First Impressions from the D3 Reaper of Souls PTR build

Hey guys,

Went onto battle net and saw that my account had access to the Diablo 3 PTR so downloaded the client and was able to start playing all of the Reaper of Souls build except for the new crusader class and the new "act 5 chapter". Thought i post some first impressions of things i noticed were different from the current D3 build.

First off, the game really puts off the vibe they're trying to bring back in D2 player who weren't impressed with D3. To that effect, some interesting changes have been made.

  • As Blizzard said, loot is doled out in a much more generous manner. Even as someone who tried to start a new character with their Monster Power system in the current build cranked all the way up to 10 to try to maximize my magic find, i still have never seen as much useful loot out of D3. i played up to level 10, and i was already getting regular yellow loot in act 1 before the Skeleton King.
  • Even better, most of this loot pretained to my current class or was better than what i was currently using.
  • White loot is now useful for crafting material
  • Other crafting materials drop as loot items now. (essences, tears, etc)
  • Health potions now heal a percentage of a player's health rather than a set number of HP. Default potion heals 60% and has a 30 second cool down.
  • Area maps are contiguous with other areas, even ones separated by loadscreens. Helps with continuity of the world i think.
  • There's an overworld map that appears at the fast travel points now. Looks nice, i'm a map nerd.
  • in your inventory/character panel, there are now values for Damage, Toughness (an aggregate score of dodge, health, and armor/resist factors) , as well as a healing score rather than just the current Damage and Armor numbers.
  • UI font looks less Arial like and more fitting of the game.
  • Gamma and color pallete look adjusted to fit a more gloomy tone a la Diablo 2.
  • There is an Item icon feature that you can enable that will place a colored circle with the class of item that has dropped (ax, sword, chest, gloves, pants, etc)
  • The game seems much more inclined toward throwing larger numbers of enemies and faster moving ones at you this time.
  • New random events - one i encountered was a kill as many waves of enemies that spawn near a chest as you can before time runs out with a tiered reward given depending on how well you do.
  • Found a lore item that discussed the new Crusader Class
  • The new paragon system (which i assume is still endgame only) has 4 classes (core, offense, defense, utitlity) each of which have 4 abilities for you to assign points into. These points can range from simple movement speed to health regen, to critical hit damage or chance, etc. I'll play more and learn more about this later hopefully.
  • Still server based as far as gameplay is concerned. Hit a lag spike during gameplay and my character attacks suddently were delayed by a second or two. it resolved quickly but that's still going to be a thing even with the RMAA gone.

Edited 12/14

played some more this morning, it looks like Blizzard is stress testing the PTR that i've been playing which will go live for Reaper of Souls and closed beta for reaper of souls this weekend. Some server queues logging into PTR but i did notice more stuff that i forgot to mention above.

  • In addition to health orbs, there are now player buffing orbs which activate for 2 minutes at a time which act as damage flourishes for normal attacks, I.E. my wizard's magic missle has a chance to take on a chain lightning effect. Health orbs collected while this buff is active has the chance to stack and increase the effectiveness. Not world changing but cool.
  • Normal difficulty elite mobs now stack attributes like they used to do in higher difficulty playthroughs.
  • I imported my existing characters into PTR. my level 10 wizard i started a few weeks ago within about 10 minutes of playing had already gotten several item drops that were better than anything craftable with my existing fully leveled blacksmith. New loot system appears to be doing a good job.
  • Load times seem much quicker
  • Was able to play with the paragon system using my level 60 monk paragon 11. Was able to assign 11 stat points to all my characters paragon skills as soon as i started. The additional points are tied to you continuing to level you highest level character up the paragon ranks. Buffs are not earth shattering but are welcome. Reminds me of the Borderlands 2 badass rank system a bit.
  • I liked Diablo 3 already but was frustrated by the frugal loot drops, and a little bored with the similarities of dungeons on subsequent playthroughs. A lot of what i see here does a good job to help this and makes the game more fun.
  • The pacing of the combat as far as numbers of the mob and speed of enemies now feels more in line with something like Torchlight 2 than the initial build of diablo 3.
  • As @ares42 mentioned below, they did restructure some skills and change the order in which runes unlock and outright change the way some passive skill function.

