Who am I and why should you care?
I feel it’s always good to know who exactly is writing these types of articles, as it’s mostly just one person’s opinion and viewpoint on the game, so I figured I’d just write up my so-called resume and background with Diablo so you can get a good idea of what angle I’m coming at this topic from.
Action RPGs or, more accurately, Diablo-likes, are my absolute favorite genre. Ever since I dived into the Diablo 1 demo that much was very clear to me and I’ve since played all manner of similar games, from old and relatively obscure ones (Blade and Sword, Revenant, Hexplore, Nox, etc.) to newer and even more obscure ones (Devillian, MU Legend and most recently Lost Ark – ok that last one isn’t really obscure as much as it is “difficult” to actually get to play). My favorite one would have to be Diablo 1, despite the fact it was surpassed in all aspects (except for the atmosphere *cough*Halls of the Blind*cough*). You never forget your first.
Blade and Sword, Revenant
But what about Diablo 3?
The other big issue people want to hear about when deciding whether to trust your judgement/opinion is how much Diablo 3 disappointed you and how thoroughly it ruined your childhood. Well, unlike the hyperbolic side of the internet I’ll have to disappoint and say that it didn’t really. Sure there are many flaws and mistakes the game had and still has, but the one thing it got absolutely right is the thing it HAD to get right – and that’s the combat. The core combat loop is THE most important aspect of a Diablo-like, and D3 absolutely nailed it, to the point that it’s ruined combat in other games in the genre for me, probably forever. Torchlight 2 got close, some of the Asian MMO/action RPGs were in the same ballpark and Lost Ark actually managed to surpass the D3 combat, but that game has some issues with its lackluster enemies, as it’s more of an MMO than a straight-up action RPG, so it also loses.
The other thing D3 got absolutely right is the Legendary system. Reaper of Souls, or rather Loot 2.0, salvaged a very poor itemization system with the introduction of game-changing Legendary items that dramatically altered your playstyle as you got them. Subsequently though, and quite unfortunately, we moved on to a more set-based item economy where the only correct move was to gather up the current best set for your class and accessorize it with a couple of additional legendaries in the slots and cube. Then it was on to “which set got a 5 billion percent buff this season, ok let’s play that”.
All of this leads perfectly into the upcoming Season 17 with its innate buff that gives us the Legacy of Nightmares set, allowing us to use ALL the legendaries we could ever want, even without using or finding the two set rings previously needed! In case you don’t know the specifics, the set gives you a 750% damage and 4% damage reduction increase for each Ancient item you have equipped.
The Season of Nightmares (the good kind)
So, is this simple buff really that big of a deal? Yes. Yes it is. I’m incredibly excited to come back after a pretty long pause and be able to actually get creative with my builds and not have to feel like I’m playing in an incredibly un-optimized way and slogging through lower Torments and GRs. Now sure, we’ll have to farm up those Ancients first, and obviously we’ll be using actual sets to do that, but considering we’re also getting three more Torment difficulties I’m pretty sure that won’t take long at all.
Sets, the enemy
The real delight for me in this season will be actually making builds of my own. Since you’ll be dependent on Ancient drops for a while, that’s the perfect time to experiment with various legendary powers we’ve been ignoring for a long time. One of the best times of my Diablo 3 career was actually in the pre-patch, when Loot 2.0 arrived and some of the new legendaries were added. I had a great Monk build in mind and eventually got it to work using Cyclone and any and all legendaries to passively deal damage to everything around me.
From Sweeping Wind, Dashing Strike, Inner Sanctuary (and no spender other than Cyclone) to Schaefer’s Hammer, Thundergod’s Vigor, Death Watch Mantle, Strongarm Bracers, Bul-Kathos’s Wedding Band, Moonlight Ward and the literal crown of the build, Andariel’s Visage. (I am not sure if these were the exact ones I used, as it’s been a long time and some of them might not have actually been released yet, but this is as far as I can recall). Now this wasn’t necessarily the best build, or perhaps even a good build at all, but it was possibly the most fun I had with one in D3 ever. I thought it up myself as I ran across various legendaries and their powers and then started fitting in new and better combinations in there to fit the idea. When sets arrived/were buffed and were the only way to play, this quickly went away, and even though you always COULD think up new crazy build ideas, somehow most people don’t and stick to what works. Unfortunately, “most people” includes me as well. There’s just something wrong-feeling with going down to a much lower Torment or GR after you’ve been blasting through the maximum with your +15,000,000% to whatever set.
This is Diablo, so we need more enemies, obviously
When to Switch from Sets?
So as you can imagine, the Litany of the Undaunted / The Wailing Host Legacy of Nightmares buff that we’re getting (except it’s 750% damage now, not sure why the tooltips are out of date) is just the perfect way for me to get back into the game and get that sense of exploration back as well. While there are plenty of guides out there as to what the best LoN build is, even if you do decide to go that route you can still have a lot of fun while you’re trying to find those perfect pieces, and perhaps you’ll find an incredibly fun build that’s just right for you along the way.
For me, the key breaking point will be when exactly to switch to the LoN build. What I mean is, as we’ll be using sets to farm those Ancients, since they aren’t THAT common just yet, there will come a point when you have like 4-5 Ancients with ok-ish powers, and then it becomes the same old frustrating question: do you switch to the probably sub-optimal and weaker, but possibly/definitely more fun build (since we’ve been playing these sets SO long now, any new build will be more fun by default) OR do you keep farming with your amazing awesome 50,000,000 million billion% increase set until you have all or at least most of the ancient pieces you want. I really, really want to switch as soon as possible, while also being able to continue farming ancients with that new build at a not-so-terrible rate, but I know that dam siren’s call from the set will be strong and keep pulling me in to be “optimal”. I’ve really started to hate that word, “optimal”, btw. When exactly did it start outweighing fun? It really does showcase the treadmill/Skinner box nature of these games, and I for one would prefer that illusion not be shattered quite so frequently thank you very much.
Hopefully my LoN builds don’t end up like that Crusader
The addition of those 2 ring slots, as well as the new legendary powers coming with Season 17 only adds to the variety the game has been lacking for a while now and I’d say it really is the perfect time for anyone that’s been away from the game for a while to come back to it. Even though the season hasn’t even started yet, I can only pray Blizzard decide to keep this modifier active after it’s over, as it’s a perfect fit for Diablo 3 and truly brings out the best aspects of the game.
Season 17 is expected to arrive sometime mid-May, as S16 ends on May 12th, and if you want to check out everything that’s coming with the new season, you can check out the patch notes here.
So, what do you guys think of this (imo) significant change to the game? Will you be coming back and does it have you excited for the build possibilities? Will you be using a pre-made optimal LoN build from guides or will you be crafting your own weird little legendary power combos, and do you already have some in mind? Do share!
The next Season is a perfect time to come back to the game and here’s why.