Realbookwurm

Diablo III Season Five Postmortem

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20187-diablo-iii-season-five-postmortem.

A look at the legacy of Season Five, and how it has shaped the game.

What will we think of when looking back at Season Five?

 

Another Season has come to pass in Sanctuary, and with it some pretty massive revelations. We saw a rise in certain playstyles, reactions from Devs, changes in Team Diablo, No-Boss runs, Banwave after Banwave, and even new ways to play the game.

 

So what is the lasting impact of Diablo Season Five?

 

Disclaimer: This post is purely the opinion of the author, Realbookwurm, and is intended to review from the broad community perspective what Season Five was like to many players. Many arguments here have subjective components, and as such should not be taken as fact. Your mileage or experience probably varied. 

 

Let us start with the bad, and work our way to the good stuff, since there is a lot more that Season Five has done to impact the game positively than negatively.

 

The Ugly

 

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  • Set Dungeons: While the concept is novel, the execution and reality did not meet the standards of the community by-and-large. Born as an attempt to give players a specific goal, something which Diablo often lacks, the idea was sound. Why not create a scenario where players can demonstrate mastery of a Set's mechanics, and even be rewarded in game for the their efforts? Well, the schism between great idea and the reality is probably most related to the actual objectives of the dungeons. Some set dungeons were quite easy to grasp and execute, the Immortal King's Dungeon for an example. Others suffered from mechanics that were unclear, counter-intuitive or just plain at the mercy of RNG. Firebird's Finery Dungeon asked players to die on purpose. Shadow's Mantle Dungeon gave an objective that failed players for consecutive hits on an enemy. Jade Harvester Dungeon gave you invisible enemies, and penalised you for not killing them. Wrath of the Wastes Dungeon put you in a Melee build and told you not to take ANY physical damage. The number of dungeons which seemed to nail it were small, and the ones that frustrated players seemed numerous.  

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  • Power Creep: While this is always present, Season Five saw an unprecedented leap forward in the average player's experience. From people doubling their highest Greater Rift, to Paragons running into the thousands, the whole game now has a higher bar set. There were many reported situations of public groups that would kick people for "only being Paragon 800" or similar. Players in groups cleared Greater Rifts well past the 105 mark, while solo saw numbers in the 90s. Season 4 had not even saw the group move past 90, so seeing people now doing it alone has really driven this point home. 

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  • Paragon Disparity: This point is substantially tied to the previous issue, but deserves a special nod, as many player find themselves on one side of the divide or the other. The group meta saw legitimate players spanning well into several thousand paragons, and on the flip side any number of posts in r/Diablo's reddit detailing solo player journeys saw people hitting new highs in the hundreds. While many were not directly affected by this divide, the solo leaderboards closed in a stranglehold not from the Solo players themselves, but instead were mainly comprised of group players who then leveraged their superior paragons and gear in order to also dominate in this area. 

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  • No-Boss Runs: This one was saved for last on this list, because it is a bridge between the two previous issues listed, and The Worst issue which is near the end of this editorial. While it was not a new idea, the prevalence of this phenomenon in Season Five had new levels of impact. The idea behind a No-Boss Runs is that players in a group (or even solo) run an extremely high greater rift level (usually higher than could actually be cleared) and play up until the rift guardian is spawned. Players then exit the game and make a new rift, repeating the procedure. The result is massive amounts of XP gained, lending handily to the paragon disparity. Since the rift guardian is usually the bulk of time spent in a rift, and nets significantly less experience per time spent comparative to the rest of the rift, this practice born of pragmatism characterized greater rift pushing this season. 

 

 

The Bad

 

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  • Lost Devs: This season saw the departure of many strongly talented figures from Team Diablo, and while some could potentially return, others are lost for good. How this will affect the game moving forward remains to be seen, but the figures lost were those who had direct and observable impact on the game as a whole.

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  • Class Diversity: In what always results in a continued struggle, Diablo's developers yet again took painstaking efforts in balancing, with a goal of roughly approximating all sets to be equal in terms of power. Once more, we saw a season ruled by flavor-of-the-month builds, and a particular class warping the entire group meta in around itself. While Season Four was the Year of the Monk, Season Five will forever be the Year of the Wizard. Like the Static Charge Monk of yester-season, the strength of the Energy Twister Wizard left an indelible mark on the group play of Diablo, and even caused a series of severely hard-hitting changes to several class and item mechanics. Health Globe spawning as a purposeful mechanic has all but been removed from the game, and the warp was so massive that even other classes had their skill mechanics changed thanks to the Wizard build in question.  