Pretty much all welcome changes. Game plays at a much faster pace than before, you feel like badass mowing down hordes of enemies and are being great loot for your "trouble". Can't wait for reaper of souls to be here. It's a must buy for next year for me.

If you have any questions that i didn't mention or if you want me to check something out, ask below. I'll update this as i notice stuff or get a better grasp on the new content.

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New awesome Headphones and Soundcard for my PC!

Hey all,

It's been a while. I picked up some new sound type of stuff since the last time i did one of these blog posts. First was a HT Omega Claro 2 sound card (link below). I had been looking for something that would make my PC games and Music sound great and also do good positional audio for console games since i have them all clustered together on my office desk with their sound running into my pc's inputs. This was great. Lots of options for expanded stereo and surround including Dolby Headphone and Pro Logic II ex so this card was pretty much the answer to my techie prayers. To top it all off, i picked up on sale for stupid cheap from my local Micro Center for $60. When i checked other retailers, it was easily 2-3 times that price.

http://www.htomega.com/claro2.html

Since i put that in, it's sounded great but it also cast into stark relief how bad my headphones were. I've been using Turtle Beach headphones for the past several years because they've been comfortable and sounded ok but lately they'd been sounding hollow and lifeless so i started looking around. I came dangerously close to spending a lot of money on some Audio Technica M50's after several recommendations but after browsing my local Sam Ash and doing some product research i discovered a true budget gem in the Samson SR850. From the moment i first tried them, i was truly wowed at how rich they sounded. I wanted to try them with a game so i pulled out my laptop and tried them with diablo 3. My current game was in Act 3 beginning so it's the part where you're fighting on the castle wall. I noticed sounds i'd never heard before in the game and what was more interesting is that i felt like i was able to take in more audio at once as one sound wasn't overpowering the other subtle ones. These ran me $50 but they've easily replaced my Turtle Beaches for anything except talking to Xbox Live people which, let's face it, i don't really care to do much any more but link below if you wanna check them out yourself.

http://www.samsontech.com/samson/products/headphones/sr-series/sr850/

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Quick Review, Black Ops 2 Revolution Map Pack

Picked it up this morning after purchasing the season pass. Figured "Who am I kidding?" i know i'll be playing this game's multiplayer for pretty much the rest of the year. Download was 1.86 GB so took roughly 5-10 minutes. Enough time for me to have a cup of coffee and bagel. After it downloaded, I jumped into the Revolution maps playlist for a while.

1st map, Downhill. The tileset (for lack of a better term) is reminiscent of Array and Summit from the first Black Ops game. Medium sized map, lots of paths, plenty of cover, and a few open areas to get into medium to long distance shooting matches.

2nd map, Hydro. Seemed actually the smallest of the 4 new multiplayer maps. Very narrow but still providing multiple routes to players and as all good CoD maps should have, lots of cover scattered throughout. Word of caution, there's a small house in the middle of this map that i was able to lock down for several minutes and yielded me lots of kills. Like the train station map, there's environmental hazards in the form of a spillway that suddenly floods and will kill you if you're caught in it. There's a warning siren before this happens so use your earholes unless you want to be killed by "the guardians".

3rd map, Mirage. This map seemed like a interesting location. It reminded me of some of the coverage videos i'd seen from spec ops the line with the sandstorm ravaged hotel theme. Lots of open areas in this medium sized map with few choke points where close quarters weapons will do well. For the most part though, the people sticking to the outside with longer ranged weapons will do well in this map.

4th map, Grind. Skate park. Fun in the same way that MW2 had that Carnival map or Blops 1 had the Zoo map. Like most maps in call of duty, this medium sized map has a building in the middle with some terrain features outside. There are plenty curved surfaces of the skate park side (yes it's largely secluded to one side of the map with some ramps and such in the middle building) while the other side is made of sidewalks, steps, and your standard, right angle CoD geometry. These curved surfaces, i can tell, will become a pain in the butt because of grenade spammers so if you do happen to be on that side of the map, i'd suggest not hanging out in the trough of a sloped surface. Still plenty of cover on this map and it was fun to play like all the other maps in this DLC.

