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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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Interview: Diablo Creator David Brevik Discusses His Feelings on Diablo 3

Posted 19 Aug 2012 by

This week I was fortunate to catch up with DiabloWikiDavid Brevik at Gamescom in Cologone to find out more about his new title Marvel Heroes but also to find out what he thought of Diablo 3, after all, he created the Diablo franchise. In the interview David talks quite openly about Diablo 3 and the mixed emotions he feels about the game and all the backlash from the community since the game was released.

Watch the video, or if you prefer, you can read a transcript after the break.

You can also check out the press demo video I shot of Marvel Heroes with the Gazillion team on IncGamers, view the full interview with David or jump into our new Marvel Heroes forum.

IncGamers: You are very well known in the world of ARPGs, and I am going to ask you, Diablo 3 is probably the most anticipated PC title in 10 years. What’s your opinion on the final product?

David Brevik: Honestly, I think that they did a lot of the things the best they could, it was a very different game than I would have created, the team and personalities, the people, the talent and all the design philosophies of the people that worked on it in Irvine, we called them Blizzard South, those people have their own style and the their own way they like to design. It was very, very different from the Blizzard North.

So I think that when Blizzard South took over the development of Diablo 3 it was inevitable that they were going to create an experience that was in the Diablo theme but concentrated more towards the things that they liked to experience. Including more story and things like that.

When Blizzard North shut down they lost a ton of experience with why the Action RPG works and what about it works. That’s really difficult to recover from. They didn’t have the experience of people that knew it well. This is why you do things with random levels for example, and so when you lose that experience you are going to create a very different experience in the end than we would have created.

IncGamers: Do you think they bought the wrong people in? As we understand, Jay Wilson, for example, his background was RTS. From our point of view it looked like they misunderstood what kept people playing, The type of loot drops, which has been a big issues. One of the other issues is they have not listened to their community, and they have not analysed what makes up that addictive Diablo  experience. What are your thoughts on that?

David Brevik: Well, the loot system. They made some decisions with the loot system that were very different than the way that we did it in Diablo 2 and I think that obviously the community has been upset with some of the decisions they made. Having all of your powers work off your main weapon and things like that, to having blues that are more powerful than yellows. Eventually the auction house and how that worked, even something as simple as when you equip an item and it’s bound to your character permanently would  have totally changed the dynamic  of the game.

It seems odd that they have not really responded in a quick fashion to some of these things. I think they are very well aware of the problems at this point and are trying to fix some of this stuff. It’s a shame that they had to learn some of these painful lessons

IncGamers:  As you created Diablo, how do you feel about it? Do you feel a little let down that the legacy has kind of been mashed up?

David Brevik:  I have very mixed emotions about it (laughs). On one hand I am sad that people haven’t enjoyed Diablo because it’s a love, a passion, and its obvious people still have a giant love and passion for Diablo and they are speaking out about it because they have such love for it. That makes me feel great.

I am sad because people are outraged and, you know, some of the decision they have made are not the decisions I would make and there have been changes in philosophy and that hasn’t gone over very well. I think in that way I am a little sad.

I am also a little happy, which I hate to say, it shows that the people that were involved in Diablo really did matter, and so I am happy that it has come to light that how talented that group was and how unique and special that group was. I am hoping that, as this happens very often in the industry, you see it with Call of Duty and things like that ,  when the people leave the game changes and it shows how critical people are in this industry.

IncGamers:   One of the questions the Gazillion guys asked me to ask you was, where did the name Diablo come from?

David Brevik:  I thought of the game when I was in high school and I lived in the east part of San Francisco in a town called Danville and I lived at the base of Mount Diablo and that’s where the name comes from. Once I found out what the mountain name was, I thought that was awesome, I didn’t speak Spanish, so I thought I wanted to use that as a title for a nemesis in a videogame. It’s simply from where I lived.

 IncGamers:    Well thanks a lot David, you’ve brought a lot of pleasure to millions of people over the years and hopefully you’ll continue to do so.

Update: Some of the Diablo III developers, including Jay Wilson, reacted angrily to Dave’s comments in this interview. See this post for quotes.

Update #2: A few hours later Gazilli0n issued IncGamers with a statement reading

“We admire Blizzard and Blizzard games.  David was asked about Diablo 3 and gave his honest opinion and we stand by him 100%.  Marvel Heroes is David’s vision and is the spiritual successor to Diablo 2. We’ll be in closed beta soon, so visit MarvelHeroes.com if you want to check it out.” – Leo Olebe, VP Marketing Gazillion Entertainment.