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The Season 22 PTR starts tomorrow and Blizzard have given us a little detail on what the focus will be for phase 1 of the testing, aka the first week. Sets and items will be on the menu for this first week, presumably with the seasonal power (which seems to be a relatively complex one this season) planned for the next.
Season 22 PTR (source)
Taking a moment to give thanks for all the feedback so far. The team here has been reading through the comments and the more feedback we can gather the better. Hopefully, this change in PTR timelines helps us take more of what you share and pushes us towards making the awesome decisions moving forward.
Just as a reminder, tomorrow’s changes are going to be phase 1 (1-week duration) which is a focus on the items/sets. In the meantime, let’s keep the feedback coming!
PS - I’ve been a ghost on the thread (my bad) - been busy jotting down notes & prepping for tomorrow!
We have a new season PTR coming on October 1st, with Season 22 focusing on shadow clones of your class helping you out (with various builds of their own) and a fourth Kanai's Cube slot! The class changes focus on Wizards, Crusaders and Witch Doctors, there's plenty of new and changed legendaries, so check out the full post!
We get 2 weeks of the PTR, with the standard legendary drop rate buff, but also a new double Blood Shard buff added as well!
Patch 2.6.10 Preview (source)
Our two-week PTR testing period for the 2.6.10 update begins October 1 and we're asking for your help to quell the tides of surging demons. Take a look at the preliminary patch notes below and start theorycrafting how you'll make the most of the brand-new season content, a new item, and tons of Legendary item changes; Patch 2.6.10 will be arriving soon! Table of Contents
PTR Focus & Details PTR Tips Patch Notes Seasons Items How to Participate in PTR PTR Character Copy Please note that this is a preview for PTR content, which is subject to change.
PTR Focus & Details
We’ll be conducting the Patch 2.6.10 PTR, and phasing in content updates over the course of two weeks, starting Thursday, October 1. During this time there may be periodic maintenances, outages, hotfixes, or minor patches. This time around, testing will consist of two phases:
Phase 1 - October 1: During this phase, we will be introducing Legendary and Set item changes Phase 2 – October 8: In this phase, we will be adding the Seasonal Theme content NOTE: Phase 1 content will persist throughout the entirety of the PTR. Phase 2 content will be an addition to the existing content.
There will be two PTR-unique buffs active to help you on your journey: increased Legendary drop rate and double Blood Shard drops. You can also buy new gear for testing from the special PTR vendor, Djank Mi'em, who will exchange Blood Shards for class-specific bags full of Legendary items that we'd love for you to test!
Class Changes: To ensure that the most significant class changes receive an ample amount of attention, we'd love for you to focus testing and feedback on the Wizard changes around Etched Sigils and Hydras, the Crusader’s Steed Charge build, and the Witch Doctor’s Crazy Chicken build.
So that we can efficiently review your posts, feedback should be provided in the PTR Feedback forum while bug reports should be provided in the PTR Bug Report forum.
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PTR Testing Tips
As with our previous PTRs, this testing period is short, so it's best to hit the ground running. Whether you’re a PTR veteran or newcomer, we thought we’d pass along a few tips to get you started.
Because of the limited duration of this PTR, we ask that participants pick a particular portion of this update to focus on testing. For example, if you’re primarily a Wizard player, consider what changes impact the Wizard specifically. What you like best, what you think may still need adjustment, and what you’d want to see in the future (even if that may be beyond the scope of this patch) are all good questions to ask yourself. Prior to the start of PTR, consider stocking up on items like Puzzle Rings and Bovine Bardiches. Having these available after you import your character can make any necessary PTR farming much faster! Try to break things! Just tell us when you do so we can make sure that the patch launch is as smooth as possible. When providing feedback, focus less on a solution and more on your experience. How did the changes make you feel? Was there something “off” that you noticed? Did something seem wrong or insufficient? Suggestions are always welcome but identifying the issues themselves is most important. Return to Top
Below you will find the patch notes for the upcoming update for Diablo III, Patch 2.6.10.
