like Ground Stomp and Fan of Knives, for their added barrel-smashing utility.
Chandeliers and Walls
Dropping a candelabra no longer does damage to monsters. They get stunned, and the falling object will still send monster corpses flying merrily up out of sight, but before this patch, those objects hanging guillotines, offering almost certain death to any monster they came down upon.
I got far fewer of those “walls held up by a few sagging boards” than usual. The ones that always seem to be right beside like 5 zombies hunched around a townsperson buffet. That might just have been the luck of the draw, though. I was not able to test their damage, to see if it had been reduced along with the chandelier crashes.
Item quality was diminished across the board. Fewer blues is the biggest thing I noticed, as lots of bosses only dropped one, or sometimes none; I had a number of bosses that dropped just a white item and some gold, and often a Page of Training. Those were much changed in frequency as well.
Formerly in the beta, Pages of Training were occasionally dropped by monsters and chests, but very infrequently. The vast majority of them, and you get and need quite a few for your Artisan upgrades, came from the bookshelves in the Cathedral. Pages of Training were the whole reason to enter all the side rooms and to click those bookshelves, really. No more.
I did not find a single Page of Training from a bookshelf in my entire Wizard play time, and I did a full clear, clicking every bookshelf, in Cathedral 2-4. Twice. I’d have expected oh… 10-12 pages from that number of bookshelves previously in the beta.
Happily for my Blacksmith, I found even more Pages of Training than I expected, since they are very commonly dropped by monsters now. The Treasure Goblins, for some reason, usually dropped one when they died, and I saw quite a few from bosses and just regular monsters as well. On the whole I found more than 25 of them, (a fair number more than I’d have expected pre-patch, from about 3 hours of play time) enough to upgrade the Blacksmith all the way to second level (5 pages = 1 book, you need a book for each stage of the Artisan upgrade, and there are multiple stages per level)in my play time.
So what do the bookshelves in the Cathedral drop now? Lots of Scrolls of Companion, actually. Those and gold, and often health potions. As those objects are pretty common otherwise, I’ll probably start ignoring those bookshelves in the future, since they take too long to run to an click for such minimal value. As the patch says, the pathfinding issues are all fixed. You can run right to the shelves, and when they drop, the items fall where they should. So that’s one bug fixed, at least.
A bug I’d like to have seen fixed, though it’s probably not actually a bug, is the total lack of higher quality items. That’s still the same; I saw one rare item in my entire play time, and it was from the quest drop from Leoric. Rare gloves, to be precise. Other than that I found oh, 80+ blue items. That’s a lot less than I would have normally, and I really noticed how the item frequency was down on my second play through of the Cathedral.
I’ve done plenty of Cathedral runs during the beta, and learned to expect my inventory to be almost entirely full of just blue items, after a run. Sometimes I’ve had to stop and quickly salvage or sell a row or two to clear out more space, when I got an especially large number of bosses and their drops.
I had less than half that many blues after my Cathedral run today. The total items were about the same, but many fewer blues, no rares or legendaries (Ever. I’ve never seen a single one drop in the Beta other than from Leoric’s quest drop.) with more white items and Pages of Training making up the difference.
Gold drops are down too. At the start I saw nothing but 1 or 2 gold stacks for quite some time, when I’d have expected them to be up to 2-5. They grow more slowly throughout the whole beta as well; formerly you could get 20g stacks pretty regularly by late in the content, (without any Gold Find gear). Now the biggest stacks I saw were around 15, and they vary more, to lower amounts. I was getting 6 and 8 stacks even in Leoric’s final areas, when I’d have expected 12+ in almost every stack in the earlier versions of the Beta.
I mentioned earlier that the gold rewards for quests are ridiculously small. Literally, they’re insulting. The Templar quest to kill Jondar gives you 15 gold, IIRC. You’ll regularly find stacks of 10 or so by that time, and you get dozens of those every minute of action, so 15 for a quest is just silly. Finishing Leoric gives you 120. I don’t remember what it was before, but 120 is chicken scratch. My untwinked, brand new Wizard had around 6k saved up by that point, even without the Cauldron of Jordan, and I’d done a fair amount of crafting and upgraded the Blacksmith as much as possible, spending at least a couple of thousand on that.
Just to mention it somewhere… the little cinematic that’s triggered by clicking Leoric’s sword, on the second to last level in the beta, is changed slightly. You no longer see all of the knights + Leoric standing around. All you see is the glowing, ghostly sword. Only once you click it do the actors appear, and they then act out their drama just as before.
I took some screenshots of it, and put the into the sequence image you see to the right. Click it to embiggen.
The first comments from beta testers said that normal monsters were harder, early on. I have to disagree. The game is harder early on, but that was due to my Wizard’s spell damage being so much lower. The biggest difference was much lower frequency of boss/champion packs.
Previously in the beta, the difficulty spikes and curve were basically identical to what we saw in Diablo II. Endless cannon fodder easy stupid regular monsters, with lots of bosses. Most of whom were also pretty easy, except for a few that were very hard thanks to their nasty Boss Modifiers.
That was not what the Diablo III developers had said they wanted, with their redesigned combat system, hence these patch changes. Fewer bosses and champions now — considerably fewer, like 60-70% as many as usual — and some tweaks to the boss mods.
