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A Total Guide to Greater Rifts

Greater Rifts (GRs, initially known as Tiered Rifts) are a higher level of Nephalem Rift, meant to provide a greater challenge and greater rewards for players geared well enough to take them on. Greater Rifts are timed, and *must* be completed within 15 minutes to earn rewards. All treasure in Greater Rifts, with usually a legendary item or two, comes from the DiabloWikiGreater Rift Guardian (GRG) which is an upgraded version of the regular DiabloWikiRift Guardians.

Greater Rift CompletionDifficulty: Greater Rifts are numbered as a measure of their difficulty. A level 1 Greater Rift is very easy, equivalent to Normal difficulty (or less.) Greater Rifts scale up quickly though, and will become challenging for any player ability. Level 8 is equivalent to about Torment 1, Level 15 is equivalent to about [Torment 3, and Level 25 is approximately the same as Torment 6. There should be an infinite number or Greater Rift levels since each one merely increases the hit points and damage of the monsters by some percentage.

Shrines: There are virtually no DiabloWikishrines or DiabloWikipylons in Greater Rifts. Pylons are seen occasionally, but their bonuses last only 15 seconds (instead of the usual 30) and Blizzard specifically said that DiabloWikiConduit Pylons would not be found in Greater Rifts since they are so powerful they would skew the entire rift DiabloWikiLeaderboard system.

Dying in Greater Rifts

Revive at Corpse. No.

No Respecs: Characters can reallocate their Paragon Points while in a Rift, but can not access their inventory or skill menus (DiabloWikirespec) while in a Greater Rift. It is possible to return to town mid-GR, and players can respec and make repairs then, though it’s not recommended since the GR is a timed race. This is a feature designed to limit exploits via equipment or skill changes, so players can’t change gear or skills to be more effective against a single target before they reach the Greater Rift Guardian for instance.

Rewards: Items and gold do not drop in Greater Rifts, and there are no chests or other clickables. All treasure comes from defeating the Greater Rift Guardian, who drops a huge amount of stuff, about double that of a normal Rift Guardian, and has a very high probability of dropping at least one legendary item. (Note that the lack of gold and chests hurts the effectiveness of legendary items such as DiabloWikiGoldwrap and DiabloWikiHarrington Waistguard that proc up in effectiveness via gold pickups or chest/clickables opening.)

Progress Bar: The progress bar in a Greater Rift increases gradually from killing trash mobs, but jumps up by larger amounts for Elite kills. (Elites drop objects that look a bit like gooey health orbs, which count for big boosts in the progress bar when collected.) This is a feature designed to keep players from simply rushing past Elites to more quickly finish the rift by killing trash mobs, as can be done in normal Nephalem Rifts, and players will fill their progress bar more quickly by killing Elites than by skipping them, except in very rare long Elite battles.

Accessing and Process

  1. # Get a Greater Rift Keystone level 1 from completing a Nephalem Rift. – Drop rate still being determined.
  2. Use the GR Keystone to open a portal to a Greater Rift at the regular Nephalem Obelisk next to DiabloWikiOrek.
  3. Kill all the mobs in the Greater Rift before the timer runs out.
  4. No regular or champion mobs drop loot in Greater Rifts.
  5. The Rift Guardian will drop loot regardless if the timer has run out or not.
  6. If the Rift Guardian is killed before the timer runs out he will drop a Greater Rift Keystone.
  7. The Keystone’s level is determined by how quickly the Greater Rift was cleared. The quicker, the higher the GR key fragment.

Progress Bar and Rift Speed

The progress bar in a Greater Rift looks the same as the bar in a normal Nephalem Rift, with two added slider needles, displayed above and below the bar. The total bar coloured in orange, and the icon above it show your current progress towards completing the rift. The icon below it and any colour in blue shows how fast you need to progress to complete the rift in time.

greater rift progress bar

Ahead of the progress time

When players are battling through a Rift that’s just at the limit of their killing power, they will often see their progress dropping behind and the bar showing blue, before they kill a couple of Elites in a row and see the bonus from Elites shoot them back up ahead of schedule.

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Guide: Legendary Gems

legendary gems guideLegendary Gems were first officially revealed in the Patch 2.1 preview blog back in June of this year.   They will be added to Reaper of Souls in Patch 2.1, and are currently undergoing testing on the PTR.

The gems add special bonuses when socketed in rings and amulets (only on Characters and not on Followers), and can be upgraded in power via DiabloWikiUrshi, the NPC who appears after Greater Rifts are cleared.

While the developers are calling them “legendary gems” these socketables have nothing in common with regular DiabloWikigems in stats or appearance, and are more analogous to the Rainbow Facet unique jewels of Diablo 2. The main difference in Diablo 3 is that these gems can only be socketed in jewelry, and the way the gems can be upgraded to improve their functions over time.

Legendary Gems Listing

While the Legendary Gems are still undergoing development on the DiabloWikiPTR, their stats and bonuses are changing constantly. A major revision was created on July 15, 2014 with new or upgraded stats for almost every gem. The following are the most current details about Legendary Gems.


