Today brings the first of what I hope will be a regular feature; in-depth conversations with players who are experts and advocates for their favorite character class. This one stars ZappaFan, the long-time moderator of our Hardcore forum, leader of our IncHC2 clan, and a man who has played a lot more Barbarian than you have. Like a thousand hours more.I started this conversation off during the Reaper of Souls beta when the “OMG they nerfed teh Barb!” complaints were coming fast and furious from former Spin2Winners who had turned into Spin2Whiners thanks to the nerfs balances Blizzard made to a few of that class’ abilities. It was obvious those changes, such as no more perma-Wrather of the Berserker, weren’t just some test on the PTR, but were coming long term.
Since ZappaFan was the most dedicated Barbarian player I knew, I wanted to hear what he thought about all the changes to the Barb, if he thought they were needed, how his gear and old D3v1 build was working in the new reality… and then we continued the conversation this weekend, after he’d had some testing time on in D3v2. Click through for the full exchange, which covers Barbarian gear, builds, Hardcore style, cheesiness (or not), passive changes, other class enjoyment, why he’s older than dirt, and much more. Here’s a quote:
Flux: How did you feel the Barb in the Reaper of Souls beta compared to the Barb in D3v?
ZappaFan: My barb definitely felt improved in RoS. I wouldn’t have even considered running dual-wield in D3V and I was happy doing that in RoS. …from what I’ve seen I don’t see the changes to Barbs being a big deal, something that people won’t adjust to once they really start playing the game. I think anybody that actually played the beta and is highly critical of the changes to barbs simply doesn’t want to change.
And to illustrate my point, I also had a lvl 70 Crusader. He had the same 191 account Paragon points at his disposal as my Barb did. I shared all the same equipment between my Barb & my Crusader, except of course my Crusader had a shield and a pretty nice 2H weapon. And even with the same gear… it wasn’t even close. My Barb was a much better killing machine than my Crusader, and definitely felt more hardy with better healing. Maybe I just really suck with Crusaders, but I tinkered with different builds quite a bit, looked at builds other people were using, etc.
Barbs still rock in RoS, no doubt about it imo.
Click through for the full interview / conversation / debate, and I’d like to conduct these with other knowledgeable fans to cover all the classes in the game. See the note at the very end if you’d like to participate in one.
Flux: Before we get into Diablo 3 version 2 and Reaper of Souls changes to the Barbarian, let’s do a little background and establish your credentials. You played a lot of Barbarian in Diablo 3. Was it all Hardcore? How much of your total play time was with a Barb? How many Barbs did you create and what was your highest level? What made this your favorite class?
ZappaFan: All my play in Diablo 3 has been Hardcore except the first character to 10 to enable HC. I played Barbs exclusively past the patch that introduced the Paragon system. I have seven dead Barbs that are 60 or below, #8 made it to P27. I finally played another class when that first Paragon Barb died. Tried a Demon Hunter, lots of fun, but clearly a death waiting to happen and stopped at the ripe age of Paragon 3.
Flux: I wish I’d learned that lesson. I just created ImmortinaVII, though at least now I know enough to get them to 60 and start to make them happy before they die.
ZappaFan: My next Barb, ZappaFanWTF, reached P100 (deeds that same week). Ran a Monk to P80 next. Then, on the day of the birth of my great-grandaughter Avani, I decided to make a new female Barb and name her Avani. Seemed like a cool idea except that she only made it to P50. So I made another Avani female barb and she reached P100 and is still kicking. After reaching P100 with Avani #2 I made a Witch Doctor and she’s currently sitting at P51 while I play the beta. To date, my play time on D3V is as follows: Barbs 2004 hrs, DH 65 hrs, Monk 195 hrs, WD 86 hrs, Wizard 61 hrs. I was shocked to see 61 Wizard hrs because that’s all from mules, I’ve not actually played a Wizard yet, ever. Some of my WD hrs are from a mule as well.
Barbs have always been my favorite going back to Diablo 2. I guess I like the visceral feeling of running around and smashing things, going Berserk. RAWR! I especially love the Male Barbarian in Diablo 3. The guy that does the voice for it, Dorian Harewood, nails it perfectly imo. I never get tired of hearing him scream, “How tastes your fear!”, etc. Seriously I love it. In fact when I switched to the female barb to honor my new grand-daughter I was disappointed in the female voice of Athena Karkanis as compared to the male. She sounds almost polite in her taunting.
Flux: Okay, wait. Multiple P100 Hardcore Barbs and Diablo 3 to the side… you have a great granddaughter? Like a real life living human female, three generations along? That’s the most impressive thing I’ve heard this year! How did that happen? Wait, don’t answer that. This isn’t about your real life, but that is inspirational. Obviously you’ve found a way to balance video gaming with family and real life and such.
Zappafan: Yeah, balance is important for sure – that’s actually a bit of a “life” soapbox for me, of which I will spare you. But mostly it just requires being old. I’m older than dirt, I have the t-shirt (photographic evidence attached).
Flux: Back to the Diablo stuff… your barbs were different than most I saw in Diablo 3 since you didn’t do the Spin2Win barb build, a build that most players felt was awesome, and also quite overpowered. It’s been nerfed in D3v2 and Reaper of Souls, which motivated a lot of complaints about the Barb’s class changes. We’ll get into your play time with the Barb in Reaper and now in D3v2 in a bit, but to establish the history… Did you ever try Spin2win back in the D3 days? Do you think it was OP and needed to be fixed?
