ptr-220-part2The majorly-updated version of Patch 2.2.0 hit the PTR last night, and there’s a lot of new stuff and most of it seems pretty awesome. The new goblins are now spawning, there’s a new Legendary Gem, heaps of Legendary items are buffed, most of the Item Sets are tweaked/improved, there are QoL improvements to auto-pickup, and much more.

    Mega Community Buff

    First off, note that there’s a huge Community Buff in effect. What’s the buff? ALL THE BUFFS!!!1!

  • Treasure Goblins appear in pairs.
  • Receive twice as many Blood Shards.
  • Your chance to find Legendary Items is increased by 2000%.
  • All experience rewards are increased by 300%.
  • When this patch went up on the PTR a couple of weeks ago, the only buff was the +2000% legendary items, so clearly Blizzard was deeply concerned by all the complaints from the self-proclaimed elitists (like me!) who were unable to create a game without a 2 hour wait, since there were too many noobs clogging up the PTR just for the fun of finding a legendary every second. *cough*

    New Guardian: Hamelin The Rat King

    rat-king-ptr220-5Hamelin the Rat King was seen in the Blizzcon demo as the Rift Guardian for the Ruins of Sescheron, and he looked ready to go live at that point. Obviously he wasn’t since it’s been months and he’s not in the Live game yet, but he’s available right now on the PTR. And no, the Ruins of Sescheron aren’t ready yet, but apparently Blizzard didn’t feel a need to hold back the Rat King until that area was ready to go.

    I assume the Rat King is just another in the random list of Guardians and can appear anywhere. I did a fair number of Rifts and Grifts and only saw him once, and it was in the Act Five swamp tileset.

    As we saw of him at Blizzcon, the Rat King is basically a caster who sort of digs into the ground while rats squirm out of the holes in his back nest. The rats scurry out to attack, but they’re pretty easily nuked by any attack, and Hamelin doesn’t do much aside from spawning rodents and casting occasional Poison Nova type attacks.

    His special ability is to create a barrier wall that holds your player inside (I couldn’t Vault through it), and while you’re stuck in close proximity he generates a few of his twisting little rat cyclone clouds. In the game I saw him I had enough Toughness to fear no rodent, so I just ran around and watched him a bit before killing, and took some screens. He seems more a novelty than a threat at this point, but some rat-a-phobic players will probably find him unpleasant, and being stuck in his rat corral could be pretty dangerous if you were pushing a higher GRift above your gear level — a bit like Saxtris with his summoned spawns of trash minions, but even less ability to avoid them.

    Click through for short sections covering a lot more, including new Treasure Goblin types, new Legendary Gems, new exploration bounties, OP changes to Item Sets that have the Barbarian dominating the GR leaderboard, the new and awesomely-amusing Naglering’s legendary affix, and more.

    PTR Patch 2.0 First Impressions: Round Two

    Item Set Changes

    I didn’t have that much time to play, but I was able to try out some of the item set changes. My play time was with the Demon Hunter, but there were dozens of players on in our clan (luckily, since game queues were pretty long again, so everyone was just joining each other’s games) and there was a lot of conversation about the new set changes.

    The Barbarian is Godly Again

    PTR Barbs: March 11, 2015

    PTR Barbs: March 11, 2015

    Almost all of it was positive, with Barbarians especially happy, giddy even, over the buffs to the Immortal King’s set. If you want to try it out, I’d say do so quickly, since I heard multiple players make comments to the tune of, “This is incredibly overpowered.” Or, “There’s no way anyone at Blizzard tested this and thought it was balanced.”

    Barbs were setting personal highs in Greater Rifts left and right, as players who hadn’t gone much over 40 in the past were immediately moving into the high 40s. As evidence, check out that PTR Leaderboard. The Barbs are dominating! Other than Barbs, the next highest solo GR clear is a DH at 52, and no other class is over 49. Yet there are multiple Barbs in the high 50s already, all thanks to the buffs to the IK set, including the huge improvement to the IK weapon.

