Recent Features

Diablo 3 PTR: Bigger and Better Nephalem Rift Maps
The size and shape and monster density/composition of the Nephalem Rifts and Greater Rifts is one of the main areas of testing during the current PTR session. The big changes were noted in the first days of the PTR, with much higher density in Greater Rifts allowing most characters to instantly boost their highest Grift […]
Diablo 3 Legendary Ancient Items: Mega-Analysis + Screens
Last week I played a good amount of the upcoming Patch 2.1.2 on the PTR, with copied characters and then with a new Season Two Demon Hunter. Since it’s just for testing my S2 character was softcore, and with the insane drop rates of the community buff, gearing up (and leveling up) goes very quickly. […]

Diablo 3 Monster Density in Patch 1.08

Posted 12 Apr 2013 by

I’ve had a chance to hop on the PTR and do a few runs through Acts 1-4 in v1.08, and here are some initial reactions to the increased Diablo 3 monster density, as well as the other new features coming up in v1.08.

Most of these are factual observations meant as FYI to people who haven’t tried out the patch yet, but there’s a lot of subjective as well, and I’m interested in hearing other opinions on those. Obviously everyone will have a slightly different opinion on whether the increased monster density is too hot/cold/goldilocks, based on your class, gear, build, play style, etc. What seems ideal for some players will be too crowded or sparse for others.

Identify All

Identify All Tome in Act 3.

Identify All Tome in Act 3.

Just to get this out of the way at the start… it works. There’s a table near the stash in the town of each act, with an open book on it. The tooltip says “Identify All” and if you’ve got at least one rare or legendary/set item, you can click it and automatically identify everything in your inventory.

The progress bar appears once you click the book and you hear the rustling of pages, and about a few seconds (it takes about as long as identifying a legendary does now) all of your gear pops to IDed at once.

Salvaging: There’s now a check box in the Options > Gameplay to turn off notification when salvaging Rares. This is a handy addition so you no longer have to get “buying potions in Diablo I” flashbacks as you alternate left click, enter, left click, enter, left click, enter, etc, etc, etc, while reducing your entire inventory of yellow junk into crafting materials.

The pop up warning remains when you salvage legendary items, so you are saved from a disastrous misclick — or bored by that one remaining delay, depending on your play style.


Increased Experience Gain

We’ve posted several news items about this, but if you missed them, here’s the deal. Bonus experience items and effects were formerly all additive: that is they all added up to give you a total bonus. 35% from Hellfire ring + 25% from Ruby in helm + 75% from Nephalem Valor stacks + 100% from Monster Power 4 + shared exp bonuses from your follower, etc… all just added up to a total bonus. Which was nice, but players wanted more, and especially moar bonuses to playing in in party games. So we got them.

Coming up in v1.08, the exp bonuses from Nephalem Valor and more players in the game multiply the other exp bonuses from gear and Monster Power. This results in larger bonuses for everyone, and the increased improvement grows larger the more total bonus you acquire.

[ 100%(base) + bonus from MP + helm ruby + ring] * [1 + Up to 0.75 from NV + Up to 0.30 for multiplayer]

Amidst all the math, don’t overlook the bonuses to playing in a party. It’s long been suggested that multiplayer games add more Nephalem Valor stacks as a bonus. v1.08 does not do that, but each extra player in the game now adds +10% to your Magic Find, Gold Find, and Experience gain. That’s almost as good as getting another stack per player, and the exp bonus is larger than anticipated when you factor in the changed math, making those bonuses multiply the others.

For an example of this exp bonus at work, here’s a comparison from my P81 softcore Monk. In farming gear on MP2, with a Hellfire Ring and 27% Leoric’s Signet on the Follower, plus 31% exp from a gem in her Inna’s Radiance, and 5 NV stacks:

  • In v1.07 she gets 166.3% exp, or 201.4% with a Hellfire Ring equipped.
  • In v1.08 she gets 234.9% exp, or 296.1% with a Hellfire Ring equipped.
  • That’s a considerable increase, and note how much just the Hellfire ring adds; the 35% bonus turns into a 61.2% bonus, and that’s just on MP2, in a solo game. In a four player game with 5 NV stacks, every percent of exp bonus is worth more than double.

