1.0.4. First Impressions: General Gameplay

Posted by Radoslav "Nydra" Kolev at 23 August 2012 15:30

Patch 1.0.4., or “How million cries were finally silenced” as it will one day be called, hit the Diablo 3 servers on Wednesday CET time (or on Tuesday for them Americans). The notes were longer than Diablo 3’s development cycle but even those who did not care to read every single line of them knew of the big changes: legendaries that are in fact legendary, Witch Doctors that can actually use their pets, elites that don’t one-shot you (most of the time) and, of course, the new revolutionary end-game system that a community figure invented a month ago.

"One can only hope this is not a prelude to the old Baal runs in new attire."

White mobs have become incredibly generous

"The animations for Molten (both the trail of fire and the explosion) have been changed to a more smooth fire animation. It’s almost inviting..."

Using the new and improved AH search system to gear up Fluttershy the Demon Hunter
The blue bar incentive

A week ago I was having drinks with more Diablo-grinding friends of mine and as with every person whose social life is nothing more than discussing video games but offline, we inevitably reached the topic of Diablo 3’s shitty (or nonexistent, however you prefer to call it) end game. A little bit of theorizing down the road brought us to the oral agreement that we’re not likely to see more level up opportunities until the expansion, and those opportunities would not exceed 20 new levels. How we reached those numbers is a blur in my mind but at that time it all seemed logical.

Two days ago I entered the pub again possessing some cool knowledge and very soon an opportunity to share it presented itself as a friend asked “So, how’s Diablo going?”

“Ah, it’s Okay, I guess,” I replied. “They are adding a hundred more levels tomorrow…”

Indeed, the new system is highly effective in keeping player’s attention to the game, at least for the time being. Leveling up is slow but visible and the “dings” came just in the right time. In one afternoon’s time I did:

Two Butcher runs (starting with NV stacking at Cemetary)
The “Blood and Sand” quest from beginning to end
Two and a half Belial runs (starting with “The Black Soulstone”)
Act III till past the catapults quest

With that, I landed four bars from Paragon Level 3 and I called it a day.

The biggest concern here is how long this new experience bar will keep the players occupied. With the bonuses being as minor as they are (stat increases are equal to a level up, i.e. diminutive, and the 3% MF/GF won’t start paying off until the high paragon levels), the system is nothing more than a quantification of grinding. Then again, this might be just enough and although the joy of actually unlocking something is absolutely gone, it is what the community and the game needed.

One can only hope this is not a prelude to the old Baal runs in new attire.

Yellows, yellows everywhere

The first thing that’s easily noticeable after a few minutes of playtime is that yellow loot is everywhere. The 4x loot increase on white mobs was often the reason I saw two rare items drop from an Act I furnace zombie, an event diligently accompanied by awe and personal shock. Blue items are even more en masse but I barely registered them as drops: my inventory was always filled to bursting with rares (crap rares but still) and going back to town to sell the overflowing loot continues to come out as a tedious and boring task in my eyes.

Cattle for the slaughter

Battles have also changed with Patch 1.0.4. and with the nerf on elite mobs the experience is closer to a stroll in the park than ever and I found myself dying exclusively because of my stupidity and overconfidence rather than a certain champion being ridiculously overpowered.

As I spent many hours in public games, the flow of the progression was felt even more greatly. The 30% reduction in bonus health on Inferno mobs meant that a 4-player party can drill through content like a ceremonial knife through a virgin and with the bonus damage removed with the previous major patch, it’s also likely that nobody will die, ever.

Way cooler are the modifications to the affixes, though. The animations for Molten (both the trail of fire and the explosion) have been changed to a more smooth fire animation. It’s almost inviting at times and although it’s better for the eye, I found myself preferring the old, more fiery style.

Fire chains have had their damage nerfed by 20% and as a result one of the scariest affix is basically no more. Same goes for Invulnerable Minions (who are literally no more) and Shielding, which has been nerfed to having just one mob with the shield effect at a single point of time. As if anyone gave a flying [email protected]#$ about one invulnerable monster…

Morter monsters now point with circles on the ground where the grenade will launch which is oh so cool for Demon Hunters like myself. Needless to say, dodging death is way more fun than being killed on sight without much chance for objection. The bombs of the Frozen mobs have also been given a circle indicating the range of the explosion.

Apparently, Arcane Enchanted mobs have also been modified to spread their beams more widely but as of six hours of playtime I haven’t noticed a difference.

The auction house as it should’ve been

Finally, after three months of being a pain in the ass to deal with, the Auction House is approaching the state we all expected at launch. The six boxes for “Preferred Stats” will help filter the good loot better and hopefully lead to the crappy rares disappearing from the economy as players will be able to easily and adequately find the ring they need. As a community figure once said: “Bad shit only sells because people can’t find the good shit”.

What I liked most were to tooltips in the “Completed” tab, eliminating the wondering of “what item did I just sell for 1 million”. Consequently, I was able to estimate sell prizes way more effectively and sell all the crap that has been rotting in my stash for months.

Yay for tooltips.

Expect more first impressions from our crew within the next few days as we’ll go on to explore how each class has changed with the new patch.