DiabloWikiBane of the Powerful
bane of the powerful
  • Gain 30% increased damage for 20 seconds after killing an elite pack.
  • Upgrade rank grants: +1 second buff duration.
  • Rank 50 unlocks: Gain 20% bonus damage to elites.
DiabloWikiBane of the Trapped
bane of the trapped
  • Increase damage against enemies under control-impairing effects by 20%.
  • Upgrade rank grants: +0.5% damage.
  • Rank 50 unlocks: Gain an aura that reduces the movement speed of enemies within 15 yards by 30%.
DiabloWikiBoon of the Hoarder
  • 30% chance on killing an enemy to cause an explosion of gold.
  • Upgrade rank grants: +1% chance on kill.
  • Rank 50 unlocks: Gain 30% increased movement speed for 3 seconds after picking up gold.
  • Increase the Critical Hit Chance of your pets by 20%.
  • Upgrade rank grants: +0.4% Critical Hit Chance. Max +20% upgrade (+40% total).
  • Rank 50 unlocks: Your pets are unkillable.
Bliz Note: As was discussed in another thread, allowing this this gem to rank up to +100% pet Crit would likely cause undesired gearing issues and probably be a little out of line.
DiabloWikiGem of Efficacious Toxin
gem of efficacious toxin
  • Poison all enemies hit for 1000% weapon damage over 10 seconds.
  • Upgrade rank grants: +20% weapon damage over 10 seconds.
  • Rank 50 unlocks: All enemies you poison take 10% increased damage from all sources.
DiabloWikiGogok of Swiftness
 gogok of swiftness
  • 50% chance on hit to gain Swiftness, increasing your Attack Speed by 2% for 3 seconds. This effect stacks up to 10 times.
  • Upgrade rank grants: +1% chance.
  • Rank 50 unlocks: Gain 2% Cooldown Reduction per stack of Swiftness.
 DiabloWikiInvigorating Gemstone
 invigorating gemstone
  • While under any control-impairing effects, reduce all damage taken by 30%.
  • Upgrade rank grants: +1%. Maximum +50% upgrade (80% total).
  • Rank 50 unlocks: Heal for 20% of maximum life when hit by control-impairing effect.
 DiabloWikiMirinae, Teardrop of Starweaver
 Mirinae, Teardrop of Starweaver
  • 15% chance on hit to smite a nearby enemy for 1000% weapon damage as Holy.
  • Upgrade rank grants: +20% weapon damage.
  • Rank 50 unlocks: Smite a nearby enemy every 5 seconds.
  • 30% of all damage taken is instead staggered and dealt to you over 3 seconds.
  • Upgrade rank grants: +0.1 second to the stagger duration.
  • Rank 50 unlocks: 10% chance on kill to clear all staggered damage.
 DiabloWikiPain Enhancer
 Pain Enhancer
  • Critical hits cause the enemy to bleed for 500% weapon damage as Physical over 3 seconds.
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Monster Density Changes in the new Patch

Posted 7 Feb 2014 by

Some good discussion about the latest changes to build density in Reaper of Souls and D3 on the PTR. Let’s start with the patch notes, which mentioned the issue thusly:

  • Monster Density has been revisited across Acts I-IV

  • Players should now encounter smaller packs of monsters less frequently
  • Act I has received density retuning to be more challenging at higher levels
  • Nevalistis fleshed out those bullet points with some explanation in a forum post, and stirred quite the controversy:

    The intent is that smaller packs are less likely to chain together. They still exist, but are less frequent. It’s an improvement to pacing, and you should run into “empty” areas less frequently now.

    Here’s an idea. How about we just go back to 1.08 levels, when it felt right? Why mess with something that wasn’t broken?
    Nevalistis: 1.0.8′s density change was an interesting beast that ended up solving some problems, and then creating a few more in its wake.

    The benefit of increasing density in 1.0.8 was that the world felt less empty and, based on feedback we received, combat became super action-packed. There was plenty to kill, and it kept you moving. There were *assumes Buzz Lightyear pose* monsters, monsters everywhere. In terms of raw gameplay and personal fun factor, we loved the result and definitely enjoyed the increased density when playing ourselves.

    The downside to increasing 1.0.8 density, however, was two-fold. First, it landed an unfortunate blow to build diversity, encouraging a very specific style of play (AoE or bust). Based on all the data we pulled, build variety narrowed quite quickly – even now, you can see the effects with Archon, WW, Zero Dogs, and other similar builds trumping almost everything. Overall, increased density led to much less interesting game play (for the game as a whole), even if it may have been super fun on the surface. Second, by adding a boatload of more monsters, server performance took a hit, which some of you may or may not have experienced.

    This is why we originally lowered density. We realize we may have turned the density dial down too low, though, and that’s what these recent changes are about – and really what PTR is all about too. We want pacing in the game to feel good, but without the additional technical or build diversity issues. We want to open up a greater variety of ways to play the game, and this is one of many steps we’ve taken to achieve that. Density is one of these things we can continue to evaluate and tweak, and we have every intention of doing that. We won’t, however, be returning 1.0.8 levels, but there’s likely a sweet spot somewhere in between.

