The wealth of new info and developer theory riches keeps coming from the Diablo 3 Patch 2.1 developer chat, and here’s part two of the huge transcript and analysis. Extracted key points, all of which are elaborated upon in the transcript below:
Continuing from Part One of this transcript/analysis, with the conclusion in Part Three coming up tonight. Here’s the Diablo 3 Patch 2.1 Chat: Transcript and Discussion Part 2/3:
Greater Rifts are only for Uber characters?
Are Greater Rifts and Legendary Gems only viable for players already steamrolling Torment 6?
Wyatt: I am so glad to have that question! No. Those should be viable for everyone. The Key of Trials drops for anyone who can clear Torment 1 or higher. If you can do T1, you can do Grifts. The Key of Trials is meant to start you off at an appropriate Greater Rift level. So if you can clear T6, maybe it’ll start you off at 30-35. If you struggle on Torment 1, it’ll start you off at 12 or 15. It’s hard to say for sure.Legendary Gems drop for anyone who can clear the Rift, and you don’t need to clear it within the 15 minute time limit to earn the reward. You just need to beat the time to advance to the next higher tier of Grift. You’ll still get gems and be able to upgrde them.
Some people might say that people in T1 gear would have the most to gain from Legendary Gems, since their gear isn’t totally tricked out and so Legendary Gems will make a real difference to them.
John: The bottom few tiers start at Normal or Hard.
Wyatt: If you were to play just a Greater Rift level 1, which people don’t usually do, it would feel like playing on Normal or Hard difficulty.
Also, you get Legendary Items for clearing Greater Rifts. We talk about the Leg Gems as well. We made a change in the last PTR patch where you get more and better chance to get legendary items the higher your Greater Rift. Even if you can only clear say… Greater Rift 15, you’ll generally get a legendary item every or every other Rift. Whereas if you can clear up to GR35, you’ll probably see a legendary item every run. Or two every run. The chance of getting legs goes up as well.
When Greater Rifts were just starting on the PTR (before the Realm of Trials or Legendary Gems were implemented), I imported my EU account my not very well geared hardcore Demon Hunter, who I’d been doing T1-T2 pretty confidently, started on GR1 (of course) and raced through it, finishing with like 11 minutes to spare. For that drop I got 2 legs, including a Torment set gloves, and that for the equivalent of Normal difficulty.
For my fast time I got a GR8 key, and had little trouble with that, and got another 2 legendary items from the Guardian. I got a GR12 key for that and had no danger of dying on that one, but I got a sparse spawn and my killing power was clearly getting near its limit. The Guardian dropped me another 2 legs, though. I then failed on GR14, because I got a bad spawn (Panda Fortress 2 levels), but I felt in zero danger of dying and got another 2 legs from the Guardian (who still drops, even if you don’t get him within 15m).
In subsequent games that DH, without any real gear changes, was able to solo clear GR16, and probably could have done up to 18 or 19 if I’d gotten a really friendly (dense) spawn. And that was a hardcore Demon Hunter from my alt account, with only 150ish paragon points, no special gear, and too much toughness. (I was never close to dying in the Grifts; I just couldn’t kill fast enough.)
The approximate Greater Rift Difficulty is:
I shared in the above Demon Hunter anecdote, the difficulty levels are only approximations since monster spawns and character equipment varies so much. But even my HC Demon Hunter wearing zero Torment+ gear, just common legendary items and some crafted sets, was fine for GR15 her first try.
Grifts are designed to get *really* hard as you keep advancing, so they will (eventually) provide a (lethal) challenge for any quality of gear/character… but they’re not some exclusive, l33t-only end game. Everyone who has geared at least to all legendary items with decent DPS and a useful build will be able to do Grifts and have fun. And they’re a very useful character tutorial, as you see very clearly if you are above/below the curve on killing speed, survival, etc. As my “too much toughness/not enough DPS” Demon Hunter discovered.
Click through for the remainder of the very long article…
Barbarian Survival Improvement?
Will the Barbarian get a second “life” ability?John. Absolutely. I think they totally could use one and I’ve been thinking about that for a long time. It would probably replace Nerves of Steel, or be a redesign for Relentless.
It’s a common ask from hardcore players and totally reasonable.
Wyatt: That’s funny. In my head I was thinking, “Absolutely not.” *laughter* There’s pros and cons… It’s a reasonable discussion… more life for Barb would be awesome. On the other hand, it’s nice for the classes to be different…
John: *Grinning and wincing*
Wyatt: You know what… I’m just kidding. It’s always on the table. There’s no concrete plan.