    Immortal King’s Boulder Breaker

  • Now rolls +75-100% Call of the Ancients damage as a fifth primary affix
  • Immortal King’s Call

  • Now has an additional set piece: Legs
  • (4) Set Bonus

  • Reduce the cooldown of Wrath of the Berserker and Call of the Ancients by 3 seconds for every 10 Fury you spend with an attack.
  • (6) Set Bonus

  • While both Wrath of the Berserker and Call of the Ancients are active, you deal 500% increased damage

  • Demon Hunter Set Changes

    News is mixed for the DH.

    Natalya's Gauntlets.

    Natalya’s Gauntlets.

    The changes to Natalya’s Set and Rain of Vengeance are logical, but ruinous for the Strafe build I’d been using. The three runes of RoV that hit in the smallest-area of effect were all cut to 2 seconds of duration, with their same damage (and thus much more per second). This was a god change, as it made them huge nukes to drop on Elites, and they were hard to use before with too much duration and too little range.

    The two forms of RoV with longer durations and larger areas of effect were unchanged, but the problem is that the proc rate of Spenders to remove the cooldown of RoV was greatly nerfed. Prior to this patch I was having fun using Strafe or Rapid Fire to end the 30s cooldown in 3-4 seconds, and thus was able to cast multiple RoVs at the same time, and that was basically the whole build. (It’s impossible to end the cooldown in less than 6 seconds now.) Especially with Strafe, which does far too little damage to be viable, but was sort of viable (up to GR35ish at least) since it let me cast Rov so rapidly, and RoV was doing incredible things.

    Now RoV does less damage per use, has a much longer cooldown, and does more to boost skills used while it’s raining, rather than killing so eagerly itself.

    UE reworked.

    UE reworked.

    The news is better for the new set, Unhallowed Essence. It was pretty lackluster in the first version of v2.2.0, and got buffed and reworked. The four-piece bonus is changed from all defensive to half defense and half offense. The six-piece bonus damage increased from 10% per point of Discipline to 15%.

    Note the related change to Natalya’s Set, which no longer grants bonuses to Discipline with any partial set bonus. (It used to grant +10 Discipline with the two-piece and three-piece bonuses.) This means there’s no way to add Discipline via set bonuses (two pieces of Nats worn with the UE set seemed the logical approach last patch), which leaves weapon (Discipline can now spawn on bows and xbows, rather than just 1H xbows as in the past), quiver, and cloak as the +Discipline gear slots. I had all of those and was rolling with 61 Discpline, plus +Multishot damage on hat, boots, and quiver, and +54% lightning damage from amulet, bracers, and belt.

    I tried that with the newly-renamed Blizzcon Elemental Ring, using the Lightning form of Multishot with the reduced resource cost… and it was amazing. Unbuffed crits over 500m, crits well over 1.5b with buffs (Bane of the Powerful, Bane of the Trapped, Cold Sentry, Cull the Weak, etc), and even with far from ideal rolls on the UE gear I was well ahead of time clearing a GR38 with my hardcore DH… when I got careless at the entrance to floor 3, at around 85%, and got killed by waller frozen molten Winged Assassins.

    Good thing it was just the PTR so I could re-copy my account! (Though I still lost all the gear.)

    Cool visual effect added to the renamed ring.

    Cool visual effect added to the renamed ring.

    That little setback aside, I was playing a DH who had done up to GR40 in equivalent Marauder’s gear, and my killing speed on GR38, with the new UE set, even with the items just found and far from optimized, was equivalent to my very optimized Cold Cluster M6 build.

    That said, I didn’t really enjoy it. The problem with Multishot is that it hits everything in any direction, but only hits each target once. (The new Dead Man’s Legacy can enable double hits on enemies below 60% life.) This makes for a boring experience, at least visually, compared to the snaking tendrils that you see with every shot of Cluster Arrow: Maelstrom, and of course you’re only shooting one Multishot, while M6 DHs have a bunch of Sentries adding shots as well.

