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Patch 2.4.2 Hotfixes, End-Game Group Meta & Forthcoming Changes

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A new patch has hit the Public Test Realm. It brings not only hotfixes but also mechanic tweaks. Wyatt Cheng made a post about incoming meta changes.

Patch 2.4.2 Hotfixes

A new patch was deployed on PTRs recently and it brings the following changes.

Blizzard LogoBlizzard Entertainment

Below you will find a list of hotfixes recently applied or coming soon to the PTR that address various bugs or mechanic tweaks.

These hotfixes should not require you to download a new patch. Some of the hotfixes below will go live the moment they are implemented while others may require restarting the game to go into effect. Please keep in mind that some issues cannot be addressed without a client-side patch. Also note that changes to certain abilities will not be reflected in its tooltip until a patch is issued.

Last updated June 24. Hotfixes are denoted by the date they were applied to the PTR servers.

[LIVE HOTFIXES]
Monk
  • Epiphany
    • Soothing Mist healing reduced by 60%
  • Blinding Flash
    • Crippling Light damage reduction reduced from 40% to 25%
  • Starfire
    • The benefit to lightning damage is now capped at 40 yards
Note: Many of these changes play into a larger development effort onto which we've gone into detail here.

Items
  • Fixed an issue that caused Girdle of Giants to increase the damage of all skills by the percentage it applied to Earthquake damage
  • Fixed an issue that caused Scarbringer to grant a damage bonus of 200%. It has been increased to 300% to match the tooltip.
  • Fixed an issue that caused Lashing Tail Kick (Vulture Claw Kick) DoT to not benefit from the bonus damage granted by Scarbringer

(Source)

Upcoming Meta Changes

Wyatt Cheng has shared some developer insight in some recent gameplay mechanics that are bugging the team. Just to mention a few; devs aren't satisfied with the efficiency of grouping up large packs of mobs, not even having to move while fighting, because grouping up mobs, standing and absorbing damage is more efficient than being on the move while dealing damage. That's why they are planning to drastically reduce the amount of healing available. He describes some changes as "drastic" and claims a lot of players may be very well surprised.

Blizzard LogoWyatt Cheng

Hey folks,

Many concerns have been brought up regarding "the meta" - the current group composition perceived to be the best at high levels of play. From a design standpoint, our job as a development team is to give players tools and leave room for players to combine these tools and perform optimizations to reach the highest greater rift that they can. The top-performing 4-player group composition is not something we rigidly design. Indeed, we feel that if we designed in such a rigid manner so as to know what the best composition is beforehand, we likely haven't created a rich enough space for players to explore. 

Over time, the community settles on a small set of ways to combine these tools. Every so often, a discovery is made that shakes up "the meta," but these discoveries become more rare as the game matures. In reaction to this some players would like us to change the balance of the game just for the sake of change. I want to be clear—"the meta" being stale is not a good enough reason for us to take action. As Diablo matures the "meta" is not going to change every season. With that in mind, there are three criteria we use to decide whether change is warranted:

1. Does the current best composition represent a variety of classes? For example, we have taken action in the past when 3 Demon Hunters was the best answer, or 2 Monks and 2 Barbarians. 

2. How far ahead is the top tier vs. the next best composition? If the top composition was 2 greater rift tiers ahead there might be a sense that there's still room for alternate specs, or people could make a playstyle choice at the sacrifice of some efficiency. When the top composition is 10 greater rift tiers ahead, then even farming groups or casual community pickup groups start to organize into this composition.

3. Most importantly, how interesting is the gameplay? As much as we'd all love to see a variety of classes and gameplay styles, it's actually the most critical that when you are playing these high-end group compositions that the gameplay is interesting and engaging.
 

How do we define interesting and engaging? 

  • It's more interesting and engaging if you are moving occasionally than highly stationary
  • It's more interesting and engaging if you have to adapt to the type of monster you're fighting
  • It's more interesting and engaging when you are playing the monster mechanics
  • It's more interesting and engaging when a group has to coordinate for maximum benefit

Currently there are many suggestions on how to shake up "the meta". There have been a LOT of really great suggestions. We've reviewed many of them through the lens of the three criteria I've outlined. Most specifically many people have called for a straight up nerf of the Twisted Sword. While we are going to nerf Twisted Sword, I also want to explain why we are going to do more than that.

If all we do is nerf Twisted Sword, we believe what will happen is most groups will simply swap out the current top Wizard build and go to the next highest DPS build. You'll still see a grouper/tank (usually a Monk), a puller (usually a Barbarian), a DPS buffer (a Witch Doctor) and then whoever outputs the highest DPS in the game (currently a Wizard). Only going after the Wizard is going to do very little for addressing criteria #2 and criteria #3.

