Diablo III PC gamers:  This game has been a big deal for you since it came out nearly two years ago, and on March 25th, things will get even bigger when Diablo III: Reaper of Souls comes out.  Our resident reviewer Randal Santia will be taking you through the ups and downs of the expansion when it comes out, however, in anticipation of expansion, and in the interest of balancing a few things out, Blizzard has recently released a new patch for the game, met with much fanfare and praise in addition to confirming the shutdown of the Auction Houses on March 18th.

The changes clear up a few enhancements the Diablo community wanted, and massively overhauls others, to the point where Forbes declared this essentially Diablo IV.  When you read through the changes below, it’s hard to argue.  Some of the changes in this “patch” are normally reserved for gaming sequels, and I guess kudos to Blizzard to just offer them up to gamers like this.  Let’s take a quick look.

NOTE:  All of the changes pertain to patch 2.0.1 for the PC version only.  Blizzard has revealed that these changes may eventually reach the console versions too, though a release date is TBD.

What is arguably the main core mechanic of this game has been reworked – The difficulty.  Rather than linear difficulty boosts (ie. you beat the game at one difficulty, unlock another and so on,) the game ramps up its difficulty alongside you.  Enemies progress just like you do, meaning the game always provides you with a challenge.  If that doesn’t satisfy you, the Monster Power system is gone, and replaced with 10 new difficulty settings, including 6 “Torment” levels (I’m guessing Blizzard either ran out of disparaging adjectives or they really like the word torment.)  In addition, Blizzard has announced that they have re-worked all of the original hero classes and leveled them out a bit better than before.  Finally, you can now trigger cursed chest subquests in dungeons as well, receive limited-time character buffs and fight new monster classes.

The Paragon bonus system has been re-worked too.  First introduced at the request of the Diablo community back in August 2012, Paragon now has no cap, can be shared somewhat amongst characters on your account and now come with an added bonus.  Each time you gain a Paragon level, you get a point which you can use toward increasing your core, offense, defensive or utility stats.  

Loot 2.0 changes the way item stats are allocated going forward (previous items won’t be retroactively re-worked.)  Stats are separated into primary (4 max) and secondary (2 max.)  Primary stats include things like defense and DPS, while secondary includes things like loot radius specialization or post-battle bonuses, like XP boost modifiers.  These stats are weighed and allocated so that they can’t compete against each other or cancel each other, which you sometimes see happening when you try to get bonus happy.  Loot 2.0 also brings with it item affixes, which bring bonus benefits to your pickups.  Fixed stat ranges now mean that items will see immediate better balance for your needs instead of the being the equivalent of picking up a butter knife to chop down a tree.  Legendary items have also been reworked slightly.

Perhaps the best addition for Loot 2.0 is the addition of the feature Blizzard calls “Smart Loot” which I think is a bit of a gamechanger for series fans.  Now, rather than random items where you could really pick up anybody’s loot, drops have a higher percentage of being more relevant to your class, meaning you can find the items you need much faster and much more frequently.  Hopefully no more having to scour the same dungeons for weeks on end for the off chance that you’ll find the armor drop you need for your specific character class while carrying a department store’s worth of useless items just because they’re too valuable to part with.  They do have some similar principals with World of Warcraft right now, though it seems like this is a boosted and much more relevant version of the coin system WoW has for raids right now.

Lastly, the patch introduces closed-invite clans and larger scale community options in an attempt to bring gamers closer and increase socialization leading up to the Reaper of Souls release later in the month.  

Diablo III: Reaper of Souls (Collector’s Edition Available too) comes out on March 25th, and you can get it in a standard or Collector’s Edition.  In the meantime, you can still pick up the original Diablo III, get patched up, get in some hours and get ready for all the chaos coming at month’s end!