Continuing Tuesday’s new patch screenshot article, here’s a bunch more new stuff from the v6 DiabloWikiDiablo 3 Beta patch. Check the comments on part one if you haven’t already; lots of other testers chimed in with things I didn’t mention (though some of them were on deck for inclusion in this installment.)

    Increased Difficulty

    The biggest difference in gameplay in the patch comes from changes to monsters that have (sort of) increased the difficulty. Most of the beta testers have been bitching about this (much to the annoyance of the vast majority of you guys who aren’t testing yet, and think those who are, should be more grateful) since the start of the Beta, and Blizzard has repeatedly said it’s supposed to be easy, it’s just the start of the game, etc. Yet even as they say that, they keep tweaking the beta to make it harder (or at least less easy) in each patch.

    The new v6 patch made the biggest difference, by considerably increasing the hit points of every monster past the first few areas. It’s noticeable even very early on; for example, the fat zombies that sometimes break in two and send a DiabloWikiCrawling Torso after you received enough of a hit point boost that a new character will require an extra hit or shot or two, to kill them. They’ve only gone from around 10 to around 16 hit points, but when you’re doing 3 per shot at level 3, that’s a very noticeable difference. The increases continue throughout the beta content and grow more marked over the last third or so, where almost every monster seems to have 25-50% more hit points than it used to.

    As quickly as new Diablo 3 characters increase in power, (even if you don’t twink or craft) twenty more hit points on a monster at level 8 is much less noticeable than 5 more at level 4. But it does add up, with another shot or two required to kill almost everything you meet on your first play through. DiabloWikiLeoric got the biggest boost, of course. Best I recall, he had around 1050 hit points at the start of the beta. He was soon bumped up to 1351, and this patch continued that trend, raising him to 1718 hit points. That’s still not enough to keep him from being one-shotted, but it does extend the battle a bit for most characters.

    (Incidentally, those are all single player values, since all monster hit points scale up in MP games. As a sharp-eyed site reader named superaffe mailed in to point out; Leoric had 1351 for one player, but 4392 for four players. As he calculated it, that works out to Leoric’s base hit points, +75% more for each of the three additional players.)

    As far as I can tell, the monsters haven’t had their damage increased (though some boss properties were improved in v6, notably DiabloWikiArcane Enchanted and Electrified), and their AI, movement speed, etc, is the same. They just have more hit points. Thus while they take longer to kill, they’re not much more dangerous, especially not for ranged attackers. Monks and Barbs who are stuck in melee range for longer might disagree, though.

    The other noticeable monster change is that they spawn in much bigger bunches now. Not all the time, but at least a few places on each level in the Cathedral, you’ll find a mob that’s about double the usual size. Six Carrion Bats instead of four, twelve skeletal shieldmen and archers instead of six or seven, etc. There are also more bosses, though only slightly, and they’re still usually well-separated. I’ve only seen two bosses on the same screen a very few times, and that’s still quite uncommon in the v6 patch… though I did get a screenshot of one such occasion. The yellow Skeletal Archer is an Arcane Enchanted boss, while the blue DiabloWikiChampion archers are DiabloWikiPlagued.

    Speaking of DiabloWikiArcane Enchanted, they still have that lame “purple second hand” function, but it’s a bit less lame, now. When first cast, you now see a ball of purple light, which floats around for a second before fixing in one place, growing that second hand, and starting to rotate. Although the second hands still do not necessarily appear near your character, they seem to be a little more aggressive in their placement.

    Click through for much more info and screenshots on the increased difficulty, boss upgrades, achievements, new lore dialogues, changes to crafting and rare plans, new item comparison hover stats, improvements to the map, and the female Monk’s leather hot pants…

    That’s what really made the former version of this skill, with the Hydra head, so nasty. The projectiles were damaging, but more importantly the Hydra usually appeared right below your feet, forcing you to scurry each time one was cast –(which happened periodically during the battle, and every time an Arcane Enchanted boss, minion, or champion, died.The second hand does less damage and is much easier to avoid, plus they often appear some distance away, especially from ranged attackers.

