news-ancient-items-evalLast week I played a good amount of the upcoming Patch 2.1.2 on the PTR, with copied characters and then with a new Season Two Demon Hunter. Since it’s just for testing my S2 character was softcore, and with the insane drop rates of the community buff, gearing up (and leveling up) goes very quickly. T1 is easily-handled, legendary items drop like candy, most characters will find their six piece set in an hour or two and with it they can make the jump up to Torment 6… and at that point the legendary drop rate goes from ridiculous to insane.

    The progression is weird, especially if you do a Season 2 character, since most players will quickly be decked out in gear of much better quality than they have on the live realm… while still using Imperial quality gems and 2 low level Legendary Gems. With the 200% buff you find legendaries more often than Rare items, but you still have to upgrade gems and Legendary Gems at the normal rate, so they tend to lag well behind gear.

    As a result your overall character power balance feels a little weird, but that’s no barrier to rolling through T6 Rifts in just a few minutes, slowing down only to pick up legendaries, and easily filling up you entire inventory by the time you kill the Rift Guardian. And if you’re doing that on T6, about 10% of those legendary items are the new higher tier Ancient Items… which means you get a damn lot of them in a short time.

    So how are they? Do Ancient items replace all your normal legendaries at once? Is Ancient the new baseline? Will you feel pathetically under-geared if all your kit doesn’t boast an orange outline?

    Not really. Diablo 3 Legendary Ancient Items: Mega-Analysis + Screens

    My Demon Hunter has found several hundred Ancient items so far, but Ancients are only the best items in about half my slots. Here are the non-Ancient legendaries I’m using at Paragon 510: Marauder’s Pants and Helm, Unity ring, RoRG ring, Eye of Etlich amulet, Witching Hour belt, Bombadier’s Rucksack quiver, and Reaper’s Wraps bracers. I could benefit from an Ancient version of all those items except for the Unity (which has no affixes that get a boost from being Ancient), and I’ve found Ancient versions of all of them, but not with affixes ideal enough to be an upgrade.

    Ancient items, as they are currently implemented on the PTR, are mandatory for weapons, are possibly useful upgrades for armor and off-hand slots, and are mostly irrelevant for jewelry. This wide disparity between the value of Ancient items by slot was debated on the last podcast, and the 3 PTR testers agreed that for Ancient Items to be really useful in all slots, the bonus needs to be boosted on armor, and reworked entirely on jewelry. Of course that assumes that Blizzard wants Ancient Items to be big potential upgrades in every item slot. The idea might be that everyone must find an Ancient weapon, but then all the other slots are just “maybe upgrade, if near-perfect roll.” In that case, the A.I. is working as intended.

    Click through for some discussion of what Ancient boosts in every gear slot, ideas for making Ancient items better or more interesting, and several huge image galleries (100+ screenshots) of Ancient items freshly found on the PTR.

    Just for a teaser and the sake of comparison, here’s the gear currently on my Season 2 Demon Hunter. He flies effortlessly through T6 and does up to GR40 quite easily. I don’t honestly know his max GR at this point. I’ve done 42 handily, but failed by about 30 seconds on a GR44 when I got a horrible spawn. If I were really trying to push higher I’d regear a bit, at least switching the Unity for an SoJ, since I took several one-shot deaths even using the double Unity trick.

    Ancient Jewelry

    Amulets and Rings are a good place to start, since almost all of the best affixes are untouched by the Ancient upgrade. Critical hit Chance, Critical hit Damage, Attack Speed, +elemental damage, and Socket are all unchanged by Ancient. Those modifiers are not more likely to roll and won’t roll with any bigger maximum values when on an Ancient item. No Legendary Affixes are boosted by being Ancient (on any type of item) and the various special affixes that aren’t Legendary (such as +Elite damage on SoJ/Unity and +elemental damage on the SoJ) don’t get any boost from Ancient either.

    Ancient Legendary Amulets

    As a result, a character with perfect affixes on his jewelry would see zero change from Ancient versions of those items. My DH is currently using an Eye of Etlich amulet with +dex, Crit Chance, +Fire Damage, and a socket. The Dex could be a somewhat higher value if it was an Ancient amulet, but the ideal amulet (for most builds) would have Crit Chance instead of +mainstat, and thus all 4 affixes would be unchanged by Ancient. (I’ve found some other amulets like that, but with Lightning or Cold, rather than the Fire damage my DH needs for his current build.)

