BlizzCon 2015: The future of Diablo 3 is patch 2.4
All of Blizzard’s titles received big announcements at the Opening Ceremonies of BlizzCon 2015. Except one. But while Diablo 3 did not get any major expansion love, patch 2.4 was announced at their Friday panel and it includes a great deal of new content and features. And it’s hitting the Diablo PTR by the end of the week.
Looking for the tl;dr version? Check out the three screenshots at the end of the article that summarizes the major announcements.
New Areas and Monsters
First up, Matthew Berger, Senior Level Designer, took the stage to talk about two new areas and one new zone coming to Diablo 3. Eternal Woods and Royal Quarters are the new areas off of existing maps and Greyhollow Island is a new zone in Act V.
The Eternal Woods exists off the Ruins of Sescheron in Act III and are the hunting grounds of the yeti and the reanimated corpses of their victims. The Royal Quarters is in Leoric’s Manor Courtyard in Act I. The cultists have cleared off that stairwell near the entrance that was previously blocked by rubble. This leads to King Leoric’s private quarterers where, well, we’re not quite sure what awaits. Matthew Berger explains it as “the delicious kind of [monster] density you love plus maybe a secret.”
Greyhollow Island is an entirely new zone in Act V with 7 new events, Adventure Mode-friendly storytelling, and 16 new monsters. The Bone Breaker is the Sasquatch cousin of the Yeti. Instead of grabbing you and throwing you to the ground, it grabs the ground and throws that at you, then grabs both you and the ground and slams that down as well. And not everything is a new creature. Those annoying wasps are brought back as traps called the Glowing Death. It is full of wasp larva and if you accidentally damage it, four fully grown wasps spring out to attack you.
Patch 2.4 will introduce 175 new Bounties for your hungry, hungry Kanai’s Cube. They are spread mostly over Act IV and V and some in Act III. Some of these will be the standard cursed chests events, some are going to be in Greyhollow Island and some will be in the new Bounty Grounds. Bounty Grounds are like Rifts. You can take a red portal to one of six new dungeons.
An example of one has six cursed shrines spread out in one of the Grounds. When you click on them, bad things happen and monsters will also attack you. If you can clear all six cursed shrines within the timer, you get a bonus chest. Another example is a play on Treasure Goblins. Burrowers run away from you and you have to kill them within a time limit or they respawn.
Systems Improvements: Buff UI overhaul, experience balancing, new gold sinks
Senior Technical Game Designer Wyatt Chang then took the stage to explain the systems changes coming to the game. Based on feedback received from players, they are making a number of improvements to the game. The first is an improved buff UI. They recognize that you don’t want valuable screen space taken up by passive buffs telling you they are active. So in patch 2.4, if you cast a passive buff, the skill icon in your hotkey bar will glow around its border to let you know it’s active. And if your passive skill also has an activation ability, a duration bar will appear directly over you skill icon when you use it instead of taking up a buff slot. If you join a group and receive a number of passive buffs, they will all be stacked into one buff icon which you can mouse over to expand.
While the game was designed to be multiplayer, the gap between solo progression and full party progression is too large. To address this, monster health in Greater Rifts for solo, 2-player and 3-player groups is going to be reduced. They are also nerfing the benefit of bonus xp gear at level 70 by up to 90%. They are doing this so players don’t feel like they have to only wear bonus xp gear at the expense of other great gear available in the game. To counterbalance this nerf, they are also increasing experience granted by monster kills across the entire game by 50%. They also granting massacre bonuses that was, until now, only available on the console version of the game. Your experience can be increased by up to 1.8x based on the length of your kill streak.
To deal with the massive amount of gold some players are amassing, they are introducing Empowered Rifts. They are like Greater Rifts, but you pay an extra amount of gold to get in. If you complete the Empowered Rift in time, you will get a fourth bonus roll to upgrade your Legendary Gem. The gold cost is based on the level of the Greater Rift you are attempting from 150k gold for a Greater Rift I to be Empowered to 540 million gold for a Greater Rift 75.
And why do you need your Legendary Gem upgraded so badly? Because it is going to be needed as a reagent in a new Kanai’s Cube recipe. That new recipe allows you to permanently augment an Ancient item by sacrificing a Legendary Gem. You will get +5 to your primary stat added to the item for every rank of the gem that you sacrificed.
Some small quality of life improvements are coming as well including a tool tip description on the buff that Pool of Reflection grants, large damage numbers are now truncated with your largest hit appearing a little bit longer than the others, and an icon that appears on the description of an item that tells you if you’ve already Cubed that power. Also, follower items will now show a comparison of how much it will affect the companion’s toughness, health and damage if you equip it.
