The Journey Continues
Diablo 4 Season 3 launched a week ago and I finished the Season Journey yesterday with my Arc Lash Sorceress. Overall, I am enjoying myself very much and I’m glad to see that Lightning Sorcerer builds are still fully viable even after the damage calculation error for the Ball Lightning skill was fixed as part of Patch 1.3.0.
Based on my two personal metrics of “Time to Level First Character to 100” and “Time to Complete Season Journey,” my performance in this Season was on par with Season 1 and slightly better than Season 2. That achievement was most certainly due, in part, to the improvements made by Patch 1.3.0a, as well as a greater familiarity with the Endgame Boss progression, which was introduced last Season. Nevertheless, the Seasonal theme and mechanics, despite receiving a good deal of criticism, are still proving to be sufficiently effective for me.
I initially just ran speed Vaults for leveling my first character and didn’t concern myself at all with avoiding the traps. That’s because it readily became apparent that activating Paragon Nodes and leveling up Glyphs would help to power my build more quickly than upgrading the Seneschal. Of course, Patch 1.3.1, releasing on Thursday, will buff most of the Seneschal effects, which should then be much more helpful for players, especially in the early game. When I got to WT4, I started to go after the Wardwoven Chests in the last room. This was primarily accomplished by running Copper Vaults, which seem to have the most easily avoidable traps as well as the largest and most reliable safe zone in the kill room.
It was less than twenty-four hours into the Season of the Construct when review bombing began to dominate the gaming news feeds. I say “review bombing” not to necessarily to suggest that the reviews were fake, per se, but to point out the fact that less than one day isn’t really enough time to properly review a game or new game content. This is especially true when you consider that Season 3 was, as has been the case for all previous Seasons of every Diablo game, designed to be played over the course of three months.
At the same time, however, it must also be said that at least some of the criticism was genuinely deserved. The best evidence for this was the fact that Patch 1.3.0a, which was released just three days into the Season, essentially patched out the core Season mechanic of having traps in the Vaults. Kudos to the Devs for their lightning-fast response to player feedback, but the alpha testing on this one was apparently somewhat lacking.
Award for Best Drama in a Streamed ARPG
Season launch was accompanied by lots of the customary melodrama from the usual lineup of Diablo Pro Streamers and Journalists. Diablo 4 is the gift that keeps on giving, because it’s either really fun to watch and read about, or it offers a cornucopia of low-hanging fruit for the Rage Bait Bandwagon riders to do what they love most (hint: it’s not actually playing ARPGs). Yes, as mentioned above, some of the criticism aimed at the current Season was legitimately deserved, but it was also somewhat overblown, as usual.
One of the most important things to keep in mind when filtering through the negative feedback associated with the release of any new gaming content is that many Pro Streamers and Journalists will always go where the money is. If they can’t pull in viewers by blasting their way to a Rank 1 World First achievement, then they’ll produce sensational content that is irresistibly clickable. In fact, it still astonishes me that Journalists from respectable gaming news outlets still go to Reddit to find negative source material, as if that’s what passes for journalistic research these days. Either way, their ultimate goal is to attract as many gamers as possible because that’s the way they make their living.
However, this reality does also point to what was, perhaps, one of the principal “weaknesses” of Season 3 prior to Patch 1.3.0a, which is that it wasn’t blastable or dopaminergic enough for TV. Last Season all you had to do was to farm Blood Harvests for about three hours to get enough Potent Blood to fully upgrade all the Vampiric Powers, and you were off to the races (to Level 100). Compare that to having to run about 2000 speed Vaults in order to fully upgrade all of the Governing and Tuning Stones. The initial mechanics for this Season were relatively more nuanced and, thus, considerably more laborious. The initial result was gamers having to potentially play the game for days, as if that’s a bad thing, in order to achieve what they were able to do in just a few hours at the start of Season 2. However, that was all fixed with Patch 1.3.0a right in time for the weekend and the volume of discord on Discord died off almost immediately.