Table of Contents:
Seasons Items Monsters Bug Fixes Note: All changes apply to all versions of Diablo III, including PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC unless otherwise indicated. Please note that PTR is only available for PC and Mac users.
The shadows, they are moving, and they seem… animated. It is as though they had a will of their own. Whatever this trickery is, perhaps you can use it to your advantage. Let’s see what the demons say when you fight side by side with your own shadow!
Shadows of the Past: Activating a Shrine/Pylon will spawn in a shadow clone of your class. This clone will randomly have 1 out of 3 predetermined builds. This clone's power will scale with your character and will last for 1 minute or if your character dies. See below for the shadow clone variations that can spawn when activating.
Build Variation 1 Build Variation 2 Build Variation 3 Grasp of the Dead - Rain of Corpses Wall of Death - Fire Wall Mass Confusion - Mass Hallucination Piranhas - Piranhado Firebomb - Flash Fire Spirit Barrage - The Spirit is Willing Wall of Death - Surrounded by Death Hex - Unstable Form Wall of Death - Communing with Spirits Zombie Charger - Zombie Bears Piranhas - Piranhado Piranhas - Piranhado Corpse Spiders - Medusa Spiders Zombie Charger - Explosive Beast Horrify - Face of Death Hex - Jinx Spirit Barrage - Well of Souls Grasp of the dead - Unbreakable Grasp Wizard
Build Variation 1 Build Variation 2 Build Variation 3 Arcane Orb - Frozen Orb Meteor - Molten Impact Arcane Orb - Obliteration Frost Nova - Bone Chill Arcane Orb - Obliteration Disintegrate - Intensify Blizzard - Unrelenting Storm Explosive Blast - Short Fuse Wave of Force - Debilitating Force Ice Armor - Frozen Storm Black Hole - Blazar Slow Time - Exhaustion Black Hole - Absolute Zero Energy Twister - Gale Force Energy Twister - Raging Storm Ray of Frost - Snow Blast Disintegrate - Convergence Meteor - Star Pact Barbarian
Build Variation 1 Build Variation 2 Build Variation 3 Seismic Slam - Shattered Ground Battle Rage - Marauder's Rage Overpower - Killing Spree Ground Stomp - Jarring Slam Threatening Shout - Falter Threatening Shout - Falter Avalanche - Volcano Wrath of The Berserker - Insanity Furious Charge - Battering Ram Earthquake - Molten Fury Sprint - Run Like the Wind Wrath of The Berserker - Insanity Wrath of The Berserker - Insanity Whirlwind - No Rune Bash - Pulverize Ancient Spear - Boulder Toss Rend - Lacerate Hammer of The Ancients - Rolling Thunder Monk
Build Variation 1 Build Variation 2 Build Variation 3 Blinding Flash - Faith in the Light Fist of Thunder - Thunderclap Exploding Palm - The Flesh is Weak Seven-Sided Strike - Fulminating Onslaught Deadly Reach - Scattered Blows Wave of Light - Explosive Light Inner Sanctuary - Sanctified Ground Way of the Hundred Fists - Hands of Lightning Lashing Tail Kick - Spinning Flame Kick Epiphany - Soothing Mist Lashing Tail Kick - Sweeping Armada Epiphany - Inner Fire Breath of Heaven - Circle of Scorn Dashing Strike - Barrage Sweeping Wind - Fire Storm Wave of Light - Empowered Wave Cyclone Strike - Implosion Seven-Sided Strike - Sudden Assault Necromancer
Build Variation 1 Build Variation 2 Build Variation 3 Land of the Dead - Frozen Lands Land of the Dead - Plaguelands Land of the Dead - Frozen Lands Frailty - Volatile Death Decrepify - Wither Bone Spear - Shatter Bone Spirit - Possession Army of the Dead - Blighted Grasp Death Nova - Bone Nova Corpse Explosion - Final Embrace Corpse Lance - Ricochet Frailty - Early Grave Bone Spear - Blood Spear Death Nova - Blight Army of the Dead - Death Valley Death Nova - Blood Nova Bone Spear - Blighted Marrow Corpse Lance - Blood Lance Demon Hunter