    The same is true of the ideal roll on a Unity, which is (again, for most builds), CC, CD, socket, and the inherent +Elite damage. The other most-used rings, the Ring of Royal Grandeur and Stone of Jordan, always roll with +mainstat, which does get some potential boost from Ancient. (Attribute affixes upgrade from 416-500 to 500-650.) However you might well enchant away the mainstat on a SoJ (I’ve got one with +19% physical skill damage, 453 Dex, 46% Crit Chance, and +27% Elite damage), and in any event, that affix is only adding a fairly insignificant +100 or +200 (or less) to an attribute you’ve already got 9000+ points in.

    And yes, Secondary Affixes get boosted by being Ancient’ed, so technically that’s a possible improvement on everything, including amulets and a perfect Unity, but no one is spending a lot of gear upgrade attention hoping for another 20-60 to a single resistance, or a few thousand more life per kill. (Gold pickup radius is *not* boosted higher than 1-2y on Ancient items.)

    One other point… I’m not sure if the Horadric Cache-only legendary items can be Ancient-ized. I assume so, but I’ve never yet seen one. Admittedly, I’ve done few Bounties since Rifts are so much more rewarding (especially as I’ve been scrambling to upgrade my LGems), and since my first RoRG rolled with an almost-perfect 5.5% Crit Chance. There’s also no boost to the drop rate of Cache items (or gambling). One leg per cache is still guaranteed when doing them on T6, but Bounties + the Cache yield a fraction of the exp or leg items that you can get just running Rifts with the community buff in effect.

    All that said… since I try to avoid falling into the Bnet-forum style myopic trap of “if any game change doesn’t impact the .0001% of highest geared players, then it’s craaaaap!” let me stress that the above paragraphs are mostly comparing gear at the high end of almost perfect rolls. That’s easy to get into on the PTR with the current community buff, but for players on the live realms, including most of us who do not have hours a day to grind gear, the buff from Ancient Legendaries, even on Jewelry, will be much more visible. Lots of perfect jewelry rolls don’t have mainstat, but almost all pretty good rolls do, and while a couple of hundred more of some attribute doesn’t make much difference when you’ve got 10000 mainstat, a lesser-geared character with 6000 mainstat will definitely notice it.

    Here’s the gallery of Ancient Rings.

    As with the amulets, I found all of these myself with a season 2 character on the PTR, just playing a couple of long sessions last week. The rate of gearing up and leveling up with the community buff is just outrageous. Rushing through T6 Rifts in 3-5 minutes and completely filling my inventory with legendary items each time would net me 2-5 ancients each run. And as anyone who plays much Diablo 3 knows… you find a lot of damn legendary rings. (I’ve found 15+ each of Unity and SoJ so far on the PTR.)

    Ancient Armor

    Armor is generally more of a boost with Ancient than jewelry, but even with the community buff it’s very rare to find an Ancient of the exact item you want, with a great stat roll. Most of the primary affixes on armor get a boost from Ancients. The amount of mainstat/vit varies between item types, but for most armor slots (everything except gloves, I believe) the Ancient boost is the same as on rings, raising the attribute rante from 415-500 up to 500-650. All Res also gets a nice boost, rising from from 90-100 up to 100-130, and regen goes up a couple of thousand at the high end.

    On the other hand, Armor does not get an Ancients boost, nor does the +skill bonuses, which stay at 10-15% on Ancient Items. So of course you want Ancient armor, but the odds are pretty long that you’ll find a piece for the desired slot, with mainstat, vit, all res, and the skill you want with a good damage roll (or at least 3 of thsoe so you can enchant the 4th).

    Gloves get a special note, since they’re sort of between jewelry and armor. Crit chance and Crit damage and Attack Speed affixes are not boosted by Ancients, but Mainstat and Vitality roll in much higher amounts on gloves. Normal legendary gloves are 626-750, while Ancient gloves are 750-1000. My Marauder’s gloves hve 966 dex, 850ish vit (and 49% CD with 9.5% CC) and with up to 500 more stat points from mainstat + vit on gloves, that’s potentially a much bigger improvement than Ancient adds to gloves than to other armor slots, even with CC/CD unaffected.

    Here’s a gallery of armor, and I stopped at 45 just to save time and clicking. I had literally 100+ more screenshots of Ancient legendary armor.


