An illuminating blog post on Battle.net outlines a number of significant changes that will be made to Diablo 3 in the coming weeks. An imminent client patch is set to fix a number of "service issues," but future patches will make changes to class balance, gems, the blacksmith and legendary items. Here's a list of the solid changes that Blizzard say we can expect from future updates, and a summary of their thoughts on class balance and Inferno difficulty.
- Blacksmith gold and page costs will be reduced.
- Jeweller gem costs will be reduced, gems up to flawless square level can be crafted with two gems instead of three.
- Legendary items to be buffed, likely in PvP patch 1.1. These buffs won't apply retroactively.
- Item levels will be visible on 60+ level items to make them easier to compare to lower level Legendaries.
Cheaper items. Yes! It costs thousands and thousands thousands of gold to craft items and gems on Hell difficulty and beyond, which quickly becomes prohibitive. The Legendary item buff is good news as well, though there's a risk that Legendary drops that occur before the 1.1 patch may lose some of their worth when the Legendary item buff hits. Legendary items are really living up to their name. in my experience. I've played 50 odd hours with my level 56 Barbarian and haven't seen a single one. It feels like I'm missing out, but apparently Legendary items are "not designed to necessarily be the best items in the game."
"They're just one additional type of item as you level up, and they are not meant to be the primary items you're chasing at the end-game. They can -- and should -- be exciting to find, but they're not supposed to serve as the single driving force of the item hunt. Rare items, for example, have the possibility to roll up “perfect” stats that can, if you're lucky, outpace the predetermined stats of a Legendary. That's by design."
There will be more alterations to class balance over the course of the next few patches. Blizzard recently released a series of quiet hotfixes in recent weeks to nerf a few key Wizard, Monk and Demon Hunter skills, but they say that hotfixes will only deployed when they discover something severely affecting game balance, and in future they plan to highlight incoming hotfixes in "Upcoming Changes" posts on the forums.
"We don't want you to be worried that a hotfix nerf is lurking around the corner every day. If a skill is strong, but isn't really breaking the game, we want you to have your fun. Part of the enjoyment of Diablo is finding those super-strong builds, and we want players to be excited to use something they discovered that feels overpowered."
Blizzard don't mention any specific changes they're planning to make to characters or skills, but they suggest that any abilities that come to be seen as absolutely essential to surviving Hell or Inferno may be in trouble. Their main aim is to encourage build experimentation and make sure that there are multiple viable builds at Diablo 3's highest difficulty tiers.
"If any single skill or rune feels absolutely required to progress, it means that skill is working against our goal of encouraging build diversity -- and those “required” skills need to be corrected."
The developers are "keeping a close eye on Inferno." Many players have been posting on the Battle.net forums to say that Inferno is too tough for melee classes. Blizzard admit there may be some problems with the nature of Inferno's difficulty, but reiterate that it is supposed to be immensely hard.
"Right now, there's a lot more damage “spikiness” occurring than feels right, and that's one major area we're looking to adjust in patch 1.0.3," they say, later adding that "While damage is a bit spikier than we'd like, we're actually seeing a pretty significant number of people attempting Inferno without sufficient gear.
"There's a good chance that returning to the previous Act to farm upgrades will do the most to help you survive. That said, we'd like to shift some of the focus away from survival and more toward using a variety of offensive tactics to succeed. Survival will still be important, but finding ways to maximize your damage while staying alive is more exciting."
Finally, Blizzard revealed a few interesting facts about the millions of Diablo players out there. Apparently, less than 2% of players have reached Inferno so far.
- On average players have created 3 characters each
- 80% of characters are between levels 1 and 30
- 1.9% of characters have unlocked Inferno difficulty
- 54% of Hardcore players chose a female character
- The majority of Hardcore deaths (35%) occur in Act I Normal
- The most common level 60 build in the game is only used by 0.7% of level 60 characters of that class (not including Passive diversity)
- The most used runes for each class at level 60 are Barbarian: Best Served Cold, Demon Hunter: Lingering Fog, Wizard: Mirror Skin, Monk: Peaceful Repose, Witch Doctor: Numbing Dart
And here's a rough outline of the patch line up for Diablo 3 as it stands.
1.02 - Due "within the next week"
Connection and client stability fixes.
1.03 - game balance changes, date TBA
Blacksmith and Jeweller alterations, class and skill balancing.
1.1 - PvP mode, legendary item changes, date TBA
Player vs. player arena mode that the developers showed at Blizzcon last year, but was taken out for polishing before Diablo 3 was released. Buff to Legendary items.