    Another boss mod that’s grown more dangerous is DiabloWikiElectrified. This is the Diablo 3 version of “Lightning Enchanted” and while it looks much the same as the D2 version, it’s always been a lot less menacing. It puts out a lot of sparks and makes a cool sizzling sound, but the sparks are pretty slow, and they usually seem to go off to the sides, rather than straight at your character. That’s still the case (more or less) but the sparks now seem to scatter out more widely ensuring that some come at you. Plus. after each Electrified boss or champion dies, the lightning core remains there for a few seconds, churning out more sparks and making the corpse area temporarily impassable (without getting zapped).

    You see two of the cores in this shot; one right in the middle where the DiabloWikiRapid Fire is going, the other to the left, beside the DiabloWikiUnburied. Two more Electrified Champion DiabloWikiCarrion Bats can be seen glowing blue, off to the left.

    Another boss change is the DiabloWikiMortar modifier. Its graphic has been fixed, and it’s fairly unimpressive. Basically it looks like the boss or champion is dispensing a single one of the Demon Hunter’s DiabloWikiGrenades, but with a much less impressive explosion. There are lots of the bombs going out at all times, in all directions, and while the concept is cool, I think it needs some tweaks.

    The initial explanation for this boss was that it was meant to be more dangerous to ranged attackers than to melee types, but the Mortars are fired out so randomly, in direction and distance, that any character standing back a half screen or so will hardly ever take a single one of them — while a melee character will get hit by a bunch as they move into close range.

    That said, I had a few more pics of the modifier from the last patch, when it was still the buggy “giant pink impact squares” version. The boss is the yellow skeleton archer down on the lower left. Mortar fires the bombs up and out, and I took this shot just as one blew up on the upper level there to the right — hence the square looks huge, since it’s closer to the camera through the magic of 3D perspective.

    Speaking of that Mortar-firing Skeletal Archer, I didn’t notice it at the time, but when looking at the screens afterwards, his name jumped out at me. Unless you’ve somehow avoided every bit of D3 data mining info, you surely know that the Act Bosses, as well as some other key monsters and characters, have horse-themed secret names in the game code. One of which is “DiabloWikiFetlock.” Presumably “Fetlock” will be replaced by the monster’s actual name in the final game. (Which we know, I’m just not mentioning it here because spoiler.)

    The odd part is that “Fetlock” is not found in Act One, and I assumed not mentioned at all in the first act. So why would a random boss monster’s name give him a shout-out this early in the game? A bug in the monster name code and this title should only appear in later acts? Evidence that “Fetlock” is revealed much earlier in the game than expected? Inside joke by the devs adding “Fetlock” to the random monster name pool?

    DiabloWikiAchievements are browsed via your account. They’re very visual now, but i think they need a more text-based interface option; as big as the icons are you have to click around quite a bit already, and this is just with the simple Beta Achievements. In the full game with hundreds of them, it’ll be a scroll-fest to find any specific Achievements you want to reference. A few sample shots below; click them to see the numerous tabs that are used to separate and organize them.

    And here are some pics of the Achievements being awarded in-game. It’s a slightly sub-optimal system right now, since as you can see, the Achievement pop up tends to obscure the quest reward info. Likely they’ll display side by side, or pop up one after the other, once this system has received some of that world famous Blizzard development iteration.

    Incidentally, all of the Achievements are working in the Beta now. We know this since several testers have already earned every single one of them. In other words, guess who didn’t buy Skyrim?

    There’s nothing actually new about this shot or skill… I just thought it was a very cool zoomed-in view of a Monk using DiabloWikiInner Sanctuary. They should probably add a little barrier or air type graphic, rising up from the glyph on the ground, since that’s what the spell does; creates an area on the ground that no monsters can trespass over. It’s not a full wall, though, since ranged attackers are unaffected by it, and melee attackers will still try to get you, if they can reach. Leoric’s massive mace can reach easily, as I found when I tested it against him.

    Bonus tidbit; it’s not mentioned in the skill tooltip, but monsters that are within the area of the protective glyph when you cast it get bounced out to the edges, and DiabloWikistunned. If that effect holds true for PvP, it could give this skill a bit more utility than previously thought; turning it into a stunning melee debuff rather than just a shield. Albeit one with a very small AoE.

