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The State of the Monk: Additional follower or future OP class?

state of the monk in diablo 3It’s no surprise that the Monk class has been in need of some love pre 2.1. However with the second iteration of the patch on the PTR that need has not yet been abided. People are still clamoring for more sweeping changes(pun intended).

I was a heavy Monk user pre ROS and took a break with the xpac to delve into my first love(WD) and my new fling(crusader). I returned to the Monk only a few weeks ago and what I found was a shell of what I had left. After suffering for a long time as a WD it was nice when they finally rose to prominence. After a while on the top I wanted a new challenge and set my sights back on my monk, however even this challenge seems to daunting then all that time as a struggling WD. Diablo Forum MVP Druin put together an eloquent look at the myriad issues facing the class:


Hello everyone!

I am back from vacation and I am looking to write up a concise review of where we stand in 2.1.

My plan is to give a quick overview of our major issues then discuss the 2.1 changes and how they affect the various facets of our class.

I will be using this thread to fine-tune what we want to communicate to the devs and then I will make a major “state of monks in 2.1″ thread on the PTR forums to attempt to get some help for our lovely class! :D

1. Current Monk Issues

Damage

This is really at the forefront of the monk issues.

Since the release of RoS, monks have been having a tough time with DPS. We have a very limited range of options mostly centering around the skill Exploding Palm. (Un)fortunately EP is being changed as it breaks greater rifts (along with Rimeheart and Furnace) so our only source of widely competitive damage is going away. This leaves monks in a pretty bad spot.

Our spenders do very little damage (I mean VERY little) relative to their cost and our generators are used more as proc-vehicles for Odyn Son, Thunderfury, Shard of Hate and Rime/Furnace more than as sources of damage themselves. This leaves us with our 6pc Raiment of 1000 Storms which makes DS proc a 3000% weapon damage attack on cast. 3000% damage is a lot and it scales with lightning damage gear but DS has a flat-immutable 6 second cooldown. This can be mitigated to some extent by using Jawbreaker to give “free” dashing strike charges but that interaction is quite clunky.

Basically, monks will be forced into a clunky, hard-to-use situationally terrible Storm-breaker set in order to compete with other classes in damage. If they don’t want to use this mechanic, they will do very poor damage.

Durability

Next on the list is our ability to survive. This is a more controversial topic with some finding survival to be quite easy and many others finding it to be quite hard. In 2.1 with the change from dex giving dodge to dex giving armor and the change from OWE to Harmony, many monks who had minor synergy with OWE will see a minor tankiness boost. (my Raiment set for example)
On the other hand, monk who are deeply invested into OWE will see a major tankiness loss. (my Shatter-palm set). In either case, both types of monks probably have a lot of trouble living in T6 without 2x Unity or the constant dashing from Storm-breaker. Why is this? Because monks have to face-tank so much stuff.

Our primary source of resource generation comes from skills that require you to be up-close and personal with mobs which means a lot of damage can’t be avoided. To compensate for this, end-game monks are forced to take defensive passives (Harmony) defensive skills (Epiphany-shroud / Serenity / Inner Sanc / Blinding Flash) and CDR in basically every single spec. This is extremely limiting to the monk playstyle though arguably less of a problem than the DPS as the defensive skill/CDR solution does exist.

Additionally, sustain is nearly non-existent. LoH requires primary affixes which takes away from our already terrible DPS, LPS is the same, LPSS both takes primary affixes AND is extremely poor and Globes took a pretty big hit in 2.1. Monks actually have access to healing skills but, for some reason, they are tuned to be SO weak that they are essentially non-existent.

Resource Management

This is a more fundamental problem than the other two issues. Mere number tweaks would likely not result in this issue being resolved.

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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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Ask the Devs #2: Diablo 3 Itemization

Posted 20 Mar 2013 by

The Secound round of “Ask the Devs” question and answer session has been posted, well part one at least. It seems the Itemization round is going to be split into multiple parts which will be posted over the coming weeks. It’s no surprise considering Items is the area most of the community have concerns about.

The answers were supplied by Wyatt Cheng, Senior Technical Game Designer, Travis Day, Game Designer and Don Vu, Associate Game Designer. That’s a new name to me.

Q. Will all legendaries found on Inferno roll level 63 base stat values (armor and dps values) and level 63 “non-base” (affixes) stat values?

