Blaugust #10: diabolical

Diablo III has really become a modern evergreen game for me. The last time I wrote about D3, I was determined to “get good” at it — and I’m starting to think I’m making progress on that. While I was writing this post about focusing in on a particular game (and har-har, look how well that turned out!), I drew up this chart of the various statistics D3 tracks and set myself some more-or-less arbitrary goals:

Achievements and Currencies
Goal Progress
Achievement points 4,000 3,210 80%
Gold collected 50,000,000 28,573,650 57%
Blood shards collected 5,000 1,470 29%
Nephalem Rifts completed 100 31 31%
Bounties completed 450 62 14%
Paragon progression
Goal Progress
Softcore 100 47 47%
Hardcore 100 0 0%
Levelling the Classes
Goal Progress
Barbarian 70 70 100%
Demon Hunter 70 11 16%
Witch Doctor 70 13 19%
Crusader 70 60 86%
Monk 70 70 100%
Wizard 70 23 33%
Total progress
Progress across all categories 57%

There is a season (burn burn burn)

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The end date and rewards for season three have been announced – Sunday August 23rd. I came into Season 3 late, and then didn’t actually play all that much, so there’s no way I’ll get the rewards for achievement points earned, but, I should be able to qualify for this:

All players who reach level 70 on a hero in Season 3 will unlock exclusive Chest and Glove transmogrification appearances. These appearances will unlock immediately upon hitting level 70 on a Seasonal hero, and will be available on Seasonal and non-Seasonal heroes alike (even before the Season concludes).

I have a level 60 seasonal hardcore crusader who I could easily finish the last ten levels on before the deadline. There’s even enough to time to play properly and push the difficulty level up a bit. If she dies, there’d still be time to reach the level cap.

Season four starts the following Friday, 28th August at 5pm (CEST / PDT), and I’m looking forward to taking part. I’ve put it in my Google Calendar and everything. One of the things Patch 2.3.0 will be adding is a new feature, the Season Journey:

Each player approaches a new Season a little differently and we wanted to celebrate individual player successes. Beginning in Season 4, you’ll be able to track your personal progress through the Season Journey interface.

A player’s Season Journey is divided into chapters, each with their own descriptive goals and achievements. The further you advance in your Season Journey, the more difficult the milestones become and you’ll find there are challenges for every level of player. Completing the highest level tiers will unlock new portrait frame rewards to celebrate your accomplishments.

This sounds very good to me. I do well with some structured goals (see progress tracker spreadsheet above, ahem) and this might keep me killing demons throughout the entire season.

Season three I played a Crusader (though not a lot, admittedly), and I have a level-capped Monk and Barbarian, so that leaves one of the three ranged classes for season four. I generally struggle to enjoy ranged classes in ARPGs; I much prefer getting up close and personal. The Witch Doctor is very appealing from an aesthetic point-of-view, I’m pretty sure I could learn to melt faces with the Wizard (and there are even bizarre melee-Wizard builds I could experiment with); the Demon Hunter is entirely unappealing to me.

Patch 2.3.0 goodies

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Considering how far I’ve fallen out of love with World of Warcraft, I’m really happy with what’s going on in the D3 corner of Blizzard. Patch 2.3.0 is bringing me a host of things I’m interested in. We’re getting a new zone; the frozen Ruins of Sescheron which will tell the story of the barbarians of Mount Arreat. Really exciting is the introduction of Kanai’s Cube, the spiritual successor (and lore precursor) to the Horadic Cube of Diablo II.

Adventure Mode — which let’s face it, is where you spend all of your time after your first play through of the story campaign — is also receiving a host of updates, particularly to Nephalem Rifts and Bounties:

Nephalem Rifts no longer require Rift Fragments to enter, so we needed to change the incentive behind completing bounties. In addition to being the only way to obtain the new Act-specific crafting materials used with Kanai’s Cube, we’ve shifted the reward from bounties to focus on being the primary source for gold and crafting materials. It’s also a great way to complete your crafting recipe collection as each cache guarantees at least two crafting recipe drops if you are missing any.

If they pull it off in a satisfying way, I think this will be great. I like the streamlined crafting of D3, and this extra focus on it is much welcomed. I like collecting recipes (especially because they are account bound), and having crafting materials drop in specific acts will encourage adventuring in a wider-variety of them.

