Season Two on the PTR: Test Drive


PTR Season 2 buff

PTR Season 2 buff

Season Two went live on the PTR last night with that ginormous community buff, and since I had some time to play, I did. And it was awesome. The buff is available to all characters on the PTR, not just to new Season Two chars, which is weird, since I thought the whole point of the community buff was to encourage people to test out Season Two; not just to convert their existing characters over for some test realm play with a massive legendary drop bonus.

At any rate, I went with a new Season Two character, just to see how it would play. And as is the rule with a new season, it’s all new. No gold, items, Artisan levels, stash space, Paragon Points, etc. But with the huge PTR community buff, you don’t stay that way for long.

It was very fun; zoom-fast leveling thanks to triple exp, double goblins for gits and shiggles, and tons of Blood Shards you don’t think you’ll need, since there’s such an enormous legendary drop rate buff. As you can see in the pic, it’s +2000% legendary drop rate, and that’s not a typo, it really is 2000%, AKA 20x normal drop rate. There will be CLANG.


Loot Progression

You notice the fast leveling immediately when you hit level 5 or 6 just doing the first bounty, and the level climb goes like mad from there, even if it’s your first char of the season and you’ve got no twinks, gold, gems, Gem of Ease, etc. The legendary drop rate buff isn’t evident immediately, but it soon becomes very obvious. At first you’re slow and there aren’t many low level legs, but by level 15 you’re getting one or two CLANGs every level, and by level 25ish the legs are dropping at a crazy pace.

You see weird patterns in the legs, since you’re getting so many. For instance, my new Demon Hunter found a Demon Machine at level 9 for his first Leg… and then I found another one at level 13, and a third at level 16, and another at level 17. I found some legendary armor mixed in with that also, but 4 of the same legendary crossbow right in a row. And as soon as it changed, it repeated, when I found 5 straight of the Broccoli-uzi hand xbow from level 18-26ish.

The real legendary game started for me around level 25, when I was fast enough to kill pretty well, had keys enough to run Rift after Rift, and was high enough level for a variety of legendary items to drop. And drop they did. Rain. Deluge. For a while I took a screen after every rift, when I was doing them just to 100%, killing the Guardian, and exiting. (After a while I chose to focus on EXP and cleared out each Rift all the way to the exit stone, by which time my inventory was usually completely full of legendary and set items. Some samples, showing a time lapse of my DH leveling up.

That’s not *every* time I filled up and thus returned, and these were quick. I wasn’t playing real fast and was IMing some friends at the time, but it was every 6-8 minutes, during which I gained 3-4 levels, and that was just doing a Rift up to the Guardian, and seldom going any further. Normally from that you’d find 1-2 legs at most. Often zero. I never found fewer than 10, and often it was more like 30. (And that was just pre-level 70, on Normal difficulty. Wait until you see the T6 leg-orgy.)

Click through for more postcards from the journey, analysis of why Ancient Legendary Items are not such a big deal, the the most glorious (new type of) Treasure Goblin encounter ever. Ever!

There were some odd things due to the drop ratios. I was always broke, up to and past level 70. Double gold drops are nice, but triple exp means a lot fewer kills and fewer gold drops on the way. Since I had no gold I was way behind on the Artisan upgrades… not that I needed to do any crafting since I found a whole new suit of Legendary items every 5 levels.

What little crafting (and gem upgrading) I did while leveling up was complicated by a shortage of gold and an absence of white, blue, or yellow materials. With so many legendary items dropping I had no desire (and no room) to pick up rares, much less blues or whites. I didn’t really notice that until level 70, when I was flying through the early Paragon levels (I went from P1 to P13 in a single Rift) and had no means to upgrade gems, couldn’t afford to enchant items more than once or twice, couldn’t do any jewelry enchanting at all (couldn’t afford to make Imperials), and couldn’t even afford to finish Artisan training.

I remained broke and hoping for a Goblin to let me into The Vault until about Paragon 30, while gradually upgrading into end game gear, until I remembered that the Realm of Trials is still bugged on exp/gold rewards. So I put on my best gear and changed my build a bit for Waves, grabbed the only two Realm of Trials keys I’d earned so far, and scratched and clawed to Wave 20 and Wave 21, which earned me a GRK 16 and 17… and 68m gold plus 7 Paragon Levels. Thanks, buggy mega-reward!

