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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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Voices Rise Against Diablo 3′s Always-Online DRM

Posted 4 Aug 2011 by

We touched on this in a news item Monday morning that quickly went to 95 comments. That post collected early complaints about the Real Money aspect of the DiabloWikiAuction House, the lack of mod support, and the always-connected-to-B.net requirement for gameplay.

Since then, the conversation/debate has moved on, and largely focused on DiabloWikiRMT and issues of (lack of) character customization stemming from the removal of skill points, the huge simplification of DiabloWikitraits to passive skills, and the evolution to DiabloWikifreespecs. The issue of Diablo 3′s DRM though, the fact that you MUST be connected to an online service to play a game you paid $60 for, that is not an MMORPG, has grown more troubling in the eyes of some.

I didn’t think too much of the issue at first, since I assumed the developers were going with something like Starcraft 2′s system, where you can play single player offline, so long as you log in to B.net now and then to authenticate your copy of the game. There is no DiabloWikiLAN support in SC2; if you want to play with someone else, even if they’re on a computer right beside you, you must log on through DiabloWikiBattle.net. A lot of fans found that annoying, but mostly in the form of getting disconnected from B.net mid-game and thereby not earning achievements for the mission.

That’s not going to be a problem in D3.

Either Blizzard was treating SC2 as a half-step towards their “all your base” plans for D3, or else they figured that since SC2′s end game and long term play was meant to be multiplayer, it would be enough to force people to use B.net for that. Because that’s not what they’re doing in Diablo 3. To play Blizzard’s upcoming action RPG, you have to be connected to B.net. All the time. Without fail. If you disconnect, you are done playing.

1up.com and ShackNews do a nice job covering the issue, but I think DiabloWikiJay Wilson, via an interview with GamePlanetNZ, really hammers home the reality of the situation.

Gameplanet: At what point did you decide that Diablo III would be only playable online?
Jay Wilson: It was a decision we crept into over the duration of the project. A big part of it is just to give the players the best possible experience. We felt like we’d reached a saturation point with online play and networking that prevented it from being a big concern. 99.9% of people out there have internet connections, even planes now have internet connections, so the old argument of ‘I want to be able to play on the plane’, well, the plane has internet now too.

We felt like there was enough pervasive online technology that the best possible experience we can give players was to offer them persistent characters that can play multiplayer at any time, that we can store forever, that don’t get deleted, which is something we had to do for the previous system because of storage concerns. And also just the enhanced security we can offer in a game that’s only online. A big problem with Diablo II was security, and security is a lot better when we don’t have to ship all the server infrastructure out with the game.

Gameplanet: What happens if you drop out during mid-play?
Wilson: If you completely drop? Your character could die, but we don’t have a case where the penalty for that is harsh, unless you’re playing a hardcore characters, in which case I wouldn’t do that with a bad connection. But then, hardcore characters are generally the type of characters people want to play online because they play them for bragging rights. You can’t really brag if it’s on a home computer where you could have cheated to create the character. So yes, you could die, but the penalty for death isn’t really harsh, it’s essentially a small durability hit on your items, which costs a little bit of gold, which isn’t too bad. There’s no corpse runs or anything like that, and even if there were like in Diablo II, they were not that harsh. You could log out of the game and log back in, and your body would be there waiting for you.

Gameplanet: Has piracy affected this decision?
Wilson: It’s a factor, but it wasn’t a deciding factor. Player experience is pretty much always our deciding factor. We ask what do we think will be the best possible experience we can give to players, and we really felt an online one was the best one.

Gameplanet: Did you toy with the idea of allowing offline play, but locking the player out and requiring them to start again for online play?
Wilson: That was the Diablo II way, and what drove us to this was how bad of an experience we thought that was. It was so common in Diablo II for people to start up a game, finish it, get to normal difficulty and want to play with their friends online, then realise that they can’t actually do that without starting over. We did have the offline Battle.Net experience, but if your friends are on Battle.Net, which is where most people were, you didn’t really get to actually play with them, so that was one of the things that drove us to that decision.

Despite Jay’s blithe contention, considerably more than the .1% of the Diablo community is displeased with this scheme. A protest thread on the B.net D3 forum has run to 10 pages, and there are several angry/baffled threads about it in the almost-too-busy (I certainly haven’t had time to read all the new threads lately) Diablo 3 community forum on this site.

Before this week’s information taught me that I would not be allowed to do so, I expected to play D3 online at least 95% of the time, but I was going to make at least one single player character. It’s not hard to see why you’d want to, even if you live in a metropolitan area with a reliable internet connection. B.net outages. ISP downtimes. Periods of high latency. When you’re traveling and your hotel has spotty wi-fi or wants to extort $15/day to use it. If you want to create 50 different chars and experiment with dozens of builds without using respecs. When you just want to play without having to go through a chat room, or suffer B.net ads, or be interrupted by the people on your friends list. Etc.

For evidence, look at our Diablo 2 strategy forums. The busiest one, for about the last 6 years, is the legendary SPF; the Single Player Forum. It’s home to many of the most dedicated D2 players; people who made made 100+ guardians, who have completed the grail (more than once), who experiment with every odd variant and play style, etc. You don’t have to play offline SP to be in the SPF, but most people there do, since it’s just easier and more reliable than having to log on to B.net.

So what do you guys think? Is online-only in D3 a good thing? No biggie? A horrible idea? The one thing that may drive you to pirate a hacked copy of the game? Chew it over; our next site vote will address this very issue. Thanks to Blascid for some of the links and motivation to write this post.

Update: Related news from Mtv with quotes from a befuddled Blizzard dude.

“Internally I don’t think [DRM] ever actually came up when we talked about how we want connections to operate. Things that came up were always around the feature-set, the sanctity of the actual game systems like your characters. You’re guaranteeing that there are no hacks, no dupes. All of these things were points of discussion, but the whole copy protection, piracy thing, that’s not really entering into why we want to do it. I’m a huge purveyor of online sites and from my standpoint, I don’t look at DRM solutions and go, ‘Wow, those are awesome.’ I look at those and say, ‘Wow, those kind of suck.’ But if there’s a compelling reason for you to have that online connectivity that enhances the gameplay, that doesn’t suck. That’s awesome.”

He also repeats the usual canard that D2′s SP chars couldn’t be played in MP games — does the entire D3 team really not know about the open realm B.net servers, or that D2 allowed TCP/IP and LAN play?

I didn’t mention it initially, but this seems to go to a common point; that the Bliz guys are just so insulated in their world of Facebook and smart phones and always online gaming that they don’t realize what a lot of their customers are doing. It came up during the whole mandatory Real ID on B.net snafu, where no one at Blizzard seemed to have the faintest clue that lots of their customers didn’t want all of their real life friends to know exactly when and how often they were playing video games. And here again, the Blizzard employee mindset seems to be, “We’re online gaming all the time and it’s fine. Isn’t everybody?”