    Here are screens of my Monk in v1.08, because pics or it didn’t happen.

    Exp bonus without Hellfire Ring.

    Exp bonus without Hellfire Ring.

    Exp bonus with Hellfire Ring.

    Exp bonus with Hellfire Ring.

    Read on for discussion of the the monster density improvements, and how Act Two might now be the best farming area in the game. Yes, ahead of Act Three.


    Increased Monster Density: General Observations

    There are many specific comments below. A couple of general points, though:

    Beware boss battle creep.

    I repeatedly engaged an Elite pack, moved a screen or two during the fight, and ran into another Elite. Or a sewage spill of 20 trash mobs. That can be useful depending on your build and gear (it’s great if you’ve got a big Life After Kill modifier, since you can easily refill on trash while dealing with big Elites) but if you’re pushing your luck on a higher MP, or playing Hardcore, you might want to deal with the Elites without running into other enemies. In v1.08 there are many fewer spaces between enemies, and if you stray at all in any non-cleared direction, you will almost always find another big group before you’re done with the first one.

    Welcome to the Land of Greed.

    It might have been DiabloWikiRNG, but I don’t think so. In Acts One and Two, I got a Treasure Goblin in practically every area. I had never before seen so many, in any Act or game, and I noticed it early on, and kept laughing as I found another Gobby in almost every level. I’m talking 10-15 per act, almost guaranteed to find one in every zone. Fun, and profitable. I got legendaries from two of them in the same game in Act Two, and that’s part of the reason I didn’t do more testing on the PTR, since it’s just annoying when you find something valuable and know it’s not *real*.


    Increased Monster Density: Act One

    No change to monster density. They were dumb enough already.

    Oh wait, you mean the other kind of density. Well there are certainly a lot more of them. You’ve probably seen comments about the Weeping Hollow being renamed “Zombie Land.” And yeah, that pretty well sums it up. That area is amazingly fun now; reminiscent of those amusing videos we saw during the beta. Back then the zombie pukers never stopped horking up more zombies, so long as a target was in range. Thus bored beta testers would spend hours preparing the trap by moving around the level, killing nothing, simply causing as many zombies as possible to be created.


    The Beta bred strange player behavior.

    The goal? To score the highest possible DiabloWikiMassacre Bonus. Watch that video if you want to see, or check out others on the Massacre wiki article.

    The v1.08 Weeping Hollow doesn’t look just like that, since it’s not just one zombie per meter, forever. They spawn in clumps and bunches, just like now… there are just a lot more of them. I zoomed through the area with my Monk and never once came close to losing DiabloWikiSweeping Wind, even without using DiabloWikiTempest Rush, since there’s almost never a six seconds gap between enemies. I don’t think I got more bosses than usual, or maybe just one more. But damn there were a lot of zombies.

    Act One Surface Areas

    Unfortunately, the Weeping Hollow was the only surface area I thought was buffed enough to feel farmable. All of the other surface areas had more monsters than before, even the early areas you get to right after leaving Tristram… but none had enough enemies to make them viable farming regions, at least not compared to the current version of Act 3 (or the v1.08 version of Act Two).

    The problem with Leoric’s Highlands and the Southern Highlands and all the others is that there aren’t a lot of trash mob type spawns there. Scavengers and Cultists are basically the only cannon fodder you find there, and other enemies like Goatmen and Beasts and Giant Butterflies and Evil Ents are actually kind of dangerous, at least in terms of having a lot more hit points than the cannon fodder enemies. Thus (I think) the devs thought 20 goatmen and 5 walking trees appearing right on top of each other would have skewed the difficulty up in a higher spike than they wanted. As a result the later surface areas in Act One are about double their former monster density, but still feel noticeably less populated than anything in Act 3.

    Act One Dungeons

    These are a lot more crowded. You see the same thing in Act Two, where the surface is a bit busier, but the dungeons are just sardine cans. I did a couple of the goatman caves below the later surface areas and it felt like a petting zoo in hell; just wall to wall goats. Fun to make them splat.