These 3 devs talked about their hardcore play experience in an early question, and all of them have done some Hardcore, though it’s not their main play style. So it’s interesting that John Yang is all for another Barbarian “life” passive, while Wyatt feels it’s unnecessary.
Note that back in February during the RoS beta, I was on a live stream with John Yang who was focusing on Demon Hunter at that point, and when I lobbied for better defensive bonuses from Dex/Dodge, and for a Demon Hunter death cheating passive, John agreed with both arguments. (We traded some emails afterwards about Demon Hunter hardcore survival issues, which were horrible in D3V but have become largely a thing of the past in RoS, and I can confirm that John was very in touch with the HC Demon Hunter issues at that point.)
And the proof is in the pudding, since changes were made in the past few months. Dodge isn’t part of Dexterity anymore, Dex boosts Armor just like Str does, and the Demon Hunter has a death-cheating passive. So when he says he thinks the Barb could/should get another survival passive, hardcore Barbs should perk up their ears.
Why no highest Paragon level Leaderboard?
: Why not have a leveling ladder? Why is there not a ladder (Leaderboard) for paragon levels?
Don: We just didn’t want to promote the gameplay of grinding the same level over and over again. Before “Ross” shipped that was the gameplay and players just did one level over and over. I know John did it and he enjoyed it…
John: I love grinding my face off.
Wyatt: The greater rifts ladder requires you to think about your gear and spec and play and reach a high level. There are conquests and achievements too. Have we mentioned those?
Don: Yeah. There’s a level 70 conquest to be the first people to reach that level.
Wyatt: And also an achievement ladder.
Blocking and Shield Improvements?Can we expect any sort of block mechanism improvement in the future. There are concerns about shield builds in Torment 6.
John: We actually talked about and have plans to change block from a flat amount to a percentage. So instead of blocking 120000 damage, you’d block… 50% of the damage taken. This is one of the things that wasn’t a priority before Patch 2.1, because… even at T6 block was okay. It wasn’t great, but it was okay. But now with higher levels in Greater Rifts, and things are hitting you for more than half your health, you really wish your block did more.
Right now block works well against small, weak monsters. And those are the things you don’t care about anyway, since they die quickly. We really want the Elites and the big guys not to hit you so hard. So blocking improvements are totally reasonable and we have plans in the books for it… it’s just a matter of getting it done.
Wyatt: One of the concerns with doing block as a %… we always have an apprehension when a change involves existing gear. There are a lot of shields out there already. There are a lot of legendary shields. And… we don’t want someone to log in and have their items change on them. Now we do it once in a while… but the threshold… the benefit has to be significant for us to do it.
So if there’s a different way to solve the problem or address the issues with block in higher Greater Rifts, we’ll take it.
Another philosophy we have is we never want a situation where someone logs in, and they’re weaker than they were the day before. And that won’t necessarily be the problem with the shield block change. But we don’t know every single person’s spec, so we can’t guarantee that won’t happen for someone.
John: Also something could be weaker very situationally, but still weaker sometimes.
Wyatt: To beat a dead horse… we’ve changed items in the past, but it’s not something we do lightly.
We would prefer to adjust shield block… can we solve this with a new passive. Can we solve this with a new legendary… Do those types of things first, but only if those fail we’d look at retro’ing old gear.
Ironic change that would be, since blocking worked as a % in Diablo 2, which was the main reason blocking and shields in general were so popular/overpowered. In Diablo 2 a successful block absorbed 100% of physical damage, and blocking worked against many elemental attacks as well. Blocking chance was hard capped at 75% in D2, and blocking speed mattered as well, since it determined how long was the internal cooldown between each block.
Obviously Diablo III won’t be OPing blocking and shields to the extent they were in Diablo 2, and the fact that all types of elemental damage are much more common than they were in D2 (where most damage was physical), but it would be interesting if blocking became much more useful.
This would be a good place for a discussion about the pros/cons of shields providing more damage mitigation, since the whole challenge in Greater Rifts is not just to survive, but to kill quickly enough… except of course no one uses shields in RoS other than Crusaders, who can’t dual wield and don’t have an offensive off-hand item, which means the entire shield debate is just how much more damage mitigation that class requires for higher GRifts. Soooo allrightythen.
Critical Hit Issues
Has the recent community discussion about the removal or redesign of Crit hit damage, could benefit the overall feel of not only end game content, but other attributes on gear?
Nevalistis: First thing I want to say is that yes, absolutely. We talk about this so much. At least once a week.
