Reaper of Souls Nephalem Rifts Hands-On Report from Blizzcon

Diablo Podcast Reaper of Souls at BlizzCon with IncGamersHere’s some first hand info on DiabloWikiNephalem Rifts, formerly known as Loot Runs. They are bonus dungeon/events accessed via yellow portals enabled by finding Rift Stones from killing Bounties in Adventure Mode. See our Hands-On Adventure Mode article and Friday’s panel transcript for full coverage of that new game type in RoS.

Nephalem Rifts

Nephalem Rifts (AKA Loot Runs) are special dungeons accessed via yellow portals found near a special altar in town in Adventure Mode. They are *not* found in Campaign Mode (and they are not the same thing as Nephalem Trials, which are small bonus dungeons with short and intense Jar of Souls-style events found in Adventure Mode or Campaign Mode), which I have not yet encountered in this Blizzcon Demo).


Nephalem Rift

Each Rift is randomized in tile set, layout, and monsters, and presents a unique challenge. Literally; you never know what combo you’re going to get and it makes a difference. As someone (Rankil, I think?) mentioned during the live Podcast we recorded Friday night, he got a mixture of enemies on one level, entered a room, and found that he had Fallen Fanatics on the level too… when five of them detonated right on top of him.

I had some close calls with Desert Wasps in one of my levels too, as a dozen little green BBs came shooting down a narrow hallway at me before I knew what I was dealing with. Once we’re playing Nephalem Rifts for real, especially with Hardcore characters, it will be a very good idea to go cautiously at the start of each new level until you see what types of enemies are spawned there.


Click through for the rest of the article, covering randomization, triggering the Rift Guardian, earning access to Rifts, and more.


Randomization of Dungeons and Monsters

The levels are fully random; my first Rift I entered from Tristram and got a Desert tombs dungeon for level one. Level two was an Act One Leoric’s Dungeon. Level three was an Act Three Keep type level. Level four was an Act One jail type level. And every one of those levels had a fully random assortment of enemies; not tied to the act of the tile set, or the monsters limited to just one act, etc.

I’m sure there are some spawning requirements and some enemies that won’t spawn together, or that are more likely to appear with each other (Diablo I’s randomized monster selector worked like that, with weighting values assigned to each monster type and more dangerous ones getting higher numbers so you couldn’t get 3 of the big guys on the same level).

One oddity: As I said, my first Rift had an Act Two tombs dungeon for level one. After I finished that Rift (or at least killed the Rift Guardian) I portaled back to town and appeared in Tristram. I then went back into the rift to see if it was reset or changed. It was not, I was just standing in that same Act Two desert tomb. So I went back through the portal… and found myself in Act Two town. Where I had not previously been in that game. Not that it really matters, since in Adventure Mode you can travel freely between acts.


Triggering the Rift Guardian

When you enter a rift you gain a progress bar on the right side of the screen just below the minimap. It says percent of monsters killed, and steadily increases as you kill more of them. The counter goes by kills, not some weighted system of monster hit points, which makes it count up much faster on some levels. I got the Act 3 Scorpions in an Act 1 Jail tileset on my 4th level, and with them appearing in big bunches of 10-20 my % killed counter was jumping up 2 or 3% with each group, which I was one-shotting with a great AoE Crusader skill.

Once you reach 100% the Rift Guardian appears. The devs stressed this during Friday’s panel, and they weren’t kidding. It explodes into life the instant you kill that last monster, and it doesn’t matter what you’re doing at the time. I saw my first while in an Act One Jail dungeon, and when I was in the middle of fighting a boss. One of the minions or some trash monster in the area triggered the 100% and suddenly I had the boss and the Rift Guardian at once. Some strategic repositioning was soon required. (I ran like a bunny.)

Rift Guardians are randomized as much as everything else in Nephalem Rifts, and they range from big powerful purples (I got one of a new Act 5 Angel type of monster in my first Rift.) to D3V act bosses. There are even pairs of them sometimes. See the full (very long, subject to change) datamined list on the Nephalem Rifts article.


Entering a Rift

To enter a Nephalem Rift you need to find Rift Stones, which have a chance to be earned by completing Bounties. That’s what the devs say, at least. I’ve killed a lot of bounties thus far during testing at Blizzcon and haven’t found any Rift Stones, so maybe they drop very rarely or maybe they’re disabled in this demo? It doesn’t matter though, since the pre-made chars have 10 Rift Stones in their inventory, and thus in each new Adventure Mode game there is a rift open in town. It’s actually open in each town, as far as I could tell. The same yellow portal with the same name on it (Something like “Josef’s Planes Dungeon” as best I recall. I’ll note the name more carefully next time.)

The datamining refers to opening a new rift once you’ve cleared out the previous one, so perhaps if you reach some final room or exit on the lowest level that Rift is completed and a new one can be done in the same Adventure Mode game? The devs have referred to a special reward if you complete a full Rift. I don’t know; I didn’t have time to clear out an entire Rift, though I did get through the Rift Guardian both times I’ve tried it thus far. (I shall sample anew come Saturday’s show.)