 

 

Mixed

 

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  • Buff UI: While this issue is actually part of larger change that has positively impacted the game, it also has some quirks that presented and still require a clean up. The changes to the Buff UI that came baked into Patch 2.4 are overall successful. Making the bar more concise, it grew in Season Five to be the tool of information it was also supposed to be, and no longer is quite the source of player focus it once was. While the goal of making players engage the game (not their buff bar) seems to have been achieved, the improvements have left some aspects seemingly unpolished. The two most common issues that now seem to arise in discussion are the lack of drop shadow on stack numbers, and the paragon point allocation button covering part of the bar itself. With some minor tweaks, these could be changed and really let the newly designed buff bar come into its own glory. Rightfully so, as it now is leagues ahead of its old counterpart! 

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  • Stash Tab: While this might be a confusing place to find the stash tab, please read on as to why it finds a home here. Many players, myself included, were ecstatic about the inclusion of this reward. To me, the gaining of the extra space was massive, and let me fully devote a tab of stash to each class, as I am an alt-a-holic. I did not have any issue with the implementation, but the implementation was inline with how I play the game already. For many players, the implementation did not line up with their playstyle, or desired mode of play, and this is what lands the stash tab here. Like a billion dollars in the bank, it's great for those who have it, and not so much so for those who don't. I play seasons exclusively now in Diablo, and even quit during the interseason period to recharge and play other games. While Seasons are on, I religiously play each weekend with some friends, and manage to go far in, or complete the season journey. Getting the stash tab for me was merely a consequence. Now, my playstyle is not the only one. Many players don't play seasons. Others, are not as able or willing to devote the many hours needed to get to where I do. As a result, many groups found themselves left out, or struggling with a game (something we play for fun) to get what they felt was necessary to enjoy the game. This lack of fun for those players, well it's rough. I applaud the developers for setting a standard which players must achieve to be rewarded optional content in the game. Likewise, I see the strong argument from those who do not like being forced to play a game mode they do not enjoy in order to get access to something they want, and sometimes feel compulsion to gain. I am not sure what the right answer here is, and as such it remains in the murky waters of mixed. My only input is that I do think there is strong value in rewarding players for certain achievements. The term reward is defined as "a thing given in recognition of one's service, effort, or achievement." Perhaps the discussion should focus not on what is wrong, but what else can be opened as an avenue for others to also achieve. 

 

The Good

 

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  • Single Player XP: Wait, wasn't there something about paragon disparity earlier? Yes, but there is strong hope for solo players, and Season Five gave the most compelling evidence. While by season's close the gap was huge, the early reports of the season saw solo players hitting 70 in roughly the same time as partied groups. This was the first time this had occurred in season play without some form of XP exploit being used. The main driver behind this was the addition of bonus kill-streaks which had previously been seen in console versions. Additionally, changes were made to group dynamics and xp sharing. More changes are coming with Season Six, meaning the outlook for this aspect is high. Perhaps this issue will eventually see a form of parity between groups and solo players. Certainly, we are seeing that goal closer than further as of writing.

 

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  • Death's Breath: They're a distinct color now, making them much easier to distinguish. This optimizes time spent while farming, and is a seemingly small, yet huge-in-impact change that I have yet to see a complaint about. An all around victory. 

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  • New Zones: For those who saw the Diablo panel at Blizzcon this year, the amount of changes coming with 2.4 seemed impossibly large. Since Season Five is a child of Patch 2.4, the addition of new zones with the patch meant that many players saw these sights for the first time in season. From minor additions with the Library at Leoric's Manor, to the entire zone replete with new mobs, tiles and lore (Greyhollow Island) there is not a fair argument against these additions. Free is free, but quality additions for free are just gravy!

 

The Great

 

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  • Empowered Rifts/Caldesann's Despair: While Wyatt Cheng (@Candlesan on Twitter) might hide his despair of this change behind a weak anagram, finally having a viable and impactful gold sink enter the game has many of the Diablo 1% jumping for joy. With so much gold coming from regular farming of high torments, and trips to The Vault, the community saw gold inflation in the highest order. With so many sources of generation, and few sources of loss, the amount players had stashed away became looney (Canadian money jokes). The idea of slightly lessening the time needed to level gems, and thus getting to imbue gear with the new enchanting recipe in Kanai's Cube faster, all while making gold worthwhile again was a massive victory for Team Diablo. It addressed an issue in a creative, fun, and engaging way that had players wanting to play the game more. It also diversified to a greater extent what players did while playing at endgame, and I think it is easy to classify this as an example of creative game design which resulted in a victory. 