    Another addition that several readers mentioned in the comments last time are the new lores, NPCs, added quest dialogues, etc. There have been lots of little tweaks to the dialogues from the NPCs, more speeches added, a few new NPCs in Tristram, improvements to old speeches, etc. One of the more noticeable is that DiabloWikiDeckard Cain and from DiabloWikiAbd al-Hazir now give a short self-introduction on their earliest lore entry speeches.

    There are new DiabloWikilore books as well; I’ve found this one in DiabloWikiOld Tristram twice, since the patch. It’s from someone named DiabloWikiDespina, (who I initially read “Derpina”), writing from Tristram in the time of Diablo I, with comments about DiabloWikiWirt and DiabloWikiGriswold.

    The DiabloWikiFriends List isn’t new in the patch, but I don’t think I’ve ever posted a shot of it before, so check it out.

    The fact that rare items just do not drop in the Beta has been much-discussed. I’ve found one rare item during the entire Beta test (other than from Leoric’s quest drop), which is just a ridiculously low drop rate. I’m still holding to hope that it’s a bug, or an early game oddity, and that later in the game we’ll find something other than just gray/white/blue items on a less than “you just won the lottery” basis. Even if most of the rares we found were junk, they’d be very useful for spare parts, since you’re lucky to get a single rare material from a whole Cathedral run worth of magical item salvaging, and all of the rare crafting recipes require 2 or 3 (or more) of the rare material.

    Thus you can imagine my excitement when something yellow dropped from some skeletons on Leoric’s level! A new DiabloWikiBlacksmith recipe! For a rare belt! And then in the same game, literally 2 minutes later, Leoric dropped the same damned thing. (I’ve seen about 4 more of them since then, so it’s not an unusual find.) It does make a very nice belt, as you see in the pic to the right. There were no belt recipes prior to this, giving no way to upgrade that armor slot so even a blue one would have been a nice upgrade.

    It seems like there should be a lot more of these DiabloWikiPlans dropping, though. If you look at a full list of the Blacksmith’s recipes (check the “Learnt From” column), you see quite a few of the DiabloWikiApprentice and DiabloWikiJourneyman recipes that must be found and can not be learned by training. Yet I’ve never seen any of those find-only plans, other than this new rare belt. (You do find a fair number of blue plans early on in the beta, but they’re always the same low level ones the Smith learns from his training.)

    A cool new addition to the interface is a color-coded numerical display that compares your current item to the new one you’re eyeballing. Diablo III has always shown the new item vs. currently-equipped pop up, but the precise listing of the changes to your Life, Damage, and Damage Reduction is a new addition, and the red/green colors are a nice touch.

    I hope they expand on this system with more relevant stats, since the default 3 are often irrelevant to the stats on a particular item. Basically, I’d want it to list every mod that’s being affected by the item; if I’m taking off something with MF and putting on something with faster attack, the changes to those stats should be shown, as well as the damage reduction, etc. Amirite?

    I cropped out a bunch of items and weapon comparisons into one big pic, for more info at a glance. Click it to see it at legible size.

    One last thing on items… the female Monk wears hotpants. Leather booty shorts! Her first two tiers of pants both come in tight-fitting shorts, as you can see in the inventory icon. Furthermore, even when she gets into her tier 3 pants, they’ve got cut outs on the hips, like reverse chaps. The male monk wears proper trousers at all 3 levels, of course. Luckily, the years of training in meditation and discipline allows the female Monk to bear this indignity without undue embarrassment.

    The DiabloWikimap has been improved as well. There’s a new tool tip pointing to it, and the big map will now show you the names of key features if you hover on it. This is useful in dungeons or large surface areas, since you can see the name of the stairways. If you’ve ever done a full dungeon clear, then run three minutes back to the stairs only to realize you’ve returned to the entrance instead of heading to the exit, you’ll probably appreciate this feature. (I’ve never done that myself, of course. But I’ve um…. heard about it. From other people. Or something.)

    The screen to the right was taken while standing on the long bridge out of New Tristram, and it shows that town, plus all the earlier exploration up to Old Tristram. If you ever wanted to see their relative sizes and locations, via the game map.

    Enjoy the visuals, and feel free to ask questions about anything unclear. Beta testers are generally happy to explain.

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