Seriously, is it a bug? Or a feature the devs “accidentally” put in on the PTR this time, which coincidentally allows players to level up very easily, and/or to get brand new Season Two players instantly rich enough for all their enchanting and/or gem upgrading needs? (And Realm of Trials rewards are comically large at higher levels. Many billions per quick Waves game for well-geared characters.)


Torment VI and the Legapalooza

Since the current Community Buff applies to all characters on the PTR, Season Two or not, anyone with a well-geared character can see it by copying their account to the PTR. It’s worth doing, since it’s amazing.

Early into my Paragon levels with the new Demon Hunter, I stuck to Hard difficulty and mostly did Rifts. I found what seemed an avalanche of legendary items, and quickly improved my gear so I could jump up to Torment. There’s zero reason to mess around with any other difficulty levels; you gain crazy exp on Normal or Hard, and you’re getting double Blood Shards and heaps of Legendary items.

The goal, short term at least, is to get up to Torment 1 with a good killing speed so you can start to find the Torment-only gear, chiefly the good item sets, and so Rift Guardians have a chance to drop Realm of Trials keys. Those you need not just to exploit for massive gold riches, but to get into Greater Rifts where you can find Legendary Gems.

Happily, with so many legendary items dropping it’s easy to get up to Torment 1 quality. Especially if you’re playing Softcore for your fast PTR testing, like I was. My first death, appropriately, was in the Realm of Trials when I was there pushing for Wave 20 as part of my successful, “get rich and die trying” strategy.

Things seemed crazy past level 70, and especially once I got to Torment 1, when sets were raining down. I had terrible luck gearing up since I kept finding green armor… but not Marauders. I found about 3 full sets of Natalya’s and Shadow, plus enough damn Blackthorne’s to pave a driveway (but not to drive a paveway), while sitting there with 4 Marauder’s Boots, and one each of shoulders and helm. Finally, finally, I got all 6 pieces (no RoRG, though I’d done a few Act One bounty clears just in case), and by then I had enough gold and materials to enchant them all to decent condition, and that let me leap right up to Torment 6, for the maximum drop rate.

Did it matter? Was there any real noticeable difference in drop rate on the highest difficulty?

Ohyes yes yisssss!

I hadn’t really noticed any change going from Hard up to Torment 1, except that I started to find more green items, usually Shadow pants and boots. On Torment 6, I noticed a difference. A huge difference. The Legendary drop rate, even boosted massively by the community buff, boosted more. Playing Rifts on T6 I had an inventory entirely full of legendary items by the time I got to the Guardian. Several games I had to go back to town after killing the Guardian, since I only had 3 or 4 open spots in Inventory and the Rift Guardian usually dropped 4-6 legendaries in T6.

That said, uncommon items are uncommon, and while I found hundreds (literally, I was up over 500 Souls by Paragon 150, and I’d sold a fair number of legs rather than salvaging them) and hundreds of legendary items, some continued to elude me. I’d found 4-6 each of Unity and SoJ, 1 great Calamity, 1 Tasker and Theo (not that a DH wants that now that Sentry breakpoints are gone), and some other uncommon items, but not yet a single Kridershot, and just one Bombadier’s Rucksack with a bad seed.

Even with the massively accelerated drop rate, you still have to sift through a lot of pony shit to find the bowl with the pearl. Or something like that. Metaphors are hard.

Incidentally, the legendary boost is just to “drop” rate. Not to all rates. You don’t find any more legs than usual via gambling or Horadric Caches. And while I didn’t expect double Blood Shards (and double Blood Thieves) to matter, I wound up earning my Marauder’s chest and pants via gambling, after really bad luck prevented either of those from rolling despite the dozens of green chests/pants I found.


Ancient Items

Ancient Items were coming like mad, too. I’d hardly seen any on T1, but on T6 I had several every full inventory. And after seeing that many of them, the novelty has worn off. Honestly, they’re not a big deal.

That's a hot one.

That’s a hot one.