 

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  • Haedrig's Gift: The thorn in my side, (I played Invoker's Burden Crusader this Season) I have to admit that this feature was a success from the community perspective. I will freely admit that I was bent out of shape with the announcement of this feature, and still question its merit. However, I was shown how my opinion here is narrow, and needs broader context. As a gamer who loved the early adventure games such as Sierra's King's Quest line, or the amazing LucasArt's Monkey Island series, I lamented the inclusion of "free sets" as a softening up of gaming culture, and an attempt to cater to those who want things without working for them. I also still question if this sped up the progression of seasonal character too much, leading to faster burn-out or season completion. The second point I hold true to, the first, I was gravely mistaken on. While I can be crusty old gamer who complains about walking uphill to school both ways "back in my day," I also have my scope wrongly adjusted to those old games. Many old computer games are famously confusing and difficult at times, and often lead to out-of-the-box or just plain weird solutions. These games also could often be played, once you knew what to do, in a matter of hours. You might sink lots of time into solving the puzzles initially, but the actual game length is relatively short. Now, we have a whole genre of game with the word massive in its title. These are games where a player can take an hour just to make a character's appearance right if they so choose. In this wave of massive gameplay comes things like Diablo, which actually never end. Sure you can beat the game, but that's not the goal for most. Set dungeons still leave the stopping point role unfulfilled. Instead we continue to push hard, faster and further a group each season, and many players were not having fun anymore trying to keep up. Enter the Gift, and now player who might have never even owned a full set before are getting a chance to explore the game in new and exciting ways. This is obviously a positive, and something that is good for the health of the game. In practice my Softcore Crusader who received Invoker's Burden through the Gift, and my Hardcore Crusader who farmed the pieces had very little difference of experience. It was a small gap in time spent between their progression, several hours to be fair. My enjoyment was no less on my softcore crusader, and progression only felt slightly slower on my hardcore one. The upshot? It let players with limited time, or perhaps those who don't spend hours talking theorycraft on the forums to be able to get moving faster and enjoying themselves sooner. Thus, I have to concede this to the clear win category. 

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  • Diablo Unannounced Project/Job Postings: While this isn't anything related with the Season, it did come to light during the season, and had a measurable effect on the community. The posting of various jobs to Blizzard's career page, and the mention in those posting about a "Diablo Unannounced Project" have many speculating. With the possibility of another Diablo III expansion, to another game set in the Diablo universe, to Diablo IV, the community is abuzz with theories. Only time will tell exactly what it is that Blizzard has up their sleeve, but many remain exceptionally excited for whatever that could be. More Diablo is always welcome.

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  • Kanai Event: Like the previous entry, this is more something that merely came to light during Season Five, and is not a direct product of it, but it certainly merits mention. The event consisted of a longstanding mystery of Kanai's Throne Room finally being revealed. Since the arrival of Ruins of Sescheron in Patch 2.3, there were cryptic in game clues and references to the "right time" in Kanai's Throne Room. The right time turned up in Season Five, with the Kanai's Stomping Ground event coming to life in March. This tribute is touching and tasteful on behalf of Blizzard, and is set to outlive this past season, by coming around each March. More can be read about the event and the person it honors here. 

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  • Legacy of Nightmares/Invoker's Burden: These two sets might not share anything in mechanics, but what makes their birth in the Season 5 meta important is that both represent a paradigm shift in what makes a character powerful in Diablo. Firstly, let's examine Invokers. This set, also known as the Thorns Set, offers a look into a world where Crit Chance/Crit Damage stats and Sheet DPS are utterly irrelevant. This change was lauded by many long term pundits of the game, who often argued that Crit was a stat too crucial to DPS output. This new way of thinking about how you get your damaged threw convention out the window, and did so successfully. 97,786 is how much DPS when my Invoker Crusader cleared his first 70 Greater Rift, something I know because I immortalized it via screen capture.28rp37o.jpg With DPS figures ranging in the 2-3 million range for well-geared and high paragon toons, the idea that 97,786 could do anything of impact seemed astounding. It still is, if you think about Diablo convention to this point. This brings us to Legacy of Nightmares, another fly-in-the-face of conventional Diablo 3 Since the Loot 2.0 revamp, sets have been king of DPS. Some argue the lack of true diversity is gone in builds, something Vanilla had a surprising amount of in contrast. Few arguments could be mounted for anything but set based builds of late, and enter unique_ring_014_x1_demonhunter_male.pngThe Legacy of Nightmares . The "No-Set Set" gave rise to a new and exciting branch of gameplay that satisfied many of the prior complaints of too heavy reliance on set bonuses. While the issue is still not dead, after all Wizards couldn't seem to materialize a competitive build with LoN, it went on to dominate the solo leaderboards for classes like Crusader and Demon Hunter. I will state there is much work to be done here, but like Apollo 11, this was a "Giant Leap" for Diablo III. 