Finally, the Peacemaker SMG. Call of Duty's first DLC weapon. It seems to hit like an SMG but not in the sense that it feels overpowered or out of place. It has very low recoil and fires about the rate of the existing MSMC. For the sake of comparison, It feels like an MSMC with less recoil and maybe a slightly higher fire rate. 30 round magazine, easy to use ironsights, average reload time, average raise and drop times, and it does not feel overpowered. It fits very well within the arsenal of existing weapons. It has the same weaknesses other weapons in its class where it doesn't do very much damage at range. It doesn't feel like the new king of the SMG's or any other gun class for that matter. It seems to just fit in to satisfy someone's personal preference of a lower recoil, easy to use SMG. One comment i will make is that i was impressed with how many people were using this weapon even in the standard playlists which to me implies that the majority of the people playing Blops 2 have purchased or will purchase this map pack. And yes, if someone drops this gun, you can pick it up even if you didn't buy the DLC. :)

For the most part, it seems like a good DLC pack for me as someone who enjoys Blops 2 multiplayer. I can't comment on the Zombie mode's additions since that never has been the reason i enjoy Call of Duty and it still isn't now. Hope you guys enjoyed reading this and if i get any positive feedback from this i may do this again for future DLC's. Feel free to ask me any questions below and i'll see you online.

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Upgrades, Peripherals, and i learn 7.1 Headsets actually matter.

I love this time of year. For lots of reasons. Christmas time is always great on its own but with the added bonus of my birthday at the beginning of December, makes the whole month a nice high point before i descend into my cold weather driven depression for the rest of winter. Where to begin...

Oh, well i'm 30 now so, my gamertag is no longer ironic, i'm actually old enough to be considered "old". I did, however, get a little money from said birthday to get some new toys. "What toys?" you ask, for starters, i found some deals on pc hardware and upgraded my video card and CPU to a Radeon HD 7770 and a Phenom II x4 965 Black Ed replacing my GTX 260 and Athlon II x2 250. What a performance buff that brought. I'm now able to max most games and keep steady framerates while others i may drop to high just to keep things in the 60 fps range.

Along with that stuff I had some Best Buy giftcards so first, i checked out the Razer Onza TE Xbox 360 Controller. I actually really enjoyed my time with this controller and only took it back for 1 major reason, it broke after a couple weeks. Seriously, if you have a chance to get your paws on one of these, check it out. The face buttons are as responsive as mouse clicks, the rubber finish on it feels super comfy in your hands and the adjustable thumbstick tension and programmable extra shoulder buttons are a nice extra. I was using it to play Black Ops II when i noticed the left thumbstick seemed to interrupt my sprinting forward after a few steps. Plugged it into a pc and pulled up the windows joystick calibration screen and saw the same thing. When i took it back, the store was out of stock so ended up just collecting my refund.

This all worked out for the better because a couple days later, i saw a Logitech G35 Headset on sale for more than half off it's normal price. I have had my eye on these for a while but they're always just outside the range of what i'd want to pay for a headset. This thinking was fueled by the idea that there's no way that my brain would care or even be able to tell the difference regular between stereo speakers pumping sound into my ears or 7.1 Dolby Digital ones. Well, i was wrong. First of f let me clarify that these are made for PC use only. However, thanks to some creativity on my gaming setup and the generous amount of flexibility in the windows 7 audio controls, She works with my 360 as well as my gaming pc. The greatest change i noticed when jumping from my existing Turtle Beach x12 headset to this one was in the accuracy in the way the game conveys positional audio. I've spent the majority of the time playing Black Ops 2 on 360 with them thus far and i can already see the benefits. Hearing gunshots and being able to accurately and instantly deduce where they originated from has changed the way i play this game. I no longer spend minutes hunting for guys to shoot. Now i can just hear them and know where they are. Another thing i notice is that the overall responsiveness on the audio seems more in sync with what's occuring on the screen. Gunshots sound loud and snappy, explosions are impactful and disorienting, and (at the risk of sounding like a salesperson) the overall immersion of the game is amped up. i can hear brass hitting the ground, fires crackling, and distictive tone differences in a barage of gunfire that would before have just sounded like a single deafening succession of booms.