ZappaFan: I never actually tried Spin2win, primarily because I’ve always liked actually picking stuff up when I’m playing. I really don’t care for the “mad dash sprint” play style that a lot of people seem to like. During almost all my play time on Diablo 3, I’ve picked up nearly all the yellows, and absolutely all gems, tomes, DE’s, etc. I think with my WD (my most recent char), I finally started being fairly selective about which yellows I picked up.
Flux: That’s amazing, but it seems like a window into your character. And your characters (toons). Not to psychoanalyze, but the rush rush rush play style doesn’t appeal to you since you’re very patient and meticulous, as demonstrated by you picking up all the rares and materials, etc. Now if you’re a coder, or you say… repair watches in real life, all the dots will connect.
ZappaFan: Mostly I think I’m just anal, but I am an engineer, so yeah, there’s some connecting dots there I think.
Flux: I agree with you on not liking to constantly rush around in-game, though I do like to go fast between groups of enemies to maximize my play time, and sometimes I’ll get into a mood or a char build — such as the Monk’s Tempest Rush before D3v2 nerfed the class to uselessness — to go very quickly with a farming priority on EXP, rather than worrying about gold and items.
That said, I do generally enjoy collecting all (or at least most) of the gems and tomes and such, but still… all of the rares? All of them? That’s not insane now in D3v2 when you need materials and rares can roll pretty well, but back in D3v1, rares were terrible! 99.9% were just straight vendor trash, with only the occasional glove, one-handed weapon, or jewelry worth selling on the AH.
Or do you disagree, and are you prepared to offer anecdotal evidence of some miracle roll on yellow boots or shoulders that earned you riches?
ZappaFan: Honestly the main reason for picking up all the rares for me is simply the curiosity to see what the roll is, even though I know it’s probably going to be crap, I can’t help but want to see it. Also, any item that has a chance to roll Reduced Requirement has a chance to be something very useful, especially in regards to Hardcore play where starting over is so prominent. You’ve blogged before about how dangerous the progression from 50 to 60 can be, but if your character is loaded up with lower requirements gear it makes it a LOT quicker and easier.
Flux: As we saw in the Reaper of Souls beta and now in D3v2, the devs don’t want to support the rush-rush-rush builds anymore. We’re talking about the Barb here, but the Wizard’s perma-Archon build was also killed, and the Monk’s Tempest Rush is much slower. Plus the general gameplay is more about longer battles, and there are lots of good crafting recipes now which require BoA materials, and some enchanting and crafting cost gems, which have to be picked up since they’re BoA in Reaper.
So… how did you secretly convince the Diablo III devs to change the entire game to support your meticulous play style?ZappaFan: HA!! That’s funny because I had a hard time trying to train my brain to leave yellows on the ground playing my WD. Then I started playing the beta and it was right back to picking everything up again. All is right in the world once again. And it’s actually even beyond that, because now with legendary crafting materials popping from chests, bookcases, bodies, Cain’s satchels, etc., it’s become “no stone unturned”. I pop everything! It’s awesome!
Flux: Getting back to the Spin2Win barb stuff… why didn’t you try it? You surely saw and heard about how powerful the build was. Just to explain for readers who might not know, the power of the build at the highest level relied on remaining in the Wrath of the Berserker form indefinitely, which was possible if you kept gaining massive amounts of Fury. The only way to gain the Fury required was to get lots of procs while hitting enemies, which meant that a WotB/Spin2Win barb had to act like the proverbial shark and stay perpetually in motion to avoid drowning and death. Thus any delay or downtime out of combat, such as picking up gear, was verboten.
I guess you were having success doing your own Barb style, and you didn’t want to become what the Spin2Win rush rush would turn you into? Like Batman when he was prepared to turn himself in once he realized that he’d have to become a murderer to compete with the Joker’s insanity, and he wasn’t willing to stoop to that level?
ZappaFan: Any build I’ve tried playing Diablo 3 has had survival as the most important aspect. For a Barb I want to be tanky. I’ve never been interested in killing fast at the expense of safety. My main goal from the moment they introduced Ubers was to have a Barb that could run high MP relatively safely and comfortably. My first P100 barb actually achieved that but died due to first game load lag. That same week I ordered an SSD to run Diablo 3 from.
I’ve always had Wrath of the Berserker on my Barbs, but it’s mostly for emergency use. I don’t like running around with it on CD if I can help it too much. I’ll use it sometimes for high HP targets in order to speed things up a bit but that’s usually in a fairly controlled situation where I’m pretty sure of my surroundings, and fairly sure that said target will not be a threat when my WotB runs out.
And as far as the whole “cheesy” aspect of it, yeah, the build does seem a little bit cheesy to me in the overall scheme of the game. But I don’t begrudge anybody for taking advantage of a game design flaw that can produce a super powerful killing machine. But clearly the “infinite WotB” build is a product of a design flaw in the game. Far cheesier to me is all the whining in the forums that the Barb is neutered with the changes they’ve made to fix that flaw in the game. For a game to have longevity, it needs to be balanced. When there is one build that is so much more powerful than virtually any other build, it’s not balanced. That sort of situation should be fixed. Yeah it kind of sucks if that’s your favorite, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. Either adjust or move on. But please, stop the whining.