Weapons, yes. A good Ancient weapon is a gigantic upgrade. A guy named TopCommander in the IncGamers clan found this Furnace on Friday night, and it’s hard to believe, even without 10% Enhanced Damage roll added yet. (Or the socket from a Gift.) But other than weapons, Ancient Items are pretty meh. I found a ton of them on rings and amulets, and since none of the most wanted offensive stats get a boost from being Ancient’ized, they’re irrelevant. Ooh, an orange border and 87 more mainstat!

Ancient can be cool on armor, but again, the best mods don’t get boosted (+elemental damage or +skill damage are unchanged in range) and those that do are hardly noticeable unless you get a great seed. I found Ancient armor after Ancient armor, none of them worth equipping. You forget just how many Marauder’s shoulders (for example) you have to find before you get one with a good seed to mainstat and vit, All Res, and the skill bonus you want. Or at least 3 of those so you can enchant the other.

Ancient items can be big upgrades with the bonus roll, but when you find one with +defense, +area damage, and 507 (out of the possible 501-750) to mainstat/vitality, it’s not even remotely an upgrade over your existing, non-Ancient item in that slot.


Treasure Goblins

Double Goblins are part of the community buff, which means every time you find one Goblin spawning, you find two. The only exception I’ve seen are Rainbow Goblins, which spawn solo, very rarely, and always open a portal to DiabloWikiWhimsydale. I guess there wouldn’t be much point in two portals to Whimsydale? Not that there’s much point in one, to be honest. (Apologies if the devs have changed something in the Secret Rainbow Land in this patch, but I haven’t bothered to check.)

With the massive legendary drop rate buff, and every goblin appearing in a double, the loot was guaranteed. I have yet to get a double goblin that didn’t drop at least 1 leg, and usually 2-3.

The new, mysterious type are called Malevolent Tormentors, and they look just like normal Goblins (slightly darker color, maybe?) and can only be told apart by their name display. And by their drop, since they seem to hit a much higher quality level. They’re very rare so I’ve only seen two (pairs) so far, but I got 6 or 7 legs from each encounter.

Also, have you noticed that the leg icons show on the mini-map before you actually see them drop? If not, play some on the PTR during this buff, and you’ll get about a dozen chances a game to notice that when Goblins pop under your nose, chests open, etc. You might even get a screenshot with the loot on the map, but not yet on the ground.

My favorite Goblin experience, so far, was this one. The green type are the Odious Collectors and they only drop materials. Not gold, not items, not gems, etc. Just white, blue, and yellow materials. Never any orange materials, but they will drop legendary crafting plans. You’d hardly notice that if you found one (or two) with your normal character, when you already knew the plans, but what if you were new to a season? And what if you found a mob of them, instead of just one or two?

Yes, it was amazing. I netted something like 50 plans total, though a lot of them were duplicates. I also picked up around 1500 Veiled Crystals and around 600 blue/100 white materials, and it was work. Seriously, I felt like Diablo 1 days, with literally hundreds of left clicks to grab up all of the stacks.


Get Your PTR On

If it’s not clear by now, I’ll say it again. The PTR with this huge legendary buff is a total blast. I played a couple of hours Thursday night to get to 70, another hour before bed to start gearing, and then several hours Friday evening and I’m decked out in pretty good Marauder’s gear and accessories, capable of GR 35, and nearly Paragon 200.

The pace of everything is crazy with the community buff. Amazingly fast leveling, even faster gearing, and since it’s just the PTR it all feels very easy come, easy go. Or at least it should, since it is. All your glorious stuffs will be gone when the realm resets, but get it fast and have fun while it’s here. Good luck with you Season Two on the PTR: Test Drive.

Comments

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  1. I played on the PTR for a few hours with an existing character. It was a blast, but I won't play again until the buff is gone. If I allow myself to get used to this, I'll never enjoy the regular game again.

  2. Amazing drops haha, thanks for the report & screenshots Flux. I hope Blizzard find a better sweet-spot drop rate for the rarer build/game changing sets and legendary items. From your impressions of the community buff, it seems that there’s still too many black throne and other crap dropping which isn’t changing the gameplay as strongly as it should be doing.