I quickly booted up some other pc games i had on hand. NFS Hot Pursuit was amazing. As was of all games, Diablo 3. I had no idea the amount of sound in the game that was being just overshadowed by not being able to be conveyed all at once through stereo. I'm saving what i'm sure will be a real treat for tonight with Battlefield 3. I liken this experience to the first time i bought a graphics card, or the first time i saw a game in HD only this time, the treat is for my ears. Recommend you guys check it out for yourself if you every have the $$ to commit since i agree, they aren't cheap investments.

Merry Christmas all!

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Call of Duty Single Player, Infinity Ward vs. Treyarch

At the risk of overthinking the game equivalent of a summer popcorn movie, I think i've discovered the reason i never seem to enjoy the single player of campaign levels in Treyarch Call of Duty games. I really enjoy the "quiet moments". Those tension building moments where you're sneaking from one point to another just before the entire level erupts into gunfire. I'm thinking back through the Call of Duty titles i've really enjoyed and it seems like Infinity Ward has always had a better knack for building this tension between firefights.

I know Treyarch has done a fine job with Blops 2 and their previous but i can't think of as many memorable tension building quiet moments in their games as I can Infinity Ward's games. First and probably most memorable for everyone is the mission "All Ghillied Up" in the original Modern Warfare. This mission was superb and will go down as one of my favorite FPS levels ever. The buildup of the sneaking through areas with guards just to get to the sniping position, then the shot, then the escape and the desparate firefight at the end for a chopper that seemed to take ages to come. If not for the long leadup to that escape sequence, this level would just be another generic background of a modern military shooter that i forgot about the next day. The fact that the designers saw fit to force you to sneak through patrol after patrol to even get to that point gives you a real sense of being outnumbered and outgunned when that moment does occur and makes the end even more tense. The game uses this technique several times through its campaign even leads off with a sort of quiet moment where you are infiltrating a tanker and quietly dispatching the crew.

This trend continued in MW2 and MW3, with the great level "Cliffhanger" and the the underwater infiltration missions where you're assaulting an Oil Rig or Russian Submarine in MW2 and MW3 respectively. But, this style of level seems to be few and far between in World at War, Black Ops, and Black Ops 2. While I can see the technique was attempted in some missions, like the sniping the german patrol in sync with bombs in WaW or the tunnel crawl in Vietnam and Baikonour approach with Woods in Blops, they never seem to get it right. I feel like when i play a Treyarch Call of Duty, all singleplayer missions are going to drop me immediately into the shooting almost like the designer wanted me to be disoriented the entire time and not spend any time looking around at the world they've placed me in.

I still haven't finished the Blops 2 campaign as of this writing. I've honestly been having much more fun with Multiplayer and was really turned off by the strikeforce missions and just in general how disjointed much of the campaign feels. I don't really underrstand why i'm in half the places i am. Even after I relisten to the mission briefings, it still seems hard to care. I had such high hopes for this game from the demo i saw at E3. I'm even having a hard time even feeling menaced by the villain, Raul Menendez, and i'm kinda annoyed by Michael Rooker's geriatric sounding voice being mapped to a dude who looks like he's in his thirties.

Maybe i'm being overly critical of something i should be just turning my brain off for and just squeezing LT and RT but, it bums me out to have something that's supposed to be "a thrill ride" make me want to get off the train.

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I learn to chill the ef out, FPS Freeks, and Black Ops 2 emblems.