Flux: I’m more prepared to condemn the cheesiness of it than you, since I’m like that. But I agree that players can’t be blamed for exploiting the exploits for greater profit. I tried some Spin2Win but didn’t like the rushing play style, and I didn’t like the way it felt to play, and I especially thought it was wrong for the Barb. Just in theory, I could have supported a Demon Hunter or teleporting Wizard build that worked in that fashion; super fast movement, big damage via spell-type attacks, but with a very high risk of death.The real problem with the Spin2Win in my opinion was that it was the Barb doing it, who was easily the most robust character in the entire game. With high Vit and Str he had giant damage mitigation, huge life leech for instant healing, he had the best passives in the game, he had the fastest movement speed with Sprint, he was immune to all CC effects with perma-WotB, etc. To me the cheesiness wasn’t just that Spin2Win was so powerful in DPS output, it was that the Barb was practically immortal while doing it. And it just felt wrong since the bulk of the damage wasn’t from his attacks, it was from whirlwinds left behind, killing things 2 or 3 screens behind him.
All that said… you played thousands of hours of Barb and built multiple P100s in Hardcore, so how did you do it? What was your build and play style?
ZappaFan: My current D3V Barb build:
I’ve been playing the same basic build in D3V for quite a while: Frenzy (Maniac), Rend (Blood Lust), WotB (Insanity), Leap (Death from Above), Warcry (Impunity) & Revenge (Provocation). Leap is a great escape skill but I also use it offensively for the 3 second stun quite a bit. Healing in HC is vital and is reflected in my build. I have multiple healing sources, with Rend (life steal), Warcry (2K HP/sec regen), Revenge, and also over 1K LoH (>2 att/sec) from BK ammy & pants. In her current gear setup for high MP play, she has 104K HP, 235K paper DPS, 280K dps with five stacks Frenzy, 670K dps with WotB active and five stacks Frenzy.
All my builds in D3V were sword & board. I tried dual-wielding early on in the release, and the first time I ventured into Fields of Misery I nearly died to the first pack and decided maybe a shield was a good idea. And once my first Paragon barb found the Hallowed plan I’ve always had a very nice shield in the stable to use. My D3V passives were Inspiring Presence, Weapons Master & Ruthless.
I’ve pretty much never had Life Steal on my weapon. Very early on I heard how LS was nerfed in Inferno and sort of dismissed it as important. By the time I learned just how important it really was, it had become a mitigating factor in the cost of a weapon. There were too many other ways to gain healing imo, and it wasn’t worth the cost to have it on a weapon – both from the aspect of buying a weapon on the AH or by keeping and using a self-found weapon that I could otherwise sell on the AH for big bucks.
Flux: Were you able to import your D3 Barb build into RoS? Did it work or were any of the skills nerfed or changed in function? And did you experiment much with new builds given all the changes to skills and gear in RoS? Do you feel the class is improved, in fun or style or variety, in RoS?
ZappaFan: Yeah, I pretty much ported my Barb directly over to RoS, and once I geared up she was running Torment 2 pretty easily. One big change I made was to go dual-wielding instead of using a shield. It had been sooo long since I’d even tried that in D3V, I’m honestly not sure if it was the changes in RoS that precipitated that or if I maybe could have been doing it all along and doing OK. During the beta I didn’t feel like playing D3V to investigate.
The only change I made to my six skills was changing the rune for Revenge. Ros enabled Revenge to stack, which was really cool and I liked that change a lot. But it also changed the Provocation rune so instead of increasing the chance to proc, it increased the number of max stacks from 2 to 3. Well, I’m a Revenge spammer, and it rarely even has the chance to gain three stacks so that rune was pretty worthless to me. So I switched to Bloodlaw rune, which increased the life steal from 2% to 4% max HP.I also changed my passives. I continued using Inspiring Presence & Weapons Master, but I switched to Animosity & Bloodlust for increased Fury/Fury Generation and Healing from Fury spent, respectively. I’m glad we got four passives at level 70 because that allowed me to use the Animosity/Bloodlust combo.
Towards the end of the beta my hardcore Barbarian Avani was running with 733K HP, 819K paper dps, 916K dps with five Frenzy stacks, and 1.6M dps with WotB active + five Frenzy stacks. I fiddled around with the different skills and pretty much tried everything but I came back to my same build. Familiarity and comfort probably have a lot to do with that. But I think it works.
Perhaps one caveat was that during the entire beta I continued using my legacy Echoing Fury that I ported over from D2V on my off-hand. I enchanted the min/max and bumped the dps up to almost 2.2K, and with 60% crit dmg & +.25 att/sec I’ve not been able to find anything better. Considering that, I wasn’t surprised when they changed enchanting to eliminate legacy items.
Flux: How did your Beta barb feel compared to her Diablo III vanilla version? In killing power and survivability?