Build Variation 1 Build Variation 2 Build Variation 3 Marked for Death - Valley of Death Marked for Death - Valley of Death Marked for Death - Valley of Death Caltrops - Jagged Spikes Rain of Vengeance - Stampede Rain of Vengeance- Flying Strike Fan of Knives - Assassin's Knives Cluster Arrow - Shooting Stars Cluster Arrow - Maelstrom Chakram - Twin Chakrams Multishot - Arsenal Multishot - Wind Chill Vengeance - Side Cannons Vengeance - Personal Mortar Vengeance - From the Shadows Impale - Ricochet Elemental Arrow - Immolation arrow Elemental Arrow - Frost Arrow Crusader
Build Variation 1 Build Variation 2 Build Variation 3 Akarat's Champion - Fire Starter Akarat's Champion - Hasteful Akarat's Champion - Rally Falling Sword - Superheated Falling Sword - Flurry Falling Sword - Part the Clouds Sweep Attack - Blazing Sweep Judgment - Mass Verdict Heaven's Fury - Split Fury Consecration - Shattered Ground Consecration - Bathed in Light Fist of the Heavens - Retribution Bombardment - Annihilate Blessed Hammer - Limitless Iron Skin - Charged Up Condemn - Reciprocate Condemn - Reciprocate Shield Glare - Uncertainty Rewards: Two unique new rewards, a portrait frame, and a pet will be granted to players who complete the Season 22 Guardian Journey.
Kanai’s Cube: Additionally, the Kanai’s Cube will have a fourth slot this season. This fourth slot will have the choices of the first 3 slots but will not stack with any of them. The intent is to provide players with creative flexibility to their character builds.
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Haedrig’s Gifts now grants all class sets and we have a new rotation schedule. This upcoming season, depending on which class you choose, Haedrig’s Gifts will reward you with Horde of the Ninety Savages, Aegis of Valor, Gears of Dreadlands, Patterns of Justice, Masquerade of the Burning Carnival, Mundunugu’s Regalia, or Typhon’s Veil. Stone Gauntlets now drops for all classes. Paragon Bonus Gold Find has been changed to Gold Pickup Radius at 0.1 per point. Item Changes
New Item* Gelmindor’s Marrow Guards: Bone Spear cast from Simulacrums deal 400-500% increased damage. Ivory Tower: Rapid multiple blocks will now scale the damage for Fires of Heaven, up to a maximum of 2.5 times damage. Mantle of Channeling: Removed the 1 second start up before the power takes effect. Etched Sigil: While channeling Arcane Torrent, Disintegrate, or Ray of Frost, the damage of your Energy Twister is increased by 200-250%, and you also cast Energy Twister every second. Fragment of Destiny: Your Signature Spells attack 50% faster and deal triple damage. You gain a Spectral buff whenever you land an attack with a Signature Spell. Hydras deal 25-30% increased damage for each Spectral stack. Max 10 stacks. Valthek's Rebuke: Energy Twister now travels in a straight path and deals 300-400% increased damage. Winter Flurry: Enemies killed by Cold damage have a 25% chance to release a Frost Nova. Your Hydra deals 125-150% increased damage to enemies in a Blizzard. Wizardspike: Performing an attack has a 25% chance to hurl a Frozen Orb. Arcane Orb deals 300-350% increased damage. Delsere's Magnum Opus: 6 piece bonus increased from 8500% to 12500%. The Typhon's Veil: 6 piece bonus increased from 1300% to 2000%. Nervold's Fervor: Buff 2 piece bonus damage from 100% to 400% Armor of Akkhan: Buff 6 piece bonus damage from 1500% to 2000% Roland's Legacy: Buff 4 piece bonus damage from 13,000% to 17,500% Seeker of the Light: Buff 6 piece Blessed Hammer bonus damage from 12,000% to 15,000% Belt of the Trove: Every 4 seconds, call down Bombardment on a random nearby enemy. Bombardment deals 400-500% increased damage. The Mortal Drama: Double the number of Bombardment impacts. Bombardment deals 400-500% increased damage. Manajuma's Way: Angry Chicken explosion damage increased from 400% to 2000%. Spirit of Arachyr: Buff 6 piece bonus damage from 9000% to 17,500%. Helltooth Harness: Buff 6 piece bonus damage from 9000% to 17,500%. Scrimshaw: Reduces the Mana cost of Zombie Charger by 75% and increases its damage by 6-7 times. Inna's Mantra: Buff 6 piece bonus damage from 750% to 950%. Shenlong's Spirit: Damage bonus increased from 200% to 350%. Gungdo Gear: Exploding Palm's on-death explosion applies Exploding Palm. Exploding Palm's damage is increased by 75-100%. Blade of the Tribes: War Cry and Threatening Shout cause an Avalanche and Earthquake. Avalanche and Earthquake both deal 150-200% increased damage Return to Top