Wyatt: It comes up all the time… Okay, so my main problem with Critical hit Damage and Critical hit Chance is their interaction with each other. There’s a lot of problems but, all by itself Crit Chance isn’t that bad. And Crit Damage wouldn’t be that bad if the rate was a flat 5%. But the fact that they come as a pair, and the more you get of one the more valuable the other becomes. And then it ends up taking two slots in your gear. So while something like as cooldown reduction has some loose synergies with other skills, ChC and ChD you really end up stacking with each other.
Some of the changes we made like Legendary Gems, which socket into your rings and amulets, is a deliberate attempt to put a little more tension on your rings and amulets… I know it can be frustrating when players think, “Yeah but I want all the bonuses on my jewelry, AND I want the socket for the extra legendary gem power…”
Long term, we are trying to figure out a way to break the pairing of ChC and ChD. Like I said before, we don’t want to come in and change people’s gear. We have to find ways long term to transition people away from Crit in a way that feels good.
John: We do it when we can get away from it. For example when we transitioned from pre-RoS to RoS, if you remember the weapon Skorn could roll up to 200% crit damage, and so did other two-handers. So we made sure weapons would not generally roll crit damage in Reaper of Souls. And we could get away with that since players were not going to keep using level 60 weapons, since the DPS difference going up to new level 70 weapons without ChD was too big.
We could not get away with that on amulets, rings, and gloves, since players could very viably use level 60 ones if we didn’t let Crit occur on level 70 items.
Wyatt: We actually went through every item slot where crit occurred, and said… can we just take it off in RoS? The only one that worked weapons. We actually did take it off jewelry in internal testing for a while, but people kept hitting level 70 and they were still using all their level 60 rings, since they never found a jewelry upgrade the whole time leveling up… since their level 60 jewelry had crit hit and damage.
John: Just cutting the amount of crit damage that emeralds provide in weapons is also not a great solution, because it causes you to log in and be less powerful than yesterday.
Wyatt: Another approach that we tested but decided not to go with was to not roll crit damage during seasons. We were like, “Hey, this is going to be a fresh environment, let’s just not roll crit damage this time around and see how it goes.” The worry there… with the first season we really wanted people to come in and have a familiar game, so we didn’t want to go crazy with the changes. Plus at the end of the season, your characters roll over into the main economy, and we didn’t want players to bring their awesome seasonal character back over… and feel they didn’t match up, because of crit damage.
Another thing was, how about in seasons you don’t get crit damage, but there’s this new affix called “plus flat damage” or something. So instead of getting crit damage, you get +30% to all your attacks. We toyed around with it and it’s still on the back burner, so it’s not ruled out, but it’s not what we’re doing right now. If people listening really like that idea, they should say something. *laughter*
There’s a flip concern that it might be a little math-y. That’s another complaint about crit damage is that it requires player to do a bunch of complicated math. And we’d like to get away from the mathy-ness of the stat if possible.
Unmentioned in this section was issue of procs and all sorts of item and skill effects being based on or triggered by critical hit chance activating, though those kinds of effects have been reduced a lot in RoS from their ubiquity in D3v.
One thing they did say that I hadn’t thought much about before, in the many Crit discussions… that crit chance/damage eats up two affixes on all those rings, amulets, and gloves. I’ve seen suggestions that all items either allow crit chance or crit damage but never both, and I think that suggestion has merit. That implementation would require the devs to tweak the amount of ChC and ChD possible per item, and maybe add another affix that would add both in one, but only in very small amounts, and obviously some legendary items could add both in bigger amounts, though that might make them too OP.
But the larger issue with that change would be most players getting an additional affix on their rings/amulets/gloves. What would you do with it? That would have been hard to decide in D3v where there were so few useful primary affixes, but now in RoS there are lots; cooldown reduction, Attack Speed, +skill damage, +Elemental Damage, much bigger rolls to mainstat and vitality, +damage to Elites, and even defensive affixes like AllRes and Life %. Not all of those are can be found on jewelry/gloves, but if ChC/ChD were removed or limited, the devs would probably shift other affixes around to compensate.
Improving Unused Item Sets
Many people believe the only progress for the Demon Hunter is the Marauder Set. And the other two are completely unusable. What do you think?
John: The other sets are useless if you want to be the strongest Demon Hunter and clear the highest Greater Rift… absolutely right. The problem isn’t with M6 itself… a lot of DHs including myself think there is a lot of strategy and gameplay nuances with placing your sentries correctly, balancing your resources, etc.
The real problem is that there aren’t viable other options. And that’s really where we’re trying to go.
Examples: We’ve talked about designs for 6 piece bonuses for all the vanilla class sets. None of which are top tier. Inna’s, IK, Natalya’s, etc. We have solid plans for adding 6 piece bonuses for all those sets that would bring them to the power level of M6 or Jade Harvester or LeapQuake or whatever.
