Tuesday, August 12, 2014

100% Fresh Squeezed Walrus!

Who would have guessed that during the few hours I get to game these days, I have somehow managed play even more Diablo 3. This probably shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who knows me, especially considering the game has pretty much become Tetris for me now. Unlike Tetris though, D3 still receives incremental updates to expand on the game play. The latest Public Test Realm is where I have spent a good chunk of time lately, testing new builds and gear within the new Greater Rift content. GRifts, at least in their current form, are an interesting idea, clearing a rift as fast as you can for progressively better reward chances. However, it is probably not something I will take overly seriously. This I will explain.

When Reaper of Souls came out, the Double Tornado (i.e. what I dubbed "Ride the Walrus") Barbarian was pretty much hung, drawn and quartered. Everything that made the build the synergised monster it became was nerfed into oblivion. I was fine with this because the build was admittedly quite strong and, unlike many barbs, foresaw its Armageddon a ways in advance. However, amongst a plethora of buffs for all classes on the current PTR is the return of Whirlwind's move speed to 100%, for all runes. This buff will cause a lot of Barbs (such as myself) to consider putting the ability back on their bars. At least for niche content.

An example of this niche content is the upcoming GRifts. In its current design, high level GRifts require 3 things from players: extreme defense, extreme offense and fast movement speed. While the first two are normal for many players, the need for movement speed can be an element that will turn many players off. Often, GRift content, which is randomly generated, is usually sprawling with large gaps between enemy encounters. Running a build that does not allow you to trans-locate quickly from place to place puts you at an enormous disadvantage against builds that do. This has the capacity to restrict efficient GRifting builds to but a select few, for all classes. Personally I would have preferred a more survival, wave based mode, but maybe that is still on the cards for the future.

Nevertheless, I have given GRifting a fair go and it is seriously a lot of fun! The synergy Whirlwind has with other movement speed enhancing abilities makes it the perfect tool for rapidly dispatching multiple enemies and moving on. Adding the new legendary gems into the equation make for some ingenious build and gear combinations. This is especially true when addressing the fury/resource problem, now that Barbs can no longer get fury on crit. Without going into too much detail, the builds in the video can be summed up as follows:

Lightning - Safe/Tanky: Windshear Whirlwind (fury on hit), Together as One CoTA (damage shared with Ancients), lightning damage gear and Lightning Wreath gem (mini-conduit).

Physical - Synergy: Dust Devils Whirlwind, Ancients Fury CoTA (Ancients generate fury), Momentum Overpower (fury on hit), physical damage gear and Taeguk gem (spam resources to keep damage stack up).

Fire - Efficiency and Damage: Volcanic Eruption Whirlwind, The Council Rises CoTA (Ancients do massive damage), Furious Charge - Stamina (mass fury generation), fire damage gear (reduced resource cost) and Enforcer gem (pets do more damage).

Maximus with Ramalandi's Gift Enchant
The highest I have managed with my brief time on the PTR was GRift level 28. Due to some horrifying elite packs, meandering level layout and a few deaths (really bad in GRifts!!) I could not manage further in the attempt. On a good day with better luck I imagine I could get as far as 35 running a physical or fire WW setup. However, due to the incredible amount of luck and RNG involved as well as the strict build limitations, GRifts are probably not something I will take too seriously. Instead, I shall add it to the list of activities I frequent in D3, sating the desire for raw game play when on demand. You know, kind of like with Tetris.

soon .............. (tm)

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