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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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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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Diablo 3 Patch 13 Skill and Rune Changes

Posted 19 Feb 2012 by

Here’s Jay Wilson’s full article, plus the new screenshots. We’ll be posting analysis and discussion of these changes later on, once we’ve had time to absorb the big changes.

Last August we held a Diablo III press tour, and it was with a small group of fansites that I first revealed significant changes were still in store for the rune system. Since then, we’ve been hard at work on the rune and skill systems, and today we’d like to share details on the changes you’ll see in Beta patch 13. We’re confident that these changes will make Diablo III a better game, and to help illustrate why, I’ll start with a high-level explanation of our goals for these systems as well as the feedback we were responding to in making these changes.

I’ll start with the skill system. Our high-level goal with this system has always been to give players a great degree of power to customize their characters. We believe we accomplished that early on by abolishing skill trees and moving toward an open-ended system where skills, rune variants, and passives are chosen at-will by the player in a flexible customization system.

That goal and the system have been great successes, but the amount of customization we have available doesn’t mean anything if it’s not useful in combat situations. Combat depth is another one of our goals; Diablo III is designed to be a modern action game, built on the mantra of “easy to learn, difficult to master.” What that means for the player is picking a set of skills and abilities that work together, and then executing them in ways that lead to success: the wholesale slaughter of the demonic invasion. With that combat-depth goal in mind, we’ve been internally categorizing the skills since the inception of the system. Many of you could probably identify what these categories were if we asked, and some players have even mapped out what they are fairly accurately.

For every class we essentially created three common types of abilities, and then a handful of class-specific ability types. All classes have skills that fit into categories we call Primary Attack, Secondary Attack, and Defensive. Primary Attack skills are frequently used abilities that typically generate resources. Secondary Attacks are more powerful attacks that are limited in use through resource cost or cooldown. Defensive abilities are used to escape or control the flow of combat. Beyond that, classes have unique categories, like armor spells for the wizard or mantras for the monk. We used this methodology to help us design the classes and their skills, but we weren’t exposing this to the player despite the fact that these categories would give the player, like they did our own team, a better understanding of how the classes work.

Click through to see the rest of Jay’s article.

One of our other goals is to ensure our game controls and interfaces are easy to use so that players spend their time trying to master game mechanics rather than fighting an interface. Giving players complete freedom to choose “anything” with no direction as to how our systems are intended to work was a failure in our design. There was also a detached relationship between the bottom-bar UI and the skill system. We have six skill slots, and six spots to put skills, but the two interfaces didn’t really interact, and stocking abilities in your interface felt awkward.

To fix these issues, we focused on two core changes: (1) exposing the skill design intent by categorizing the skills and (2) linking skill selection directly to the bottom-bar UI to make assigning skills a clearer process. When viewing the skill screen, you’ll be presented with your six skill selection slots; each of these correspond directly to your bottom bar, and each will provide a specific list of skills from which to choose. By providing a clear-cut guide on how to best maximize your build potential, we hope to cover that “easy to learn” half of the mantra.

You may already be fuming because you’re a “difficult to master” type of person, but before you run to the forums, we have you covered. In the Gameplay options, we’ve added an ‘Elective Mode’ for the skill system. With this checkbox ticked you’ll be able to place any skill in any skill slot, as freely as you could before. The Elective Mode option is available at any time with no requirements or need to unlock it. We hope the new, more guided interface will give you an in-game heads up as to the intent of each skill — and maybe even be the way you play through the game in Normal — but if you eventually have a build that simply can’t be accomplished the way we’ve laid things out, you’re free to pop on Elective Mode and take the skills you want.

While the skill system is largely unchanged save for some UI improvements and the helpful new (but optional) skill categories, we’ve been working to make some rather intense changes to the runestone system. Before we get too far, it’s probably best to clarify our terms: First, they’re now called skill runes, and they’re called skill runes because they’re no longer a physical item, but built directly into the skill system. Let’s back up, though, and go through some of the problems we were encountering and how this final design is intended to resolve those issues.

Our goal with the rune system has always been to provide additional character customization by allowing players to augment or completely alter their skills in new and significant ways. Originally, we tied this in to the itemization system because it felt like a good fit, as Diablo is all about the item drops. But with around 120 base skills, that meant there were around 600 rune variants; on top of that, each variant had five quality levels each, meaning ultimately there would be something like 3,000 different runes in the game… and we knew we were heading toward a problem.

Diablo is certainly about the items, but later in the game, having to juggle all of those various runes was not only un-fun, it was a serious and tedious inventory problem. We went through a number of different iterations, some of which we fully implemented and tested, to try to solve these fundamental issues while still keeping the customization intact. Ultimately we developed, implemented, and have been playing and testing a new system which we’re confident hits all of the desired mechanics and solves all of the related issues – and that’s what I’m going to talk about today and what you’ll see in Beta patch 13.

With the new skill rune system, you’ll be unlocking new skills as you level up just like you always have… but in addition you’ll also be unlocking skill runes. Now, when you open the skill window, you’ll choose which skills you want in which slots, the skill rune variants you’d like, and your passives. All of this is done directly through the UI, and all of the options from the skill, skill rune, and passive systems are unlocked through character leveling progression, leading to a cleaner overall integration of these systems. Just as we set different skills to unlock at specific levels, skill rune choices unlock at different levels as well.

Another thing we strive for in our games is “concentrated coolness,” and while rune quality levels made sense when we were attempting to itemize them throughout the game, they make far less sense as runes are unlocked through the UI. We didn’t want to get back into a situation where you’re clicking a button to pump points into skills. It’s far more concentrated (and cool) when your rune choices have a single and powerful benefit to your skill choice. The new skill rune system does not have ranks, and we’ve instead made each around the equivalent to what the rank 4 or 5 rune was previously. One click, you make your rune choice, and you get an explosive benefit to that skill. That feels a lot cooler.

Runes have been by far the biggest design hurdle we’ve had in the game, and as you know we’ve been continually iterating on them. We fully expect that some of you will be disappointed that runes won’t be part of the itemization system. Internally, it took us a long time to let go of that notion too and stop trying to force them into being items, and instead embrace the intent of the system. Integrating runes with the skill system directly gave us a bunch of great benefits, and even without runes we’re launching with more item types than Diablo II had. We knew we were making the right choice by letting go of runes as items and focusing on the core objective of the system: to customize your skills in awesome ways.

Before I wrap up, I did want to cover that one of the added benefits of the new system is that you’ll be unlocking something every level all the way up to the level cap (60). Now, with each level you’ll unlock at least one new skill or rune, and in most cases you’ll be unlocking three or four. The most immediately exciting part of that system is that skill runes begin unlocking at level 6, which means that players in the beta test will finally be able to play around with some rune variants.

Phew. Well, there you have it — the new skill and rune systems! We strongly believe that these changes are going to make for a better Diablo III, and we’re looking forward to you trying it out in patch 13, which should be live any minute now (if it isn’t already). As always, we’d love to hear your feedback on your experiences with these changes. To help center the conversation on these changes to a single location, we’re going to lock comments on this blog and encourage you to post in a thread we’re specifically making to discuss this: Skill and Rune Changes Discussion.

Thanks for reading.

Jay Wilson is Game Director for Diablo III and won first place in the team’s chili cook-off competition. Recipe available upon request.