On the other hand, my favorite Diablo 4 content creators, such as Mewfassah and Fame_Regalis, dove right into Season 3 with their customary zeal and enthusiasm. As usual, they both had their first characters to Level 100 well within 24 hours after the Season started. Mewfassah posted his clip of the first recorded Lilith kill in Season 3 with the Necromancer class, and Fame_Regalis, when confronted with the relatively laborious Seasonal mechanics, commented regularly during her stream about how she “loves the grind.” It’s stalwart streamers like them who more well represent the majority of casual gamers and the long-time Diablo fans who don’t rely on celebrity endorsements to actually like playing these games, so that’s why I always go to their channels to enhance my gaming experience.
- There is plenty of Gold in the Vault chests, so I’ve been able to just salvage all the unwanted gear I’ve looted to get more materials, primarily Iron Chunks, rather than selling some of it.
- I like the improved Character Panel UI, which looks and feels more tidy now.
- The Seneschal Construct UI is more intuitive than the Vampiric Powers UI.
- The Seasonal Questline journey is more extensive and well developed, and it seems to contribute more towards leveling up characters compared to Season 2.
- It’s also nice that the Seasonal Questline story draws upon Diablo lore that is more familiar to fans. Don’t get me wrong, though, because I dearly miss Erys and will continue to wander throughout Sanctuary in the hopes of being reunited with her again someday ❤︎.
- The progression for both the Seasonal Questline and Seasonal Journey seems smoother because they’re no longer strictly integrated.
- Not having to kill other players in the Fields of Hatred makes it easier to complete the Seasonal Journey. That’s because having to assemble a separate PvP build is a lot of extra work for just a couple of Seasonal Objectives. Killing enemies while Bloodmarked instead is as worthwhile and appropriate compromise.
- The pacing of the Smoldering Ashes rewards on the Battlepass is much better and I never fell behind in getting my buffs.
The Not So Good
The materials economy in the game was initially pretty stiff. Shattered Stone material was a fairly intense rate-limiting factor when it came to upgrading the Governing and Tuning Stones until the Season got patched. It reminded me of how the Sigil Powder material economy adversely affected progression in the Abattoir of Zir.
My Seneschal companion pretty much just watched from the sidelines during all of my Duriel runs. However, I know this can be effectively addressed with the proper configuration and the buffs from Patch 1.3.1.
- Did anyone tell the Butcher that he has been usurped as the game’s Supreme Hemorrhoid now that the Son of Frankenstein is making extremely frequent appearances in the Vaults. The ratio of Son of Malphas to Treasure Goblin spawns in my Vault runs was at least 10 to 1.
With only one or two more Seasons to go before the Vessel of Hatred expansion, let’s take a look at some more suggestions for improvements, which I recently found while surfing the Diablo 4 forums.
- Players have talked about having a PTR and also launching the game on Friday to make it easier for more players to start the Season at the same time. For now, though, it seems that the first three days of the Season are serving as the mini-PTR.
- Having a pet that doesn’t pick up gold was a bit disconcerting, especially after having just finished the Seasonal Journey for Diablo 3 Season 30.
- Nearly everyone has commented about missing the Metamorphosis power and is hoping it will return to the game as a Legendary Aspect for boots.
- The Vaults serve as a good model for NMD speed runs. They offer good monster density, straightforward objectives, no event rooms, and minimal backtracking. The first floor of the Domhainne Tunnels shouldn’t be the only go to for quick leveling in the early game.
- An automated filter and salvage tool for NM Sigils would be great. Every player knows what type they’re looking for and it would be nice to not have to repeatedly sift through all the Sigil tool tips.
- Remember the “Doorvus” (Ruins of Corvus) map in Diablo 3 Greater rifts? Everyone who gets it as the first floor automatically leaves the game and opens another GR because the doors accomplish nothing more than slowing them down. Same goes for the NMD maps that have way too many doors to open.
- It’s already tough enough for players to fight their way through NMDs in order to locate prisoners, as well as other similar interactive objectives. Does it really need to take several more seconds to set them free? My Rogue carries two daggers, one sword, and is a Master Picklock, so she should be able to free a prisoner instantaneously.
We would love to hear your opinions on the matter, so please sound off in the comments section below. You can also provide feedback to me directly on Twitter, if you prefer. Please keep an eye on the news feed here at PureDiablo so you’ll have all the up-to-date info you need to get the most out of your game.
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