Hey all,

So i feel like i've reached an understanding with the new iterations of my favorite multiplayer games. For whatever reason something clicked and i'm now less worried about design decisions in Halo 4 and i'm now just enjoying the ride and fun chaos that made me fall in love it it in the first place. Likewise with Black Ops 2. I had a rocky start with that game but i think i've turned a corner where i understanding how the changes made affect the gameplay and i'm enjoying myself shooting dudes once again. For anyone who read my frustration driven posts on the site, apologies.

Other news, i recently cashed in some of my Gamestop reward points toward a set of those FPS Freeks thumbstick extenders (image above). For those who don't know what they are, they're basically an extra thumbstick that snaps onto the existing ones in order to provide you better range of motion. They look ridiculous. I was skeptical after hearing about them but after spending the weekend with them, i notice a difference. Sniper shots are easier to line up, minute corrections to aiming are easier to make and in general, i don't feel as much like i have a claw when i stop playing. Recommended.

Also, i've noticed that i'm a better BLOPS 2 emblem artist than i am a player and i'm OK with that. Attached some at the top. See you online.

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I'm not a fan of the multiplayer changes in Halo 4

As much as i like Halo 4 i feel like some decisions ruin what was fun about the previous games with regard to multiplayer. Ordinance drops and loadouts succeed at making the game more fast paced and dynamic but they also rob the game of strategic elements from halos past. In past games, teams gained the upper hand in multiplayer by means of map control. Controlling sections of the map ensured your team had ample access to vehicles, weapons, and powerups that allowed you to achieve a win over the other team.

With the randomness of the on map ordinance drops, it's nearly guaranteed that there is no point to hanging out where the sniper rifle was to begin with because it will likely not be there the next time one spawns. This would not be bad if not for the fact that some weapons need to be evenly distributed in reachable locations so that when a team that's losing has their back to the wall, they can depend on that weapon to appear there and break the siege if they can time it right.

Two things that have always been about about halo multiplayer has always been you, the player, starting with a serviceable weapon and then had to pickup a better weapon from locations on the map and running up on somebody and bashing them in the face at close range. Loadouts break these 2 things. Going back to the concept of map control, I no longer have to run for a more central spot on the map to pick up a long range rifle because now i can start with it at any time. While some will applaud this, they're missing the point. This change makes close range weapons like the AR as well as our beloved melee bashes to the face a thing of the past. You're sure to be gunned down like so many grunts we've collectively shot in the face before you even get within spitting distance of your target.

It's not that i think Halo 4 is bad, it's just that i feel like their attempts to make it more competitive with other popular shooters like Call of Duty have cheapened the things that made the franchise fun to start with. Some of the things that made halo fun are missing here. I want to be able to do crazy things like rushing people who are camped out in areas of the map or be able see someone heading for an area of the map and have a hint at what they're headed for over there.

In my opinion, the game lacks consistency, at least in its current state, and i know 343 will listen to what the community wants from them (link to thread below). I just hope that we, the community, will be good about voicing the things we loved about the franchise. So this is my plea to my fellow Bombers to not accept what was in the box as the definitive Halo 4 multiplayer experience. Make your voice heard in the thread below and help shape the game we all love to play.

https://forums.halowaypoint.com/yaf_postst137400_TELL-343---Halo-4-Playlist-Preferences.aspx

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Hey Old Man Light, how are things?

Things are good! Been a while since i've put some words up here so I thought it time to do so.

Life has been...different...lately. Had our 3rd kid earlier this year and i've been fighting tooth and nail to maintain good daddy/husband/employee status while still keeping up on some of the great games that have come out this year. Late at nights are usually when i can put together some good gaming sessions since my wife works early so she's usually asleep like the kids. Family is something that usually keeps me very busy, but far from annoying and i rightfully feel like a shithead if i ever think that way.

I'm finally off the multiplayer shooter "crack pipe" so that's allowed me to play some great single player / co-op games in the past few months i'd probably have ignored if i'd been as into the current crop of multiplayer shooters the way i was into CoD4 and each subsequent one. I have to say it feels good to not WANT TO play the current Call of Duty for a change. Even traded some of my old CoD games to "that evil game store" for some credit toward some new stuff. My desire to not take away from my family's money far outweighs my desire to get the new awesome game. Look at me being a grown-up.