There are three major problems and three corresponding major changes we are looking to make. 

PROBLEM #1: Bringing damage support buffers is more effective than bringing a second damage dealer. Why bring damage dealer #2 when you can bring a damage support who increases the damage of damage dealer #1 by 300%?
CHANGE #1: We are going to be reviewing the party-based damage buffs provided by all the classes. The degree to which some classes can buff party damage is a huge contributor to the 1 DPS - 3 Support meta.

PROBLEM #2: It is too easy to group monsters together. This is bad because:

  • It disproportionately increases the damage of the group compared to adding a 2nd damage dealer. If you have twice as many monsters grouped, not only are you dealing twice as much total damage - you're also scaling Area Damage upwards.
  • On top of this, many of the grouping mechanics encourages stationary combat. If you're chain-pulling monsters to a point, you're fighting in one location for extended periods of time.
  • In addition to being stationary, you’re also casting spells at a single location – it’s more engaging when you have to adjust dynamically to a changing battlefield.
  • The grouping mechanics also act as a soft crowd-control, disabling monsters from attacking players, causing combat to feel stagnant and non-interactive.
  • Grouping increases visual noise, which makes discerning (and hence responding to) monster mechanics difficult.
  • Finally, it can cause server issues. While we are always working on server performance optimizations, we also need to recognize that the current game design rewards players for bringing as many monsters as possible onto the screen at once.

CHANGE #2: We are going to make adjustments to crowd control and pull effects to make it harder to perpetually pull monsters onto a single point.

PROBLEM #3: Extremely high rates of healing favor standing still to do more damage instead of respecting and avoiding monster mechanics . 
 

CHANGE #3: One of the reasons you can ignore most monster mechanics is the amount of healing available. Expect to see a drastic reduction in available healing.

Will this affect solo play? Yes - some solo builds will be affected. For the most part we are trying to target the changes so they affect groups more than solo play. Weighing the needs of solo players vs. group players is a never ending and difficult task and in this case we feel that the quality of improvement to group play warrants the changes. It is an ongoing goal to make more builds viable, and the classes closer together in competitiveness. The requests for buffs to particular class sets or legendary items have been heard, we just feel making meaningful changes to group play is more important at this time.

Will this cause the highest rift tier to go down? To be frank - probably. We've never really done this before - nerfing the top performing builds. There are open questions ahead of us. How will this make the season feel? How will this affect non-seasonal play? In the past we've always had a philosophy to adjust the balance of the game by buffing what's low, but in this case that's not really an option. Take a look at the problems and solutions being proposed - these are problems that can't be solved with larger damage numbers. These are problems with group-based damage multipliers, healing, and combat utility. 

Finally - I want to circle back to a statement from the start of this post - as developers we do not know what the new optimal group composition will be. We're making some significant changes here and the game is intentionally too complex for us to figure out optimal strategies on our own. The collective wisdom of the player base is far more resourceful and capable than us. As a result - we really need people to jump on the PTR and try this stuff out! Particularly 4-player groups. If some highly competitive group discovers a composition of 4 Crusaders that is the most effective but deliberately "hides" it from the rest of the community, then there's not much we, the development team, can do. While we are ultimately responsible for the quality of Diablo III, we can't improve this game without your help.

There will be specific changes available to peruse in the next PTR patch. 
Fair warning: The reduction to group buffs is severe. People will be shell shocked.

If the goal is that 2 DPS can do more damage than 1 DPS + 1 support then it means no single class can bring > 100% worth of damage multipliers to the party. A support Witchdoctor in particular increases the effectiveness of party DPS by 300%+.

(Source)

What do you think about these changes? Will they improve the overall QoL of the game?