 

Now, the heart of article is revealed. We have made it this far, and now the rock bottom and the sky-high aspects of Season Five come to light. 

 

The Worst

 

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  • A Support Meta/Single DPS Gameplay: This is probably not a twist(er) to those who played Season Five, as we saw a worrying trend that began in Season Four take a whole new level of notoriety in Season Five. In a game that is all about smacking skeletons until they collapse, a striking meta emerges where 75% of a Four-man group are not doing it. David Brevik (you know, the guy who envisioned Diablo and worked so hard to make the game a reality) stated fondly of working on the first Diablo "I clicked on the mouse, and the warrior walked over and smacked the skeleton down. And I was like, ‘Oh my god! ...That was awesome!'" Thus was born the Action Role Playing Game, or ARPG. This quote characterizes what makes the arpg so special, and for many what their first Diablo experience was like. With this in mind, consider a situation where only one out four in a party are doing the skeleton smacking. Change might be good, but such a dramatic shift away from what seems so core to the arpg and the Diablo experience is nearing criminal. The reaction from the developers behind the game seems to be in vein with my own take on the situation, as they have mobilized en masse to try and cull this type of gameplay. Even well-known community figures admit that they only partake in it because it is the most efficient, not because it's what they enjoy. It is how to climb the leaderboards, for better or worse. Worse, really. This will likely be the most remembered aspect of Season Five looking back. Actually, strike that. The most remembered thing about Season Five, the thing that will put it down in the history books as what went right is: 

 

The Win

 

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  • Season Five saw the purge of the Botter, and humans attaining victory. An update to Blizzard's Warden, in conjunction with well timed and decisive waves, saw the leaderboards all but purified of those who chose to break the Terms of Service by utilizing suspect third party softwares. Whether you and Brother Chris played Diablo 24/7, or you used a software which rhymes with MurboMud, or maybe plotted your trips through Sanctuary using some GPS, you probably saw the boot. While not all elicit software users were burned by the righteous fires of the purge, a great chunk saw, and thus now fear the Light. Whatever this means moving forward, the message has been sent, and the result are clear for all to see: Play by the rules, or risk consequences. Exceptionally well played on Blizzard's part with timing and deployment, the banwave has many of the jaded questioning if perhaps there is much to be said about the game after all. Excellent work to Blizzard, and I personally hope that you keep this momentum you've gained. 

 

 

Conclusion:

 

Season Five has come and gone, and with it a new legacy was born. What the full effect is still remains to be seen, but we can assess some core principles in the immediate. What we know is that like any Season, there are going to be bad aspects, and those that make us remember exactly what has us logging in again and again and again. Season Five seemed to polarize the issues, making the extremes of the bad, as well as the good, more apparent than ever. In the end there more good than bad, and this should have all fans of the franchise reaching for that mouse.

 

Personally, I had a great time in Season Five, and I am looking forward to Season Six, which will begin as follows: 

  • North America: Friday, April 29 @ 5:00 p.m. PDT
  • Europe: Friday, April 29 @ 5:00 p.m. CEST
  • Asia: Friday, April 29 @ 5:00 p.m. KST

 

I want to thank readers, and now that I have said my piece, I open the comment box to all of you below. Do you agree or disagree with my take? Let me know! 

 

In the meantime, happy farming! 

Edited by Realbookwurm

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Great article! I definitely agree with your points but I feel like you forgot to mention how upset many players got with the addition to insane skill damage on legendary items like The Gavel of Judgment or Tzo Krin's Gaze thus removing some creativity to changing builds up. In know Quin ranted a lot about how he did not like this. I was rather indifferent about the issue but I know from the forums that many people hated it.

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Good stuff.  In reference to the extra stash tabs, I would call it bad if not ugly,  Of course, you've heard me gripe about this before. biggrin.png

 

You said that you come from a gaming culture that believes in working for rewards, so from that perspective, the seasonal cache tab reward is good.  For the most part, I agree.  The problem in this case is, lack of storage is such an issue in this game that offering a fix for it via a reward is ludicrous.  It's like they said, "Oh, your game crashes to the desktop every 30 minutes?  Do well enough in the next season and you can earn a fix for that!"  Seriously--if they said this, I'd consider it no more ridiculous than earning new stash tabs.  When part of the game is broken, don't ask me to "earn" a patch for it.