They would then be a build of their own. For example, the Nat’s 6 piece bonus is something like, Every time you cast a generator or spender, you reduce the cooldown of your Rain of Vengeance by… 10 seconds. Something like that. The idea is to be a different kind of build. Wyatt’s going crazy because that’s way too powerful… *laughter* Some number that makes a different build by bringing up the power level. And that’s really the idea we’re going for. Adding new things and not nerfing existing things.
We have a bar now. We have Greater Rifts. We see every class on top of the leader boards and their build… so now we want to bring the other builds up to there by adding new items and synergizing existing items.
Recall earlier in this chat the devs talked about which sets were best or worst in the game, and their main criteria was what the set did to gameplay. They like Jade Harvester best (right now), since it doesn’t just require/allow players to mash the same button over and over without varying their strategy or play style. Obviously the devs could make a set for any class that added giant damage to one skill and made it kill everything. That would immediately become the best set for that class… but it would be a horrible item design in terms of making gameplay fun and varied.
The Infernal Machine
Will you ever revisit the Infernal Machine event to add more depth, or will it always have the ring and amulet? I feel the system could have multiple meanings besides just the Hellfire set.
Nevalistis: First of all, we should describe the Hellfire Amulet, since that’s new.
John: Okay, Hellfire Amulet. I’m going to assume you don’t have a Hellfire Ring.
There are keywardens in the game, one in each act. You kill them, they drop a key, use the keys to create an infernal machine at the blacksmith. Then you use the Infernal Machine to open a portal in the Heretic’s Abode in Act One. You kill the Uber Bosses in the portal and you get Demonic Organs, which you use to create a Hellfire Ring or Hellfire Amulet.
The Hellfire Amulet is a regular amulet with the standard 4/2 affixes, but one of the secondary affixes rolls one of your class’ passive skills. Enabling that passive for free. They don’t stack, so you can’t have say… Archery twice. But if you can get Archery on the amulet, then your Demon Hunter is free to pick another skill for your fourth passive. It’s a lot of power and it’s a way for players to find something else to do.
Wyatt: As for the Infernal Event itself, there are kind of two layers to that question. The first is tweaking and adjusting the existing events. John might want to talk about that but first I’ll say the overall structure… um… for the foreseeable future it’s staying the way it is. That’s because we’d rather spend our time adding other new content to the game, rather than adjusting the Infernal Machine… we’d rather do things like the new Greed Realm. There’s also a new area coming in Patch 2.1, the Cesspools. IT’s a whole new zone you can get in Rifts.
We’d rather put our time and effort into new content. Zabine has been talking about adding more new Bounties to the existing acts. People have to do Adventure Mode, and the existing ones have gotten a little stale, so some new bounties to freshen things up.
John: Let’s talk about Ubers in general. I think before Patch 2.1 they’re really the hardest content in the game. Uber Diablo is very hard and can kill a well-geared T6 character. Some other bosses like Ghom are really easy and I personally wanted to make them harder so you have to pay attention. Diablo now is probably the only thing you need to pay attention to that can kill me.
In general, in terms of difficult content, Ubers was it. Now we have Greater Rifts. You’re not going to always win in Grifts. You’re going to fail at something, at the highest content for your character. So we don’t need to do more Ubers since we’ve got Greater Rifts and their difficulty scales infinitely.
Nevalistis: Don, you had talked to Adam?
Don: Yeah. We definitely value the end game experience that is Ubers, but we wouldn’t want to modify those. We want to add new content.
Props to Nevalistis for remembering that the Hellfire Amulet was a feature of Patch 2.1. I had forgotten that it was still *new* and I would have sworn it was long since in the live game. It seems like months since we engaged in a flurry of updates to the Hellfire Amulet wiki page (and the related Infernal Machine articles) and posted main news page articles about the feature! Okay, technically it was months, with that article posted in June and the wiki done prior to that…
Patch 2.1 has been in testing for a while, did you notice? And Hellfire Amulets seem like they were added last year, with all the more recent Patch 2.1 additions focused on Grifts and LGems and such.
Don: Yes there are definitely plans for more social and community features. We want to make the game feel more alive and more social. But we don’t have any plans to reveal yet.
Wyatt: Lately the push has been 2.1 and before that the RoS launch. Prior to RoS people weren’t doing co-op games, so it’s really nice to see that people are again.
More Legendary Affixes on Legendary Weapons?
All legendary flails have legendary powers. They’re all good for something. How about all fists, diabos, mighty weapons, etc?
John: Our overarching goal, which we’ll state again, is that we want all legendary items to have a unique power. We’re not there yet, but as you can see with changes in this patch, something like The Grand Vizier has a new power in 2.1. (Reduces the Arcane Power cost of Meteor by 40%-50%. Now rolls +25-30% Meteor damage as a fifth primary affix.)