    The crypts aren’t hugely buffed; a lot more enemies, but mostly just by removing the open spaces between them. I’d wondered how the crypts could be really increased in density since they are full of narrow hallways and the monsters there are such slow exp sacks. Well, now they’re twice as full of stationary, useless exp sacks. Go smash them all.

    The later dungeons in Act One, Leoric’s torture levels and the jail, are much improved as well. Still not equal to what you’re used to in Act Three, but at least double what they used to be, and as a result you don’t get those long hallways with nothing to fight, while you run and run and watch your buffs expire like candles in the wind.

    The clusters and bunches are larger also; I routinely got groups of 15-20 cultists, 6-10 cultist dogs, and 4-5 cultist berserkers, all on the same screen. Those could actually be dangerous, just due to the sheer numbers of enemies all launching attacks simultaneously. (More on that in the Act Two dungeons.) But they were very fun to see such large clusters.

    And then at the end of it all… Triple Butcher! Fresh fresh fresh meat meat meat! (No, not really. Alas.)

    It’s difficult to show the differences with screenshots, since it’s not so much that you get huger crowds now, it’s that you get them 10x a level, instead of once a level. That said, here are some shots I took in Act One on the PTR, showing larger groups of enemies than you’ll generally see in v1.07.

    Screenshot446 Screenshot449


    Increased Monster Density: Act Two

    Act Two is much more buffed than Act One, in terms of monster population. You see it right from the start; I ran out through town and into that canyon after speaking with Eirena and there were maybe 15 leaping kitties and 8-10 wasps just clustered in there, waiting, like inlaws on Xmas morning.

    Act Two Surface Areas

    The desert areas were buffed, but not hugely. I think the issue is similar to that in Act One — surface areas offer long visibility and a lack of visual or physical barriers, so if monsters were super crowded out there it would be a never-ending onslaught. (Which is awesome, IMHO, but apparently the devs wanted some breaks in the action.)

    Thus you’ll see considerably more monsters on the desert levels than you’re used to, but maybe 1.5x more, and there are still breaks between the packs. The biggest change in play style? OMG the wasps. They don’t spawn in mega groups, though I did get two packs of 4 side by side a few times. But there is another pack of wasps on every new screen, and their damn BBs are never not flying around as they circle you while you’re pounding 50 Fallen into the dust. I had to take constant evasive action against the incoming BBs, since my Monk wasn’t real high on resistance in her farming gear. But it was fun, having to actually *play* the game, instead of just rolling over enemies on the exp/item treadmill.

    If you’re wondering about key runs, the Dahlgur Oasis is buffed, but not hugely. I was able to keep my Sweeping Wind up almost the entire time, so there are fewer open gaps between enemies, but you don’t get mega packs or double the bosses or anything.

    You see a lot of this sort of thing.

    You see a lot of this sort of thing.

    The one surface area that stands out is the final surface area, the Wastes just before Zoltan Kulle’s dungeons. That area is amazing in v1.08; Weeping Hollow style with huge clusters of zombies, wasps, kittehs, sand imps, and much more. That area was almost worth farming in v1.07. It’s very worth it in v1.08, especially since you get at least 3 dungeons below it, and they’re very well-stocked now.

    Act Two Dungeons

    These are insane. Act Three-esque with giant hordes of trash mobs just everywhere. No big pauses or breaks, and massive clusters. One of the most fun I found was the water-filled cave below the Oasis… it’s usually sparsely-populated with eels, cold Construct Mages, and maybe some zombies or tunnel snakes. The monsters there remain the same, but their numbers are incredible. Constant screens full of 8-12 construct mages, all firing their three-ball cold attacks non-stop. It was really fun, just plowing through them in those narrow hallways.

    I was also very impressed with Zoltan Kulle’s 3 dungeons. I always disliked those previously since the design was interesting, but there were just so damn many long, empty hallways. Not anymore.

    Now those dungeons were as crowded as almost anything in Act Three, and I was shocked to actually die there, thanks to one room with about 15 poison Construct Mages. They’re not dangerous on their own, or even when there are 4 at a time, as you routinely see in v1.07. When there are 8 or 10 or 12 at once though, and every one throws a projectile that does 8-12k damage, and all of them see you and start shooting at once… you need to dodge. Or run with a lot higher resistances than I was in my farming gear.