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      Exclusive rewards and challenging enemies await you, but they won’t last forever! The cultists have begun appearing since December 31 at 4 p.m. PST, and the portal opens January 3 at the same hour. Both parts of the event end January 31 at 4 p.m. PST.
      Enter the dungeon, reap your rewards, and survive the evils within—or die in the process, never to be heard from again. . . .
      #blog h3 { font:normal 22px "Palatino Linotype", "Times", serif; color:#F3E6D0; } #blog h1 { font:normal 18px "Palatino Linotype", "Times", serif; color:#F3E6D0; } #blog h4 { font:normal 26px "Palatino Linotype", "Times", serif; color:#F3E6D0; } #blog .divider-down { width:100%; height:72px; background:url('http://us.media3.battle.net/cms/gallery/KKZW0YDVPDT91334191716743.png?v=2') center center no-repeat; } #blog .divider-up { width:100%; height:72px; background:url('http://us.media1.battle.net/cms/gallery/MO010OF9ESV11334191716770.png?v=2') center center no-repeat; }#blog .detail #center { width: 590px; margin: 0px auto; } /* SixStoneDivider */ #blog .detail hr.sixstonehr { width:100%; height: 50px; background:url('https://bnetcmsus-a.akamaihd.net/cms/content_folder_media/XVZ5EJCXP7FB1372898195077.png') center center no-repeat; border: none; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; } /* SixStoneDivider */ #blog .detail hr.sixstonehr { width:100%; height: 50px; background:url('https://bnetcmsus-a.akamaihd.net/cms/content_folder_media/XVZ5EJCXP7FB1372898195077.png') center center no-repeat; border: none; margin-top: 0px; margin-botto The event is back and lasts through January 31st!
    • By Starym
      The 16th season arrives next month on January 18th and continues the themed season trend, with the big buff this time bringing some grandeur, Ring of Royal Grandeur, in fact. Everyone gets the effect of the legendary without wearing it or having it in your cube, which will make set matching a lot simpler. We're also getting new cosmetics, including some weird butterfly wings (not the Magda kind, thankfully), new conquests, new Haedrig's Gift sets and a brand new UI feature highlighting when Primal Legendaries drop, giving them a red beam and a huge and unique map icon! We're also getting potions removed from the inventory, 5 new armory tabs and GR Keystones stored in the materials tab.

      But, most importantly of all, there's set changes/huge buffs for Legacy of Nightmares (Litany of the Undaunted + The Wailing Host), all Barbarian, Demon Hunter, Monk and Witch Doctor sets, most Crusader and Wizard sets, and one Necromancer set.
      Season 16 (source)
      Season 16 begins January 18 and accompanies our latest Diablo III patch. Read on to learn more about upcoming class set tweaks, quality of life changes, and a brand-new Seasonal buff that’s sure to make Season 16 grand!

      Table of Contents
      Season 16 Theme New Cosmetic Rewards Season Journey Rewards Seasonal Conquests Haedrig’s Gift Quality of Life Class Set Updates Patch Notes FAQ New Season Theme
      Season 16 introduces a brand-new buff to the mix that will change up the way you play. For the duration of Season 16, all Seasonal players will benefit from the legendary power of the Ring of Royal Grandeur. This means you do not need to hunt down or equip the item to benefit from its Set bonus-enabling ability! Bear in mind that this buff does not stack with additional Rings of Royal Grandeur, whether they be equipped directly on your character or via the Jewelry slot in Kanai’s Cube.
      For the uninitiated, this means many classes may be able to combine different Class Set bonuses in new ways—or squeeze yet another Legendary power into their favorite builds. Theorycrafters unite!—this is the season to strut your stuff, experiment to your heart’s content, and push the limits of your most perfectly crafted build. While we’ve done our own experimenting, we can’t wait to see what the community comes up with in Season 16!
      New Cosmetic Rewards
      Season 16 will also introduce new cosmetic rewards, obtainable by progressing through the Season Journey.

      In addition to the Helm and Shoulder slots of the exclusive Conqueror Set, players can earn a brand-new series of portrait frames themed around the clarion call of adventure.. For the most devoted cosmetic collectors, we have a pair of wings fit for a monarch. The Wings of Lempo draw inspiration from some of the noblest creatures in Sanctuary, and aside from a cosmically rare drop, few other wings are quite as lovely.
      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:
      Guardian of Sanctuary: Finish a level 70 Nephalem Rift on Torment XIII within five minutes Gem of My Life: Level three Legendary Gems to level 55 All I Do IS Win: Complete two Conquests this Season In for The Kill: Kill Azmodan at level 70 in under 30 seconds on Torment XIII difficulty Money Ain’t a Thang: Slay Greed on Torment XIII difficulty Take U There: Reach Greater Rift level 60 Solo Power Amplification: Use Kanai’s Cube to augment an Ancient Legendary item with a level 50+ gem Cubic Reconfiguration: Use Kanai’s Cube to reforge a Legendary item Seasonal Conquests

