Playing in the Buff

There’s a pleasant breeze blowing and it’s blowing in all the right places right now.

Like many Diablo III fans I was celebrating the second anniversary of this title with some serious slaughter and looting. Initially I was just levelling my Crusader and wondering about the various builds I could work with at end game as I have most of my basic Lvl 70 gear sorted- thanks to the two Barbarians- so it was full steam ahead. But after she finished Act V and was sitting comfortably I felt like playing either or both of my Barbarians, which soon progressed to levelling my Wizard to Lvl 70, and spending time and gold building even better gems.

The buff to legendary drop rates has remained even after the anniversary and while some feel the decision is making the game “too easy”- I’m all for it.

Itemisation has long been the curse that has plagued Diablo III. While, yes, there was more gear and more affixes- most of them were junk. At Lvl 60 in Inferno you really don’t want to see a number of junk affixes constantly rolling on your gear. For instance, a two-handed mighty weapon rolling with main statistic Intelligence. Why was that even possible? While there is the argument that you can’t get perfect rolls on every piece (and I agree) this was more a case that there were perfect drops on 0.1% of the gear available. This is why the auction house came under fire so much as it wasn’t so much a case that you couldn’t progress without it- as you could- you’d just die of old age before you did. While legendary items were considered laughable compared to some of the rare items you could roll.

Considering then that everything was tied to your gear as your skills could always do x% of your weapon damage it kind of made of the game less and less satisfactory the deeper you went through the difficulty curve. Equally, a number of the skills you had were only viable until late-Hell and then you needed to switch them all around in Inferno.

So angry. So flashy. So dead.

So angry. So flashy. So dead.

So dash forward to Reaper of Souls and there’s so much that has been improved. Skills have become a lot more useful, there’s a lower chance of rolling junk affixes, combat is no longer spiky, and the difficulty settings allow you to easily play through Master for a challenge or ramp up to Torment I-VI for pure carnage. If you’re more casual and don’t enjoy the constant tweaking of statistics then you’re able to experience good level content without needing to ever step into Torment I or higher. There are also Nephalem Rifts, Bounties, and Blood Shards which allow you to gamble for gear.

The legendary buff was just the icing on the cake as legendary items are quite rare (as you’d expect) but they are powerful. Quite powerful. So once you have one you’re not going to get much joy from a rare in the same socket unless it was an exceptionally poor legendary roll or an exceptionally good rare roll. This buff, for me, so far, has allowed me to piece together a few legendary items for levelling my second Crusader. Not to mention it has allowed me to take a Wizard from 140k DPS to 650k DPS in about eight hours. But it doesn’t mean that every item is perfect and all is well. The first Reaper’s Wraps I made was a main statistic Vitality with a level reduction secondary statistic. I found a rather cool staff the other night that again was main statistic Vitality. I also seem to find an endless amount of main statistic Vitality shoulders.

But it is a push in the right direction where self-found play is viable and where you can progress through the difficulty settings at your own pace given your luck with the drops. I think my Wizard is the closest I’ve come to filling all of their slots with legendary items and I’m still missing a pair of shoulders and a Forgotten Soul to roll a socket for her legendary weapon. The progress was quick but it was nice. It’s also going to even out soon as I won’t be able to progress pre-Torment legendary items soon.

Maybe in the long run I might feel that it is too easy but I think it also comes down to the characters themselves. Barbarians seem to progress quickly through the offensive statistics but besides armour they aren’t progressing as quick through the defensive ones. While Wizards inherently get +to all resistances as a standard with their Intelligence main statistic.

But right now? It’s pretty cool and it’s definitely more like Diablo than Diablo III has ever been.

Have a good weekend, all!



Got a Meeting with Death

You’ll need to speak up, though- he’s a little hard of hearing.

It’s rare that I’ll devote an entire post to gaming but it’s one of those moments like on the 15th of May 2012. Everything was set: the collector’s edition was mine, the classes were planned out, and- oh, sweet mother of baby lambs- ERROR 37! Not again. What I didn’t realise then is that Error 37 was the final boss of Diablo III- if you could overcome him you were on the home straight.

Joking aside, it wasn’t a great time if you had expected a lot from the sequel.

For those who don’t follow me closely enough that you know I spent many years enslaved with (see: thoroughly enjoying) Diablo II here’s a screenshot that summarises my experiences in that game. It represents the pinnacle of many hours of building Barbarians, testing skills, farming items, hunting the bosses, slaying the Act bosses. It’s all there and you’ll get a taste for what I spent several hours on when you see it. Presenting, for your viewing pleasure- the pinnacle of my Diablo II achievements-

…Oh, um, that… that wasn’t the screenshot I meant to share.

I was one of the many who were wary of Reaper of Souls when it was first announced. It had all the best intentions and had all the systems that would allow you to build whichever characters you pleased, while it didn’t feature the auction house- which is incorrectly noted as the bane of the initial release- so everything was good. Right? Right. There was a lot of promise in the first release of the sequel and a lot of that fell flat on its face. Incorrectly the auction house has been given as a blanket explanation for stifling progress. Which is and isn’t true.

It’s true to the extent that you can’t really progress effectively through Inferno without the use of it (at least in the original patch). However, it’s untrue as that wasn’t the reason you couldn’t progress- it was the means by which you could progress. It was the generally poor itemisation that made the items you found generally useless. In two-three hours of running MP3-5 on my Barbarian I would rarely find anything worth taking home other than for the purpose of salvaging.
The new loot system promised to fix that- but could it? Would it? Did it? Well, I can say it did fix a number of the problems.

For characters re-entering the fold with an existing character under Lvl 60 just crafting equipment shows a massive power gap between the two. Items are pretty much build defining. You can find some amazingly good legendaries like a Mempo of Twilight I have on my Wizard that defies anything I could ever have found before. Not to mention, the new showering of Marquise and Imperial gems which are going to massively redefine the way you play and what you can socket.

The skills have been redesigned around creating unique, interesting, and diversified mechanics. In some cases there are classic Diablo II skills like Glacial Spike and Frozen Orb coming back as rune modifications on Wizard skills and they are as awesome as they were to begin with. Sure, it’s borrowing heavily from Diablo II in places- but it’s better than what we had.

If you’ve played Diablo III but didn’t enjoy it, the new patch for Reaper of Souls (bringing the new systems and mechanics) is up. Give it a go. You might be surprised.

There’s a post coming shortly about my artistic efforts over the last two weeks as well. I haven’t been sitting dormant. I do have things to share but they’re not pieces (sadly) but something just as cool. For now, however, I’m off to a meeting with death. Hopefully he likes his coffee as black as his unholy soul. I know I do.