    This is the big one, with up to 30% higher DPS from Ancient weapons. This is the slot where opinions really differ, and this either shows how Ancient items should be done, or show why they shouldn’t be done at all. I have trouble imagining anyone changing around their build based on the stat upgrade from a different Ancient belt or shoulders or chest, but I can easily see players changing their builds for a new Ancient weapon with some different Legendary Affix. That’s especially true if you’re not using a legendary weapon that enables your build.

    My Demon Hunter was was using a very nice rolled Calamity, with around 2800 DPS and that delicious Marked for Death property. But when I found a 3400 damage bow without any legendary affix, I tested them out and the bow enabled much faster killing speed, even with slower firing speed and no Marked for Death proc. It’s hard to beat 600 more DPS with anything but the best of legendary affixes.

    For evidence of the power of DPS, my DH is using a Balefire Caster one-handed xbow, with only 3050 DPS. (Other Ancient bows in the 3400 range aren’t uncommon.) My bow doesn’t have a legendary affix, and one of the primary affixes is neh (Area Damage) since it rolled with bad DPS and I had to spend the Enchant to up the damage, rather than turning Area Damage into 10% enhanced damage. But it’s still my best option since I’ve found no Kridershot at all and no Ancient Calamity yet, despite literally hundreds of legendary bow/xbow drops. If I were using Lightning the Etrayu would probably be in my hands, as I’ve found a couple of those in Ancient form.

    At any rate, weapon is the one slot in which a new Ancient is pretty much mandatory, and thus the one slot that might cause you to change your build around some, if you find an Ancient quality weapon with a Legendary Affix that could be worth rebuilding to embrace. Good luck.

    Ancient Weapons gallery:


    A short special note here… Off hand items are much more like armor than weapons, in terms of the buff from Ancient. I’ve only tested extensively with a DH on the PTR, but I’ve found 2 of the Firebird’s set source, one Ancient and one not, and they each have the same range of damage, the same range of +skill damage, the same attack speed, etc. The only real difference is in the mainstat, with 626-750 vs. 750-1000.

    Given that most builds have one specific off hand item that they must use (Bombardier’s Rucksack for M6 Demon Hunters), and since off hand weapons have such a huge list of potential affixes when it comes to enchanting, I doubt many players will find an Ancient off hand item that upgrades what they’re doing and what they want to do. I’ve found several Bombardier’s quivers so far, 2 of them Ancient, but their affixes rolled things I didn’t want, and there was no way I was giving up 11% damage to my main spender just to get a couple of hundred more dexterity.

    Conclusion and Improvements

    I’ve thought of and heard lots of ideas to make Ancient Items better. The bigger question is if people think they should be better. Or exist at all. The “cool feature” voters outranked the “terrible idea” voters in our recent Ancient Items poll, but not by a huge margin. Here’s that vote:

    How do you feel about Diablo 3 Ancient Items?

    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

    I thought it was a cool idea at the time, and I still do after experimenting pretty thoroughly on the PTR. There are clearly some issues with the system at this point, though.

    I’m okay with weapons being the biggest change, but currently the disparity is silly. You’d gain more from upgrading just your weapon to an Ancient than you would from going to Ancient in other slot combined. I think the feature is okay, but the overall improvements should be more equivalent. So maybe turn down the Ancient weapon bonus increase, and turn up or rework the improvements on other items. Which means changes to how the other affixes are buffed (or not).

    I understand that the most important stats like Crit chance/damage, +skill damage, +elemental damage, etc very important, but allowing zero change to them with the Ancient upgrade seems to defeat the whole point of Ancients being better. Especially when it comes to Jewelry. So I’d allow Ancient to add some small increase on the high end to those rolls (like 1% more CC, 5-10% more CD, and 1-2% more skill/elemental damage). That’s just more in the upper range, so an ancient legendary amulet could roll Crit Damage at 50-110%, or 60-110%, rather than 50-100% as it does now. The counter argument that such a change is too small and too hard to obtain is a reasonable one, but compared to the current zero upgrade/change on Ancient jewelry, I’d take it.

    The bigger suggestion that came up in the last podcast was a buff to the legendary affix. That’s a big change since those orange text bonuses are often the most powerful and they’d have to be hand-tuned, tweaked individually per item. Is that too big, though? Does it drag Ancient Items from the “nice to find but not a huge deal” to the “mandatory or you suck” side of the street? Also, what about the 70-80% of legendary items that still lack a meaningful affix?

    On the overall… what do you guys think? Have your views on Ancient Items changed during the PTR testing? Do you think they work as a game feature, or they’re still just a diversion and a snipe hunt tacked onto the item system?

    You may also like

    More in *Featured