If you PC-faithful had been feeling a bit left out lately by Blizzard’s announcements of console-exclusive content for Diablo III, take heed, Nephalem, for you have not been forgotten. The first major content patch since Reaper of Souls‘ release is just around the corner, and Blizzard’s wizards have shared the first juicy details.
Guardians of regular Nephalem Rifts now have a chance to drop Greater Rift Keys, which you use at the Obelisk to open up special Greater Rifts for higher challenges and appropriately greater rewards. Unlike standard Rifts (how they work now, prior to this patch, at any rate; see below), every player needs to pay a Greater Key in order to enter; once inside, there’s race against a clock to fill up the progress bar with monster kills.
In order to take the pressure off of grabbing loot versus attaining better times, most monsters no longer drop loot during a Greater Rift, with the reward shifting to just the Rift Guardian. The amount that each kill advances the progress bar varies proportionally to how difficult the monster is, with tougher monsters advancing it further. You can’t resurrect at your corpse or in town when you die in Greater Rifts, but only at the last checkpoint. You also can’t teleport to other players, making it all the more important to stay alive and stick together.
If you complete the Greater Rift within the time limit, it advances to a higher difficulty level (or even one a few levels higher if you complete it quickly enough). These difficulty levels are separate from the standard Normal-Torment settings. If the timer runs out, your current Greater Rift run comes to an end and another Greater Rift Key is needed to begin anew.
Some of these differences also trickle down into regular Rifts, such as scaling the progress meter to monster difficulty. The entry mechanism is also set to be changed, requiring everyone entering to pay a single key fragment rather than one player spending five from his or her inventory to open it. This likely spells the end of the Rift it Forward community, in which low-level players open rifts for high-level players in exchange for loot and shards.
As a greater reward to match the new challenges in Greater Rifts, Patch 2.1 introduces Legendary Gems. These coveted socketables add special Legendary powers when used, though they can only be inserted into rings and amulets. Once found you never have to worry about the gems becoming obsolete, because they are infinitely upgradeable by completing subsequent Greater Rifts. The higher you place in a Greater Rift, the more likely it is that your gem will be upgraded. Legendary Gems are still undergoing substantial iteration, so the developers have not yet shared any other details.
Leaderboards and Seasons
One of the most requested features since launch has been the ladders that allowed Diablo II players to easily compare their progress to the community at large. Seasons fill the same role as ladders, allowing you to periodically start with a fresh character and artisans for the reward of unique Legendaries and achievements, along with the thrill of measuring yourself against an even playing field of peers. Every Season has 10-15 unique Conquests, which are Season-specific achievements that only the first 1000 players to hit them can unlock. After a season concludes, its unique Legendaries then roll over into the regular pool of items.
You’re able to track your progress within a Season or elsewhere with detailed Leaderboards. These track your progress for Greater Rifts, Seasonal achievement points, and Seasonal Conquests, providing detailed information to measure yourself against your region, friends, and clan. The boards are further divided into Normal versus Hardcore, and Greater Rift boards split into solo by class and for 2-, 3-, or 4-player groups.
Dexterity and Healing Changes
In addition to the usual bevy of tweaks to each class — which have not yet been shared — substantial changes are coming to the way dexterity and healing work. Addressing long-standing complaints from Demon Hunters and Monks that dodge was an insufficient defense mechanism for their primary stat, dexterity’s boost now applies to armor instead, just like strength does for Crusaders and Barbarians.
Healing also gets a change in Patch 2.1. The amount of health gained from the health globes that enemies drop is reduced, balancing out a boost to the value of healing buffs provided by gear. Both Life on Hit and Life Regeneration bonuses get enhancements, with the aim being to help even out healing as difficulty levels go up and kills happen more slowly.
Lastly, the Westmarch sewers, which slipped to the cutting room floor during Reaper of Souls‘ development, are reintroduced as one of the potential randomized environments in Rifts. The intent is to add a bit of new flavor to standard Adventure Mode on top of all the new content in Greater Rifts and Seasons.
These changes and more in patch 2.1.0 will be available soon in the Public Test Realm, and they should surface not long after that in the main game. Everything is of course subject to change between now and then, however, so take it all with a grain of salt.