 

But I realize I'm on the extreme end of wanting storage.  I could easily put to use 10 times as much stash space.  So considering the normal players, ok, they want to offer the tabs as rewards.  They still messed it up, and here's why:

 

In-game rewards fall into two categories--cosmetic and useful.

 

Cosmetic: wings, transmorgs, pets, banners, etc.  It's perfectly ok to lock these things up to where the casual player simply can't get them.  No matter how cool I think those wings look, if I can't put in the time to get them, it doesn't hold back my game.

 

Useful: armor, weapons, skills, recipes, NPCs, maps, waypoints, stash tabs, etc., etc.  Anything effecting actual gameplay.  It is never ok to lock these things completely away from the casual player.  Non-casual players will earn these things a lot sooner and faster and more often, but the casual player will get there eventually.  They may go a really long time before they finally get to Cube a Furnace, but it will happen and be really cool when it does.

 

Extra Stash Tabs are useful items (very useful) that have been completely locked away from the casual player.  No matter how long I keep playing the game, an extra stash tab won't finally "drop" (because the Season expires before I can get there.)  Then they add insult to injury by locking them away from even some non-casual players by requiring a game mode they don't enjoy.  All this for something that should have been considered a fix--not a reward--in the first place.

 

/rant

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      Barbarians
      Beginner's Guide to Barbarians - Levels 1-70 and Guide with the Starting Set, Wastes - A guide that will take you through the leveling process efficiently and optimize your Season 15 Barbarian with the Haedrig's Gift free set. Immortal King (or Raekor) - Hammer of the Ancients Endgame Build  - A top tier, visceral build that emphasizes melee devastation and pulverizes his enemies to the ground with Hammer of the Ancients. Support Barbarian - Group-oriented build that the entire team depends upon for scouting, long-range monster pulls and protection from harmful crowd control affixes. Raekor - Furious Charge Endgame Build  - A spec that mixes the powers of two sets, combining the all-around utility of IK with the agile Furious Charge devastation of Raekor. Might of the Earth - Earthquake Endgame Build - This spec favors devastating large areas over precise shots, exerts a masterful control over the battlefield and sports a very satisfying rotation. Wrath of the Wastes - Whirlwind Endgame Build  - With a playstyle distilled to its simplest essence, the build opens runs with  Whirlwind and mows enemies down in endless, spinning destruction. Seismic Slam Barbarian - a ruthless visual feast of a build, this cold-focused Barb spec is surprisingly tough and efficient. Frenzy/Thorns Legacy of Nightmares  - More durable than most Barb builds, this spec nails the brutal hand-to-hand melee feel, slicing enemies at incredible speeds. Rend Immortal King  - Nearly forgotten, but certainly not powerless, this exotic build bleeds enemies dry with the DoT powers of Rend. Crusaders
      Beginner's Guide to Crusaders - Levels 1-70 and Guide with the Starting Set, Roland  - A guide that will take you through the leveling process efficiently and optimize your Season 15 Crusader with the Haedrig's Gift free set. Akkhan - Condemn Endgame Build - This build is the embodiment of the melee spellcaster fantasy, exerting powerful crowd control over monsters and decimating them in waves of holy destruction. Akkhan - Blessed Shield Endgame Build  -  This build plays on the archetype of using the shield as a weapon, charging it with holy might and reaping an entire field of demons with a single, mighty toss. Akkhan - Holy Shotgun Endgame Build  - The Holy Shotgun Crusader is a tanky, impenetrable bulwark of steel that absorbs blows and retaliates in blasts of pure, radiant vengeance.  Blessed Hammer Seeker of the Light - The reigning champion of many Seasons, the Hammerdin build is still a beast in terms of AoE damage and solo GR pushing potential. Thorns Invoker  - Likely the tankiest build in the game that is able to push into GR110+. Tough, focused and dead simple, this build almost Thorns itself to the absolute endgame. Sweep Attack Rolands  - This Crusader build revels in high-density rifts, shredding demons to pieces with the highest attack speed possible to the class. Bombardment Legacy of Nightmares  - The Bombardment Crusader spec takes assorted legendary items into a highly mobile, auto aiming and visually spectacular Thorns combination. Shield Bash Crusader - your best bet if you want to pound demon heads in Greater Rifts, if a bit on the clunky side. Demon Hunters