One other obvious change was in the early cemetery areas, and other places were numerous monsters spawned. (Not from the Jar of Souls quest though; it seemed unchanged.) These spots still spawned a lot of monsters, 15-25 zombies in the graveyard areas, but the spawning was more gradual. One or two monsters at a time, with pauses between them, rather than 4 or 5 at once and more coming right on their heels. I actually found it too slow; my low level Wizard couldn’t maintain a Kill Spree in those areas, since I kept killing all the available monsters before more appeared and resetting the timer. Then two seconds later a few more would struggle up through the earth, anticlimactically.
I even had areas I thought were done spawning, and when I moved a screen away to kill a few in that direction, then returned, there would be 4 or 5 more zombies standing around, with a couple of more still clawing up out of the ground. Obviously the developers turned the pace of monster spawning down as part of their reducing the “difficulty spikes” in early levels, but I think they went too far with the slower pace. It took the fun out of the monster uprisings.
A new boss mod just added to the beta, these guys are supposed to be dangerous to ranged characters, as they fire out bombs in all directions and distances. I only got one Mortar type, but it didn’t work as expected.
The visual bug is indeed ugly, as the mortar explosions are big red/pink squares that flash very briefly on the ground, but it wasn’t specially nasty for my ranged attacker. The mod spawned on a champion pack of Demon Imps. Those guys run around madly, often up into melee range, so the Mortar was covering the entire screen with the bombs as they scampered around. Effective in getting some hits on my character, but it would have been as bad or worse for a melee attacker.
The change to this notorious modifier is nearly as obvious as Mortar’s buggy graphics, and I didn’t care for it. Instead of summoning purple Hydra heads that fire rapid chains of Arcane Balls, these bosses and their minions now spawn rotating beams of Arcane energy. They slow turn in circles, a bit like lawn sprinklers, and do a LOT less damage per second. I ran right through the beams with a Clvl 6 Wizard and didn’t feel endangered at all, while that much exposure to the old Arcane Hydras would have been dangerous indeed.
That said, I only got two Arcane Enchanted bosses, and both were out in open areas where the beams were easy to avoid. They might be a lot more dangerous in a narrow hallway, where you could not dodge and the slowly rotating beam could really grind you as it passed through. Especially if the monster spawned one right on top of you, or in front and behind.
The beams do seem to spawn less often, no longer automatically popping up when you kill the boss or one of his minions, which I was a little disappointed in. I’ll admit that the “difficulty spike” from an Arcane Enchanted was unbalanced in the previous beta, but it was also awesome to have something scary. Plus the dragons were cool. These rotating purple lines give nothing of that primal reaction, no sense of fear, and I think I’d find them kind of lame even if I hadn’t enjoyed the Arcane Hydras.
The other boss mod that I really noticed was Electrified. The patch notes say they reduced the damage of the bolts by 40%, but I thought they were MUCH more dangerous than in the past. I’d been disappointed in Electrified bosses in Diablo III, since Lightning Enchanted were so nasty in Diablo II, yet in D3 the new version of that enemy was nearly harmless. I’d never had to make any special effort to stay out of their bolts, even when there were a ton of them.
Now, the charges seem to hit for much more damage, and my Wizard would stutter and jerk as he passed through them, with dozens of little red -3 type damage pop-ups appearing overhead. Maybe it’s less damage per hit, but more bolts and more hits per bolt? So it’s more visual that you’re in trouble and need to adjust your behavior?
One last change; the explosion nova from a Frozen boss (or minion, or champion) now actually freezes your character, just like a Frost Nova. Previously these were only chilling. The frozen state only lasts for about half a second, but when you can’t move at all, any time is too long.
Possibly as compensation, I think there’s a slightly longer delay between the monster’s death and the nova explosion, from Frozen and from Molten as well. I wouldn’t swear to it, but I had no trouble getting out of the blast range even after killing them with Spectral Blades, and I wasn’t running away the instant they died, either.
Den of the Fallen
Kind of a random observation, but this very cool area was totally changed around. The cave was similar, but there were about 1/50th as many Fallen skeletons as decoration. Literally, I saw about 4 on the entire first level, when before you usually had 8 or 10 on the screen at a time, making it a really creepy, freaky area.
Playing that area previously, I always wondered how they’d all died, and why. What monster could have been so fierce that all the Fallen stayed inside and died, rather than going out to fight it? Or did they get a disease, or were they poisoned like rats in a tunnel? I figured there had to be some story/plot explanation or tie in. (On top of the fact that that dungeon seemed inserted from somewhere much later in Act One, since it was weird to have dead Fallen before you ever saw any live ones.)
Now it’s just a little cave dungeon with a lot of flyers inside it, and an occasional rotting Fallen shaman corpse that’s clickable. Meh.
Some players have suggested that this is an homage to the Den of Evil, the first small dungeon cave you find in Diablo II. It’s possible, that cave has a lot of Fallen, though it’s full of zombies and Big Heads also, and they didn’t leave any skeletons in D3. That said, the location is different and the architecture is much different; the D3 version is all narrow tunnels and passageways, and it has two levels.
All these observations were from about three hours of play time, with one character. Seefor many more observations from other testers, and we’ll have more coverage of the changes to the other classes in the days to come.