In the Beta I was running Torment 2 pretty comfortably, but again, I play fairly cautiously. I can’t just tank a lot of stuff like I could in D3V. You’ve got to be a little more tactical. Movement & positioning is more important, especially dealing with Lightning enchanted monsters. I didn’t miss the lack of life steal at all; my barb was healing just fine. Paragon account points helped in that regard. I had 191 to spend in the new system, and I was able to add considerable Life on Hit and life refen through that. I’m sure that’s been part of the reason I was able to start clearing Torment 2 so quickly.
They did nerf Torment a little bit with the last patch, but I was running Torment 1 before that, and had gotten to that point fairly quickly. In fact I’ve actually done that twice. I started playing at the onset of the closed beta, and lost Avani to Torment 1 Belial (a very foolish move at the time). So I imported my account and started fresh back at lvl 60 with D3v gear, and got right back to Torment 1 running again before the most recent patch.
Flux: Getting to the initial or main issue we started this to address… how did you feel the Barb in RoS compared to the Barb in D3v? Obviously you weren’t doing the Spin2Win build which was inarguable nerfed, but can you make any generalizations?
ZappaFan: My barb definitely felt improved in RoS. I wouldn’t have even considered running dual-wield in D3V and I was happy doing that now in RoS. And honestly I’m probably not qualified to give an opinion on the spin2win build since I’ve never really played it. But from what I’ve seen I don’t see the changes to Barbs being a big deal, something that people won’t adjust to once they really start playing the game. I think anybody that is actually playing the beta and is highly critical of the changes to barbs simply doesn’t want to change.
And to illustrate my point, I also had a lvl 70 Crusader. Hd has the same 191 account Paragon points at his disposal as my Barb did. I shared all the same equipment between my Barb & my Crusader, except of course my Crusader had a shield and a pretty nice 2H weapon. It’s really not even close which one is more powerful. My Barb is a much better killing machine than my Crusader, and definitely feels more hardy, has better healing. Maybe I just really suck with Crusaders, but I’ve tinkered around with different builds quite a bit, looking at builds other people are trying, etc.
Barbs still rock in RoS, no doubt about it imo.
Flux: Now that the Reaper of Souls beta is over and Diablo 3 version 2 has been running for a week, how does it feel going back to the future? Most of the skill changes that debuted in RoS and on the PTR proc and dominate as they once did. (So is it now Spin2Lose, or managing a Spin2Draw?) Back in D3v2, does your Barb build remain much as it was in the beta, and is it working fine? Anything change between the end of the beta and D3v2 going live, other than gear?
ZappaFan: Other than not having that 4th passive, obviously, my setup is the same as I was using in the beta. So far I am still using a shield. I’ve not found a 1H weapon good enough to drop my Hallowed shield (and probably won’t until RoS hits and we can progress to level 70). And Blacksmith crafts are really looking good. I have upgraded my bracers, shoulders and the Hallowed shield in the first week already. I’d long ago given up trying to upgrade those before the 2.0 update, after literally hundreds of attempts.
Flux: I wasn’t doing Spin2Win with my barb pre-RoS, so that change didn’t affect me. What I noticed most changed were some of the Barb’s previously super OP passives. Gone was the free life steal from Bloodlust and the free crit chance/damage from Ruthless. This caused me to redo my Barb’s passives, and slightly reduced the envy coming from my Monk, compared to D3v where the Barb had literally 6 or 7 passives that were better for DPS than *any* of the Monk’s passive. (The Monk’s passives still suck, but at least he’s not so far behind the Barb on the curve, and both would kill for any of the best +DPS passives the other classes have.)
You didn’t have to redo your Barb’s passives much, but did you notice the changes there and think they were fair?
ZappaFan: Yeah, I’ve looked at the changes quite a bit while I was playing the beta, there wasn’t anything that struck me as “unfair”. The whole “spin2win” infinite wrath thing was never intended to be that way in the first place, so the fact that they fixed that never seemed like an issue of fair or not to begin with. I really think they did a good job of making things a lot more balanced. I think we’ll see a lot more variation in builds now with RoS – for all classes – than we had with vanilla. Seems to me that’s a good thing.
Flux: In my opinion, the biggest change in RoS and now in D3v2, especially for Hardcore characters, is the overall game combat engine changes. The way one-shot enemies have been turned down, that life leech has been removed, that battles are designed to go a bit longer, to put more emphasis on CC and debuff tactics, etc. And the changes to gear in Loot 2.0 make it much easier to raise a character’s Toughness, with much higher rolls to Vitality on gear. On the whole that seems to have made Hardcore a lot more balanced. (Easier, some might say.) I certainly feel like Demon Hunters and other glass cannon builds are much less squishy than they were in D3v.
Do you agree, have you tried new stuff with a Wiz or Demon Hunter? And does that change seem to extend through to tanky builds? Obviously your Barb in D3v was very tanky, and the game has changed to make everyone more tanky. So is your barb now uber-tanky and indestructible? Or did the changes not really trickle all the way up to the top end tank? Or have you modified your build/gear to play in what would have been a bit faster/more risky style in D3v, but that feels safe enough in D3v2?
ZappaFan: There is no such thing as indestructible.
Having said that, I will say that since 2.0 hit, it’s been a bit difficult upgrading my barb. She’s already pretty tanky, so I tend to focus on upgrades in DPS rather than toughness. I’ve “turned down” some upgrades that would have given me a fairly significant toughness upgrade at the expense of DPS. But you’re spot on regarding toughness upgrades, and that definitely extends to barbs as well.