      Beginner's Guide to Demon Hunters - Levels 1-70 and Guide with the Starting Set, Unhallowed Essence  - A guide that will take you through the leveling process efficiently and optimize your Season 15 Demon Hunter with the Haedrig's Gift free set. Natalya/Marauder Sentry Endgame Build - This build focuses solely on the Sentries, providing Demon Hunters with a cold, calculating playstyle cloaked behind a wall of turrets and animal companions. Unhallowed Essence - Multishot Endgame Build  - This build embodies the lone, brooding archer that reaps entire screens worth of demons in massive, fiery bursts of arrows. Marauder - Multishot Endgame Build - the Sentry-based mirror of the multishotting AoE love, this is a timing-intensive, but hugely rewarding build. Marauder - Cluster Arrow Endgame Build  - Requiring a deep understanding of DHs - the need for positioning and strategic companion placement - this build rewards you with great GR potential. Natalya - Rain of Vengeance Endgame Build  - This build transforms the elegance of Strafe into a potent tool that resets the cooldown of Rain of Vengeance, resulting in a potent, bursty playstyle. Shadow - Impale Endgame Build  - The Impale build emphasizes on singling out and bursting down priority targets, resulting in a ninja-like, elite hunting playstyle. Grenades Unhallowed Essence  - A deceptively simple build, whose sustained grenade damage and tanking potential outdoes many of its flashier counterparts. Fan of Knives Legacy of Nightmares  - One of the more exotic specs in the game, the LoN FoK build thrives at low health values and turns them to its own advantage - playing with permanent crits. Chakram Demon Hunter - the ninja star-throwing counterpart to multishotting builds, with comparable AoE and more fun visuals. Monks
      Beginner's Guide to Monks - Levels 1-70 and Guide with the Starting Set, Raiment - A guide that will take you through the leveling process efficiently and optimize your Season 15 Monk with the Haedrig's Gift free set. Sunwuko - Wave of Light Endgame Build  - This unique ranged Monk playstyle blows demons up in screen-wide, incinerating beams of searing light. Support Monk  - Group-oriented build that the entire team depends upon for healing, short-range monster pulls and damage reduction from regular attacks. Uliana - Seven-Sided Strike Endgame Build  - Widely regarded as the most satisfying build of the class, Uliana enriches the Seven-Sided Strike visual with Exploding Palm detonations. Raiment Shenlong - Generator Endgame Build  - The Monk's bread and butter, this build pummels enemies into the ground with the sheer might of the primary fist attacks. Sunwuko - Lashing Tail Kick Endgame Build  - Building on the classic Monk image, this spec jump in, whirlwind kicks the demons' teeth in, and jump to the next pack of monsters. Tempest Rush Monk - a fun and under-appreciated build that balances the fluidity of rushing through enemies with some carefully timed bursts. Exploding Palm/Mystic Allies Inna  - In this Monk take on a summoner build, you rally spiritual fighters at your side that burst entire groups of enemies with Exploding Palms. Necromancers
