So 2.3 has been out for a few weeks now, and I’ve had more than enough time to play too much of it, to form my opinions of the new content, and the improvements I think it made to the game.
First of all, I will cover what major changes 2.3 brought to gameplay. The main hook for 2.3 is the addition of kanai’s cube. This peculiar item is obtained by doing a mission in the new area, the Ruins of Sescheron, and once obtained can be accessed by any of your characters in the hub areas of the game.
Sescheron and Kanai’s Cube
Sescheron itself, from a lore perspective, is the capital city for the barbarians, and this is referenced by a lot of the lore books and side missions available in the area. It also adds a lot of new enemy types to diablo, including frost maggots and icy porcupines. Travelling through Sescheron really gives the impression of it being a major city, you dip in and out of buildings and can see quite a few views of the surrounding area. However for me, the most impressive, and my personal favourite, addition to Sescheron are the traps. From swinging blades, to floor spikes, to breakable walls, Sescheron really gives the impression that barbarians did not want any visitors, though this is probably good with the rise of akarat’s witnesses.
Following the storyline in Sescheron leads to a lot of interesting history of the barbarians, but the main reason you are there is for Kanais cube. This cube in short is amazing. The recipes that are shown by the book include transmuting, a new mechanic, the ability to completely reroll drops and even can convert crafting materials and gems.
Transmuting is amazing, this allows you to deconstruct a legendary item, and store its legendary power in the cube, meaning you can equip the power without having the piece of equipment equipped.
There are a couple of hidden recipes for the cube as well, both of which open up rare portals. If you place a puzzle ring in the crafting screen, a portal to the vault will open up, and if you place a bovine bardiche, you don’t get a portal to not the cow level.
So what relevance does sescheron and the cube have to signs of improvement for diablo, well simply put the cube leads to a lot less reliance on drops, as a lot of the recipes rely on conversion of items instead of waiting for them to drop, as well as the customisation this enables.
The cube has 4 conversion recipes, and one re-roll recipe, and exact recipes are found in a book on the cube’s UI. The 4 conversions are: change the set piece to another random piece in the set, roll a rare item into a random legendary of the same piece, change the type of gems placed in the recipe, and finally convert some crafting materials into another crafting material. The re-roll recipe is extremely useful as it makes the weapon change as though it was dropped again. The implication of this is if you get terrible stats on an extremely hard to get drop, you can re-roll it in the attempt to get new stats.
Transmuting allows for a lot more depth in character customisation. A couple of examples are if you get a weapon with a really really cool passive, but has terrible stats, you can transmute it, allowing you to have the weapons passive, without having the bad stats. Another example is how I have set up my demon hunter, as I have a bombardier’s rucksack equipped as a quiver, but a spines of seething hatred transmuted. This combination means that I can place 2 more sentries, a core aspect of my build, but also can use chakram, a spell that costs resources, for free.
In my opinion Sescheron shows that Blizzard are willing to add new areas to the game, that feel vast and have a lot of history. Also the addition of more impressive traps, they managed to add a lot of lore to the area. In terms of gameplay, when doing bounty runs, the Sescheron bounties feel like a part of act 3, and not a newly added area.
Nephalem rifts, greater rifts and torment
Patch 2.3 removed a lot of complaints that the community had for the game. The biggest complaint was surrounding nephalem rifts and greater rifts. Now you no longer need the keystones dropped from bounties, so you can just click on the obelisk and open up a rift. In terms of changes to greater rifts they finally removed the realm of trials! Now when you finish a normal rift there is a chance of a drop of a general keystone, which then at the obelisk you choose what level of greater rift you want to tackle. In order to progress the levels you need to beat a rift in under the time, as normal, to unlock higher levels. But this also lead to a change of legendary gems, you now only upgrade if you complete under time.
Another minor change is the speed up of Nephalem Rifts, as the progress orbs that were previously only dropped in greater rifts are now dropped in Nephalem Rifts. Whilst this leads to only a minor speed up of the rifts, it is still appreciated.
There is also a change to the difficulty curves in greater rifts has been smoothed out. Using my wizard as an example, in 2.2 he was getting killed in 1 shot on difficulty 35+ rifts, but now he can take a lot more hits.