Flux: How about gear? We didn’t get into detail about that in the Reaper of Souls portion, but obviously you had to upgrade your equipment. What changed, other than more vitality? Did you get into any build-changing equipment that really opened up new play options, or were you hunting any specific items that would have done so?
I really love the “special” attributes that some of the new legendary items have, and they can really make a huge difference in how you play your character. Specifically my beta barb used Illusory Boots that let you move unhindered through enemies. That was HUGE for getting bounties completed quickly and also especially for avoiding frozen procs. I also had a legendary belt, Harrington Waistguard, that increased damage by 109% whenever you popped a chest – or armor/weapon rack, or bookcase, body, or just about anything that yielded gold. That was pretty huge.
Flux: In closing, how do you feel about the Barb now in D3v2? Is it still your favorite class or have the overall game changes made you more curious about other play options? And what’s your plan for Reaper of Souls? Taking Avani over and kicking ass, or are you more interested in delving into the Crusader or some other class?
ZappaFan: Barbs are, and will probably always be my favorite class. But I would also say that the recent changes have made me more curious about the other classes. I think that the changes in D3v2 & RoS make it more attractive to play multiple characters and not just concentrate on your “main”. I will definitely be making a Crusader fairly soon after RoS is released. Alas, I will not be kicking any ass with Avani, however, she perished just today.
Remember your “stupid deaths” blog? Well chalk up another one of those for me in that category. No toon is indestructible enough to survive human stupidity. Stupidity >> Tankiness. I have to admit tho, it definitely takes a bit of the sting out not losing the Paragon progression that she had gained. And also knowing that eventually all of her gear would be replaced in RoS anyway, all I’ve really “lost” is the time it takes to progress back to 60. And I’ve already managed to collect some pretty good lower requirements gear for the trip back to 60 with her as of yet unnamed replacement. No more Avani’s tho, making a male barb this time.
Flux: Thanks for your time and thoughts, and I hope the readers found it interesting and informative. Final thoughts for people who play Barbs, or who ought to be doing so?
ZappaFan: Far be it for me to tell anybody what they “ought” to be doing playing a game and having fun. People “ought” to eat their vegetables. But playing a game? Do what’s fun… unless it means exploiting a fundamental design flaw in a computer game, in which case do that until the game devs fix it.
Thanks to ZappaFan for his input and inspiration, and I’ll get him playing a Demon Hunter sooner or later.
If you’re an expert and advocate for one of the other classes in the game and you’d like to take part in a conversation like this one, let me know at email@example.com. I’d like conduct similar interviews/conversations for for all the classes during this D3v2 period of transition, and your insight and expertise into your class of choice could be very useful to others.
As the previous post said, there’s an always-question from players about what they should prepare Diablo 3 loot for Reaper of Souls. Everyone’s got opinions, and you know what they say about things that everyone has. The only obvious for sure thing is “gain experience for paragon points,” but… what else, man?
Grimiku: There’s already some great suggestions in this thread on how to prepare for Reaper of Souls, like farming Paragon experience, and stockpiling crafting materials and gold, but some of it depends on what you want to do early on in Reaper of Souls, too. For instance, you might want to consider getting a Hellfire Ring of Strength if you plan on starting a Crusader, and possibly a Cain’s Fate set. Personally, I’ve been doing all of the above, and having a blast while doing it.
Are there any specific crafting materials that are definitely used at level 70 that you can acquire now? I don’t plan on crafting until I hit level 70 and only the highest-tier recipes.
Grimiku: You should definitely hang on to any of the Legendary crafting materials that you find, but for the most part crafting level 70 gear will require materials that are only found in Reaper of Souls. Personally, though, I try to hang on to all of the mats I find since you never know what the future holds.
As the blue said, none of the current crafting materials is used for end game stuff in RoS. You find a whole higher tier of materials once you start killing level 61+ monsters and salvaging their item drops, which means all the Brimstones and Essences and Tears you’ve got now are used for crafting above level 60 in Reaper. You still find the current materials, but they’re only used for level 1-60 activities.
What to do with those mats now? Well, you can use them to gear up your characters with the much-improved D3v2 crafting plans, but realize that all your lvl 60 gear will be quickly obsolete in RoS. The other option is to take advantage of the last few weeks of the Auction House by selling all the crafting mats you can gather while they still hold value. It’s *much* harder to build up gold in RoS than in D3, so I’d advise you to build up some bankroll now while you can easily do so via selling materials and gems.Incidentally, there are some item generation bugs in the game now that occasionally spawn a level 61 blue or yellow item. If you salvage them you will get one of the higher tier materials coming in RoS. I never notice the item level before I salvage it, but every now and then after clearing out my inventory I notice a blue (Arcane Dust) or yellow (Veiled Crystal) sitting there. They’ve got no function now and you’ll quickly amass hundreds of them in RoS, so it’s just a novelty at this point.
The larger issue about RoS preparation is making the transition from current gear to Reaper lvl 70 gear. That’s an interesting question, since the answer is much different today (in the Loot 2.0 version of Diablo 3) than it was 2 or 3 months ago, when RoS beta testers made the transition. You won’t be immediately adding 300 vit in half a dozen item slots, for instance, since most good armor now has 200/200 stats, rather than the 140/80 type mainstat/vit we saw in D3 before version 2. More on that topic later, as Reaper of Souls approaches.