New Item Changes and Set Dungeons
Next, Senior Game Designer Alex Sulman took the stage to talk items and stated 50+ new Legendaries are coming in patch 2.4. They also revived 10 sets, reworking them to be more interesting. An example is a request for a ninja set led to a rework of the Demon Hunter’s Shadow Mantle set to make the player deal a great amount of melee damage with the traditionally ranged class especially if they have the Karlei’s Point dagger equipped.
You don’t like sets but feel penalized if you don’t have one? There’s a set for that. The Litany of Nightmare 2 ring set will give you a 75% damage bonus and a 4% defense bonus for every Ancient item you’re wearing if no other set bonuses are active on you. That means you can equip the pieces you want that hold the special bonuses you need and not feel like you are losing out on traditional set bonuses.
But what if you put in the time to finally acquire that epic class 6-piece armor set? If you have a certain armor set, you can enter a dungeon with objectives specifically designed to challenge you to push that set to its fullest. An example given is the Monk’s Uliana Armor which is built around doing massive AE explosion damage. The objectives of the dungeon for that set ask you to kill 21 monsters at once with Exploding Palm. If you take fatal damage in the dungeon you won’t die (including Hardcore Heroes), but you will fail the objectives.
There are 24 dungeons, which breaks down to 4 for each of the six classes. If you are able to master all the dungeon objectives within the dungeon without dying, you will receive a unique pennant for that dungeon. Blizzard hopes these dungeons will encourage players to try different sets than what they usually play. If you manage to master all 24 set dungeons, you will receive a special reward: the cosmetic wings in the screenshot below.
New Season Features
Lead Designer Kevin Martens goes over how the Seasons have evolved and what to look forward to in Season 5. The first new feature caters to players who are attached to the main character. It’s called Rebirth. All of your character items, gold and stash are mailed to you and you can pick them up when the Season is over. In the meantime, your beloved character starts over at level 1 in the seasonal play, naked and afraid. Ok, maybe just naked.
Season length has been experimented with from 7 weeks to 5 months. The sweet spot Blizzard has decided is 3 months and that’s how long Season 5 will last. No date yet on when the currently running Season 4 will end, but it will be over by late December and they will give the players at least 2 weeks notice. They are also going to introduce a breather between seasons instead of having the new one start immediately when the previous one ends. New conquests will be introduced into Season 5 and even more new ones will rotate in during future Seasons.
Rewards for Season 5 fall into a few categories. For cosmetic rewards, you’ll receive new custom portraits, pennants, wings and the new Wickerman pet. Seasonal Legendaries are being retired and any of the 50+ new Legendaries being introduced in patch 2.4 will be attainable during Season 5. To make up for that, you will be guaranteed a 6-piece class set and every season will be a new set. The Season 5 set is the Monk’s Sunwuko set. That set is currently a 4-piece set, but will be a revamped 6-piece with the new patch. So by the end of each Season you will be ready to tackle a new Set Dungeon and on your way to acquiring those sweet mechanical wings.
To handle all this new equipment coming into the game, players will be able to acquire more stash tabs. The total number of tabs you can acquire will go from 5 to 10 in patch 2.4. With the launch of the patch, you can buy a tab for around 500k gold. You can then acquire another tab every Season up to the new max total of tabs.
Tomorrow a technical beta will launch on the Diablo PTR for patch 2.4 and if all goes well, the full patch will hit the test servers this Wednesday or Thursday.
Note: These are paraphrased.
- Q: Can the item that adds a socket to your weapon (Ramaladni’s Gift) be less RNG dependent in dropping? A: No. It’s a nice bump in ability, but not a game style changer so we’re happy with keeping it random. We also want to make it a big event when you get one and that won’t happen if it’s guaranteed.
- Q: Is augmenting an item with a Legendary Gem using the new Kanai’s Cube recipe a one-time thing? A: No, a more powerful gem can be applied and it will replace the current bonus.
- Q: Do the Set Dungeons have variable difficulty? A: No, each one has a fixed layout, fixed mob spawn and fixed difficulty level.
- Q: Will there be a way to track your progress in trying to master all 24 Set Dungeons? A: Yes, it will be listed in your Achievements.
- Q: How are you addressing the low density of monsters in cave maps for Greater Rifts? A: Just upping the density isn’t going to help you get through it faster so we’re exploring the idea of breakables that give you a speed boost.
- Q: What are the plans to improve the game based on the Server Slam PTR event? A: We have optimizations planned based on that event that will come in patch 2.4.
- Q: I’m a fan of pet builds. Can you create a way to identify which damage the pets do via the floating numbers? A: It’s a cool idea, but we don’t have anything in the works like that.
If you need a recap of all of these announcements or just want the short version, check out these three slides below that summarize the highlights of this panel.
There is also an official announcement post for you to see a summary of many of these new features coming it patch 2.4.
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