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    After an inexcusable delay, here are some more direct answers to reader questions about Reaper of Souls. It’s Reaper of Souls Beta: Reader Q&A Part 2:

    I haven’t heard anything about HC features in RoS, could you maybe do an article on this? Especially DC protection and PKing are interesting subjects. –Hippo

    Reaper of Souls does not (yet, but we’re still very early in the beta) contain any specific changes in terms of PK/MK fixes, or disconnect protection, or other Hardcore-specific things. It does change a lot of the gameplay basics in a way that is (arguably) supportive of Hardcore play. I won’t go into many specifics here since Xanth’s going to cover it in an upcoming Hardcore in RoS column, but in RoS:

    1. Life Steal is gone.
    2. Hit points and resistances and blocking and dodge can be raised much higher.
    3. Monster attacks are less about damage spikes and more about steady damage over time.
    4. Many items and skills are changed to provide more regen, more res, and more damage mitigation.
    5. Crushing Blow (and the removal of LS) makes giant DPS much less important.

    All of these changes can support a play style built around survival, damage mitigation, and tactical skill, rather than simply giant DPS curing all ills, as is often the case today in D3V. Which makes them good changes for Hardcore…?

     

    Click through for more questions and answers on life steal, life after kill, healing issues in general, and the sadly-reduced fun/value of Treasure Goblins and Golden Chests.

    The Life Steal Property

    Another reader question:

    Life steal description: “Life steal gets 0.10 multiplier at level 60. Life steal doesn’t work at lvl 70 at all. Life steal can be increased by items.” Ok, now how will you handle LS affix on items in the end-game if will be useless? It won’t roll? I really HOPE so Blizzard or you gonna win the prize for most retarded mechanics ever.
    –delosombres

    Life per Hit is much sought on weapons in RoS.

    Life per Hit is much sought on weapons in RoS.

    Correct. You do not find Life Steal as a modifier in Reaper of Souls. I’ve never seen it at lower levels, and it’s not found on end game items at all. The 10% effectiveness cut at lvl 60 makes it all-but-worthless on your current gear if you take your lvl 60 over into Reaper of Souls. Xanth’s first Witch Doctor effort testified to that, in blood and pain, and when I started playing my Hardcore Monk I found the 3.0% life steal on his weapon fairly useless even at level 60. I found myself having to drink a potion or run away from battles that wouldn’t have taken me below 90% hps in D3, and by level 62 I’d abandoned my LS Fist for a new-found rare Fist with a DPS upgrade and some LoH. And I’d shuffled other equipment to add LoH from an old Unity ring, from newly-found rare bracers, and from an old Amulet.

    Possibly a D3V Barb with 9% or 12% Life Steal would get enough healing to soldier on through the 60s, but at lvl 70 life steal is nerfed to 0% effectiveness, so you might as well start looking for upgrades and changes as soon as you start in Reaper of Souls… instead of holding out for level 70 when it’s all going away in a blink of bitter tears.

    Life Steal has been removed from all skills as well; skills that formerly granted it now grant various other forms of healing, including DiabloWikiLfFS, DiabloWikiLfSS, some % of your total hps per second, or Life on Hit, many of which are given additional boosts by some % of your character’s +life per health potion, or LoH, or life regen, etc. (Which is actually called “Life per Hit” in Reaper of Souls, which is more literally accurate but makes for a less gratifying acronym). Thus a Barbarian couldn’t have 12% Life Steal anymore anyway, since DiabloWikiBloodlust no longer grants 3%.

    (Typical Reaper of Souls healing skills. Note the bonuses from health globe bonuses and other synergy-style add ons.)

    mantra-of-healing-sustenancevengeance-stimulants

    Just as a side note, I haven’t played a Barb yet in RoS so I’ve paid little attention to Barb-class belts, but I don’t know what purpose they have now that they can’t get Life Steal (in what would be amazingly OP form in D3, if not for Bloodthirst being even more OP). Lots of gear spawns with ++damage to specific skills, so probably that’s the best special something on Barb belts, plus perhaps +maximum Fury. I honestly can’t say if they can spawn with Life per Hit since I’ve been insta-salvaging any belts with a red X on them, but I’ll take a closer look in the future.

     

    Life After Kill

    The Life After Each Kill (LAEK, usually just called LAK) bonus exists now in Diablo 3, but it’s seldom valued or sought because Life Steal. That and other game mechanics means you generally end battles with full health, or can heal fully just beating on trash mobs. This is not the case in Diablo 3:

    Did you notice any benefit from Life After Kill bonuses? Do any testing with Thorns to see if that mechanic actually works in RoS? The splash damage mod looks interesting.
    –Aahzmadius

    Not an uncommon sight in Torment difficulty.

    Not an uncommon sight in Torment difficulty.

    Life After Kill adds X amount of hit points after every kill, trash mob or Elite, and it’s quite useful in RoS. Probably not enough to save your ass in a big battle (unless you’re dealing with summoners, who can crank out tremendous numbers of skeletons and other junk enemies), but it’s great for topping off your hit points after battles. LAK appears on more types of items in RoS, with higher values than in D3V. Furthermore, it’s classified as a Secondary Affix, which means it’s quite cheap/easy to roll via Enchanting. (Not that you often enchant a secondary affix, but if you found a Rare/Legendary with all good Primary Affixes, you could easily tack on +2500 LAK.)