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I see the same questions come up all the time in clan chat, and when a few of them appeared on the b.net forums, they received Blue replies. For example, people keep asking if they should hold onto legendaries and not ID them until Reaper of Souls, to get that Transmog property. The answer, of course, is that you should hold onto your un’ID’ed legs until there’s an intense conversation going on in the Clan chat, and then ID like 10 of them at once. Blue agrees!
Legendary items found in patch 2.0.1 will unlock as Transmogrify options, and you do not need to wait for Reaper of Souls goes live to ID them. If you find a Legendary item in patch 2.0.1, then you should have the option to use it for Transmogrification once you upgrade to Reaper of Souls, and have access to the Mystic.
Another daily question regards Enchanting and “legacy” items. The answer is that items you find in Loot 2.0 are *not* legacy items. Only gear from the longlongago counts as legacy, so anything found in the current patch can be enchanted in Reaper of Souls, once you drag the Mystic out from under that heap of corpses like a Kardashian on her wedding night.
Grimiku: The items you’re crafting (or finding) right now will be Enchantable in Reaper of Souls. The crafting recipes your Artisans already know have all been updated to make loot 2.0 versions of those items, even if you learned the recipe prior to patch 2.0.1. This means anything you make (or made after patch 2.0.1) will be Enchantable. Keep in mind that there are some other limitations to Enchanting that might prohibit an item from being Enchanted (for example you can’t enchant Magical items).
Click through for the additional questions on Quest Reward items, new Paragon Portraits, and the open-ended, “what should I be doing to prepare for Reaper of Souls?” question, which is also asked almost every day in Clan chat. The only certain answer is “build up exp/Paragon Points” but there’s more nuance to it than that.
Grimiku: We don’t have any current plans to add more Paragon portraits for players beyond Paragon 100, but we’ve definitely discussed the idea. We’ll keep an eye on everyone’s feedback, though, and see what happens as players spend more time with the new system.
Showing how closely I pay attention to the cosmetic details, I assumed there were additional arts, since every 10 levels past 100 you get a splashy graphic that says new portrait unlocked. Apparently the system is just set to pop up that notification text every 10th level, which was enough to satisfy me. Placebo effect!
Elsewhere, a fan asked about the blue or yellow item you get as a reward for completing some quests. The item can be pretty useful when you’re leveling up, while it’s generally just another material-to-be in the end game. But what if it could be more for-special?
Grimiku: We noticed that quest reward items felt like a nice little addition on the console version of Diablo III, and that’s why we decided to bring them over. The way they work right now is, quest rewards are randomly generated items of Magical or Rare quality. It’s not currently possible to get a Legendary item as a quest reward, but that’s good feedback.
Speaking of things that come up every day in clan chat…
Vaneras: Interesting idea for sure.
Just out of curiosity, what would you prefer to see if something like this was implemented for Hardcore clans—I mean would a simple auto generated post in the chat be sufficient, or should there be a notification sound as well? Or would you instead prefer some kind of pop up toast splash on your screen when a HC character dies, or would you only want to see this kind of thing for high level characters? Or maybe some completely different form of notification not yet mentioned?
The first day of D3v2 when our IncHC wasn’t even maxed out yet, I saw this non-notification in action and fired off an impassioned email to a Blizzard contact, requesting that it be added. In the nature of such things my reply was along the lines of, “Thanks for the suggestion I’ll be sure to forward it to the clans/community developers!” so it might appear any time between today and never. But it’s such an obviously-desired feature, and one that I can’t see any downside to, which gives me hope that we’ll get it. The question of course is when, since it’s just up to the programmers to see if/when they can implement it.
As for the appearance, in my first email to Bliz I suggested the notification be dramatic, like a
chipmunk prairie dog. I’m talking blood red letters with black drop shadow and glowing flames and jaw-chattering skulls as dots over the “i” and “j” letters. I’m open to suggestions that it should be even less subtle than that, though.
Nestled in the shadows of Westmarch, the Blood Marsh may appear to be no more than a simple swamp to many who pass through its mephitic trenches—an unforgiving mire with an unnatural complexion, but one possessing little significance to Sanctuary or the Eternal Conflict.
But the marsh itself is far from ordinary, boasting a history as deep and furtive as the ruins which lie beneath its murky surface. It is a place of corruption and sorrow, of memory and magic. And, recently, the wetlands have become a refuge for an entity of great power. . . and great evil.
We've already delved into the lore and visual landscape of the Blood Marsh, but there's still one more important design element to explore: its music. To whet your auditory appetite, we've put together an exclusive preview track featuring just a small sample of new melodies you'll hear as you adventure through this haunting environment.
To get a better understanding of what goes into creating a soundtrack for a game like Reaper of Souls™, we also sat down with Diablo® III Music Director Derek Duke for a quick Q&A.
Q. Alright, before we get ahead of ourselves. . . Tell us the truth: Do you ever light candles, chant ancient lore, or perform any arcane rituals to help get into the mood before you record?
Derek: I do admit to burning candles when I was playing Diablo III. But for mood, certainly turning the lights down is the first step.