How to Participate
To participate in the public test, you must have a Diablo III game license attached to a Battle.net account in good standing (i.e. one that hasn't been suspended or banned). In addition, you will also need to download and install the Blizzard Battle.net desktop app if you have not already done so.
Step 1: Restart the Battle.net desktop app.
Step 2: Navigate to the Diablo III tab on the left-hand menu.
Step 3: On the Diablo III screen, there is a drop-down menu right above the "Play" button (note that this may say "Install" if you do not have Diablo III currently installed). Select "PTR: Diablo III" from this drop-down menu before proceeding.
Step 4: Click Install to begin the installation process.
Your PTR account will be created automatically if you do not already have one. The PTR is available in all supported languages, and accounts from all regions are eligible to participate. For additional assistance with installing and launching the PTR, click here.
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PTR Character Copy
The option to copy your existing Diablo III characters from your live account to the PTR will be available and can be done directly through the PTR client. However, only one region per account can be copied at a time. So, if you choose to copy characters from your account in a different region, any previously copied PTR characters will be lost.
Step 1: Log into the live game and then log out.
Step 2: Log into PTR client and create a level 1 character. After you're done, return to the main character screen.
Step 3: Click on the "PTR Copy" button located in the upper right-hand corner. (The PTR Copy button will not appear in-game until you have created a new level 1 character.)
Step 4: Select your region.
Step 5: Click "Copy." This will copy all characters on your account from the selected region.
Step 6: You will be disconnected from the PTR client.
Step 7: Log back in. Your copied characters will be available for play.
Please note that you can only copy characters from one gameplay region at a time. If you choose to copy characters from a different region, any previously copied PTR characters will be lost. In addition, you can only copy characters over to your PTR account once every 24 hours. Attempting to copy characters before this cooldown is up will result in an error.
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As this is a test server, please anticipate uneven game performance, and note that restarts and downtime may occur without warning. Thank you, and we look forward to your feedback!
The Season 22 PTR is close and we get the full patch notes!
A lot of the comments on my last article got me thinking (and btw, thanks to everyone for reading and hopefully enjoying it) and opened up a whole lot of ideas for followups. But the biggest takeaway from them has to be something I've been struggling with for a long time now: the paradox of Diablo-likes, as I like to call it. Just to put a huge disclaimer at the top here: all of this is my personal opinion and preference, obviously, and there are many people who prefer to play differently, be it use the same build over and over (WW Barb comes to mind) or just push to the maximum GR every single season no matter what. This article is for the rest of us who are at least somewhat conflicted.
The what of Diablo-likes??