      The Seasonal Conquest rotation continues! For the speedy, Speed Demon/Need for Speed requires the fastest nephalem to complete a Nephalem Rift at level 70 on Torment X or higher in under two minutes. On a Good Day/I Can’t Stop guides you to get your Legendary Gem grind on; level three Legendary Gems to 65 to complete this challenge! For the fiercest demon slayers, Boss Mode/World’s Apart is a speed challenge where you’ll need to eliminate the following bosses at level 70 and Torment X in under twenty minutes:
      The Skeleton King The Butcher Zoltun Kulle Ghom Cydaea Rakanoth Diablo Adria Queen Araneae Maghda Belial Siegebreaker Assault Beast Azmodan Izual Urzael Malthael Talk about a mouthful! For Curses!/Stars Align, pick any Cursed Chest event that requires killing monsters and defeat over 350 or more at level 70 on Torment X or higher. Finally, Years of War/Dynasty demonstrates your mastery of multiple classes by clearing a Greater Rift level 55 solo with the full bonuses of any six full Class sets.
      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 16:
      Barbarian – Immortal King’s Call Crusader – Seeker of the Light Demon Hunter – Natalya’s Vengeance Monk – Uliana’s Stratagem Necromancer – Trag’Oul’s Avatar Witch Doctor – Spirit of Arachyr Wizard – Vyr’s Amazing Arcana
      Quality of Life Changes
      Thanks to player feedback, we’ve focused on a couple of frequently requested changes to improve the overall Diablo experience. This includes minor changes, such as removing Legendary potions from player inventories so that they no longer take up space, but also more significant changes to celebrating end-game loot in Primal Legendaries.
      Primal Legendaries were, from the start, a goal largely intended for the segment of our audience pushing themselves to take on the game’s most challenging experiences. As power has increased over time, Primals have become more accessible across the board and we realized they were not celebrated or even as obvious as they should be, considering how ultimate they feel in a build. To this end, we’ve added specially colored beams and a unique mini-map icon to highlight when they drop, as well as shined up their tooltip and border colorations to be more discernible.



