Sometimes I think I was too harsh in my initial review of Diablo III. I won’t deny that Blizzard screwed up in several major ways, but they also got a lot right.
Maybe I just feel this way because the patches after launch improved the game so much. But whatever the case, I found Diablo III to be a game with much more replayability than I ever expected, and I’ve continued to revisit it from time to time, even beating nightmare on my wizard.
So I was excited by the launch of the 2.0.1 pre-expansion patch. I’d read enough about the changes to figure the game was going to improve somewhat, and I figured trying out the new version would entertain me for a couple hours.
I was wrong. It didn’t improve a little. It improved a lot.
By far the most dramatic change is the new loot system. While it wasn’t game-breaking for me, I definitely agree that the initial loot in D3 was terrible.
Before, loot rained from the sky in buckets, but most of it was pure vendor trash. It just clogged up one’s inventory. Only rarely would you find something worth equipping, and it was usually a minor upgrade at best. Don’t even get me started on the absolutely worthless white and gray gear.
In the new system, loot drops more rarely, but it is of a much higher quality. Not everything I’ve found is worth equipping, but nearly all of it has a decent combination of stats that is at least somewhat relevant to my class. If something’s bad, it’s bad because what I have is better, not because it’s lacking any remotely useful stats.
And the ones that are upgrades… My God, are they upgrades.
I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw how much more powerful the new drops were. Massive, massive upgrades over what I currently had.
How massive? In two hours, my character’s health doubled, and her DPS roughly quintupled. Eirena’s DPS shot up an to astonishing eleven times its previous amount.
Now, I’m sure things will soon normalize, and I won’t always be progressing at such a rapid rate. But it’s certainly a nice way to be welcomed back.
Prior to the patch, I’d found a grand total of one legendary in my entire D3 career, and it wasn’t even worth equipping. In one play session after the patch, I found two, and they were both huge upgrades over what I had.
One of them was from a random chest. Not even a boss or anything special. Just some wooden box. How cool is that?
COULD WE FIND MORE LIKE THAT?
The actual gameplay is a bit more interesting now, as well.
My favourite change has to be the updated difficulty system. The sequential system of difficulty has died the death it so richly deserved, and Diablo III now features an adjustable difficulty system like a normal game. No more having to complete the game to get a decent challenge, or having to grind your face into brutal difficulty on a high level character because that’s the only relevant content. Now, you can get whatever experience you prefer at any level.
This also has the advantage of letting you jump around to any part of the game, since monsters all scale to your level. Before the patch, I was trying to get my wizard to level sixty before Reaper of Souls launches, but I’d hit a roadblock because I was burnt out on act two.
Speaking of leveling, it feels like the leveling curve has been adjusted, too. In just one session, I went from level 58 to Paragon level two. At least part of this is probably due to the new Pools of Reflection, which grant bonus experience — great idea, if you ask me.
I had despaired of getting any Paragon leveling in before the expansion, but now I think I might be able to get a decent amount done. And since Paragon bonuses are now account-wide, my crusader will be able to benefit from them once I create him.
There’s more of a random element to adventuring now, too. The new cursed chests events are a lot of fun, and elite and champion packs have been improved. They now seem to have a full set of affixes regardless of difficulty setting, making for much more dynamic fights, and they can vary in size, making them feel more organic. I can’t remember champion packs having minions of a different monster type before, so I think that’s new, too.
I even encountered an elite pack of skeletons that ambushed me by popping out of the ground once I entered a seemingly empty room. I can’t remember that happening before.
Finally, I’m loving the updated skills for my wizard. You’re a lot more free to make themed builds based on different elements now, for one thing. I opted to make a “storm” build based on lightning and frost spells.
Also, the new lightning rune for arcane orb is hilarious. FEAR MY BOUNCING BEACH BALL OF ELECTRIC DEATH.
I’m sure the new shiny smell will wear off after a while, and things will revert to the regular grind, but Diablo III has definitely been majorly improved by this patch. With the better loot, new power ups, improved leveling, and more randomized opportunities for excitement, it’s finally reached that addictive state a game like this should have, where you’re constantly telling yourself, “Just one more quest, just one more dungeon…”
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Update: Since writing the first draft of this post, I’ve gotten five more legendaries — all major upgrades — and reached Paragon level eleven. I think my DPS is now around ten times what it was prior to the patch, and I keep having to turn up the difficulty because I’m growing in power so rapidly. I feel like a God.