Ok, so bear with me here. A Diablo game is composed of three basic parts: the combat, the skills and the loot. Everything else is set-dressing and enhances (or diminishes) those three parts. I've already gone over how Diablo 3's combat is almost pitch-perfect and hasn't been matched yet in the genre (sorry Lost Ark), the skill system is problematic in most games in the genre so we'll skip that, which leaves us to focus on the real problem of (current) Diablo 3 instead - the itemization.
We all want the best gear. We all want to be optimal. We all want to push the hardest difficulties and feel powerful and awesome. That's what the game is about - power fantasy, killing demons, getting powerful rewards to kill more demons with etc. The problem arises when obtaining and using that best optimal gear becomes more important than everything else. When it becomes more important than fun. Think about that for a second. Something in a GAME you're playing is more important than having fun with said game. When you look at it from an outside perspective, it's a ludicrous statement. You play games to have fun, why on earth would you instead have less fun just so you can get better items and be more optimal? It makes no sense. And yet it's what I'd wager happens to most players. It's absolutely what happens to me every time I come back to the game. It certainly happens to anyone that goes "hardcore" (no, not the game mode) in these types of games. Now, obviously for that contingent of players that goes hard at the actual leaderboards and only wants to push themselves to ever higher Greater Rifts, THAT'S the fun in the game, but I feel pretty certain there are builds they'd rather play if they could push with those.
So the paradox here is that the point playing the game is to get better gear, but getting the better gear can make the game less fun at high levels of gear optimization, as it forces you into specific builds.
In Diablo 3, it goes a little something like this: you get the set that buffs you with infinity-gillion% damage and it's really fun to play, whether it's from the seasonal journey or from farming it the regular way. Then you play it some more and more and it gets less fun, as every repetitive activity does. Now if the set you have isn't the MOST optimal one you get to farm for the next one and when you get it, the loop repeats. But it only repeats once. Now you're stuck with this optimal set, and, ok, you can now search for the ancillary pieces of the build, the few legendaries and cube items that complement the set. Usually though, these don't add much to the build in terms of gameplay, they just make that way of playing more powerful. This is the end of the loop in terms of gameplay gains, unfortunately, as you're now farming for small percentage upgrades, that perfect roll with the maxed affixes that give you that +137 Strength or 1.5% crit chance that will push you to that next GR level (don't even get me started on Greater Rifts and their litany of issues). Now, don't get me wrong, this issue isn't related to just Diablo 3, it's a problem in all loot-based games. The better ones manage to distract you from the issue and possibly downplay the need for being optimal.
For Diablo 3 specifically, the issue really only appeared after Reaper of Souls, because that's when the excellent new legendary system was introduced. This is one of the best additions in an expansion I've seen to any game I've ever played, as it took the potential of ARPGs and put it into overdrive. Until then we had stat sticks for items and that was fine, that was the way it's always been, with the very occasional legendary that actually had an ability (ah, Maximus, you were ahead of your time), or sets that gave you just more of the same stats. But with RoS, every single slot you had was now an option for deep customization of your gameplay style. Sure, not all legendaries had gameplay changing abilities, but they all added something to your build, at the very least visually. I'd say that initial Reaper of Souls period was the absolute best in terms of itemization and build diversity (although I'm sure there were plenty of optimal and "must-have" builds even then), because legendaries were pretty scarce so you had to make do with what you had and create builds based on that.
Then came the enemy. The sets system in Diablo 3 is just bad, there's no way around that. It takes the loop and just speeds it up infinitely. When the change to sets to make them actually viable was first announced, I was thrilled. Permanent Call of the Ancients with a 6 set for Barb? Sign me up! I didn't even think of the fact that that was 6 slots immediately gone, with additional ones having to bend to the now Ancients focused build. The deathblow came when sets became infinitely powerful with the various nonsensical +28193463184327423% buffs and legendaries weren't buffed alongside them.
The bonus is now 75,000%.
