news-ptr-212-firstThe upcoming Reaper of Souls patch went live for testing on the PTR last night, and here are some quick reactions from my own play and from comments I’ve seen from other testers. First up, here’s a quote from Amedon, who got some testing done with his Crusader.

    Diablo 3 Patch 2.12 PTR First Impressions

    Most rifts have consistent and much better mobs. My best time for any rift level previously was 1m30s (GR 11 I believe), and in the few rifts I did tonight I got one at 1m40s and an achievement for <2min clear time. Overall much faster clear times due to density.Mob variance seemed much greater. ie. rather than 3 or 4 types you could easily have 10. Rift guardians have definitely changed with updated abilities, animations, etc. One rift was empty (the act 5 one from battlefields where you kill the big beast dude and he drops his portal). It was a huge map with no mobs and I couldn't use the portal to level 2. Pylons are everywhere in greater rifts, I had 5 on one smallish act 3 keeps map. The consistency of finding pylons will easily make all the current leader boards moot.Realm of Trials exp/gold reward is totally bugged (screenshots).One ancient weapon out of ~15 legendaries all done on t6.

    He sent along some screens as well, and you can see those in the gallery below, joined by some screens I took during a quick couple of games (ended prematurely by Windows automatically shutting down to update something, which is always fun when playing Hardcore).

    You can see the new Treasure Goblin map icon, and note that this is a normal goblin, but the three new types of goblins showed different colors in the Blizzcon demo. (And yes, the Patch notes say there is a mystery 4th new Goblin type.)

    The Wave of Trials rewards are insane. I copied over my US HC Seasons account which I hadn’t played for a while and went from Paragon 194 to Paragon 199 just doing 3 Realm of Trials, up to around Wave 35 each time. Ding ding ding ding ding. The wildly inflated exp/gold rewards from doing Waves is a known bug, so don’t get your hopes up for free levels when the patch goes live… but it’s pretty fun now on the PTR.

    I found one Ancient Item: Homing Pads shoulders, and they came from gambling. They were terrible, as you can see. Bigger numbers mean nothing when those numbers are to junk affixes. I also got a Marauder’s Shoulders in the same gambling run, non-Ancient though. The Grift boss and the normal Rift boss I did dropped no legs, and the 2 other legs I found doing one Rift were non-Ancient. You can see the bright orange box around the item display in both of the Ancient Item Legendaries, making them stand out from normal legs. Alas I didn’t find any AI sets to see if the band around them was green.

    Amedon played a lot more than I did, partially thanks to Windows crashing me out for the update, but I definitely noticed higher density in the 1 GRift I was able to complete. A normal rift didn’t feel much different than before, and the maps weren’t noticeably different.

    I found none of the new gear and none of the new DH set, but I played my US account since I had M6 on that Demon Hunter and wanted to try out the changes. To my surprise, I loved them. I think the play style for the M6 Demon Hunter is *hugely* improved by this change, though I’m sure players who are very well geared and used to the old style of M6 will not agree. Click through for that discussion/argument.

    Marauder’s Set Improved

    So, the changes to Marauder’s affect the 2 piece and 6 piece bonus. (The 4 piece bonus, summons all Familiars at once, is unchanged.)

    Old set bonuses:

    Embodiment of the Marauder LIVE:

    • (2) Set:
      • +500 Dexterity
    • (4) Set:
      • Companion calls all companion types to your side.
    • (6) Set:
      • Sentries cast your equipped Hatred spenders.

    New set bonuses:

    Embodiment of the Marauder, PTR Patch 2.12:

    • (2) Set:
      • Now increases the damage of your Hatred generators by 40% for every Sentry you have active
    • (4) Set:
      • Companion calls all companion types to your side.
    • (6) Set:
      • Sentries now cast your Hatred spenders every time you do and deal 100% increased damage.

    Ancient Shoulders

    Ancient Shoulders

    Note that the in-game hover (seen in the screenshot above) is different than the patch notes 2 piece bonus. The game says +40% damage per Sentry for Hatred Spenders, but also lists Elemental Arrow, Chakram, Impale, Multishot, and Cluster Arrow as benefiting from that 40% boost. I’d assume that the game info is correct and that’s something they changed very recently, since the patch notes were sent to press a couple of days ago.

    As for the function of the set, now your Sentries shoot normal sentry shots (which look like cold bolts) all the time, and only break into Hatred Spenders when you do. They fire them at the same rate as the Demon Hunter, so there are no more break points to Sentries, and gear like DiabloWikiTasker and Theo is no longer useful to make Sentries better killers.