The Realm of Trials has been removed from the game. To accommodate this huge change, we’ve reduced the number of Greater Rift keys down to a single, universal type. These new keys are used at the Nephalem Obelisk to enter any level Greater Rift, up to one higher than the highest level you have previously completed (though if you totally crush a Greater Rift, you can still move up to 3 ranks at a time). In addition, we’ve removed Rift Fragments from the game. Nephalem Rifts are now open to players of all levels and difficulty, requiring no special key to access.

This is a pretty big change, and one I think should be welcome. The Realm of Trials always felt a bit half-baked, and it and the timer mechanics of the rifts led to some meta-gaming when trying to level up legendary gems. I think that anything which removes the temptation to not play your best in order to game the rewards system has to be a good change.

Hopefully the rebalanced rewards from bounties, the way they feed into using Kanai’s Cube, and always having access to a Nephalem Rift will break the cycle of only using bounties to earn enough fragments to open a rift, which is where you really wanted to be all the time; being able to meaningfully decide between running rifts or bounties will add more variety to my endgame play.

Kanai’s Cube

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The introduction of another artisan in the guise of Kanai’s Cube is going to add a whole extra level of complexity to the endgame; it can perform a lot of great high-end gearing functions.

The precursor to the well-known Horadric Cube, Kanai’s Cube is a powerful artifact containing immeasurable transmutation power. Originally simply known as “the Cube,” the Horadrim created it as a tool to aid them in the Hunt for the Three.  However, its creation was marred by dark methods and disastrous results, resulting in the order quickly determining that it was too dangerous for anyone to continue using. Creating the weaker Horadric Cube in its stead, they entrusted the first Cube to a secret organization of barbarians on Mount Arreat, who kept it safe from everyone, including the rest of their tribe.

We’ll be able to extract legendary powers (which will save on stash space, if nothing else), and choosing which powers to apply as passives adds another dimension to character builds. It can also entirely re-roll legendaries, which will dull the disappointment of seeing an orange drop that turns out to be less than thrilling.

Powers are also extracted at their most potent value, making it a tough decision between equipping a well-rolled item or melting it down to utilize a maximized power.

It can also transform set items into another item from the same set. I can see how that would be handy if you’re unlucky enough to get an item of the same slot twice; or if you already have a strong item in a particular slot. It’s not something I have much use for right now — none of my character’s gear is that progressed — but it’s a handy quality of life feature for the future.

For Softcore players, it also has the ability to remove level requirements from items. Okay, that could be a lot of fun, levelling up with a set of ridiculously overpowered gear farmed up by level capped alts. I’m trying to play more often in Hardcore, but I can definitely see the appeal of that.

In conclusion

Gimme gimme gimme, now. Season four starts in three weeks and I’m assuming the patch will launch alongside it, or perhaps in the spare week between season three ending and four starting. I’m going to finish up levelling my season three Crusader so I can unlock the transmog rewards, but really I can’t wait to get my hands on all this new stuff. Did I mention this is all for free? D3 patches aren’t very frequent, but there’s plenty in there to keep me amused.

  4 comments for “Blaugust #10: diabolical

  1. August 10, 2015 at 10:01 pm

    I’ve spent quite a few hours in D3 over the past two years myself. I didn’t jump into the game until just before RoS released, right when they removed the AH and changed the loot system. I loved it, as it felt just like D2 at that point. I played straight through, and once RoS released I ended up playing through the remainder of the game and then took a break.

    I came back later, leveled my softcore Wizard to 70 (and beyond) and then decided I wanted to try out Hardcore at the prodding of friends.

    My season 1 Monk didn’t hit cap til after the season ended. My season 2 Demon Hunter is still level 40. My season 3 Witch Doctor has been 70 for months but I haven’t touched the game in a long time. I’m waiting for the new patch, and I think a Crusader will be my season 4 character. I had one during season 2, but he died, as did a WD during that time.

    I love the fact that they are adding more content, and rumor has it that there might be a second expansion for this Diablo, despite there only being one for the first two games. Time will tell, but I’m definitely excited and enjoy the hell out of the game.

    Feel free to add me on B.net: Izlain#1300

  2. August 11, 2015 at 1:09 pm

    I enjoy this game from time to time. But some things confuses me, people talk about seasons and things like that, I am an idiot and don’t understand.
    But just playing by myself, not reading forums and guides and ignoring the world, makes this game fun for me.

    • Phil
      August 11, 2015 at 2:46 pm

      When you make a new character, you can make it “seasonal”. Seasons are basically a big reset button for your account — seasonal characters can only play with other seasonal characters, and don’t share the same account-wide stash and artisan progression with the rest of your heroes. There’s unique legendaries and achievements for each season; and once the season ends, all your progress is rolled back into your regular account.

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