Loot and Bosses and Experience

The Rift levels are randomized in monster types and density, so they are not necessarily the best place to earn EXP. They might be, but it all depends on the roll of the RNG dice. As the demo characters are only level 32 and on the easiest difficulty (under the new 0-5 difficulty system), it’s impossible to project how the density and exp gain will compare to doing the best farming areas in Inferno on Campaign Mode.

One thing I did notice on every Nephalem Rift dungeon level was a lot of bosses. I didn’t clear out entire dungeons (just took the stairs down when I found them, while trying to avoid wasting time in any dead areas of the map) but I still found 3 or 4 random Elites on each level, with a steady array of trash mobs between them. The Rifts were definitely as or more populated than most areas of the game are now, especially for a sub-Inferno character, and the Elites came as quickly as or more quickly than you see them in most areas of the game today.

I did not see any Golden Chests in the rifts, but that might just be RNG and my limited exploration time. I did get one random Treasure Goblin. But not the room full of them that’s shown on the RoS B-roll video. That’s perhaps a super rare spawning room? Or a reward level if you complete a full rift?

As with other features in RoS, this one remains under development and we can expect changes before the final. It’s a lot of challenge and profit even now though, and the variety of enemies and levels really makes for a fun and varied play experience.


Questions? Stick them in comments and I’ll reply when I get a chance. I will definitely run some more Nephalem Rifts on Saturday at the demo and see if I can figure out more about this new feature.

Keep an eye on the BlizzCon Coverage Section for the full transcripts (not bullet point lists) of the Diablo 3 Panels, videos, hands-on reports, photos, screenshots and more.


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  1. does the old tilesets have new tiles?

  2. So this is not an endless waves mode with rankings that loot driven rpg types need, is what I’m hearing..

    • that’s the sort of thing we’ll see in nephalem trials. which might be accessible from rifts as well, but I haven’t seen any at blizzcon demo yet.

  3. “which I was one-shotting with a great AoE Crusader skill.”

    do you ever give details?

    • Every comment section needs at least one ingrate.

    • crusader report coming up soon. I spent 20m game earlier just writing down all the skills/runes available and testing out the skills to have some direct feedback on their function.

      Fist of Heavens is the default Secondary skill on the crusader now and it’s an awesome targeted aoe effect.

  4. So this is not the endless waves mode with rankings that these loot driven rpg types need, is what I’m hearing…

  5. More of a general question tied to this statement given at the RoS preview panel:

    “The player actually walks through the scarabs. This is new technology that we got to allow us to put a tremendous number of guys on screen without making the player get bound up and stuck and colliding with them.”

    Did you notice anything like that on any mobs other than Scarabs?
    Meaning that when surrounded or cornered by a large group of any monster type you just could clip through them and avoid being beaten to a pulp?

  6. Maps system in PoE still seems more complex… But such additions are the right direction and I’ll gladly welcome them when I get back to D3… some day.

  7. “The levels are fully random … Level three was an Act Three Keep type level.”
    Are they random like the new Act V levels? Or are they random like current Act III Keep level?

  8. I’m surprised that every level in a rift has different tileset. I was expecting random number of levels of the same tileset. This seems too random.

  9. QUOTE

    crusader report coming up soon.  I spent 20m game earlier just writing down all the skills/runes available and testing out the skills to have some direct feedback on their function. 
    Fist of Heavens is the default Secondary skill on the crusader now and it's an awesome targeted aoe effect.

    So Templers are Back?


  10. QUOTE

    "The levels are fully random ... Level three was an Act Three Keep type level."
    Are they random like the new Act V levels? Or are they random like current Act III Keep level?

    Obviously like the current one, why would they waste their time on that? Rifts spawn random maps from all acts, that would suffice.

  11. When you go into a Rift, are you stuck there. or can you escape. like up to the previous lvl?
    Being a HC player, i didn’t do the timed dungeon in act 2 until i was sure you wouldn’t die if you ran out of time. If you get stuck in the rift with no escape until the end, i just won’t do them.

    • You can go up or down, or town portal. I had to retreat once from a nasty boss right by the entrance and went back through the stairs to the previous level.

      They work just like dungeons now. And the levels use the normal game layout; I got the Fields of Misery for level one of a Rift, and level two was the entrance to the Decaying Crypt… but that took me to a totally different style of dungeon as part of the randomization thing.

  12. Blizzard cant be so stupid they would not allow you to leave.
    Beside, it sounds like they are fairly long, you might easily want to go out to salvage or throw items in the stash before it is finished.

  13. Great … now we have exciting new endless dungeons and challenges … to do …. exactly what ?? ?

    To find better … loot, to do what with that loot ?

    Throw it away because we can’t …. sell it …

    Blizzard opened the box of Pandora with the AH’s and the game is done, dead as a rock …

    A pity no one sees it yet.

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