Q. Building off that question, what sort of prep work or process do you have in place to get ready to write music?
Derek: At the early conceptual stage, it's really about getting in the mood and the right head space. Immersing myself in everything Diablo is important, from playing early builds and perusing concept art, to studying the story and all other the sources of lore that are only available behind Blizzard's iron gates.
There's also quite a lot of scribbling in notebooks, drawing on manuscripts, singing into the phone, and talking to people. All that, gathered together, is key, so when it's time to make the musical and artistic commitments, the emotion, mood, and story have become part of my subconscious enough that they can influence the music without me "forcing" anything.
Q. When setting out to create the soundtrack for the Blood Marsh, where did you begin? What inspired or influenced you for this particular area?
Derek: The Blood Marsh actually went through a lot changes, both artistically and from a design perspective. Musically, we also tried a lot of things. On one tangent, we recorded a bunch of really crunchy, long electric guitar tones, trying to get at that swamp vibe. Didn't work. Banjo. . .nope. I could never boil it down to any single simple idea.
In the end, what worked was actually scoring to the Blood Marsh's theme of a lost history, and the emotion and drama of events that take place there. I don't want to spoil any of that epic experience for players, so I’ll refrain from sharing too many details. The preview track does a great job of capturing the over feel of the zone, however.
Q. What's unique about the music for the Blood Marsh and Ruins of Corvus? Are there any instruments or themes that are specific to the zone?
Derek: The very first time you enter the Blood Marsh, you'll hear women intoning a sacred text. And you'll begin to hear more and more of these texts sung and chanted in game from this point through the conclusion of Reaper of Souls. (Fun fact: Much of the game’s music was inspired by and written to these texts.)
The Blood Marsh is also the first place the "inevitability theme," or "Chains of Fate," returns since its debut in intro cinematic. Down in the Ruins of Corvus, you'll also make first contact with some of the quasi-"aleatoric" (semi-random) music in the game. They are extended creepy, textural pieces created from a very different way of working with the orchestra.
Q. The world of Sanctuary is so diverse. When creating tracks for specific areas, how do you make sure you're creating a unique identity while also providing a cohesive sound across the game?
Derek: It's certainly a challenge, and hopefully one we've done well in Reaper of Souls.
One of the ways we've tried to bring musical cohesion into the Diablo franchise this time around was to filter all the music through a single person and process. The Diablo series was originally scored by a single composer and, while the other Blizzard franchises have benefited so much from having all of Blizzard's unique musical personalities contribute to a project, it really felt like Diablo—and Reaper of Souls in particular—wanted a single voice.
While writing a majority of the music myself, I was also able to leverage themes written by Russell Brower, Jason Hayes, Joseph Lawrence, and Glenn Stafford. Those themes were then built upon, arranged, stretched, and orchestrated to sound as though originating from a singular musical voice.
In addition, all our music was recorded with the same orchestra in the same decommissioned church with the same team over two years.
Q. Can you tell us a bit about the track you're sharing with us today?
Derek: It's an edit of quite a few things, starting with the bells tolling, into some of the creepy, textural orchestral music of the dungeons, then an ancient text chanted. Next, you'll hear some darkness and another choral text into an earlier musical progression from when the Blood Marsh (originally called "The Bog" within the team) was first being worked on. The piece then concludes with a version of the inevitability theme, mentioned previously, heard as a duet of solo violin and oboe over the descending four notes.
That solo violin, heard so much in Reaper of Souls, has always represented to me, since I started working on the expansion, the hero's personal and solitary decision (and commitment) to fulfill his or her destiny. It's a great symbol of that singular choice to do what is needed to save Sanctuary and the whole of humanity.
With Reaper of Souls™ only a few short weeks away, now is the perfect time to ready yourself for Malthael's arrival—not only by upgrading your loot in game, but out of game as well!
Deck out your gaming rig with the latest peripherals, know your enemy through our excellent literary companions, and spruce up your town hub with just a touch of demonic decor. Here's everything you can get your powerful nephalem hands on to prepare for the faceoff against the Angel of Death.
SteelSeries Gaming Peripherals:
- Diablo III Mouse - Arm yourself with this hand-held weapon and get ready to click some ass.
- Diablo III Headset - Sanctuary calls. Hear how amazing it sounds.
- Reaper of Souls QcK Mouse Pad - Emblazoned with the Angel of Death, this high quality cloth with an optimized surface ensures smoothness and precision (60% of the time, every time).
Books and Guides:
- Diablo III: Reaper of Souls Signature Series Strategy Guide – This Signature Series Strategy Guide from BradyGames leads gamers through the sprawling streets of Westmarch to save the city, and all of Sanctuary, from a new threat.
- Diablo III: Storm of Light – Written by Nate Kenyon, author of The Order, Storm of Light is a bridge between the events of Diablo III and the story that is to come in its first expansion, Reaper of Souls.
- Diablo III: Book of Cain – In this gorgeous tome, renowned scholar Deckard Cain has combined excerpts, illustrations, and firsthand knowledge to pen a history of the world of Sanctuary.
- Diablo III: Book of Tyrael – A worthy sequel to the Book of Cain, this elegant manuscript takes players even further into the universe of Diablo with a detailed and beautifully crafted artifact that focuses on the renowned champion Tyrael.