Travis: Yes, our plan is to handle DiabloWikiLegendary items in a similar fashion to how we handle Rare items. Legendary items will roll at a level equal to the creature that dropped it. This means that, in addition to a Legendary’s stats rolling at the monster level, the base item stats will also roll at the monster’s level. Right now, Rares don’t work this way. Instead, their affixes roll at the level of the monster, but their base armor and weapon damage remain unchanged.

Q. “Love Leoric’s Signet, but hate wearing a level 17 ring? Me too. Instead of farming Act II Normal to find a Leoric’s Signet, let’s go farm Inferno and get a level 63 version of the ring!

Does this mean that every set and legendary item will have a chance of dropping in Inferno?

Travis: Yes, Legendary and Set items will be valid drops from monsters at whatever point in the level range they are first introduced.

I have seen some people speculate over whether or not this means the experience bonus on Leoric’s Signet will increase, and the answer to that specific question is “yes,” but how each bonus on a Legendary or Set items scales will ultimately depend on the bonus itself. Some bonuses (such as the +EXP bonus on Leoric’s Signet) scale equally well from level 1 to level 60. On the other hand, some bonuses like procs that generate pets, or procs that deal damage effects, don’t always scale well as you get to the higher levels, but those will be changed wherever possible to scale with the level that they drop at.

Ultimately, we want to make sure the things that make Legendary and set items interesting continue to make them interesting at the end game, and in some cases they already do, so we just need to fix the other stats on the item.

diablo3_mysticQ. Will there be any way for the players to have some control over the item stats. Such as implementing the DiabloWikiMystic?

Don: Giving players more control and customization of their item stats is something we talk about a lot in our office. There have been a lot of ideas thrown around here and some great suggestions from the community, but we have not finalized any systems yet.

To give you an idea of what direction we’re heading toward, though, here are just a few ideas that we’re considering right now:

  • The ability to change a portion of a particular stat on an item to another stat of your choice.
  • The ability to augment an existing item with a stat bonus of your choice.
  • The ability to create an item with one or several fixed affixes—similar to the Rare recipes introduced in 1.0.7.
  • We’ve also discussed adding other types of “socketables” with a wide variety of possible affixes that you can put in your socketed items instead of gems.

All of these systems have their positives and negatives, so we want to make sure we make the right choice and consider all other changes we plan on making before deciding which systems we want to implement.

As far as the Mystic goes, she’s a cunning lady. I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of her.

Q. Where is my add socket?

Wyatt: When the game was in development, we actually the DiabloWikiBlacksmith had the ability to add a DiabloWikisocket to an item. Adding a socket makes the item better, so you pretty much always wanted to do it, and we found adding the socket felt like a small chore that didn’t actually increase the gameplay depth. You already need to insert gems to a socketed item, and felt having to add a socket as well would be a step too many.

With that in mind, there are still some gameplay benefits to adding a socket that we’d still like to capture. Although having to add a socket every time can feel like a chore, if there was a mechanic that made it a legitimate decision, that is something we could explore. Additionally, there’s something to be said for feeling more invested in an item—taking steps to improve an item increases your emotional bond with that it, which is something we could definitely do better at.

So, to answer your question, it’s something that’s definitely on the table for the future, but it likely won’t be identical to the system that was in Diablo II or the early iterations of Diablo III.

Q. Will there be new craft-able items added in the future? I’m thinking weapons and/or legendary items…

Wyatt: It’s hard to say for sure, but I don’t see any reason why not. As we revisit items in general, we’ll be looking at how crafting fits into the big picture, and it’s certainly possible that we’ll add more recipes at that time.

Q. So you have a plan to reduce the number of dropping items but increasing their quality. This will result in a smaller amount of items that can be salvaged into crafting materials for the DiabloWikiBlacksmith, With this in mind – do you plan to balance the amount of crafting materials gained from DiabloWikisalvaging against the material requirements of blacksmith’s formulas?

Don: Yes, we plan to take all of our future changes into consideration when balancing the amount of reagents needed for DiabloWikicrafting recipes. We haven’t decided on a number to reduce the number of drops by yet, so we can’t go into specifics on how or if existing and future crafting recipes are going to change.

Along those same lines, we’ll also be looking at the cost at which items sell back to vendors, since the reducing the drop rate of items can/will impact a player’s revenue of gold.

To be continued in part 2. . .

 

Short. But sweet? As a big fan of crafting I was hoping for something a little more encouraging than “It’s hard to say…” whether more craftable items would be added, I mean outside of the expansion pack but the ability to have some access to customisation of items is absolutely a positive piece of news.