The issue of class balance is a constant debate for the community and the developers. Are the classes even? Can they be?
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Hands-On Reaper of Souls from Blizzcon 2013: WolfpaqPosted 12 November 2013by
Regular Diablo 3 Podcast guest Wolfpaq attended Blizzcon this year, and while I wasn’t able to meet up with him to get his quick reaction on Day One, he wrote up a beefy article detailing his impressions of the Reaper of Souls demo. It covers the Crusader and his skills, Adventure Mode and Nephalem Rifts, general gameplay impressions, and has a big list of descriptions of the legendary items he found.
Here’s an excerpt listing some of the legendaries he got to try out during his play time.
Amulet: Chance on attack to create vortex – this amulet was incredible. Basically a chance on every hit to basically do a cyclone strike (without the actual strike ofc). Remember how I said earlier Justice was great for legendary procs? This is what I was talking about. The ranged hammer + 2 splits was perfect for fishing for vortex procs which would pull enemies into a nice tight radius for Fist of the Heavens. I only found this amulet in a couple of my play throughs but it definitely made those play throughs very memorable. Can’t wait to get this on live.
Thunderfury one-handed sword: This weapon looks REALLY sick and its proc is also incredible. Crazy chain lightning + slow effect. Proc’d all the time. I loved having this on my Crusader especially, again, with justice for proc fishing.
Two-handed sword: Demonic explosion – bright green centered on caster so not great for my mid ranged Crusader but neat looking effect anyway
Shield: freeze on block – seems like it would be very powerful for a block based melee sader which I wasn’t. I did notice it freezing Belial in phase 1 though which I thought was pretty cool.
Click through to read Wolfpaq’s full article.
When approaching the Diablo RoS gameplay area you had 2 options: Adventure Mode or the first 2 mini bosses of act 5. If you’ve been here for a while you may recall my passionate plea for story free mode. I was hoping it would come in a regular patch but it looks like we’re getting it in the expansion and I couldn’t be more excited.
So… that’s what I did. Adventure mode. Over and over and over and over again. Everyone was waiting in line for Hearthstone & Heroes of the Storm so there was no line for Diablo 3 and the cool attendants had no problem with me just starting the demo again.
Anyway moving into the actual gameplay. Adventure mode is awesome. It is everything I asked for and more. No dialogues. No cutscenes. There’s still a minor delay between entering boss room and engaging them but it is a definite improvement. I think they had the “first time boss kill guaranteed legendary” bits enabled because I got legendary drops 100% of the time I killed a “super boss”. Since I am most familiar with acts 1, 2 and 3 those were the bosses I farmed the most looking for new legendaries. The super bosses are as follows:
- Act 3 (4 total): Siegebreaker, Ghom, Cydea, Azmodan
- Act 2 (3 total): Maghda, Kulle, Belial
- Act 1 (3 total): Skeleton King, Araneae, Butcher
They were denoted on the new waypoint interface by little skull icons. If you’ve seen any pics or screenies of it you’ll know what I’m talking about. By the way, you could access the waypoint interface from anywhere in the world just by pressing map (tab) and then right clicking. I don’t know if that was a demo feature or not, but I hope it’s here to stay. Being able to take advantage of the brilliant new waypoint interface without the unnecessary trip to town was awesome.
Another icon on this new interface was the blue exclamation mark (!). This was there to indicate a Bounty. There were 5 bounties per act. Pressing the quest/journal hotkey (j) brought up a list of legendary rewards you would presumably get by completing and act’s Bounty. Unfortunately it was broken so I didn’t spend much time on bounties. You got tons of gold and xp for each individual Bounty completion, plus a bunch of gems, crafting reagents and a nephalem rune but none of those things mattered in the demo (the nephalem portal thingy was always open – more on that later).
So yeah. Killing bosses got you legendaries, bounties didn’t, so that’s what I ended up doing. The vast majority of my time was spent on the Crusader. They gave you a starting skill and alternate skill with 1 skill rune each for each category so let me break those down real quick (Sorry I don’t recall names & runes very well because I wasn’t taking notes but I can definitely give you my impressions).
