Ironborn #9: Self-Finding With Loot 2.0 and RoS

I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve been up to my eyeballs in PTR stuff since Friday.

As such, I’ll be covering the SF experience on the PTR and RoS beta (thus far), the crazy stat jump we’ve all been seeing with iLvl 61+ items, why it may be hard to determine whether an item is an upgrade from now on, and what I’m hoping to get out of the end-game when the expansion arrives.

What Loot Feels Like In The PTR

After jumping into the PTR for patch 2.0, I played a series of games with my Barb, Wiz and Demon Hunter. Since Patch 2.0 brings a change in difficulty levels, I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of challenge – so I started out in Normal difficulty, and played a bit of each act.

It took me weeks to find an upgrade for my Demon Hunter in the live game, but only around 30 minutes in the PTR (along with 7 similarly-good rare items). Two friends I played with also found upgrades of their own after only an hour of killing monsters.

Unfortunately, almost all the gear we found was iLvl 61 – which in the current PTR, can’t be equipped by characters level 60 and below. The same rule means any items iLvl 61-63 that were equipped before swapping our characters over to the PTR were also locked, and had no effect.

Even crazier: a few of the iLvl 61 items I found – including a magic quiver – actually had better stats than the Dead Man’s Legacy legendary quiver on my Demon Hunter.

It seems clear that iLvl 61 items are meant for the expansion and not the core game (as even the weakest of items is much more powerful than our current gear). I’m thinking Blizzard will convert pre-patch 2.0 gear to iLvl 60 shortly, and set that as the new item level cap for the base game.

An upgrade for my DH, but I couldn’t equip it, since iLvl 61 items are locked on the PTR.

An upgrade for my DH, but I couldn’t equip it, since iLvl 61 items are locked on the PTR.

A middling legendary item pre-Patch 2.0 is beaten damage-wise by the first magic quiver I found on the PTR.

A middling legendary item pre-Patch 2.0 is handily beaten damage-wise by the first magic quiver I found on the PTR.

From PTR to Beta: Watch Your Numbers Go Up, Up, Up

Next up, I logged onto the Reaper of Souls beta. After sampling the expansion items, I can safely say that your gear is obsolete the moment you start off in Act V.

As a DiabloWikiSF player who had never seen a Marquise gem in the wild before, I was glad to finally get one. I never expected to craft one in the original game – but they are common drops in RoS. As soon as I could, I popped my old gems out and slapped in Marquise gems, significantly upgrading my raw stats. It helped out a lot, especially toward the end of the act.

Aside from being able to find higher-level gems, I found that all items including normal, magic and rare items drop less frequently in RoS, but are of better quality. Blizzard’s “less is more” approach to loot (combined with DiabloWikiSmart Drops) seems to be working. I mostly found items that could directly benefit my character – or at worst, an item another one of my characters could use.

What’s more, for any bad roll you get, you can just take it to the DiabloWikiMystic to upgrade with an DiabloWikienchant. For any decent rare item that I find (and there are a lot), enchanting is a no-brainer.

There are lots of rare items that serve as "almost upgrades" in RoS. Enchanting makes many of them worth equipping.

There are lots of rare items that serve as “almost upgrades” in RoS. Enchanting makes many of them worth equipping.

What Counts As An Upgrade Now?

For those who like to plan ahead with gear, there is a welcome change with DiabloWikiLoot 2.0: the addition of the affixes “Reduced Cooldown” and “+X% Skill Damage.” While I’m not certain how game-changing these new affixes will be on rare items, I’m certain that clever players will use them to somehow create the next Zero Dogs build. Or at least try to, anyway. *fingers crossed for good luck*

There is a downside to these affixes, however minor: it will be harder to know what counts as an upgrade. In the current live game, almost every item serves as a glorified stat stick, which has the advantage of making it easy to figure out whether an item is an upgrade. (More green numbers? More trifecta stats? Just swap it in and go back to killing things!)

But with Loot 2.0, determining whether an item is an upgrade isn’t so black-and-white. Players must now ask: “Is this gear right for me, based on my character build? What could I unlock build-wise if I sacrifice some raw damage for more Reduced Cooldown and % Skill Damage?”

It’s certainly got me second-guessing whether I should salvage an item. I’m also interested to see what kinds of builds players might produce using (of all things) rare items. For those who miss the plan-your-build-out aspect to D2, this is a welcome change.

As a side note, I’m hoping the devs will let us see changes to skill cooldown and damage buffs in our gear comparison tooltips – or at least the option to see a more detailed comparison.

