Patch 2.1 is hitting the live servers tonight/tomorrow after the weekly maintenance concludes, and there’s a ton of new stuff to be had. We’ve been newsing it all up for the past couple of months and keeping all of the DiabloWiki.net articles up to date. We’re datamining the Patch right now, so we’ll have the full data shortly. (Almost all the big changes were seen in patch notes during the PTR already. August 13, August 5, August 5 skills, July 21, July 18, July 11, June 26th start date.
The final patch notes will be along those lines, but what about the new features and systems? Here are concise summaries of all the major changes, plus links to blue posts and wiki articles for the full details. Diablo 3 Patch 2.1 Mega Preview:
Greater Rifts: A timed, progressively-harder type of Nephalem Rift designed to present the greatest end game challenge. Grifts have a 1-100 difficulty progression (GR25 roughly equals Torment 6), and players who finish a Grift in less than 15 minutes will earn a Greater Rift Keystone to a higher level rift. All item/gold drops in Grifts come from the Greater Rift Guardian (whether killed within 15m or not), and only in Grifts can Legendary Gems be found or upgraded via the NPC artisan Urshi.
Legendary Gems: There are 14 of these, each providing an upgradeable unique property and a secondary property that unlocks at rank 25. LGems drop commonly but only in Greater Rifts, can only be used in socketed rings/amulets, only work on characters (not followers), and can be upgraded to improve their basic function via Urshi, an NPC found only in Greater Rifts. Higher level Greater Rifts = better odds for LGem upgrading.
Realm of Trials: A small shadowy level where players face waves of progressively harder enemies, a bit like the Cursed Shrines/Chests. Each wave in a Trial must be defeated within the brief time limit, and when a player fails to clear an entire wave within the time, the Trial ends. Realm of Trials reward higher level Greater Rift Keys, enabling players to save time by starting their Grift at that level, rather than starting in a level 1 Grift and working their way up.
Greed’s Domain: A new bonus dungeon reached through a yellow portal occasionally left by a slain Treasure Goblin. The level is a reward stage with various weak trash mobs, several Goblins, and many destructibles which unleash ginormous stacks of gold. Greed the boss is fat and hideous and upon her death a double-size golden chest drops, and unleashes the
Hellfire Amulet. There are no changes to the Infernal Machine, except that now a Hellfire Amulet may be created by the Jeweler. (Hellfire Rings are still available and unchanged.) Hellfire Amulets are standard random 4/2 legendary amulets, except they have a legendary secondary affix that grants one randomly chosen of your class’ Passive Skills, thus giving a character 5 passives at level 70.
Seasons. (Modeled after Diablo 2’s ladders.) Participating in a Season is completely optional — players who choose can create new characters (HC or SC) and designate them as “Seasonal” which will put them into a pool where they can *only* interact with other seasonal characters. Everyone in the Season starts fresh; like a brand new account. You have no access to your current items, gold, stash tabs, artisan upgrades, paragon points, etc. (You will retain your ability to start out in Adventure Mode, at least.) Seasonal content is identical to the current game, except there are some new seasonal Achievements and a dozen new Seasonal Legendaries. Seasons will run a TBD time and when they end all characters/items/gold/paragon points/etc are merged back into your main account, and a new Season will begin.
Click through for much more in this preview.
Leaderboards. These display the best characters at clearing Greater Rifts, with different boards for each solo class and for 2-4p groups. There are also Leaderboards that display 1000 chars of each class to reach level 70, and to earn various conquests (special seasonal achievements). There is not a simple “most exp/paragon points earned” Leaderboard since the devs though it would encourage boring grinding play. (And we can’t have *that* in a Diablo game!)
The Cesspools. A new tile set found only in Nephalem and Greater Rifts. Dark and gloomy outdoor maze-layout with rotting stone and wooden piers with jungle-type huts. Unfortunately does not include new types of monsters. Write up about this area with many screenshots here.
Transmog: Most restrictions on transmog have been lifted, allowing more items (weapons especially) to be changed to look like other weapons. There are still some weird inconsistencies, such as 2H flails being stuck in appearance while 1H flails can look like nearly anything. Blue details here.
Combat and Gameplay
Impactful changes, mostly driven by Greater Rifts, since their near-infinite scaling difficulty put a magnifying glass over imbalances and issues with the highest end gear. Major discrete changes:
Two handed weapons were buffed, then buffed again in damage, up 26-30% in DPS. (But they’re still 4/2 affixes, don’t have other inherent properties, can’t get 2 sockets, and have a very slow attack speed.) This change is retroactive, so existing two-handers will get a huge DPS buff when the patch goes live. (Crusaders don’t go too crazy, since Heaven Strength was nerfed a bit to compensate.)