Now look, obviously a lot of this isn't the developer's fault. The team is ridiculously small and was getting smaller ever since RoS, so tweaking % numbers is an easy way to make it seem as if something is being added. I get that, that's fine, you do what you can with what you have. But it's not just Diablo 3 that has this issue. The more power vs. more fun is an eternal struggle in the whole genre. The glaring thing with D3 isn't that its itemization is bad, it's that it has SO much potential with all of these legendary powers that's being squandered.
Is this even a solvable issue though? Yes and no, unfortunately. The basic loop I mention above will always be there, there will always be an optimal build, no matter how hard developers try to avoid it. However, there are things that make it either last longer, make it a more smooth loop or make it less noticeable. There are plenty of potential solutions, too many to write up here, but the below are the ones I feel are most relevant (and easy to explain).
The easiest way to resolve the issue is to simply not care. Take whichever combination of items you enjoy playing, head to the difficulty those items allow you to play and have fun! I'm sure plenty of people do this already, but I've tried many times and everyone I know has as well - we never keep at it. We always end up defaulting back to the "good" builds.
Items HAVE TO be hard to get. Of course everyone wants to get to play with the big toys and it's not actually fair that only people that spend insane amounts of hours in a game get to use the most powerful items. But, once you remove rarity as an issue, other than small % upgrades, the system collapses in on itself. Once the powerful builds become easily available to all, those are the ones that will be used. By all. They are supposed to be the goal, the carrot that keeps you playing and farming and enjoying the gameplay.
Now of course the reason things are as they are in D3 at the moment is because it's a 7 year old game and the hardcore players (again, not the game mode) have already had all the powerful items, so it's completely ok for more casual players to get them too, but I'm talking in general here. Making tiers of power (not tier sets, mind you) as incremental goals is the way to go. So casual players get to play with powerful things, but they know there's more out there. Getting one full complement of gear from a single tier allows you to start going for the next one and so on. Just to clarify, by tier I don't mean the same items with bigger stats, but you take your legendary pool and see which are more or less powerful and sort them that way. This is already a thing, as you can always find tier lists for items in any game, ranking them by their power. The problem there is that you can skip huge parts of that if you get lucky with a drop. So, if you get a really good top tier item, that's it for that slot, you just completely ignored the other options available there. There are so many fun and interesting legendary combinations in D3 that are simply ignored because they aren't powerful enough.
Content helps out a lot, as doing various different things to obtain gear keeps it feeling fun. Specific game modes or dungeons can completely revitalize a game. For example, if you came across a dungeon with really good rewards, but weren't allowed to use any of your top items, that would make you instantly have to change your build and playstyle, play with what you have available and adapt. Balancing said dungeon would be a nightmare, but it would be doable. Even separating the loot pool into different game modes is an option, so certain content is only accessible with the "worse" loot. It still rewards you with desirable items, but in order to get a chance at it you have to make sub-optimal builds with items that are weak. There are many different ways to do this and use content to liven up the itemization game, force players out of their comfort zone and get them thinking.
While most of the above is only applicable to a new game I've found a solution that works for me in Diablo 3 specifically. It's still a tough sell to some of my more hardcore-minded friends who physically can't have fun unless they're pushing the absolute highest GR possible, but I'll force/threaten convince them of this new way eventually. So what is it? Well it includes a bit of patience, unfortunately, but basically you make your own tiers and see how far you can get with them. If I stumble upon Ancients for my old reliable Cyclone + every single passive legendary possible that deals damage to everything around you Monk build I'm going to play it until it's no longer fun and try to see what GR level is the maximum I can get with it. Basically that Cyclone set is my own endgame. But here's the thing - I can have MANY endgames this way. Whenever I stumble upon an interesting combination of legendaries that might work well together, I'm going to try them out (or keep them in the stash because I need one or more additional legendaries to make it work) and if it's a fun build, then bam, I have another endgame goal for myself - take THAT build to it's maximum potential and gather items for it.
I'm actually going to make a spreadsheet for this purpose (yes, it's a bit much, but I have to keep myself away from those damned optimal builds somehow), charting what builds make it how far and how I can improve them.