This curve is because of the new torment levels! Now torment 6 is no longer the cap, as you can go all the way up to torment 10. As with all new torment levels, there are large increases in gold drops and exp gained, which helps with grinding out paragon levels.
The difference between the new torment levels is a lot higher than the old torment levels. Using greater rift difficulties as a reference, the difference between enemies on torment 1-6 is 3 rift difficulties, however the difference between the new torment levels is 5 rift difficulties, capping out at torment 10 enemies being as strong as those in difficulty 45 rifts.
Bounties, Exploration and Seasons
I mentioned earlier that keystones had been removed from the rewards from bounties, but these have been replaced by chapter specific crafting materials. These materials are important for the crafting of max level legendary items, as well as they are used in a lot of kanai recipes. Depending on the difficulty of the game when you receive your cache will decided how many of these crafting materials you are given, up to 4 at around torment 8. But the changes to bonus bounties means that you can double the materials you receive, as the bonus cache now only drops crafting materials, but as part of these are the chapter specific ones. Also bonus bounties have been changed, as now you only have 1 bonus bounty at a time, but completing the bonus bounty will push it to another act, so to maximise obtaining crafting materials, you should go through chapter by chapter, pushing the bonus bounty from act to act.
A large annoyance when exploring was the grinding required to craft a hellfire ring/amulet. Previously you needed to kill the 4 keywardens and hope to get a key fragment from each keywarden. You then needed to combine the 4 key fragments to get 1 infernal machine. This machine could then be used to open a portal to one of the 4 uber bosses, that then had a chance to drop one of the 4 materials needed to make the ring or amulet. Now the process has been sped up, as they keywardens now drop infernal machines directly.
My favourite change of the patch is the large focus on season characters. As well as having the usual access to more legendaries than non-season characters, there is now a checklist, giving you goals to be working towards. These goals start of easy, such as reach level 35, reach level 70, but eventually stack up. Currently I am stuck on 2 goals, complete a torment 8 rift in under 5 minutes, and complete a conquest. Conquest are a new type of season achievement, that are stupidly difficult, they range from complete a t60 rift to beat all bosses in under 30 minutes on torment 10 difficulty. The season checklists unlock new portrait frames, as well as giving you a pet for completing the first 5 lists.
Other than the changes I mentioned, there are lots of class specific changes, but my experience with classes before this patch was wizards and crusaders, and following the release of the patch I have been playing demon hunter and monk, so sorry barbarians and witch doctors. But I do want to give a shout out to the lengthy list of witch doctor changes this patch, especially surrounding zombie wall and its glyphs.
Launch Issues and Their Current Prevalence.
So I only started playing Diablo in patch 2.2, so my reference points for this section primarily come from what I have heard through third parties. The first problem that I want to mention was all the server issues. As with every Blizzard game, the launch day of any major patch, expansion, or game, the servers usually leads to issues, but surprisingly the 2.3 patch caused less server issues than the launch of the latest Hearthstone expansion, which launched at a similar time.
Server issues were the least of the complaints of Diablo on launch. There was the now infamous auction house, which as a side effect lead to loot drop problems. Previously there appeared to be a bias for drops from other classes. However now there has been a rebalancing of these drops. In my own experience, I have hardly had any drops not for the class I am currently playing on.
So whilst these changes are old news, I think that the addition of some of the recipes in Kanai’s cube are Blizzard trying to continue to improve the rate of gear progression. Personally I found gearing up my patch 2.3 characters a lot easier once I understood the cube.
So I have given a list of most of the changes brought in this patch, but has it actually improved the game? In my opinion it certainly has. The new area shows that locations can be added to the game, but still have the feel of areas released in the base game, and they are able to weave lore in through gameplay, lore books and the environment.
The Cube gives the impression that Blizzard are willing to add new mechanics and customisation, as well as objectively increase the ease at which gear can be obtained. But whilst this makes it quicker to get to the end game possible in 2.2, the new end game still takes a lot of grinding, with you able to hit even bigger numbers.
The changes to bounties means that there is now a clear line showing that bounties are not the best way to progress, but are still necessary to get the most out of this patch.
As for my own opinions, I am playing way too much Diablo now, thanks to the majority of the improvements as well as having a list of goals to work towards in the season.
Article Written By: James Coppin
Have you played Diablo’s latest update? What do you think about it? Please let us know in the comments below!