    Also, I don’t see much point in a level 1-70 (non-season)if we still have the gameplay starting at level at 70 to get build changing items etc. So Ancient leggies haven’t really fixed Diablo 3’s main issues. Still, looks like good fun with the community buffs though.

  3. I really enjoy the 300% exp rate, it makes the leveling less of a drag and borefest it usssually is. XP rate should stay for live.

  4. Well, the 20x buff is quite nice. I played 3 sessions and I average about 6-7 sessions a week. The amount of legendaries I found in those 3 sessions were really what I would expect to find in 60 (3*20) sessions. Once live hits with the normal rates, I can expect to find about the same quality of stuff in 9-10 weeks (60/6 or 60/7). So thinking like that, there isn't a whole lot of reason to play the next 2 months or so.

  5. 2000% should be 21x buff, if my math is right. 100% is 2x base, so…

    And it isn’t weird at all that you got the same Crossbow four times in a row, there are no other Legendary Crossbows available at that low of a level.

    • I didn't say it was a bug, I just said it felt weird. I've seen the same armor or ring 2 or 3x in a row playing non-PTR with a new char, but when you're finding a legendary weapon every minute, and you know what type it's going to be as soon as you see the icon, it feels odd.

      • Oh, I agree it is weird. There are only a few items types there there aren’t multiple Legs under, say, Level 15. But for those item types, I had Normal rifts early on where I’d have an inventory full of Legs but only 5-6 actual different items due to so many duplicates.

        And now I can’t even get on the PTR with the wait time, so the “weirdness” is gone.

  6. Hmm, not to be a total Scrooge but I'm not actually sure you should be promoting the PTR for people to just faff about there – this has resulted in the PTR being effectively unusable for a lot of people who actually want to test things and provide feedback, because every man and his dog is trying to log onto the servers that clearly weren't built for this kind of load. *shrug*, Blizz's own fault I guess.

    Anyways, what these drops have actually highlighted (if it needed any more highlighting) is the ridiculously low drop rates for certain items.

    • My thoughts exactly. The testing here seems to be, "The boosted droprate for testing is working!" That's not the point of the PTR or this buff. /facepalm

  7. Don't worry, subsequent drops from the special material goblins will be nerfed to save the masses from the torture of the left click in a diablo game…………………………………………….

  8. I, however, don’t really agree with the “the level climb goes like mad” statement. Leveling from lv 1 to 70 is still frustrating. I can do master to t2 depending on the gears I found, and in PTR it’s hard to raise difficulty so it’s a bad thing that after I found / crafted some better gear I’ll have to wait for a long time. Anyway, it took me more than 10 hours to reach level 70, and it’s such a pain that except for the 20+ rift key frags and 10+ souls (not as many as 50+ like someone mentioned) everything I got was TRASH. Krindershot? Trash. Leoric crown? Trash. Everything that’s below level 70 is trash. This is very, very bad gaming experience. The worst thing I feel like is removing the “exploited” quests and it’s so slow that even with the 3x exp gain it still feels like shit.

    I totally don’t understand why the OP think it’s a good design that you’ll be forced to spend 10 hours to be actually starting playing the game. So frustrating.

    PS: the capcha sucks.

  9. Once you actually get in game, its awesome.

  10. Has this been changed again and is now 4 lvls or is that a mistake .

    "and scratched and clawed to Wave 20 and Wave 21, which earned me a GRK 16 and 17"

    I also don't get why you are going on and on and on about loot and how much is dropping plus how quick you are levelling when you are on the PTR with massive buffs , what's the point ?

  11. I don’t think I ever had this much fun since the launch of D3:V. The drop rate should stay this way forever. It’s still hard enough to find something decent for someone who can only play a few hours a week (if that). Most of the legendaries are still trash (seriously, I have soooo many forgotten souls now :-)), so I wonder how many months it would take me with the normal drop rates to get to a point where I can really enjoy the game. I know it’s impossible to balance drop rates so they’re fun for both people like me who play only a few hours a week and people who play a few (or many) hours a day. But if the game stays as it is on live servers right now I will only play PTR when I have the time because it is so very much more enjoyable.

  12. There was a note in the patch notes about a buff to Whimseydale (or shire, I'm not sure which it was).

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