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    The last Reaper of Souls beta patch made a lot of big changes to legendary drop rates, gear options, economic issues, gear progression, general difficulty, and more. Here’s a short article touching on some of the big changes, partially to inform people who aren’t in the beta yet and partially to get some feedback and/or debate from people who are.

    Difficulty Changes and Legendary (Non) Drop Rates

    The new version of Reaper of Souls is a lot harder… in some ways. Mostly it’s harder since characters find much lower quality gear. The drop rate of legendaries of all types is *much* lower, more like what you see in D3 today than what we were long promised from Loot 2.0. That’s a relative statement of course, since drawing sweeping conclusions about something as tricky as RNG is tough without hundreds of hours of play time. But speaking for myself, and from what friends in the beta have told me, everyone (below Torment difficulty) seems to be finding 1/3 or less Legendaries than they were pre-patch.

    That makes things harder since Legendaries are the DiabloWikiBiS items, but the real difference since the patch comes from a huge change to the damage range you see on weapons. Prior to the patch, once characters reached level 70, the monsters scaled to 70, and players started finding lvl 70 items, it was quite common to find rare one-handed weapons with 3200-3400 DPS, while good quality legendary one-handed items were 3600+ DPS, and all of those weapons had 700ish mainstat and a socket.

    Rare 1H weapon pre-patch.

    Rare 1H weapon pre-patch.

    Rare 1H weapon post-patch.

    Rare 1H weapon post-patch.

    Now the best one-handed Rares are much lower; 2000ish, with two-handed weapons (which are utterly useless for anyone but the Crusader) around 2400. Rare armor is not much different that it was pre-patch, so characters can tank up and not die constantly, but weapons have so much less DPS that battles are much longer and thus there are many more chances to die. Especially since Crushing Blow is now (temporarily?) removed from the game.

    Not only are the easily-found lvl 70 weapons that much less damaging, the legendary drop rares are much lower, and several of the Elite Affixes have been buffed considerably. So the game is much harder now, right? Well… mostly.


    Click through for more details on changes to items and the economy, plus some notable exceptions to the above rules.


    Patch Difficulty Change Results

    Yes, it’s much harder. Not so much going up to 70, if you stay on a reasonable difficulty level, since pre-patch there was a gradual curve of gear and monsters that matched pretty well from 64-69ish (it was markedly easier from 60-64ish, if you brought over good D3 gear on a lvl 60). The big demarcation pre-patch came at lvl 70, due to huge quality increases in player gear. The level 70 experience now is much different, but it’s actually much more consistent with the 61-69 experience. There’s no big jump in monster difficult at 70, it just doesn’t become easy anymore, since they smoothed out the huge jump in gear quality that used to occur at lvl 70.

    Prior to the patch I had little trouble quickly gearing my characters up so they could faceroll through Hard and Expert, while Master wasn’t hard to clear but would kill me from time to time. Torment was the difficulty where I felt out of my gear level, and even trash mobs were slow to grind down, even with 25% or more Crushing Blow. (There were players who geared up enough to faceroll Torment, even without using a lot of Crushing Blow, but they were mostly players who put in dozens of hours on the same char, while I spread my play time between 3 softcore and 2 hardcore characters, all of whom I got to 70 and decently-geared.)

    In the current patch I’ve only played one character to 70, a softcore Barbarian, and he’s now wearing Rares that basically can not be upgraded, plus 2 legendaries (due to his terrible luck with legendary drops) and he can cruise through Hard, Expert is a little slower, Master brings very challenging boss battles with very good chances for death, and Torment is not yet playable since just trash mobs are a slow grind to kill.

    I’m not nearly as expert with a Barb as with some other classes, but pre-patch I was able to easily handle Master difficulty with a Monk, WD, and DH, after putting considerably fewer hours into them than I have into this Barb. The difference now is much lower DPS which is almost entirely due to the weapon, and fewer legendary items on the whole. (Legs have bigger stats, plus their special effects are usually very impactful, if not totally build-changing. The bonus legendary effects from both legs on on my Barb now make a clear performance difference, even if neither is exactly game changing.

    It's easy to upgrade over D3 lvl 60 gear when you add 655 mainstat.

    It’s easy to upgrade over D3 lvl 60 gear when you add 655 mainstat.


    Torment and Better Drops

    All the above is true… but things change considerably at Torment difficulty. Once players are up to that level, the legendary drop rates (apparently) increase quite a bit, and even the one-handed rare weapons are much higher damage than the ones dropping on Normal/Hard/Expert/Master.

    This seems fair enough in theory, but in practice it feels a bit like Diablo 3 did right after launch, when you needed top quality gear to survive in Inferno, especially past Act One, but you couldn’t find that gear until you are in Inferno Act Two. RoS isn’t a gear check to that extent, since you can find top quality legendary items even on Normal difficulty, but the drop rates are *much* lower than on Torment. You get more exp and gold going up to Expert or Master, but if there’s any difference in legendary drop rare or weapon damage, I haven’t noticed it, and I’ve played a fair amount of Master.

    Obviously we’re still early in the beta and the devs are tweaking the difficulty and drop rates all over the place. It was (arguably) too easy to gear up pre-patch, so it’s not a shock they (arguably) over-compensated to the current state of affairs. But it’s worth pointing out how much has changed recently, especially since a lot more testers got in on the same day as the patch.