All of this might seem like a lot of work and mental discipline for just one game when there's so much else to play, but it's worth it for me. Diablo 3 has many flaws and issues, but at its core, it's still the best in the genre and if I have to put in a little effort on my end to get it fresh again I'm absolutely willing to do that. Having tried literally every alternative out there in the genre for significant amounts of time, I keep coming back to D3 and there has to be a reason for it. That's not to say the other games are bad, but they're just not what I'm looking for - perhaps I truly am a gameplay snob.
The real name of the game
Creativity. Creativity and build diversity are the one and only solution in the end. Everything else I wrote about is just trying to emphasize that one aspect. If a game's items spark your imagination, make you think "OMG, if I just combine these 2 legendaries, and add this third one in, and then another and another, it'll be amazing. I can't wait to get them and try it out!", that's it, the game has you. Discovering new ways to play and creating them by yourself is what makes these games fun in the long term. As good as the gameplay can be and as good as the individual items are, they all have a pretty short expiration date. Finding new builds that change the way you play extends that to the extremes. There's nothing better to me than finding an item or items for a different class that immediately has me thinking I HAVE to try this class out now, look at how great this item is! Then, every once in a while, hop on to your optimally built destruction monster and stomp some crazy high GRs and Torments for some catharsis, just for good measure.
In closing, obviously you should play EXACTLY the way that you want to, and if pushing the high GRs and using the absolutely best gear that is available in a season is what's fun for you, then that's great, I'm actually envious of you! If using the same build all the time is what makes the game fun for you who am I to tell you different! This was just about my personal issues with the game and genre, and potential solutions to it. If you found any of this useful (or at all comprehensible), great! Let me know what you think of the whole thing above, from the paradox to the potential solutions and if I missed something in my reasoning. A big part of why I wrote this article (and hope to write more) is to see what other current Diablo 3 players think after 7 years, and to potentially be able to tell Blizzard what we want from Diablo 4, as they seem to not really have a firm idea themselves.
Why optimal builds hurt the game (for me) and how we can move away from them.
The XP/paragon farming meta is changing this season, as the extremely popular Rat runs are no longer the top dog and Demon Hunters are taking on Necromancers for the throne. We have our own guide writer Impact taking us through all the details, from the start, through the Haedrig's set and on to the actual group compositions and builds for the optimal group XP runs in the endgame!
The Rat Run
For many seasons now the “Rat Run” has held the top spot of being the most efficient and best group composition for farming XP in d3. “Rat Runs” refer to the 3x Necromancer and 1x Barbarian group composition that focuses on the two supports spawning as many health globes as possible so that the two DPS Necromancers, using Reaper's Wraps, can pick them up for quick essence gain. This enables them to continuously summon full essence Skeletal MageSingularity for insane damage potential early on. They get their name from the Rathma set that Necromancers have, which boosts their Skeletal Mage damage. Over time the build has evolved into using the Legacy of Dreams gem instead for even higher damage potential, but the name stuck. These runs were so off the charts efficient that no other group composition could ever come close to touching them, until now. With the nerfs to Reapers’ Wraps in Season 21 through a 2 second cooldown, the Necromancer has been dethroned. In its place, the Demon Hunter rises.
Demon Hunters Arrive
Season 21 is the season of the Demon Hunter.After many long seasons of the Necromancer and “Rat Runs” reigning supreme in the XP grinding meta, the DH is here to take the throne. For those of you planning out your season start, if you are looking to be the most optimal that you can be, then you should be looking to maximize efficiency in whatever you will spend the most time. During a season start, your time playing can generally be broken down into three stages.