    It’s weird, but the much higher hit points per character make LAK more useful. I don’t think there are that many fewer health orbs dropping in RoS, but the removal of Life steal and the much deeper health pools means that it’s damn hard to keep your hit points full, especially if you’re pushing into a higher difficulty level than you’ve really got the gear to support. Plus without life steal you can’t just bang a few trash mobs and refill your hit points; I often leave an Elite battle with say 40% hit points, mow through several groups of trash mobs before I get to the next Elite, and I’m only back up to 70% hit points by then. (This is compounded by the fact that you generally need to use skills to add short term bonuses to your regen or Life on Hit, and after an Elite fight you’re not spending resource on the trash mobs so it will refill.)

    A typical max level character in Diablo 3 has 30-70k hps, with higher figures, often closer to 100k, in Hardcore. Typical level 70 characters in Reaper of Souls have 200-500k hps, with much higher values possible. My Softcore Demon Hunter had over 650k hit points not long after hitting level 70, and I didn’t even want them. She didn’t have any DiabloWikiCore Tab points in DiabloWikiVitality, and had only a few DiabloWikiDefensive Tab points in +%Life. The hps all came from +vit and +%life on gear, and while I greatly boosted her DPS by enchanting several of those +500-800 Vitality bonuses into + Dexterity bonuses, you get the idea of how easily you can rack up very high hit points in Reaper of Souls.

    And I won’t bore you with detailed numbers, but trust me about RoS: it takes a lot of hits yielding 1000-3000 Life per Hit to refill 300k or 500k hit points. Tacking 5000 or 8000 Life After Kill on top of that, and multiplying it by the dozens of trash mobs you’re constantly wiping out makes math your friend.

     

    Drops from Chests and Treasure Goblins

    One final question for this installment just to get off of the healing topic:

    Any noticeable improvement in drops from resplendent chests/treasure goblins/purple monsters (other than bounties/Rift champions)?
    –Tigerpaw

    There is a very noticeable decrease in the quality and quantity of loot from Goblins and golden chests. I haven’t actually started bypassing golden chests, but I’ve joked about it with other testers and everyone agrees; they’re often not worth clicking anymore. Quite often you see nothing more than a couple of stacks of gold, one or two materials, and a couple of blue items.

    I’ve never yet left one behind without checking, but many times in multiplayer games another player has clicked a golden chest across the screen from me, and the drop has been so paltry that I had no reason to go over and claim my share.

    This is despite the fact that monsters drop more quality stuff than in Diablo 3 today, even playing RoS characters with minimal Magic Find. With 50% Magic Find I find 2-3x more legendaries per hour playing Reaper of Souls, from monster drops and bounty rewards, than I do playing with 500% Magic Find in Diablo 3 today. This may change over time as Blizzard has said the Legendary drop rates are higher than they want them to be long term, but even a considerably cut in their drop rates would have them higher than they are in D3V with big MF. And if you’re comparing zero MF in RoS to zero MF in D3V, I can’t even estimate the improvement. Ten times more legendaries in RoS? Twenty times more?

    I’m serious that I can’t estimate. Literally, since aside from brief times spent at level 1-60, it’s been a year+ since I’ve played any Diablo 3 character with less than 200% Magic Find, and they’re usually over 400%.

    So… it’s not a lack of Magic Find that makes the G&Gs (Gobbys and Golden chests) so lame in Reaper of Souls. The removal of Nephalem Valor makes some difference, since it guarantees at least one rare from G&Gs in D3V, but they just generally drop a lot fewer items of all types in RoS. No more are G&Gs fountains of items, gold stacks, gems, mats, etc. I can only assume this is an intentional change, part of reducing overall item spam in Loot 2.0, but I think they’ve taken it too far, to the point that G&Gs don’t feel special anymore.

    You find a lot of golden chests too; they seem to have a bonus spawn thing on some levels of Nephalem Rifts, where I’ll not uncommonly find 6 or 8 chests on the same smallish dungeon level inside a Rift. And get maybe 1 rare from all of them combined.

    Finally, I have never seen a Treasure Goblin room, nor have I found a Rift level where one whole monster type was Treasure Goblins (this actually exists), but I have found a big cluster of the little bastards twice while doing Nephalem Rifts. Both times there were 8-12 of them in a clump. I can’t say exactly how many without the quick counting skills of Derren Brown, since they scatter like mad as soon as the pain is brought unto them, but there were a lot of them and it was really fun wiping them out.

    Sadly, my second encounter with a huge horde was with my softcore Demon Hunter during a slow slog through Torment, when that was a bit over her gear level, and in that instance I didn’t kill a single one of the Goblins. You’ve probably noticed it in Diablo 3 as well, but you can tell if you’re moving into a difficulty higher than your gear is really suitable for when you start having trouble killing the goblins. I’ve definitely found that in RoS while experimenting with (and dying frequently to) the higher difficulty levels, and I shall always regret finding my second next of Gobbies when I was geared at a level that trash mobs took me multiple hits, bosses took a minute or more, and Treasure Goblins were able to all escape to the Land of Greed with no more than a few bumps and bruises to show for the hundreds of arrows I’d just pumped into them.

    My hardcore Monk had more luck when I first found them on a lower difficulty level, as you see in the three shot sequence below:

     

    I’ll post another bunch of questions and answers tomorrow, covering topics including the scaling difficulty levels, enchanting issues, the usefulness (and tricks to boost it) of carried over gear from Diablo 3, crafting material utility and scarcity, and more. Feel free to add questions in comments; I can’t tell you guys what you want to know if you don’t ask…

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