The raw stats might go down - but if it buffs the right skills or reduces cooldown enough, it might be worth using.

The raw stats might go down – but if it buffs the right skills or reduces cooldown enough, it might still be worth equipping.

Hoping For Cooler Stuff In The End-Game

I haven’t experienced the beta from the start as others have – so I couldn’t tell you how the changes from the earlier beta affect the feeling of finding your own gear. Still, after playing the PTR and beta, and comparing them both to the current live game, I’m quite satisfied. The loot hunt definitely feels more rewarding, and that’s all I really wanted from patch 2.0 and the expansion.

Since I haven’t explored higher difficulty levels yet, I don’t know how well the end-game will play out. Word on the street is that Torment difficulty is where legendary and set items really start to drop, so I’ll be working toward getting enough gear to reach that point.

I’m hoping the items that I find later are really worth it, and help me change up my play style.

For now, I’d like to hear the tips you all have for builds (after recent skill changes), what cool new things you’ve found in the game (and what you hope to find), and what your experience has been like so far with the PTR and/or the beta.

Ironborn is a column exploring self-found play and related topics by Waterfiend, who secretly hopes the devs will add a Zero Dogs set item group in RoS. Got an idea for a column? Share it in the comments!

Tagged As: | Categories: *Featured, Diabloii.Net Columns


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  1. new gear, monster density and legendary drop rates; abysmal. Attack speed? Missing. Movement Speed? Missing. Characters we’ve worked hard to make powerful … now useless and sluggish. As someone who LOVES this game, I sure hope these developers reconsider some of this.

    • Leg drop rates could use a bit of a buff, for sure. Monster density seems to be all over the place: in some areas of Act V it’s sparse – but in others (especially Neph Rifts) it can get waaay overcrowded. They’re going to have to tune them up or down in certain places – most likely in the next patch or so.

      • Rifts are intentionally very random density-wise.

        • Since the patch I’ve done maybe a dozen rifts, and they’ve been noticeably denser and larger levels. I’ve had probably half of the rifts since the patch dense and large enough that I dinged to 100% and got the Guardian on level 1, and I’d only had that happen once pre-patch.

          Last night got the first surface area of Act 3 as Rift level 1, mostly with Act 5 monsters, and it was insanely large and crowded. I hit 100% in like 5 minutes, and then went on to clear the rest of it just out of curiosity, which took much longer. The whole thing had to be 350% or more of the monsters required for the Guardian, and there was even a second level. And maybe more, my curiosity didn’t drive me to clear that one out also.

          • That’s really good to hear. I like the new density without Rifts, because choosing between single target and AoE skills is harder, but sometimes I just want to slaughter hordes of enemies and Rifts sound like a good place to do that.

  2. I’ve been playing the PTR and so far I have to say there are ups and downs to the loot. I actually found a couple of upgraded quivers from just a few days of game play (this was virtually impossible to do in D3V). In addition, I’ve been able to drastically shift my DH from being a very fragile glass cannon into a much more durable character (though part of this is due to the change in skills and Paragon points).

    On the other hand, I haven’t yet found a weapon upgrade for her. Also, I’ve only found one legendary with a huge primary stat boost – I found the 2-h mace The Furnace with my Wiz that has 700+ Int on it (and 400+ Vit as well). There’s still a lot of useless items dropping as well. I’d say 75% of all rares that drop are junk, 20-24% will be an upgrade in one area (one green number) and only about 1-5% are true upgrades across the board. Legendary drop rates are pretty poor as well, especially compared to a max-MF character in D3V…however I have equipped all the Legendaries that I have found.

    • I’d say that I agree with you for the most part, but I’d also say that I’m not playing RoS, just PTR. I’ve found a lot of rares that would be upgrades if I could reroll a single stat to be good, but were not any good without rerolls. Obviously, once RoS comes out, this will not be a problem. That said, your other complaints are still valid.

      That said, if Blizzard changes Adventure Mode to let you buy Horadric Caches with Blood shards again, I think that a lot of my complaints will disappear.

    • I’m curious to know what build you’ve devised to make your DH more durable. I was worried that the change to WW on my barb would be a disappointment – but the whole pull-in-for-the-kill thing works for me. Gonna try to rock it for now…

      Agreed that legendary drop rates feel a tad too low. I’ve found one in just a couple hours of playing. Perhaps they’ll be better in higher difficulties? *fingers crossed for luck* That or the devs will buff leg and set drop rates…

    • I’d like to point out that what Waterfiend said in his excellent articles is very true: relying solely on the comparison can be a mistake. Splash damage, skill and elemental bonuses, cooldown and resource reduction aren’t considered by the comparison at all and they are some of the most useful stats in the game for some builds.