- Burning Hells Journal & High Heavens Journal – From the Burning Hells to the High Heavens, these deluxe journals evoke dangerous visions and fantastic possibilities.
- Sword of Justice Trade Paperpack – Previously released separately, all five issues of Diablo: Sword of Justice are now also available in one comprehensive, paperback volume.
- Design by Humans T-shirts – Flesh out your wardrobe with community-designed apparel from Design by Humans.
- J!NX Shirts and Hoodies – Upgrade your gear with diabolical tees and jackets worthy of Sanctuary's greatest heroes.
- Musterbrand Apparel – Show off your allegiance to the Demon Hunter, Monk, and Witch Doctor.
Statues, Props, and Collectibles:
- Diablo III Prop Replica – El'Druin, The Sword of Justice – Only the righteous can wield this superb prop replica.
- Diablo III Deluxe Action Figure – Diablo – Featuring over 25 points of articulation for poses to inspire panic and despair in other, lesser action figures.
- Diablo Papercraft – Fold, score, and glue your very own three-dimensional Lord of Terror.
- Diablo Polystone Statue – Measuring over 20 inches tall, the Prime Evil's chosen form comes to life in this hand-painted, high-quality polystone statue.
- Funko Pop! Vinyl Diablo Figurine & Vinyl Tyreal Figurine – No collectible collection is complete without these adorable vinyl figures.
Keeping an eye on what’s been changed and what’s about to be fixed:
Flesh of Nar Gulle no longer drops loot.*
You see a couple of tools they used to fix, or at least reduce the value of the Mira Eamon EXP farming, and to make some other easily-repeated quests less of an exploit as well.
Depending on where you live in the world, gun control laws can be pretty strict. Actually getting a gun legally can range from being very difficult to impossible, and so there’s profit to […]
Computer keyboards can be bought for a few bucks at any electronics store, but those who are serious about typing have long opted for more expensive mechanical switch-based keyboards. Razer has been making […]
Welcome back Everyone! I can’t speak for you all but I assume your friends list is bursting with new life, and your clan (IncHC or IncHC2) is showing how popular the game is again.
That being said, the influx of people is also bringing back the QQ on Hardcore death. Death is a part of the mode, and while it sucks when it happens, complaining on the forums won’t do you much good. So let’s set aside the common arguments and move on to release.
So you’ve died and you are frustrated let’s cover what not to do.
1. Don’t flock to the forums to complain: Chances are no matter what happened there will be no empathy for you. Expect to be told what direction softcore is. To the best of my knowledge it’s that way —> If there was a legit bug that caused you to die then by all means report it to other players. If you were griefed you might be able to warn others but the battle.net forums prevent you from calling other players out so you might want to pass the message through your clan. 99% of the time complaining about you death will not help you in any way other than to continue your frustration.
2. Don’t come up with crazy suggestions to “fix” hardcore. In all seriousness stop suggesting ways to keep your dead hardcore character. Yes Path of exile allows you to roll it into a soft core character, Diablo does not. If you want your character to still be around when you die play soft core. Hardcore does not need a safety net, with the inclusion of the paragon system your progress is already saved and the largest loss is now from gear. Introducing this would only further distill the essence of the mode. Hardcore should be about avoiding and fearing death to an extent, knowing your character will still thrive after you lose them would degrade the whole mode.
3. Don’t complain about your disconnect. Disconnects are a part of the game, for some it’s more prevalent, for others it isn’t. If you are d/c prone then HC isn’t for you. Hardcore is about calculating risk, if you want to play on a dial up modem in a rainstorm on hardcore you know the risk. If you drop every now and then, than you must anticipate it happening at some point with your character. If you’re not ready to accept losing your character then you’re not ready to play hardcore, good connection or not.
3b. Don’t complain about online only requirement. It’s been two years, stop beating the dead horse.
So what should you do when you die?
1. Assess the damage. What did you lose? What do you have left to build back up? What did you learn from that death?Do you have a geared and ready 60(70) to play with or are you re-rolling?
2. Archive your hero and continue playing.
It’s pretty simple actually. After you die if you feel like you can’t do that then HC isn’t for you. Death can suck and be frustrating and you might need a breather but it is what makes the mode what it is. If death wasn’t meaningful there would be no point to the mode. If a safety net was in place it would be exploited, and HC death would be pointless. This doesn’t even take into account how watered down death is now anyway. Losing a character will still sting but you are no longer losing your characters progress, and rebuilding is easier now than ever.
On a separate note about death, Can we please get a notice in chat from our HC friends and clan mates when they die? With our clans up and running all the time it would be nice to see if anyone hit a snag and be able to offer help coming back. In d2 we would create games stating our demise and people would meander in bring gifts of gear and gold and the occasional rush. It would be nice to see that and help our fellow players who may not ask for the help otherwise.
In the meantime let’s keep the qq to a minimum, grind some paragons, and get ready for Reaper of Souls! I’m going crusader once I get adventure mode unlocked, what’s your HC ROS plan?
One Life to Live covers the Hardcore play and life style in the Diablo community. It is written by Xanth and published weekly. Post your comments below, Follow him on Twitter @HCXanth or contact the author directly. For all the archived news about Diablo 3 hardcore check our Archives!