Leveling 1-70 Starter build at 70 with Haedrig’s Gift End-game build While Necromancer is still far and away the best class in the game for a swift 1-70 leveling process, level 70 is where the Demon Hunter will truly take over. Demon Hunters get access to the Shadow’s Mantle set this season, allowing them to access the Impale build as a starter build. The Impale build has a huge multiplier baked into the 2-set for the build, allowing you to start dishing out huge number straight out of the gate. You also can upgrade level 70 rare daggers in your Kanai’s Cube which has a 50% chance to get a Karlei's Point, providing yet another easily accessible multiplier to the build and the best weapon that you will want to use. Finally, if you save your challenge rift bloodshards until level 34, you can try to roll quivers which gives you a 25% chance to get a Holy Point Shot when you roll a legendary quiver. If you do get lucky, you can easily jump straight into t8 or higher once you get your 2pc bonus, giving you a huge start at 70.
The Endgame Build
Demon Hunters up to this point are arguably the best class, but now we get to where you will spend most of your time in Diablo: your end-game build. It is fun to optimize your season start and getting good builds early is great, but regardless of how you start you can always get to an end-game build within a couple of days, or even within the first day if you are lucky enough. For Demon Hunters, that means playing the GoD Hungering Arrow build.
Once you have your end-game build, you should be able to clear t16 Nephalem Rifts without much trouble. This means your main source of progression will be in greater rifts. Once you have your full set of correct pieces in your end-game build, your main source of power progression is going to come from farming ancient pieces, getting gem upgrades, and farming XP for paragon levels. The last two specifically are done primarily in greater rifts. With an optimized 4-man group, you can clear higher greater rift levels, much higher than you would be able to achieve solo early on in a season. This enables you to rack up the paragon levels, with some of the more optimized groups even reaching 1000 paragon within the first 24 hours of a season launch. This XP farming meta is where Demon Hunter really shines this season. The optimized 4-man group for farming XP consists of the following:
1x Support Barbarian 1x Support Demon Hunter 2x GoD Hungering Arrow Demon Hunters The true power of this group lies within the Support Demon Hunter. Thanks to the update to Leonine Bow of Hashir, your Bolas will not instantly explode, pulling in enemies within 24 yards into one spot. The DH can speed through the rift due to the movement speed that the GoD 4 piece bonus brings along with Smoke Screen, creating large, dense groupings of enemies ahead of the support Barbarian and Hungering Arrow DHs. You map out the rift for your team, create nice density of enemies through your Bolas, and then spin on top of the groups using Entangling Shot and Odyssey's End to put a 150% damage amplification on every enemy you hit. This is the single largest support buff that any class in the game can give, making DH an incredibly strong support early on when you need the extra damage.
The support Barbarian is there to do their normal job helping to toss elites onto the packs for better positioning for Area Damage, while also using all of theirs shouts and the 2 pc HotNS for double effectiveness. Finally, your two GoD DH’s can spin around without stopping, utilizing Blood Vengeance for all their hatred generation so they do not have to stop channeling Strafe.
The true devastating damage potential of this group comp lies within the innate damage that the GoD Hungering Arrow set provides. Thanks to your Devouring Arrow rune, your arrows will gain exponential damage each time they pierce enemies, but can pierce infinitely, only limited by the number of targets you have grouped. The crazy grouping potential that your two supports bring allows your arrows to pierce huge numbers of targets, which means your damage scales more than most classes would even without accounting for Area Damage.
The GoD Hungering Arrow Demon Hunter build is the best solo-pushing build this season, and the insanely high base movement speed that the build offers without any support items allows you to build for full damage while still moving fast enough to do speed clears without missing a beat. While other speed compositions often must sacrifice damage for better mobility and speed, the Demon Hunters will never need to make that trade. You can abuse the base mobility that the build offers, building full damage, and push higher greater rift levels than any other group composition would ever allow for speed clears.
If your goal is to be as optimal as possible in Season 21 with a group, you need to be playing the Demon Hunter meta to abuse it for all it is worth.
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Diablo 3 Patch 2.6.9 (Season 21 Precursor) Is Now Live + Patch Notes
Diablo 3 Ban Wave: June 19th
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