What stuff you may ask? Well i'll tell you. Been playing Borderlands 2, XCom, Dishonored, Mark of the Ninja, and just this weekend, picked up "Sleepy Dogs" for my personal computer on sale on amazon f for the mere price of $18.74 over the weekend. Sleeping Dogs is great, but my old GTX 260 is beginning to show it's age with that game so i heavy sigh as i begin to ponder how i will afford a $200 video card that will last me another couple years.

Borderlands 2 has been a lot of fun but it's a bummer that nobody's figured out a way to balance out a heavily co-op, loot driven, RPG so that people various levels can play together in the same game and people are being rewarded accordingly. I couldn't help but think of how gears of war had that discrete difficulty setting for their co-op where one player could be on easy and the other could be on hard or how diablo 3 had coded their co-op so everyone saw different loot drops for their own character. Seems like there may have been ideas there that could fix these problems that seem to crop up in every co-op action RPG but i digress.

The main bummer for me with Borderlands 2 has been my CoD Xbox Live friends glitching saves and duplicating items in order to hit the level cap and have the best guns as quickly as possible. The even found a way to accidentally ruin my first playthrough by overleveling me so skipped roughly 20-30 optional missions at the end just to start earning XP again.

The last thing i'll say, that i'm happy to share is that i've finally found TV shows i enjoy again. After a long hiatus of not being able to commit to a TV show for not being able to watch it. I've plowed through the first 4 seasons of Sons of Anarchy and i'm loving watching each new episode of season 5. That show is badass. The next wrong i'm writing in my TV pile of shame is me catching up on The Walking Dead. I'm about halfway through the first "season" if you can call it that and i'm pretty impressed and that's not just because i grew up in GA and see a lot of familiar landscape. After that, i gotta check out breaking bad.

That's about it for me.

Hope all is well with you fellow GBers and thanks for the always entertaining and most of the time helpful posts from the message boards.

I'll be playing Halo 4 in a few weeks and begrudgingly playing Black Ops 2 because that's what CoD junkies do. Maybe hit me up if we're gonna do a community thing.

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Jumping to Conclusions.

Hey everyone,

It's been a while since i've regurgitated some of my nonesense in blog form here but i'm gonna speak on a weird phenomenon that some are also probably familiar with. It's happened a few times recently where i've gone back to a game i tried and didn't enjoy or thought it was kinda "meh" previously and be completely infatuated with the experience the subsequent time.

What the hell is up with that? Citing specific examples, I played Metal Gear Solid 4 when i got my ps3 the beginning of last year, played through it within a few days, and the only thing i took away from it was that it had frustrating mechanics and (i mean this lovingly) a rightful very japanese sense of identity to it. This was my opinion up until the past weekend when i started reading about the Metal Gear Solid HD collection (which i loved the first 3 MGS games) and decided to give 4 another go. While i'm still frustrated with the things that seem culturally or thematically strange to me as an american military veteran who has trouble turning off his bullshit alarm with regard to miltary things, I'm actually enjoying the game. I'm playing it differently by more emphasizing stealth and hand to hand and i also care to listen to and watch the extensively long codec conversations and cutscenes the whole way and the game mechanics are pretty much comfortable to me.

Another example is that i bought the Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare DLC back in fall last year, played it roughly once for maybe less than an hour and didn't touch it again until the past few weeks. What an amazing piece of add-on content. It completely overhauls the tone of the game while leaving the majority of the game intact. Not only that, it actually brings a sense of lightheartedness to a game thats core story is pretty serious.

These are not isolated instances of this occuring because i've also done this with games like Mass Effect 2, Oblivion, and Bad Company 2. I'd like to know why i keep doing this to myself. I can't help but wonder how many fantastic games i've missed from not giving them the time of day because i had my idiot goggles on. My hope is that if i can figure out what causes me to formulate these opinions and stop it or realize when i'm doing it so i can recognize it in the future.

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