      Beginner's Guide to Necromancers - Levels 1-70 and Guide with the Starting Set, Rathma - A guide that will take you through the leveling process efficiently and optimize your Season 15 Necromancer with the Haedrig's Gift free set. Pestilence or Trag'Oul - Corpse Lance  - This build alternates long scouting sessions while waiting on cooldowns with the utter devastation once Devour meets Land of the Dead. Rathma - Skeletal Mage - If you like to keep a tight rein on your minions with precise commands, leading the menagerie of undead at your side in a resource-fueled frenzy, this build is the one for you. Command Skeletons Inarius  - Turning the skeleton warriors into a vicious, unrelenting superior to Bane of the Stricken, this build is a Necromancer's one-way ticket to the absolute endgame heights. Generator Necromancer - a unique take on Inarius gameplay, focusing on lightning-fast scythe attacks and intensive resource interplay. Skeletal Mages Trag'Oul  - This is the alternate take on the Mages build, specializing in extreme speed farming, while still offering capable GR pushes. Bone Storm Inarius  - While it took an undeniable nerf, this build is still one of the most relaxing, farming-appropriate melee builds of Necromancers. Corpse Explosion Inarius  - An underappreciated offshoot to the close range Inarius variants, this build is among the most visually appealing and satisfying Necromancer builds out there. Witch Doctors
      Beginner's Guide to Witch Doctors - Levels 1-70 and Guide with the Starting Set, Helltooth  - A guide that will take you through the leveling process efficiently and optimize your Season 15 Witch Doctor with the Haedrig's Gift free set. Arachyr - Firebats Endgame Build  - Requiring minimal upkeep, this build spins a circular, no-aiming-required wave of Firebats obliteration around you. Simple, neat, and utterly effective. Helltooth - Gargantuan Endgame Build  - This staple summoner build offers laid-back playstyle with automated minions, excellent sustain and protective options, and even some space for crowd control. Jade Harvester Endgame Build  - One of the oldest examples of interesting set execution, this melee spellcaster trades the safety of range and hexes for aggressive dives and DoT consumption. Zunimassa Gargantuan Endgame Build - This build thrives behind a thick wall of Fetish summons and is accompanied by lumbering, destructive Gargantuan brutes in a pure minion playstyle. Legacy of Nightmares Spirit Barrage Endgame Build  - Emerging from a convergence of obscure mechanics, this build offers a unique, spell-heavy, bursty playstyle that produces some of the most spectacular visuals of the class. Grasp of the Dead Witch Doctor - a no-cooldown, no-resource take on making corpses rain from the sky; Wizards
      Beginner's Guide to Wizards - Levels 1-70 and Guide with the Starting Set, Tal Rasha  - A guide that will take you through the leveling process efficiently and optimize your Season 15 Wizard with the Haedrig's Gift free set. Firebird (or Tal Rasha) - Meteor - Reaching for the heartstrings of Meteor lovers, this build channels torrents of arcane energy to conjure destructive, burning meteorites into a pure visual feast. DMO - Frozen Orb - Combining the Frozen Orb nostalgia of sorceresses past with the forgotten power of Slow Time wizardry, this build leaves enemies helpless, watching their frozen death creep ever closer. Energy Twister Wizard - a surprisingly undervalued, but horrifyingly potent on the time-bending, whirlwinding destruction from seasons of yore. Vyr Archon - The oldest devotees to the Archon playstyle: Vyr and its complementary Chantodo sets got an awesome boost of power in Patch 2.6.1. Tal Rasha - Explosive Blast - Aside from its distinct cannonade of arcane blasts, this build is very attractive to Wizards due to its ability to include Sage's set for materials farming. Arcane Torrent Tal Rasha - Spawning off the addition of Manald Heal this guide offers not one, but three very fun, tanky, non-Archon lightning variants to build around. Conclusion
      Despite the lack of changes over the past few months, Patch 2.6.1 remains one of the best states of Diablo 3 of all time, with multiple perfectly viable and endgame-worthy builds. Have fun and good luck in Season 15 - I leave you with my hour-long overview of some of my favorite builds in the latest patch!
    • By Stan
      Diablo's Season 15 starts on September 21 and in the second Themed Season, all Horadric Caches earned from bounties will be doubled.
      Cosmetics
      Rewards include new Portrait frames and a pet named Belphegor.

