The lights are on
Diablo III made waves when it released in the summer of 2012, but since then developer Blizzard has struggled to balance endgame and loot. Blizzard’s newest answer to the problem is Patch 2.0.1. This isn’t just a game update – it’s a game overhaul. Almost no part of the game has been left untouched, with sweeping changes to difficulty, loot, skills, experience and more in preparation for the game’s upcoming Reaper of Souls expansion. If you need some convincing on why you should to return to the world of Sanctuary, here are five reasons to spend some time with this new and improved Diablo.
Of all Diablo III’s endgame problems, finding usable gear for your character probably ranks the highest. Because of painfully low rare-item drop rates under the old system, many players felt forced to spend gold or real money on items in the game’s auction house in order to continue progressing. With Blizzard bringing the auction house to a close soon, a new system has been introduced, called Loot 2.0. Under Loot 2.0, a smart loot system makes it so all items have a chance to become “smart loot.” Smart loot items roll intelligently based on your character to determine the item attributes, making the chances of finding items with stats useful for your character’s class much higher. Quests can also now reward you with items instead of just gold and experience points. From playing for the past couple nights, I can safely say you will be finding better loot much more frequently than ever before.
One of the biggest changes coming out of this update in preparation for the game’s Reaper of Souls expansion pack is difficulty. Gone are Normal, Nightmare, Hell and Inferno, replaced with Normal, Hard, Expert, Master, and Torment. Monster level now scales with your character regardless of difficulty, and choosing higher difficulties results in higher gold drop rates and experience points. All this means it is much easier to find that difficulty sweet spot where the game is just challenging enough, but not punishingly so.
In a game so heavily revolving around loot, your inventory is going to become cluttered fast. Having to manage all the game’s various levels of crafting components, gems, and potions made it even worse. Thankfully, Blizzard realized most of this served no purpose and took out the trash. Most crafting components have been consolidated into a small handful, and the numerous potion types of old Diablo have all been merged into one type of health potion that now heals 60 percent of your life when consumed. Never before has my inventory and stash looked so clean.
Diablo III’s paragon system, a way of leveling past 60, was introduced in a previous patch but has now been further improved upon in Patch 2.0.1. Paragon levels previously granted player characters small stat boosts and a greater chance of finding rare loot. The higher the paragon level, the higher the chance. This is no longer the case. Instead, achieving a new paragon level grants paragon points, which can be used to improve various attributes. Paragon levels are now account-wide rather than tied to a specific character, and there is no cap on the number of paragon levels you can obtain. This goes hand in hand with the game’s new Pools of Reflection feature. When obtained, these grant your character a 25-percent increased experience gain up to a set amount, and the effect can stack up to 10 times. Even better, the buffs stay with your character after they log out.
There are way too many changes in the patch to mention all of them, but each looks to improve the game in some way. Players can now create and join clans or communities to make finding suitable dungeon-crawling buddies easier than ever. The user interface, menus, and maps have been reworked. Several boss encounters have been significantly altered. Chests and shrines now have a chance to be cursed and lead to a random event. The list goes on and on. Even if you don’t plan on buying the expansion pack on March 25, this new Diablo III is worth returning to or checking out for the first time.
You can read our review of Diablo III here, and be sure to check out our coverage of Reaper of Souls, which introduces the new Crusader class. There are currently no announcements about the patch coming to console Diablo players.
Like the new changes? Think Diablo III still has room for improvement? Let us know in the comments.
Email the author Cameron Koch, or follow on Game Informer.