Left click: Wrath? (Can’t remember rune, melee attack that increases your block chance)
Alt: Justice? (mid ranged hammer, rune caused initial hit to split into 2 more ranged hammers hitting 2 additional enemies)
My preferred play style based on skills available in the demos was mid ranged so I obviously went with Justice. Pretty low damage but it’s a generator so I wasn’t expecting much. The splitting was glorious for proccing legendary effects which I’ll discuss a bit later.
Right click: Fist of the Heavens (high damage mid ranged nuke)
Alt: Shield Bash (rune made the bash a cone shape IIRC)
Shield Bash was a mini charge that takes you right into melee range. it was cool, but not as cool as FotH. Fist of the Heavens is glorious! Not the largest radius but large enough to hit big groups of monsters. Great damage no cooldown. Loved it.
Alt: Shield blinding thing (rune: gave wrath for each blinded enemy)
I don’t think I ever got around to testing the alternate. Consecration gave some healing and damage redirection for party support, but wasn’t great for boss hunting. I really just didn’t use my 1 key very much in the demo.
2: Damage aura (active increase party attack speed – 30 second cd)
Alt: Healing aura (active 50% move speed boost with no monster collision – 30 second cd)
The damage aura was cool I guess, but entirely unnecessary due to the disgusting damage from Heaven’s Fury. So I wound up picking the healing aura just for the move speed bonus. Gotta get those legendaries.
3: Ride the horse (rune made it a fiery horse with a trail of fire)
Alt: Some kind of suction
The suction was really cool. Basically all the air in a radius around the Crusader started moving in towards him, drawing in enemies and after a couple of seconds it exploded. Unfortunately, my goal was to get to bosses asap and the horse wins for that. Very very cool skill and amazingly fun to use. The move speed boost was drastic. 200-300% increase easily. Perfect for boss hunting. I just wish it had a lower cooldown (which we can itemize for now! hurray!) than its default 15 seconds or a longer duration than the default 3. Maybe there will be runes for those things
4: Falling Sword (Crusader teleport)
Alt: Heaven’s Fury
Falling sword was fun. Jump up into the air, land in devastating fashion doing great damage with a neat crackling lightning effect. However, Heaven’s Fury destroyed it. Heaven’s Fury destroyed everything. It is the single highest damage skill I have ever used in D3 (I have every vanilla class to 60). Allowed me to kill Ghom in less than 5 seconds wearing blues. The plain skill does some very high damage in a tight radius around the beam, but the rune added a ground damage over time effect as well. The combination just obliterated bosses & elites. The AI for the most part was pretty good in terms of the column going where I wanted it to, but this is clearly a boss killing skill. Long cooldown maybe compensates for its hilarious damage but I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see this get a very close look before release. Regardless, it was the perfect tool for my legendary hunting quest, which leads us into the next section of my review:
Okay, so I spent most of my time hunting legendaries, what did I find? As you know items have had their stats broken up into primary & secondary which is a great changes and legendaries are no exception. In addition, at the bottom (in most cases) their special effect was written in bright orange text. So I’m just going to write down the item type and a summary of its effect and whether or not i noticed it in game (again, my memory is pretty spotty and I was good and didn’t take phone pics so you won’t get details, but details are liable to change anyway and you can get the idea)
Ring: Prevent 100% of fire damage taken and heal yourself for damage prevented. Double damage of fire element.
Ring: Prevent 100% of poison damage taken and heal yourself for damage prevented. Double damage of poison element.
Puzzle Ring: Summon a Treasure Goblin who picks up items for you and occasionally spits out rares / legendaries
So about this guy… I had him following me around for a long time, didn’t notice him doing any of what the description said he would be doing so hard to say if he was broken or I just didn’t notice
Amulet: Chance on attack to create vortex – this amulet was incredible. Basically a chance on every hit to basically do a cyclone strike (without the actual strike of course). Remember how I said earlier justice was great for legendary procs? This is what I was talking about. The ranged hammer + 2 splits was perfect for fishing for vortex procs which would pull enemies into a nice tight radius for Fist of the Heavens. I only found this amulet in a couple of my play throughs but it definitely made those play throughs very memorable. Can’t wait to get this on live.
Thunderfury 1h sword: This weapon looks REALLY sick and its proc is also incredible. Crazy chain lightning + slow effect. Proc’d all the time. I loved having this on my Crusader especially, again, with justice for proc fishing.
