Diablo 3 devs address balance changes in patch 2.6.1

Okay, it’s no secret I’ve been playing a lot of Diablo 3 lately. The most recent Season utterly grabbed my attention, and only Shadows of Argus managed to even slow me down. Even, so I’m closing in on Paragon 500 on my Seasonal Barbarian and greatly enjoying twirling my way through Greater Rifts.

Still, I have noticed that my favorite build — Wrath of the Berserker/Whirlwind Barb — has been a touch weaker as I’ve climbed up the Greater Rift difficulty. My entire gear kit is built around it, and I wasn’t looking forward to hovering endlessly at the same difficulty level until I got enough Immortal King gear to switch to a Seismic Slam/Boon of Bul-Kathos Ancients build. Nor did I really want to give up WW — it’s my favorite build, I love twirling through hosts of mobs.

And now, thanks to patch 2.6.1, I won’t have to. The latest Developer Chronicle from Blizzard goes into detail on exactly what the goals for the upcoming patch are and why Blizzard’s going to make the changes it is to various classes and specs. And for this Barbarian player — and also for my Monk and Crusader — it’s welcome news.

Two goals

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The first thing to discuss is that they’re going for an attempt to make more specs relevant and playable at higher endgame content. While not all specs can be viable for pushing Greater Rifts, that’s not the goal — the goal isn’t now and hasn’t ever been parity for every possible spec. The goal is to at least have some variety, to be able to pick between a few options for endgame. If you’re pushing GR’s, you should be able to pick between a potential WW build, a potential Seismic Slam build, and a potential Hammer of the Ancients build, but not necessarily all possible builds.

The second and equally important goal is to make endgame more fluid for as many as possible. At least a couple of specs per class should be able to deal with the heavy mob density and chaos of a GR, especially when pushing with a group. This is a hugely important goal to keep Diablo 3 fun and playable, because after a while, if you can’t maintain the same pace as the rest of your group, it really stops being fun.

How player feedback is incorporated

The post also discusses how iterations work for the game — how many changes don’t make the PTR because their problems get caught beforehand, how some specs got buffed based on player calls like Barbarians and Witch Doctors, and so forth. Players called for these classes to get survival buffs, and Blizzard was listening. Likewise, the general philosophy has called for under-performing specs to see buffs in some way, either through items and set bonuses or via changes to those abilities, rather than nerfs. The Diablo 3 philosophy means seeing a spec outperforming others results in buffs for the others.

The future soon

Right now, the changes are probably done — don’t expect any major changes to classes, items, or set bonuses in future PTR patches. They’re looking to test what they have, get stress tests and bug fixes out of the way, and go on to launch patch 2.6.1 as soon as possible. This means that feedback is more necessary than ever. If you can spare the time, it’s a huge help to the process of iteration if you can go on and test these changes to see how well they hold up before the patch goes live.

Just from my own selfish perspective, this is the best patch they’ve had in the pipe in a long while, and I hope it’s indicative of focus on Diablo 3 and its future. These changes look to make the game even more fun than it currently is for a lot of players, and I can’t wait to see them go live. Thanks to Don Vu and the whole team for not only setting these goals but for outlining them for us so we can muse about bringing back that old, beloved build we once ground armies of demons into paste with.

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