    I also really missed the M2 bonus of all types of Companions. Not just for all the bonuses at once (I went with Bat for the Hatred regen), and the Ferretbros gold collecting, but for their utility as tanks. I felt very naked with just a Templar and the bat fluttering uselessly around, and soon integrated Cold Sentries into my build, partially for the big damage buff for chilled targets, but also for the CC ability to slow down attackers.

    Using Multishot with UE is very boom or bust. It was amazing when I got 500 million damage with crits and just ended entire waves of trash in a single Multishot, much faster than any shot of Cold Cluster could have done. But when I got unlucky with the crits and only hit for normal, it would take me many shots to kill a single target. Basically since you only get one hit with Multishot, it’s either a one-shot or irrelevant, while Cold Cluster hits 5+ tendrils on each target, plus all the Sentry shots, giving you much more predictable damage output.

    That said, I only tried the UE Multishot with lightning, and I think Fire might be better. For one thing, Cindercoat is a much better item than Pride’s Fall (which I was using with the Lightning version), and the fire form of Multishot shoots out three rockets per use, which should help to make the damage a little more consistent.

    What would be much more fun with the UE set would be a skill that hit a lot of smaller damage shots, for a better average on damage and more fine control over the targeting… like Strafe, or Rapid Fire! Honestly, the first five minutes playing with the US set, after spending half an hour enchanting all the items and figuring out what build I was going to use, all I could think was how amazing that huge damage would be with Rapid Fire and/or Strafe. God I hope Bliz stops with this stupid “only MS gets this set bonus” and adds some other similar Demon Hunter skills to the Unhallowed Essence six-piece buff.

    New Treasure Goblins

    The only thing I can say for sure about the new Goblins, which were not spawning before this patch update, is that they’re pretty rare. I didn’t count, but I must have seen twenty-five goblin spawns (~50 goblins with the Gemini buff) and I only got one of the new ones. And I got it twice.

    In the same play time I got two double spawns of Blood Thieves, 7 or 8 double Gem Hoarders (they were weirdly over-common), 1 pair of Odious Collectors, and 1 single Malevolent Tormentor (they are the king of Goblins and never double up during Gemini buffs).

    I heard from other players who saw the new triple goblin, and reports were that it split into multiple pieces and just fountained legendaries, though it’s hard to estimate anything’s real drop rate when the 2000% buff is active.

    As for the one I did see, you see him below. Gilded Baron is the name and he’s a golden gleaming goblin who drops only gold. No items, no mats, etc. Just a crazy fountain of gold stacks when he dies. I was playing a new char and only on T1 when I found him, and the total take was around 1.5m and 1.7m. (He spawned solo each time.) I didn’t have a chance to let him run to see if he’d drop larger stacks of gold, or just the trickle of 1g stacks that normal goblins do.

    Naglering’s Lunatics

    The Naglering got a new Legendary Affix in v2.2.0 and it was functional before today, though I hadn’t tried it out. Now that I have, I love it like a family member. Moreso, to be honest, and if you doubt it’s because you haven’t met my family.

    The ring still has that pointless Magic Find secondary affix, but the added delight is a property that summons a Fallen Fanatic every 10-15 seconds. They’re blue/black in color (or perhaps white/gold, in brighter light?) and they don’t make much noise (unlike the constantly-giggling Puzzle Ring goblin), but they look amazing. You hardly notice them in the dungeon since as soon as one appears, it rushes an enemy and blows up, dealing considerable damage — in the 5m range, which was about as much as my Evasive Fire generator was doing, on my new T1-geared Demon Hunter.

    Where the ring really shines is in town, and if you wear it (or your merc does) and you stand around for a while, doing some enchanting of gem upgrading or the like, a small army of the little fatties will build up, just waiting their time and turn to detonate.