    The sheer spawn of skeletons and imps and other stuff in those areas makes them awesome; very reminiscent of the Keep levels in Act 3. The third of ZK’s levels, the Realm of Shadow, was actually very fun as well, at least for my Monk with Sweeping Wind. Welcome to your new Massacre Bonus record, since the perpetual shadow imps, those ground crawling scraps of ebony afterbirth, are just non-stop. I was laughing as I ran around, hardly even getting to punch them before the SW took them out, just since their numbers are outrageous. I missed getting a screen of the biggest tally I racked up, but I had 2 different streaks of over 200 kills, and a couple of others of 100+.

    And that was without trying! I wasn’t rushing through, or arranging enemies in clusters, or making sure I ran the map without any doubling back. It was just my first time in there, experimenting with v1.08 stuff, and it was entirely due to the massive numbers of very killable enemies.

    Act Two Farmable?

    Yes. I can *definitely* see farming Act Two in v1.08, and not just as a break from Act Three. There are multiple areas with monster density just as good as Act Three, and if you’re on MP1 or higher they’re all mlvl 63 enemies, dropping the same item/gold rewards as you get in Acts 3 or 4.

    I’m sure players will find new Act 2 equivalents of the DiabloWikiAlkaizer Run, and figure which of the dungeons (all of them?) are worth hitting for mega monster spawns. I can’t say if Act Two is actually more profitable than Act Three, not after just playing through a couple of times on the PTR, but it’s certainly comparable, and might even be better for some builds.

    Mages are dangerous in numbers.

    Mages are dangerous in numbers.

    Multiple 200+ Kill Streaks in here.

    Multiple 200+ Kill Streaks in here.


    Increased Monster Density: Act Four

    Meh.

    There are more monsters, maybe 1.5x the previous numbers, but I can’t see farming it unless you’re just after something different. The problem is what we often noted pre-patch… Act Four is hard. At least harder than the other acts, and that’s by design. The problem with increasing monster density is that you’re adding more normal monsters that can easily be tougher than Elites are in Act One. Normal Morlu Casters, Corrupted Angels, and Mallet Lords don’t get 4 random Elite Modifiers, but they have big damage attacks, tons of hit points, tricky movement abilities, and are generally unpleasant company.

    Basically, Act Four’s trash mobs aren’t trash, so greatly increasing their numbers scales up the difficulty rapidly. Which you might think is ideal, but evidently the devs do not. Thus Act Four has more monsters than before, but not enough to compare with the trash mob funnels you get in Acts 2 and 3, and there isn’t really any Act Four vesion of the countless Zombies, or Skeletons, or Fallen, or Scorpions that you can go through like a lawnmower in the earlier Acts.

    Perhaps there should be? A modder would probably palate shift Fallen or Scorpions to an evil black hue, and then stock them all through Act Four. And that would greatly increase the monster density and exp value, but it would change the feel of Act Four to be just like the earlier Acts. Which seems to be what a lot of players want, but I think it’s nice that Act Four at least has something of a theme or variety to it, with fewer numbers of really large enemies.

    The problem is that they’re just not valuable enough, in terms of items or exp. So my suggestion/solution for Act Four: Keep the monsters as they are, slightly buffed in density, but make them harder, and more valuable. Bigger exp, more drops, higher chance of legendaries, bigger stacks of gold. Make Act Four Inferno more of a challenge to survival, and make it more rewarding with better shinies.

    And ideally, add some more areas. If the devs don’t want to enlarge the current areas, then perhaps they could rip out the crappy tiny Act Four dungeons and replace them with giant multilevel areas. Act Four has some great architecture and design, but you hardly see it with so many small levels that players mostly rush through. It’s wasted potential.


    Conclusion

    On the whole I’m a big fan of the v1.08 changes. There’s nothing real inventive — it would have been nice to see new DiabloWikiElite modifiers and maybe some changes to where and when enemies can spawn (Guest Monster style), but the increased exp gain, encouragement to party, and huge buffs to monster density are very welcome changes.

    I can’t wait to play them for real, where the new shinies and exp gains will stay with my characters.