Some more first (second?) impressions from PTR testing. Details about the new exploration bounties, changes to the structure and layout of Act Four, a keywarden change, technical issues, and more.

    PTR Testing: New Adventure Mode Bounties

    Exploration Bounties

    Act One destroy the Triune Monument.

    Act One destroy the Triune Monument.

    The new Adventure Mode bounties are a sort of exploration, and take place in existing areas. It’s been almost impossible to create games on the PTR with the 3+ hour wait times, but I’ve gotten to try out these new bounties so far in Acts 1, 2, and 4, and they work basically the same in each. The area spawns with 4 or 5 altar type events, and you have to find them all and destroy the altars, or rescue the Iron Wolf guards (I hold that one close to my heart, for obvious reasons.)

    Each altar shows up on the map as a yellow circle, but only when you are fairly close to it, so there is some exploration required. Once you complete each altar it vanishes from the level and the map, and when you get the last one the usual Bounty Complete message displays, with the gold/exp reward.

    No one does Bounties in a team, aside from split farming Act One, but if anyone did, these would be ideal for teamwork. The whole challenge is just running around to find them quickly, and like when farming keywardens, spreading out for the search would make that twice or thrice as fast.

    Click through for more screens from the Exploration Bounties I’ve seen on the PTR, plus some quick evaluation of the new six piece item set bonuses.

    The version of this Bounty in Act One and Act Four are much the same, but require you to destroy the monument or altar, and of course each is surrounded by a bunch of trash mobs. They’re very easy events, with the time spent only on finding them, and they could use a little more. The last one should spawn a boss, or something.

    New Act Four map.

    New Act Four map.

    Also note that Act Four’s map has been tweaked. There’s a waypoint in an area that didn’t previously have one and was thus never entered in Adventure Mode, and this brings the total waypoints in the act up from six to seven. The map has been rearranged also, with the Hellrift no longer on the lower right. (I’m sure I wasn’t the only one in the habit of darting over to the Hellrift when a 30s Rift closing timer was boring me, knowing I could zip through the whole bounty in about a minute.)

    Furthermore, they’ve moved Nekerat the Keywarden from Silver Spire 1 to Gardens of Hope 2. This evens things up a bit, since the Silver Spire 1 was the smallest of the Keywarden levels, and it made Nekerat much faster to farm than the other three. (Not that it really mattered, since you need 1 key of each to make an Infernal Machine.)

    Nekerat's new location.

    Nekerat’s new location.

    PTR Performance Issues

    Aside from the endless queues to create games (they are literally endless; several times I’ve waited an hour and every time I checked back the time remaining had *increased*), many players are getting terrible machine lag and slow frame rates when playing.

    Thanks for the reports about these frame rate issues, everyone. I just wanted to pop in here and let you all know that this is something we are actively investigating on our end as well.

    I’m among the suffering. When I’m moving around in town it’s okay, solo or in a game with others, but but as soon as I enter a dungeon and start blasting with spells, the frame rate drops to a crawl. And when I’m in battle with other players using big skill effects, it’s slow motion. Or a slide show. And it’s not lag or latency; the connection speed is fine. It’s entirely machine lag, as my computer struggles to display the action on the screen, as though it’s just received a RAM-lobotomy.

    Various technical or display issues aren’t unusual first thing in a new PTR patch, but it’s never been anywhere near this bad before. It’s as if all the game’s art assets have been uncompressed, and my machine is having to load them all anew each time things start flying around in combat.

    I’d consider it unplayable on the live realms, and certainly wouldn’t risk a Hardcore character (who I couldn’t just copy back over to the PTR in case of death) on any demanding difficulty level. As it is I’ve been fooling around with a Demon Hunter using Strafe with the new Natalya’s set, since it’s a fun build but also since I don’t have to aim anything or use precise control. I just hold down right click and spin around, and I’m using the physical rune form of Rain of Vengeance, which is auto-targeting. (And awesome.)

    Most other players I’ve talked to have had some performance issues, to the point they felt reckless playing Hardcore, though generally their slide shows aren’t quite as slow as mine.

    More in a post later today about builds and the new sets. And as we said earlier, look up IncGamers for our clan on the PTR. It’s a good way to find some people to play with, and if you’re lucky, a game to join. I was able to join open games twice yesterday, or I’d never have been able to play outside of a public game, given the endless creation queues.

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