    The current version of the set encourages Demon Hunters to put at least 2 and usually 3 spenders on their bar, even if they hardly ever fire the skills themselves, since there is no Hatred cost when the Sentries use them. The new version requires resource management, since the Sentries only go big when the DH does also. As a result I don’t see players continuing to use 3 spenders, since one or more would be wasted since you don’t have the Hatred to use it that often. People will change one or two of their spenders to more varied abilities; a buff like Marked for Death or Vengeance. (Kridershot for Elemental Arrow or the Quiver that makes Chakram a generator should be good, since you could use those skills non-stop, and the Sentries will fire them as if they were still “spenders.”)

    The Sentry casting technique is changed also. It works like the Monk’s Dashing Strike now, with charges that build up over time. Just two changes for the DH at the base, but you can spend both at once, so it’s just two clicks to drop two Sentries right at the start of any battle. (And get double the firing, plus that 40% damage buff.) The current live version has Sentries cast on cooldown, so players with M6 just drop a new one every 6 or 8 seconds or so, without any real thought required.

    A related change on the PTR is that Helltrapper (1H xbow) that can automatically cast a Sentry or Spike Trap or Caltrops will no longer exceed your maximum number of Sentries. The bow is still useful for getting out Sentries faster than you could otherwise, but you can no longer get extra Sentries above your maximum allowed.

    Note also that your Generators are what the Sentries use constantly, so picking a generator will matter more. Players might want to use one that’s boosted by a legendary affix, like granting extra piercing to Hungering Arrow, since that attack will be flying non-stop from the Sentries. (Unlike now on the Live version, where generators are almost unused by DHs with M6.)

    Note that the Generators get a nice damage boost from multiple Sentries, and that seemed to make a big difference. Even when I was out of Hatred, my killing speed felt pretty good with 4 Sentries banging away and buffing each others damage. I also found the start of battles quicker, since I could always dump out 2 Sentries at once, and often got a 3rd one from my Helltrapper. The scaling up of damage from sentries felt much faster and more in my control, instead of just dropping down another one every 8 seconds in every fight as on the LIVE server.

    I also found the resource management a lot more interesting now. I hardly even notice Hatred playing on Live, since the Sentries are doing most of the damage and they’re free. On the PTR the Sentries do good steady damage with my Generator, and great burst damage when I join them in a volley of some Spender(s). But that required me to keep an eye on my Hatred, so I was firing non-stop with my Generator, even if I wasn’t hitting anything, just to keep the Hatred filling. And I had to time my Companion buff for the Bat-refill, and I was saving Health Orbs to grab them when I needed the Hatred fill via Vengeance, and positioning my DH so I could get in hits as well when I did a burst of my spenders, usually just when Elites were present.

    As I said, my killing speed felt as fast or faster on the PTR than on the LIVE realm, though admittedly my DH isn’t that well-geared, (largely since I don’t find the live version of M6 that much fun, so I haven’t been playing my US seasonal account DH much) and she’s Hardcore, so my usual safe max is around GR28. Players who are doing GR 40 or 45 or higher with super M6 gear will probably find the new M6 slower, especially on the highest Grifts since players have been running those almost entirely by throwing out Sentries and hiding around corners or while protected by Smoke Screen, while their Sentries do all the work. That’s not going to work so well now that Hatred spending is required to get Sentries to do their best work.

    The New M6 is Delightful

    New DH Set

    New DH Set

    Months ago the devs made an interesting build for M6, at least in terms of making the unused Sentry skill very powerful, and creating a very new play style for the DH. But M6 on Live is very flawed in making resource management almost irrelevant, giving the DH indestructible, huge damage pets that work even when she’s hiding around a corner, and it’s a boring build with little more to do than click a new sentry every time the cooldown ends (and even that only until the max number are active).

    It’s not safe to say that all DHs will welcome this change, since it’s a nerf for players who are super-geared for the current system. It is safe to say that the new version of M6 is a huge improvement in gameplay and fun, and that if the set had worked like this all along, no one would dream of changing it to the simplified, overpowered version it is today on Live.

    I found the M6 build really fun on PTR and can’t wait to play some more tomorrow. I’m legitimately torn about the new MS set now; it was great to play with in the Blizzcon demo and I was sure I’d farm it and use it since M6 bored me. This new version of M6 is great though; much more active and challenging, and I actually want to play it now. I’ll have a lot more fun farming the new MS set, at any rate.

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