Before that we actually had to make two-handers useful… in the process of going through to buff the two-handed weapons, Crusaders obviously use them, but no other class really used 2H weapons. And that was a result of their DPS being too low. A lot of suggestions came for a very long time, “you guys took 2 years to fix two-handers!”
We tried a lot of things, over time. At one point we tried giving every class passive skills that made two handers better. I tried giving the Barb something super boring but straight forward like “Weapons Master is tripled for two-handers.” But we really didn’t want to lean on a passive for every class. It’s not great that Crusaders have to use a passive slot just to make two-handers work. So we ust buffed the entire 2H weapons in the game to bring them up to the level of dual wielding.
We also very grudgingly had to nerf Heavenly Strength to compensate. That was actually one of the primary reasons that we tried out 2H passives for every class first. We really didn’t want to have to nerf Heavenly Strength, because it feels bad to say to the Crusader, “You’re awesome, you can use two handers…. but now you do less damage.” It just goes against our methods. But it was cleaner and I think Crusaders have generally accepted it.
Wyatt: It was a way to make sure we could increase… you know lay the groundwork for making sure that two-handers are viable for every class. I hinted earlier that our philosophy is that no one should ever log on and find that their character has gotten weaker. So we looked and said if two-handers go in and Heavenly Strength is going down, let’s make sure that no Crusader logs in who had Heavenly Strength and finds themselves worse off. So we made sure that the damage increase offsets slightly more than the reduction from Heavenly Strength.
In most cases you’re a little higher.
When you go through all of the legendary weapons you really notice this sort of thing, where some classes have so many more legendary properties than others. As the question said, there are 7 one-handed and 4 two-handed legendary Crusader flails, and all eleven have a legendary property, most of which do interesting, build-changing things. For good measure, there are 7 legendary Crusader shields, and all 7 have legendary affixes.How does that stack up to the other classes and their legendary weapon options? Let’s
The Demon Hunter is the worst off, but all the original classes look pretty lacking in legendary weapon powers, compared to the Crusader. That’s obviously a lingering aspect of the lame state of Legendary items when D3v launched, and while the DPS and general usefulness of legendary items and weapons was greatly increased in Loot 2.0 and RoS, not that many of them have gained cool legendary affixes… yet.
Pets Need Improvement
Witch Doctor pets. They die immediately past GR 30. The 25% damage reduction from Enforcer is not enough. Can Unkillable come back, or damage reduction scale above 25%?
John: Pet survivability is a problem, we agree. But it’s not a problem that should be solved through Enforcer, a single legendary gem. People who use pets shouldn’t have to find this gem, rank it up to 25, and rely on that. The real solution is to do something to all pets in the game. Right now their health doesn’t scale, and that wasn’t a problem before Patch 2.1, even in T6, where pets had perfect… *laughter* Okay pretty good survivability.
But now in Greater Rifts, especially once you’re above GR30, pets die. But we’re going to make a change for all pets.
Wyatt: The design goal is that we don’t want your pets to be paper thin and constantly dying. But we also don’t want your pets to be invulnerable and you never have to think about them at all. We want them to be up most of the time and they don’t really die, but in really intense action the pets have a chance to die. Any flat damage reduction, mathematically isn’t enough since at some point the damage grows too high. We need to look more systemically at pets, to find a different way to approach pet survivability. So that they behave as we want at all times.
John: We’ll have to do something like make their health scale with the damage from monsters in greater rifts, so you can reliably think that they’ll take say, 10 hits before they die.
Wyatt: There are some oddities with pets too, now. Internally we call it the “Force Armor mechanic” which is named after the Wizard passive where you can’t lose more than 35% of your health at one time. Most pets have that right now, and it’s been sort of…. it worked out really well for a while, but sometimes if feels a little band-aid-y. So we’ve got a system where no pet can die in 3 hits, but this monster has a triple attack! So your pet just explodes. *laughter*
So when we have to go “one off that” and we edit the script just for that monster to make the triple attack not blow up a pet.
I think what we want to do is look at a place where large monsters, like say a Mallet Lord, can do more than 1/3 of a pet’s damage, while other monsters can’t do that much but overall the pet’s survivability feels consistent.
That’s another 6000 words, so the transcript will be concluded in Part Three, which will be posted tonight. Lots of really interesting content in this one and I was surprised by how much more big stuff they’ve got planned. Patch 2.1 is content complete and will probably go live tonight uring the maintenance, but there’s clearly a great deal more that we’ll see changing in patches extending out into the future.