      Boon of the Horadrim Theme
      Season 15 is the second Themed Season in Diablo 3. While Season 14 doubled all Treasure Goblin spawns, Horadric Caches earned from bounties will be doubled in Season 15.
      Blizzard (Source)
      Season 15 begins on September 21! For those among you who enjoy the fresh start a Season brings, we wanted to give you a glimpse of what to expect before you race out the gate as we continue to evolve and bring new things to Themed Seasons!

      New Season Theme
      Season 15 will continue the experiment we began last season with a new seasonal buff. This time, for the duration of Season 15, all Horadric Caches earned from bounties will be doubled. This means that each time you complete a full set of five bounties in an Act, you will receive not one, but two Horadric Caches, for twice the bounty rewards!
      There are a few things to keep in mind with this effect:
      The bonus cache does benefit from difficulty level; it is essentially as though you completed twice the bounties. The rewards inside the Horadric Caches are otherwise unaffected; drop rates or the amount of individual rewards have not been altered. The bonus cache earned from Challenge Rifts is not affected; this is a separate type of cache. Need a refresher on the rewards contained inside a Horadric Cache? Check out our Game Guide for a list of bounty-exclusive Legendary items and more information on the Bounty system.
      In addition to doubling up your Horadric spoils, other celebrations may spring up across the globe that celebrate the nature of this theme! Be sure to keep a close eye on Twitter and Facebook for more information as we move into Season 15!
      New Cosmetic Rewards
      As per tradition, Season 15 will introduce new cosmetic rewards, obtainable by progressing through the Season Journey.
      In addition to the Chest and Glove slots of the exclusive Conqueror Set, a brand-new series of portrait frames themed around the struggle of the Eternal Conflict will be available. For the eager cosmetic pet collectors, we thought you could use a hand. Belphegor is eager to keep a grip on your coin as it accompanies you on your adventures across Sanctuary!
      Season Journey Rewards
      If you’ve been diligently slaying demons for the past few Seasons and reached Conqueror in the Season Journey each time, you’ve surely accrued a few extra stash tabs by now. But players who have not yet earned a total of four stash tabs via the Season Journey can still unlock an additional one by completing the following tasks at the Conqueror tier:
      Finish a level 70 Nephalem Rift on Torment XIII difficulty within 5 minutes Level three Legendary Gems to level 55 Complete 2 Conquests this Season Kill Malthael at level 70 in 1 minute and 30 seconds on Torment XIII difficulty Slay Greed on Torment XIII difficulty Reach Greater Rift level 60 Solo Use Kanai’s Cube to augment an Ancient Legendary item with a level 50+ gem Use Kanai’s Cube to reforge a Legendary item Seasonal Conquests
      Speaking of Conquests, we’re rotating those, too! Returning for Season 15 is Sprinter/Speed Racer, where you’re challenged to complete all of Diablo III’s campaign from Act I to Act V at level 70 in under 1 hour! Next, we have Avarice/Avaritia, where all that glitters is gold—that is, if you can complete a 50 million gold streak outside of The Vault or its Inner Sanctum. Boss Mode/Worlds Apart is a different kind of race; destroy all the bosses in Diablo III at max level on Torment X before your 20-minute timer ends! A fan-favorite for those who enjoy unconventional builds, The Thrill/Superhuman requires completion of a Greater Rift level 45 to be completed Solo, but without any Set items equipped. Finally, Masters of the Universe/Masters of Sets stretches your class set knowledge by requiring a Mastery Rank completion of 8 different Set Dungeons; get ready to start collecting!
      Haedrig’s Gift
      Finally, the Class Sets available for completing certain chapters in the Season Journey courtesy of Haedrig’s Gift have rotated once more. We’ve listed the available Sets below. For those new to Seasons, here’s how it works:
      Completing Chapters 2, 3, and 4 of the Season Journey will reward you with three of Haedrig’s Gifts. Each Gift contains a few pieces from one of your Class Sets. Players can only unlock one Class Set in this manner per Season across Hardcore and Non-Hardcore, so choose wisely!
      The set you will receive depends on the Class of the character you’re playing when you open each Haedrig’s Gift. To collect a full Class Set, you’ll need to open all three on the same character.
      Here are the sets granted by Haedrig’s Gift in Season 15:
      Barbarian – Wrath of the Wastes Crusader – Roland’s Legacy Demon Hunter – Unhallowed Essence Monk – Raiment of a Thousand Storms Necromancer – Bones of Rathma Witch Doctor – Helltooth Harness Wizard – Tal Rasha’s Elements
      Frequently Asked Questions
      Q: When does Season 15 start?
      A: Season 15 begins Friday, September 21 at 5:00 p.m. PDT in North America, 5:00 p.m. CEST in Europe, and 5:00 p.m. KST in Asia. For time zone conversion, see this site.
      Q: When do Seasons go live for players on Xbox One and PlayStation 4?
      A: Seasons go live for all console players globally at 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time, regardless of which regional version of the game you may have. Please note that Seasonal Leaderboards for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are still separate by hardware platform.
      Q: When will Season 15 end?
      A: We currently anticipate that Season 15 will be ending on Sunday, December 16 at 5:00 p.m. PDT in North America, 5:00 p.m. CEST in Europe, and 5:00 p.m. KST in Asia.
      Q: Why is the Season end date an estimate?
      A: Traditionally, we have given players two weeks’ notice prior to the ending of a Season. However, we’ve heard the community’s feedback, so going forward, we’ll be providing more comprehensive Season details in the Season First Look blogs. Please bear in mind that this date is an estimate and there is always a chance it may shift. While we will do our best to hit these target dates as closely as possible, we will continue to verify the Season end date at the two-week warning mark.
      Q: When are the non-Seasonal Leaderboards being wiped?
      A: Non-Seasonal Leaderboards are tied to what we call “Eras,” each of which lasts about 6–12 months. The most recent era began November 9. For more information on Eras, please see this post.
      Q: What will happen to older Seasonal and Era records?
      A: Starting with Season 10, we removed old personal bests from Season 1. When Season 15 arrives, we will remove old personal bests from Season 6, and so on. We will be doing the same for personal bests from the previous Era when the next one goes live.
      Seasonal Leaderboard records are not being cleared and will remain archived both in game and on our website.
      Season 15 is almost here! What are your goals for this Season? What do you think of our next Seasonal theme? How will you change your approach to your Season Journey now that you have access to more Kanai’s Cube crafting mats, recipes, and bounty-exclusive Legendaries?