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    The size and shape and monster density/composition of the Nephalem Rifts and Greater Rifts is one of the main areas of testing during the current PTR session. The big changes were noted in the first days of the PTR, with much higher density in Greater Rifts allowing most characters to instantly boost their highest Grift completed by 3-5 levels.

    That improvement remains, but the changes to layout and density are found in non-Greater Rifts as well, and there are numerous improvements to the map layouts. Some tile sets that most players dread in the live game, such as the Act 1 Spider Caverns or the various long, narrow caves levels (Act 1 dirt, Act 2 water, Act 3 ice), are much better when you get them now on the PTR. There’s much more variety in how those levels are laid out, with hardly any dead ends, more density, more monster variety, and very different overall map shapes.

    That issue was covered in the Blizzcon Evolution panel, with the devs sharing horror stories about really long, boring maps in some Rifts. (Though the biggest issue with some maps is fixed now that characters can resurrect at their corpse in Rifts, instead of having to respawn at the last checkpoint.)

    Some of the bigger maps are tweaked as well, and you’ll sometimes get them now with two main portions connected by a narrow passageway. I’ve seen that layout type in the Rift version of the Dhalgur Oasis, the Act 5 cemetery, and most notably in the Act One jail. I got one such map playing tonight, and combined two screens to fit the whole thing on the map. It’s the mega-jail! Diablo 3 PTR: Bigger and Better Nephalem Rift Maps indeed:

    rift-map-ptr-jail1

    That’s a reduced image size for easier viewing, and the fact that every bit of it was crammed full of monsters made it seem even larger. The density was very high, the monster variety was varied, and it was an Elite Rift, as often happens in that Jail level. I didn’t count, but I must have gone through 40 or 50 elites in this thing, and if the completion % counter kept going above 100% (I wish it did, just for the sake of curiosity) I’m sure I would have gone well over 500% completion just on this level.

    I went left at the start, was confused when the dungeon perimeter turn right (this tileset never does that in the live game, always forming a square or rectangle), and got the Rift Guardian while I was in that area. I kept going since it was Elite-arific, explore that whole lower area, and kept expecting to find the stairs down, or even the Rift end altar. Instead I found a long hallway, and then that whole second half to the lower left.

    About to get all Archeologist on a Goblin Tribe.

    About to get all Archeologist on a Goblin Tribe.

    Note that there are stairs to a level 2. I didn’t check, but I wouldn’t have been surprised to see more levels below that. Rifts on the PTR never seem to end after one level, no matter how large or dense they are, and I have seen many Rifts that keep going for 5 or 7 levels, even when just 1 or 2 was plenty for the completion. These new, bigger Rifts remind me how nice it would be if Rifts gave a bonus for total completion, such as a chance to spawn a second guardian at the ending Altar. You’d really have to earn it now, as these are damn deep dungeons.

    This Rift had a special bonus, though just a random one. Mega-pack of Goblins! Click through for some more screens of that, and info about how those guys work in the new patch.

    Multi-Type Goblin Packs

    Mixed type Goblin packs were added during this PTR cycle, after the initial offering was just the three new types of goblins, with the capability to see a multi-pack of all the same type, including the new types. That was fun, and crazy when you got 8-12 Blood Thieves or Gem Hoarders at once. One such pack of 10+ Odious Collectors brought me the best Goblin sighting I ever have or likely ever will witness, thanks to finding it with my first Season Two character, when I’d only learned a handful of legendary crafting plans.

    ALL THE PLANS

    ALL THE PLANS


    Those sorts of packs of the new Goblin types were insane, and I documented them in a previous article. Finding 400 Marquise/Imperial gems at once, or 3000+ Blood Shards was fun, but kind of insane, and Blizzard scaled it back.

    Thus now when you get a big pack of Goblins in a Rift (they also keep appearing in Greater Rifts also, which is annoying since they don’t drop anything there) the all types at once, in roughly the same frequency you see the different types individually. I’ve not kept a full census, but on the PTR it seems to be something like 70% Treasure Goblins, 25% Blood Thief (red) + Gem Hoarder (silver) + Odious Collector (green), and 5% (or less) Infernal Tormentors.

    The pack I got in this mega-jail game was about 8 Treasure Goblins, plus 2 Odious Collectors and 2 Gem Hoarders. There were no Blood Thieves or Malevolent Tormentors. All the goblin types seem to have the same hit points and running behavior, except for Malevolent Tormentors (the rarest type that drop like super-quality Gobbies) who move faster and repeatedly teleport short distances when you’re in pursuit.

    Goblins Are Slower to Phone Home

    One nice change is that Goblins don’t vanish through their portals as quickly anymore. Now on the PTR, if you get a big pack and some of them run off the screen, they seem to go back to their resting phase, and will sit by their open portals for several minutes if you don’t activate them again. I’ve had games where I’ve scatter the whole pack (it’s hard not to when playing a Demon Hunter, since 1 Multishot blast will hit the entire bunch from a screen away) and gone after half a dozen in one direction… and then returned to the starting point several minutes later to find 4 or 5 goblins still sitting there.

    This changes the strategy for dealing with Goblins in groups, since no more do you want to try to get them all at once, and while killing one or some, trying to land small hits on the others so they’ll run again, instead of taking a portal out. Now on the PTR you are better off concentrating on several Goblins at a time, without bothering the whole bunch.

    Different Color Portals

    I do have one suggestion/request for the multi-packs… make their portals different colors. Rainbow Goblins drop like normal Goblins and may open their rainbow portals on death, but when first spotted they’ve got their rainbow portal open, making them very easy to recognize. (I’ve seen them in mixed Goblin packs on the PTR.)

    The 4 new types of Goblins don’t have that display though, and with them all using the same gold-tinted portal it’s hard to tell them apart when you encounter a big bunch at once. It’s especially hard to notice Malevolent Tormentors, solo or in a pack, since they are just a darker golden color than normal Goblins. I’ve killed several of them so far and not noticed they were specials until I read the text or saw legendary item(s) appear in the loot.

    Finally, I don’t know if the new types of Goblins can open a portal to DiabloWikiGreed’s Domain. I’d guess that they can, and that it would be the normal version of Greed’s Domain, but I’ve only seen 2 golden portals so far on the PTR, and both were opened by the normal type Gobbies.

    I did get one Blood Thief when I was inside The Vault for the second time, which was a nice bonus… though it took me well past the stupid 500 hardcap and forced me to portal back to town from inside the Vault.

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