2h sword: demonic explosion – bright green centered on caster so not great for my mid ranged Crusader but neat looking effect anyway
Shield: Freeze on block – seems like it would be very powerful for a block based melee sader which I wasn’t. I did notice it freezing Belial in phase 1 though which I thought was pretty cool.
Wizard Source: frost nova is cast at target location – I tested the hell out of this during the few play throughs I chose wizard and happened to get it… never saw it working. Hopefully it gets fixed because that sounds like a really neat build changing effect
Wizard hat: double electrify jumps – pretty nifty but doesn’t exactly stack with chain lightning rune. Tooltips couldn’t decide whether the two should combine for 9 or 10 jumps, and I didn’t have time to test, but could be really cool with some of the other runes (like fork lightning with some crit chance)
Town Portal shoulders: Town portal is no longer interrupted and gives you 50% damage reduction while being channelled. Mildly amusing, neat bubble effect.
1h axe: summons ghostly champion. The champion was one of the big fallen guys. Tanked a bit, did some damage. Kind of cool but not all that useful.
2h mace Boneshatter: Heals you for 10% of your max hp when you kill an Undead. I played around with this in the cemetery and the proc didn’t seem as strong as it sounds. Not sure if it’s broken or if I just wasn’t paying close enough attention or maybe I just didn’t have enough hp for it to be meaningful. You did start the demo wearing nothing but blues.
1h sword: Nothing. Literally. I found the same 1h sword multiple times with no legendary effect. I have to assume this implies some work in progress.
That’s basically all I’ve got. It took me a while to establish my route for max legendaries, and I got tons of duplicates (even multiples in the same run) so this section isn’t quite as thorough as it could have been. Also my buddy got a barb sword when he was playing barb so presumably if i had tested the other classes more thoroughly I could have found more, but that will have to do it for now. Plus I had to save demo time for the absolute best part of adventure mode…
So I mentioned earlier that Bounty rewards weren’t that impressive. One of the rewards was a rift shard which theoretically would let you open a Nephalem Rift except the demo had one permanently open every time you started the game. Nephalem Rifts were easily my favorite part of the demo. It’s exactly as they described. Any environment (including act 5). Any monster (including act 5!). Crazy density. WILDLY OVERPOWERED SHRINES. Up to 10 levels though the deepest I got was 6. Every level 100% random and unrelated to the level above it. Crazy monster combinations that you could never experience in game. Wildly fun.
Basically you head into these rifts and a gauge starts filling up for every monster you kill. Once you’ve killed “enough” which was quite a bit, another super boss would spawn. You’d kill him and take his loot and that’s when I stopped but I guess I could have kept going all the way down to 10 if I wanted to. It really gives you an appreciation for the environments in this game when you are able to experience them in their crazy variety back to back like that.
A word on some of the shrines I found: shield shrine. You gain the “shielded” effect for 30 seconds. Yeah, that’s a 30 second divine shield for you with WoW experience. 400% multiplicative damage enhancement. Incredible. Super movement and attack speed boost shrine. And… this ridiculous lightning shrine that causes lightning bolts to automatically fly out from your character 1 shotting pretty much any monster it touches. I can’t WAIT to get the ring that boosts shrine durations for an hour and take them into a Nephalem Rift lol.
Also… this wasn’t specific to Nephalem Rifts, but I did want to mention the new type of orb that is in the game (similar to health orbs). These ones.. let’s call them nephalem orbs are a bit larger and yellow. When you walk over them you get a stacking buff that … makes things happen. At one stack your character starts glowing and occasionally an attack will proc an additional random yellow chain. At two stacks your character glows a bit brighter and the chain happens a bit more often. At 3 stacks, which was the max I was able to get, explosions start happening as well as the yellow light chaining. The screen just lights up like crazy. This also stacks with all the legendary procs and skills you might be using so it truly is incredible. It’s kind of a shame the orbs only last 60ish seconds, but I guess that rewards players who farm efficiently.
Anyway… that pretty much sums up my experiences with adventure mode. I know a lot of it has been covered on fansites galore, but I figured another input couldn’t hurt. It’s been a couple days and Blizzcon was kind of a blurr, but I’ll do my best to answer any questions you guys have.
A juicy report there, and anyone else who got some playtime at Blizzcon and would like to contribute their thoughts is welcome to do so. Stick them in comments, in the forum, or you can just email them in and I’ll be happy to format them up in a main page post.