      You have to move away from the D2 mentality of going for just the green numbers and sometimes consider what can those stats do for some of the builds. Granted, without Enchanting we have to rely on luck to fully utilize these, but it’s not that hard to do with the elemental and skill bonuses.

      • I meant the “D3V mentality”.

      • I’ve been experimenting more with splash damage and cooldown reduction in RoS and they make a considerably difference. Like, much more improvement on the whole than just adding some more DPS. The red/green can’t rank those affixes since it depends on how you use them, but I think players will find those stats very powerful, once they are better understood.

        I’ve got like 40% cooldown reduction on my Monk now, and the ability to hit Blinding Flash for a 50% damage buff that much more often makes a huge difference. (Being able to Serenity that much more often is impactful as well.)

        Splash Damage has a 20% chance to deal some % of your damage to every enemy within 10 yards, every hit. (Gear boosts the % damage, not the % chance of it happening.) I’m not sure how this stacks and double-books; if you use an AoE that does full damage to everything in the radius (assume it’s 10y radius and every monster in the example is in that 10y). So if everything there takes 100 damage from the main attack, do they all also have a 20% chance to also take damage from splash? Can a target take multiple incidents of splash damage at the same time, if enemies on both sides of it get hit? Unknown.

        At any rate, splash damage (called Area Damage on Paragon Points, but they stack in the same stat on your Character window) is very powerful against large groups, while it does nothing against a single target, which is the sort of trade off I like to see in the game. I’ve found Splash hugely useful for my Frenzy Barb, who is usually surrounded by a lot of enemies and hitting very quickly; getting his splash up to 35% basically gives him the area damage effect of Sweeping Wind just from weapon modifiers and some Paragon points.

        • Hehe, when I saw how splash damage works my first thought was bringing back the Frenzy barb. 🙂

          I don’t know if the splash can hit enemies multiple times. What I’m most interested in however is if the splash damage is actual weapon damage or if it’s a fraction of the skill’s damage.

  3. man I really hope the RoS beta is as good as your saying it is compared to D3 PTR..I just got a Goldskin drop on the D3 PTR that only had one primary stat, +86 All Res, that’s it. loot 2.0 seems quite buggy, especially on the D3 PTR. not to mention I have only found about 3 small upgrades on the PTR and none of them i could even equip because they were bugged lvl 61 items. another thing that worries me is that it takes FOREVER to paragon level once your up in the 100’s..seriously think your better off grinding paragon levels now in the live game ahead of time because in the current state it’s extremely sluggish…and what the heck is up with no Torment in D3V2.0?!?! Master is the highest difficulty? you gotta be kidding me. really seems like blizz is sabotaging D3V so everyone buys RoS. I mean, I was going to buy anyway but sh*t. and didn’t they originally say loot runs (rifts) would be in the pre-expansion patch? and now it’s not at all since they’ve bundled it with “adventure mode” which apparently now is RoS only? goddamnit, I better get a beta key soon lol, PTR ain’t cuttin it.

    • The good news is that they’re still creating / tweaking new legs and sets both for the expansion and for the original game – including some unique crafted items. There’s lots of room for creativity, so I guess we’ll see what they come up with.

      I’m not sure if Paragon levels are bugged, but I agree it’s taking what seems like forever to level now.

  4. Pretty happy with the PTR so far.

    The drop rate is a little to low I think, as it is self found an all. Four legedaries, 2 sidegrades, and two mediocre ones.

    I managed to get my hands on a wizard hat that makes electrocute jump twice as many times. It is pretty effective I’d say. I hope to get the wand that makes electrocute able to jump to the same monster more than once. That would make a sweet combo. 21 hits, and can hit same target more than once. Sweet.

    I encourage everyone to try the new rune “Familiar – Cannoneer”. 250% dmg in a 4.5y radius on every attack. It works so well with electrocute since the attack speed is almost double with that.

    I feel overall that the balance of skills is much better now than in vanilla.

  5. Anyone else feel like “iron born” is D3 for “hipster?” It’s like, we get that you’re pretentious, we just can’t figure out WHY you’re pretentious. I get hardcore, ’cause that’s actually part of the game. But ironborn? Why not make a big deal out of playing left-handed, only using items with even stay scores?

    • Because those are completely arbitrary distinctions. Going self found isn’t a big change or weird thing to just use gear you find yourself. It’s not even really a variant, many of which require players to do things that are intentionally underpowered.

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