    I spent way too much time zooming in and laughing at their dance troupe animations, and took way too many screens of the herd as I moved around town. I love them. This might be my favorite thing in the entire patch, at least until Bliz adds Strafe and Rapid Fire to the Unhallowed Essence six-piece bonus. *cough*

    Look at all the little chibis!

    Seriously, you have to put this ring on your merc, at least when you’re doing T6 fast runs and don’t need Unity or Bul-Kathos. It pays or itself in laughter. I haven’t been in the Brawling not-Arena in months, but the game I find someone else with this ring I might have to head over there, just so we can stand across the bridge from each other and watch our shadowy Fanatics try to blow each other up.

    Look at them go!

    No More Cursed Cellar Power Leveling

    We’ve written previously about the utility and safety of the Cursed Cellar power leveling trick, which everyone seems to love. Everyone except for Blizzard, apparently, since they’ve taken steps to put a stop to it. From the patch notes:

    Cursed Cellar

  • Farnham now spawns closer to the door
  • Farnham now has the Orbiter and Jailer affixes
  • Farmham now pursues the closest player
  • Does he really? Sho’nuf.

    I got this as a bounty one game, and only took a screen of the part that mattered. Yep, that’s that’s Farnham in the hallway, and he actually spawned practically on top of the steps, then came down the hallway towards the cellar. I wasn’t really watching, but near the end of the waves one little skull appeared on the map way over to the right, almost at the entrance to the level, and that caught my eye.

    No PL for you! Not in the Cursed Cellar, at least. Hey, just be glad they warned us in the patch notes; imagine if this one went undocumented, or it only happened 10% of the time? We’d have had weeks of urban legend rumors and mysteriously ruined Power Level efforts! Pity, that.

    Farnham now spawns by the entrance, with deadly Elite Affixes.

    Farnham now spawns by the entrance, with deadly Elite Affixes.

    More, because Moar

    That’s just a quick summary of the new stuff I saw in a couple of hours of play time, and hardly scratches the surface of the changes. The huge buffs to the Barbarian’s IK set deserve more coverage, and the Monk’s Thousand Storms and the WD’s Zuni’s sets both seem very buffed as well. Players trying them out last night seemed pleased, at least.

    There’s an improvement to auto-pickup I didn’t even mention, though it’s in the patch notes. You notice it playing, since now every item of the same type within twenty yards auto-picks when you grab one. This means all gems, not just of the same type or quality, or all materials, no matter their quality. Clean up after a Gem Hoarder is literally one click, providing you didn’t let him run, and even on a crowded screen when I got a double Gem Hoarder and both scattered, it took me just 3 or 4 clicks after the battle to grab all 50+ gem stacks they spilled out.

    It might be too easy, since the whole “did I pick up something and not notice?” issue will likely return. I hate to ask for more clicking, but maybe 10y instead of 20y? Or just 10 items pick up each time, instead of everything? Or, ironically, maybe Bliz could undo the “everything drops in stacks” fixes, since if you can pick it all up with a single click, more of a visual item fountain isn’t a bad thing…

    After a quick GR16...

    After a quick GR16…

    Oh, I almost forgot to mention the Blood Shard cap increase! We did a separate post on it, and it works as the notes say. Your limit increases 10 for each level of solo Greater Rift you clear (the highest one for any char on your account). So if you clear GR 10, you’ll gain 100 to your max Blood Shards, up to 600. If you clear GR50, you’ll have a max capacity of 1000.

    You have to do a new GR on the PTR to qualify; your existing best doesn’t carry over, and likely that will be true when the patch goes live sometime after Season Two ends. But since you’ll have your same characters, and most/all classes and builds seem to be getting a buff in this patch, unlocking greater Shard carrying capacity shouldn’t be a problem.

    Anyway, lots more in the patch, so check back for updated and additional impressions, and we’ll get into more detailed debate about the new sets this weekend on The Diablo Podcast.

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