When the long-delayed but very impactful Beta v5 patch went out three weeks ago, we posted a huge two part article about its changes, plus a bunch of screenshots analyzing the changes. Beta v6 went out late last week, and while it didn’t make so many changes that a whole article was required, there are a lot of new and changed things with visual components.

    There are big changes to the difficulty (it increased considerably), and the addition of DiabloWikiAchievements and an account Armory add new DiabloWikiinterface elements. There are lots of smaller changes too; new DiabloWikiNPCs in Tristram, new lore books, tweaks to some of the DiabloWikiboss modifiers, lots more popup tooltips, interactive map features, red/green color-coded item upgrade recommendations, and much more. Examples of all these features, plus some discussion of the overall game balance changes, are included in this article.

    Just to cover one tidbit here; this is a new and gruesome DiabloWikiclickable. I’ve only seen it once so far, in DiabloWikiThe Weeping Hollow. It’s what it looks like; a big stack of bodies, but they are impudent bodies, since you are motivated to attack them. Dealing damage to the heap causes half of them to fall off and vanish, and after another punch or two the rest are knocked free…. revealing a health orb. I hardly wanted it, knowing what it had been lying under, but that *thrupp* sound effect is hard to pass up.

    If you’ve watched many gameplay movies, you’ve surely noticed that most players grab every DiabloWikihealth globe after a battle, even if there are like six of them glowing in a bunch, and their character is already at full hit points. I think the delightful sound effect is at least partially to blame for that indulgence of bad strategy. Seriously though; don’t PacMan through them all if you don’t need to; they last for a long time and while you pretty much never need to retreat from enemies in the beta, in the full game we’ll (probably… hopefully…) be put to much more of a strategic test. We might as well get into the habit now, since when the time comes, knowing you left a health orb or two a few screens back will be a life-saver, when a big and nasty boss pack is hot on your heels.

    Click through for lots more screens and info…

    It’s far from the most exciting new visual, but there are a ton of new DiabloWikitooltips in the game. At least a dozen were added in the v5 patch, and more with this one. They’ve got a new sound effect too, a sort of tinkling series of chimes, a bit like a medieval text message, so you can’t help but notice the text box pop up. And pop up. And pop up. (You can turn them off in the Options menu, but I endure them all so I can report back to you guys! ohgoditburns)

    Honestly, if you can think of a game feature or event, there’s probably a tooltip for it. When you first pick up a blue weapon, unlock a new skill slot, have the option to dual wield, take considerable damage, use a health orb, find an Artisan plan, etc. They’re so common early on that I was reminded reminded of that talking #*%^ing talking paperclip from MS Office. Blizzard should do like, an April Fool’s joke about that! Oh wait…

    Brand new in this patch; your DiabloWikiTemplar can now use a variety of one-handed weapons, including DiabloWikiaxes and DiabloWikiswords. Previously he was limited to spears, of which only non-throwing javelins were available in the beta (no two-handed spears have been seen yet). Since there were no crafting recipes for javelins, the unusual player who worked to upgrade his Templar had to hope for a lucky blue javelin drop to give him a bit more damage.

    There are still no crafting recipes for javelins, but there are for one handed swords and axes, though the ones with a level requirement of 13 or lower aren’t real impressive.

    The DiabloWikiNephalem Altar has moved. Not a lot; just across the street from where it was before, tucked in beside the bar, behind the DiabloWikistash. This location is kind of annoying, in that it’s just so visible and bright every time you’re in town, but it’s certainly impossible to miss, and I suppose it’s easier to reach in an MP game. (You still find another Nephalem Altar at the start of Cathedral Level One.)

    There are lots of little changes inside of New Tristram in the patch. Several new NPCs can be seen (and talked to) here and there, plus there are design changes. Two of them are below; DiabloWikiLeah‘s got a cool desk with half the candles in New Tristram left burning unattended in a terrible fire hazard, and in Cain’s house… there’s now a hottub. Yes, this man has a jacuzzi. Some things can not be unseen, and that goes for mental images as well.

    DiabloWikiThe Cave Under the Well is found very early in the game, on the path leading from New Tristram to the ruins of Old Tristram. The well is there every game, near some cottages, but it’s only a clickable entrance to a dungeon maybe 1/4 or 1/5 of the time. Before the v5 patch it was a very tiny area, clearly unfinished. The last patch got it working properly though, and now it’s one of the more visually-pleasing areas in the game, with ankle-deep water that your character splashes through as you explore the small cave area, killing a few zombies (that can’t be good for the water supply) and picking up lots of small piles of wishing well gold.

    This NPC merchant is one of the three scattered throughout New Tristram. He’s been there since the beta began, but I’d never looked closely at his gear before, so I can’t say if he’s always had human skulls, a variety of colored potions, and curious staves on display. Nothing like that is for sale from him, sadly. Like the other utterly-useless NPC merchants, he sells pitifully low level armor and weapons, and only one or two of each. I’ve never seen a useful item from any of the NPCs merchants, and I’m still not sure if they’re bugged in the beta, or just meant to be useless.

    Anything you DiabloWikicraft with the DiabloWikiBlacksmith is guaranteed to be far better than what the other NPCs sell, which is equivalent to the lowest quality blue items you ever find from monsters.

    A new feature in the patch is an DiabloWikiArmory type display in your Beta account. Now you can see this kind of mini-display of all the characters on your account, and quickly peruse their armor, skills, stats, runestones, and more. It’s quite nifty, though I guess it’s no surprise in D3, as WoW has something very much like this already. Click the shots below to see it full screen and detailed.

    I’ve got more than a dozen more shots of new stuff yet to post and this update’s getting long, so I’ll make this part one of the article and present the rest in a new post tomorrow morning. Check back then.

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