    The real issue, I think, is rewards. In the live game the areas with higher density are the most rewarding, since many builds can demolish infinite numbers of trash mobs in a blink. This leads (forces?) everyone to play builds focused mostly on AoE. But if the game’s reward structure changes along with the density, then more types of play are viable. Players are complaining about less density, but they’re really worried about a (perceived?) loss in rewards.

    How do you want to play Diablo 3?

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    Click through for a lot more, with additional blue posts and related discussion about changes to density and play incentives.

    In discussion over the last year, the way I’ve come to think about the game’s changes is that v1.08 was basically “density 1.5.” Something the devs put in to improve the play experience, but as a short term fix while their main development efforts went into the big Diablo 2.0 changes, which we’re now seeing on the PTR and in the RoS beta. The analogy is to the Diablo 3 console’s loot system, which we initially thought of as Loot 2.0, but soon realized was just Loot 1.5, with the main fixes and improvements coming in terms of moremoreMOAR, without any real added depth or features. (Those came in Loot 2.0 on the PTR and in RoS beta.)

    On the issue of Monster Density and how it incentivized player behavior, here’s what Wyatt Cheng said when I interviewed him and Josh Mosqueira last year on the DiabloWikiDiablo 3 Podcast.

    Flux: So it seems like there’s nothing you guys can do with a single target skill that’s ever going to make it viable in a game where there are 100 enemies on the screen at once?

    Wyatt Cheng: I think that an unfortunately side effect of the monster density increase is that it devalues single target skills. What are we doing to do about that? Well, something we’ve talked about, and I stress that we mean a lot when we say “talked about.” But what we’ve talked about is that in a given level there are portions that are dense and portions where single target matters more. We like higher monster density, but maybe we don’t need the player to be surrounded by 100 monsters all the time.

    You mentioned it could be used for Ubers. Well, maybe we can create a gameplay experience that has a lot of variety to it, so in a single ten minute play session, you’d have need for single target skills as well as AoE skills. So we’re looking into that.

    That’s basically the message the Blue CMs are giving us now, and here’s Nevalistis this morning:

    Holy misinterpretation, Batman! I think I might need to clarify a sentence in my original post, because it’s been misquoted quite a lot. Apologies for potentially giving some of you the wrong impression. Hopefully I can make amends. :)

    First up, monster density was not lowered or nerfed in the latest Beta/PTR patch. In fact, it was more or less buffed compared to where it was at when Closed Beta launched. With this last Beta/PTR patch, pacing has been improved and, although there are fewer mobs spawning now compared to 1.0.8, individual monster rewards have been adjusted and monster kill experience has been greatly increased. We definitely heard player feedback from the PTR and Beta about density levels and have made changes which should help address some of the concerns we were seeing. Our goal is to still have monster slaughter be rewarding and engaging (contrary to popular belief, we actually do want you to have fun!) while also avoiding many of the technical and mechanical issues introduced in 1.0.8. There are many parts of the whole experience to consider aside from a simple monster count and our goal is find a good balance.

    As always, if you have feedback regarding these changes, I encourage you to try out the current PTR build and leave us feedback in the applicable forum.

    Monster density in the new patch is definitely better than what it was before. Still not ideal in my mind, but better for sure. There is not as much downtime between combat encounters. However, there are some areas that could use some additional tweaking like Festering Woods. Hopefully you folks will continue making adjustments until it’s just right as it’s not quite there yet.
    Lylirra: Glad to hear it! If you’ve got additional specific areas in mind (i.e. Festering Woods), let us know. Knowing what areas in particular feel like an outlier to you is actually super helpful in this regard.

    As I said earlier, I think the issue isn’t mob density so much as the rewards given. Huge hordes of enemies are very fun, but I think more fun when they are a special treat that only appears occasionally, rather than a constant state of affairs. (As in the live game today, where it feels like only the few most-dense areas are worth playing.) The bigger issue then, is rewards gained from playing. Players love the thickest packs of monsters, especially in v1.08+ Diablo 3, since that’s where you get the most EXP and items. Hence everyone adjusts their play style to be most effective against giant groups of enemies, and lots of builds and skills and procs feed into that play style.

    But what if the devs tweaked the game so that the biggest hordes weren’t always the most profitable? So that you were incentivized to play more areas (via Bounties) and that areas with fewer enemies were more rewarding? This would mean cutting the rewards from huge hordes of trash mobs, but let’s be honest… those are actually the easiest places to play, for most builds. With constant targets all your buffs stay active, everything’s proc’ing like mad, there are tons of health orbs dropping, etc.

    For the sort of changes that we’re getting in the game today, consider Act Four. That act has most of the hardest types of monsters in the game, but much less overall density. So for the past year+ many fans have been saying, “why not make those big guys that much more rewarding, to create an approximately equal value to easy trash mob areas?” After all, in the live game today it’s much tougher to battle through a level full of off-screen charging angels, meteor dropping Morlus, disappearing Terror summoners, etc, vs. effortlessly snowplowing through the endless helpless trash zombies you find in the Decaying Crypt. So why should that Act One punchingbag dungeon style of play be 5x more valuable than something that’s actually challenging?

    And now, in D3v2 and RoS… it’s not.