      Finally, we want to make sure everyone is clear when they can start collecting Primal Legendaries; upon completing your first Greater Rift 70 or higher Solo, you’ll receive an achievement indicating your accomplishment and the Greater Rift boss will be guaranteed to drop a Primal Legendary. This drop is subject to all other loot rules—meaning while there’s a large chance it will be suited for your class, randomness does play a factor.
      Class Set Updates
      The balance changes from Patch 2.6.1 have had a few seasons to percolate, allowing most classes and builds to settle in and reach for their best performance. With Patch 2.6.4, we’ve identified some of the best performing builds, like Condemn Crusader and Rathma’s Necromancer, and we’re looking to bring many of the other class set builds up to par.
      This is largely a numbers pass, and we haven’t just focused on class sets—the “no set Set” Legacy of Nightmares will be receiving a sizeable buff as well. We know many of you are curious as to what changes may have occurred as a result of your testing on the PTR. The updated Patch Notes are below for your viewing pleasure, so you can begin plotting out your ideal build before Season 16 begins!
      PATCH 2.6.4 - v2.6.4.54724
      Table of Contents:
      General Greater Rifts Seasons Class Set Changes All Classes Barbarian Crusader Demon Hunter Monk Necromancer Witch Doctor Wizard General Quality of Life Philosophy For this patch, we wanted to include a few frequently requested Quality of Life changes and focused on better celebrating and indicating Primal Legendary drops. Five (5) additional Armory tabs have been added for all characters, bringing the total to 10 Legendary Potions are no longer stored in player inventory and can be accessed or changed by right-clicking on the potion icon in the action bar Greater Rift Keystones are now stored in the Materials tab Any existing Greater Rift Keystones in both inventory and stash have been automatically moved Primal Legendaries are now marked by a red beam when they drop Primal Legendaries on the ground are now indicated by a red pentagram icon on the mini-map Primal Legendaries now have a red border and updated background on their icons Return to top Greater Rifts Philosophy The gameplay of micro-managing Paragon points during the course of a Greater Rift doesn't feel like especially engaging gameplay, nor was it consistent with the other existing rules of entering a Greater Rift. In addition, the below change to matchmaking is to make it much easier for all players to find groups for Greater Rifts, as the previous window (only between Greater Rifts) is typically very small. Paragon points can no longer be swapped while a Greater Rift is open Players can now be matched into public games where a Greater Rift is open Players who join in this manner will not be able to enter the active Rift, and players inside the Rift will be able to continue with no additional difficulty scaling until the run has been completed Return to top Seasons Season 16: Season of Grandeur The buff for Season of Grandeur has been implemented This buff gives all Seasonal players the legendary power from Ring of Royal Grandeur This buff does not stack with additional Ring of Royal Grandeur (either equipped or in Kanai's Cube) Unlike previous Seasonal buffs, this buff will not apply to Non-Seasonal players When completing a Greater Rift level 70 solo for the first time in a Season, a Primal Legendary is guaranteed to drop from the Rift Guardian Return to top Class Set Changes Philosophy We are taking another tuning pass across all class sets to improve class and set diversity at higher level Greater Rifts. Some of these values have been adjusted per our observations as well as player feedback during the 2.6.4 PTR. Thanks for testing! All Classes Legacy of Nightmares The (2) Set bonus has been increased from 100% to 750% Return to top Barbarian The Legacy of Raekor The (6) Set bonus has been increased from 2800% to 5500% Immortal King's Call The (6) Set bonus has been increased from 1500% to 4000% Might of the Earth The (6) Set bonus has been increased from 5600% to 20000% Wrath of the Wastes The (6) Set bonus has been increased from 3000% to 10000% Return to top Crusader Thorns of the Invoker The (2) Set bonus has been increased from 140% to 350% The (6) Set bonus has been increased from 5400% to 15000% Roland's Legacy The (4) Set bonus has been increased from 3300% to 13000% The (6) Set bonus has been increased from 50% increased Attack Speed to 75% Seeker of the Light The (6) Set bonus has been increased from 2000% Blessed Hammer damage to 12000% Return to top Demon Hunter Embodiment of the Maruader The (6) Set bonus has been increased from 3000% to 12000% Unhallowed Essence The (6) Set bonus has been increased from 100% to 350% Natalya's Vengeance The (6) Set bonus has been increased from 3500% to 14000% The Shadow's Mantle The (2) Set bonus has been increased from 1200% to 6000% The (6) Set bonus has been increased from 50000% to 75000% Return to top Monk Uliana's Strategem The (6) Set bonus has been increased from 2100% to 9000% Inna's Mantra The (6) Set bonus has been increased from 150% to 750% Monkey King's Garb The (6) Set bonus has been increased from 1000% to 1500% Raiment of a Thousand Storms The (2) Set bonus has been increased from 100% to 400% The (6) Set bonus has been increased from 13000% Dashing Strike damage to 60000% The (6) Set bonus has been increased from 1300% Spirit Generator damage to 6000% Return to top Necromancer Trag'Oul's Avatar The (6) Set bonus has been increased from 3300% to 3800% Return to top Witch Doctor Spirit of Arachyr The (6) Set bonus has been increased from 4500% to 9000% Helltooth Harness The (2) Set bonus has been increased from 1500% to 3000% The (6) Set bonus has been increased from 4400% to 9000% Raiment of the Jade Harvester The (2) Set bonus has been increased from 560 seconds to 3500 seconds The (6) Set bonus has been increased from 1650 seconds to 10000 seconds Zunimassa's Haunt The (6) Set bonus has been increased from 5500% to 15000% Return to top Wizard Tal Rasha's Elements The (6) Set bonus has been increased from 750% to 2000% Delsere's Magnum Opus The (6) Set bonus has been increased from 3800% to 8500% Vyr's Amazing Arcana The (6) Set bonus has been increased from 50% bonus damage to 100% Return to top  
      We can’t wait to see what combinations players come up with throughout the course of Season 16 . . . especially when considering the new Seasonal buff!
      Frequently Asked Questions
      Q: When does Season 16 start?
      A: Season 16 begins Friday, January 18 at 5:00 p.m. PST 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, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch?
      A: Seasons go live for all console players globally Friday, January 18 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, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch are still separate by hardware platform.
      Q: When will Season 16 end?
      A: We currently anticipate that Season 16 will be ending on Sunday, March 17 at 5:00 p.m. PST 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 preview 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 and is scheduled to end January 8. 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 16 arrives, we will remove old personal bests from Season 7, 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.
      Themed Seasons are continuing to evolve as we venture into the future, and we’re quite excited to see where this one leads. Are you looking forward to the Season of Grandeur? Which build or class set buff are you looking to experiment with first? Share your thoughts below and we’ll see you in Season 16
      There's a lot of changes to both to UI, sets and a lot more coming next month, as well as a new buff!
    • By Stan
      Season 15 was supposed to end on December 16, but the Diablo team decided to extend it and the new end date is January 6. Season 16 is scheduled for the week of January 11.
      The new Season will go live with Patch 2.6.4 that was available for testing on PTR.
      Blizzard (Source)
      Hey everyone,

      In order to ensure a smooth transition between Seasons, and give players extra time to enjoy the Double Bounty Cache buff, we will be ending Season 15 on January 6. With this, Season 16 is scheduled to begin on January 11. 

      As a quick heads-up, we will also be resetting the current Era leaderboards on January 8, so you’ve still got some time to push for that final leaderboard placement before the rollover occurs!

      Good luck,
      - Tyvalir