    Gambling Changes

    Gambling has been overhauled. All the same items are still available (and not available; still no quivers!?) for 5 Blood Shards per gamble. Two prices have changed: rings now cost 10 and Amulets cost 15, and that’s relevant since those are just about the only slots where you might keep using Rares long term. Plus those are about the only slots where you can’t quite easily gamble or find a top quality Rare, since there are so lots of possible/desirable affixes on jewelry. (And so few on other armor, where you want mainstat, vit, and all res on everything, with your fourth primary slot spent on a socket, ChC, LoH, Regen, or maybe +%damage to a skill, depending on the item type.)

    The biggest change to the gambling is the removal of Horadric Goodie Bags, which used to cost 100 and were by far the best and most interesting thing to gamble, especially once your character hit lvl 70 and had all their rares essentially as good as they were going to get. Goodie bags usually had nothing of much value, just a couple of Rares and a bunch of materials, but they could drop legendaries, and those are what you’re really hunting in RoS.

    Without Goodie Bags to buy with Blood Shards, it feels *much* less valuable to run Bounties, since one of the main rewards for Bounties are Blood Shards. Now all you can do is gamble with them, and soon enough you’ll have nothing worth gambling but jewelry. Adding to the annoyance of this change, Blood Shards now max out at 500. I don’t know if there was a cap before, but Elly had about 1000 and was saving up to buy a bunch of bags live on the stream, for the fun legendary item hunt.

    It’s really stupid to have a max stack on Blood Shards, since they are stored virtually, like Gold. You only see your balance when you open your Inventory, and there’s no indication that you will ever max them out until suddenly you do. I hit the max on a bounty reward, and wondered why there were suddenly 7 Blood Shards in a stack on the ground. Bounties and Goodie Bags very rarely drop a Blood Shard, (they always reward them, but they go straight to your Inventory) and I’d certainly never seen more than one in a stack. And since they are now auto-pickup, I couldn’t understand why my character was essentially dribbling the stack across the screen.

    I went back to town and gambled a full inventory of rings, dropping me down 60 shards, and confirmed another change to gambling; you get a rare every time, now. Pre-patch you got about 50/50 blues and rares, but now it’s rare every time. This obviously increases your odds of getting a usable item, but I sort of miss the blues since then the rares felt like better luck on the rolls, plus I’m always short on blue materials, and turning 5 shards into 1 of those wasn’t an entirely bad rate of return. (Blue material shortages are even worse post-patch, since the blue mat cost to enchant is higher than it was, and even fewer blue items drop, while you get more Rares than ever.)


    Boss Affix Changes

    I’ll save this for a larger article this week, since a lot of them have been tweaked, at least visually. Some are easier, too. Orbiter puts out a lot less lightning and the sparks orbit more slowly than before. Thunderstorm is more recognizable now, and is both more and less dangerous since it sends down a bolt and then multiple others in rapid succession, but right in the same area as the first. Thus you can avoid them if you move quickly, but that’s hard to manage and if you don’t you’ll eat a whole series of them.

    The biggest change I’ve noticed is to Electrify. These bosses still spark when hit, as always, but they now go in cycles like Reflects Damage, and when they are in their active stage they spark out like someone lit their fuse on the Fourth of July. Massive sprays of sparks in every direction, and if you’re hitting them at melee range at the time, especially using two very fast weapons with Frenzy like my Barb does, it’s very painful. Like lethally so…

    Sparkly! Gorgeous! Lethal!

    Sparkly! Gorgeous! Lethal!

    At least it's a pretty way to die.

    At least it’s a pretty way to die.

    Since the patch I’ve seen this sight way more often than I am comfortable admitting, and I’m not sure that Id’ ever seen it pre-patch, or in Diablo 3 where Electrified is a fairly irrelevant boss mod. Not anymore, and when they go into their sparking phase, you really need to back up. Especially if you’re fighting Electrified Champions, who just Tesla Coil the entire screen.


    Conclusion

    I’m curious what other Beta testers have seen of the item drops and how their luck compares to my own. I have a lot of thoughts (complaints) about the removal of Magic Find also, but I’m still thinking them over. The stat appears to be all-but-removed from the game. You never see it on Rares anymore (just Gold Find), it’s gone from the Paragon Points, all of the legendary items that used to spawn with some guaranteed MF no longer have it, and even if you’ve got some left over on D3 gear, it’s been nerfed in effect almost to the point of non-function.

    About the only place you can still find Magic Find is via a Topaz in your helm, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s still there only because the devs forgot to change it yet, or just can’t think of something better to switch into the Topaz in helm bonus.

    Aside from the economic changes, I like most of what they’ve done in the patch, and wish I had more time to play it. Act Five bounties all mostly work now, they many improved Elite Affixes make bosses more challenging, there seem to be a lot of changes to density and spawn rate in Nephalem Rifts (though you hardly find shrines there anymore, and most of them are normal shrines rather than the awesome Pylons).

    Anyone else got Beta feedback, especially on drop rates and difficulty tweaks? Or are most of you guys just trying out the PTR and still waiting on beta invites?

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