Blizzard just dropped the next PTR 2.7 update announcement and I’m actually pretty excited for once. It’s a pretty huge overhaul to the Follower system and it’s something that I had been calling for a while now. Here are my initial impressions of the upcoming patch.
For the Follower system, there are a few major updates. First, we can now fully equip 14 item slots, including their relic item, which is actually one more item than what your main character can equip (outside of using Kanai’s Cube). For some legendary items, the follower can employ them as they now also have an ability called Emanate. The list of items capable of employing Emanate are:
- Broken Crown
- Homing Pads
- Spaulders of Zakara
- Custerian Wristguards
- Nemesis Bracers
- Gladiator Gauntlets
- Gloves of Worship
- Dovu Energy Trap
- Rakoff’s Glass of Life
- Avarice Band
- Krede’s Flame
- The Flavor of Time
- Sage’s Journey (3-piece set bonus)
- Cain’s Destiny (3-piece set bonus)
In addition, every followers’ skills have been updated. I will go into detail later in this article.
Of course, there are some other adjustments such as revamping both the Firebirds and Rathma set along with a (sad) nerf to the Gear of the Dreadlands set. There is a new item called Bonds of C’Lena which seems intended to work with the updated Rathma set. And two other items got updated but I really don’t care for reviewing those.
Before talking about the Follower update, I want to address the Firebirds update, which looks pretty meaty. The biggest thing about Firebirds is that they tried to retain two of the original themes, which was rebirth from death (cheat death) and fire. But the variations that Firebirds had undergone made it a less than pleasant set.
So this time they’re making Disintegrate a key component of the build along with Ignite and Combustion stacks. The two set bonus ignites enemies through Disintegrate and increases the damage by 4000% of weapon damage. The four set generates a 80% defense buff once Ignite it applied to an enemy and reduces the cooldown on Teleport. Finally, the 6 piece set bonus multiples the damage output from a fire spell outside of Disintegrate by the number of combustion stacks available.
Right now, I’m imagining a few interesting builds with this. The immediate one coming to mind is using Energy Twister’s fire form to auto-cast with Disintegrate. Another one is to use Meteors and augment that through auto-casting with Tal Rasha’s 2 piece. Also, using the traditional Blizzard: Apocalypse would gain a large amount of coverage in spreading the damage across a region.
This change does make starting a Wizard in the upcoming season pretty high on my priority list. I might do another Demon Hunter, but the nerf to the GoD set has me a bit down.
But let’s do a deep dive into the Follower revamp starting with the items. First, we get 14 item slots which means that there’s a lot more gear we can utilize that normally might be reserved for a fresh seasonal character and later turning into trash. So let’s go over the items that Emanate can apply to:
- Broken Crown (Helmet): This will help us farm up gems, which will be great once we acquire gear to start augmenting
- Homing Pads (Shoulders): Very useful as a Quality of Life benefit whenever we’re teleporting out of an area
- Spaulders of Zakara (Shoulders): Saves us on costly repairs and will be useful for speeding through Greater Rifts
- Goldskin (Chest): Great for gold farming
- Custerian Wristguards (Bracers): Helps convert your gold farming into bonus experience
- Nemesis Bracers (Bracers): Spawns champions at Shrines.
- Gladiator Gauntlets (Gloves): More gold farming
- Gloves of Worship (Gloves): Increases Shrine duration by 10 minutes (not Pylons)
- Dovu Energy Trap (Amulet): Reduces cooldown of skills and increases stun duration by 5-8%
- Rakoff’s Glass of Life (Amulet): Killing enemies gives a 3-4% chance of dropping a life globe
- Avarice Band (Ring): Increases gold and globe pick up radius each time you gather gold
- Krede’s Flame (Ring): Taking fire damage increases primary resource
- The Flavor of Time (Amulet): Doubles Pylon effects duration
- Sage’s Journey Set (Helm, Boots, Gloves, Belt): Doubles the number of Death Breaths
- Cain’s Destiny Set (Boots, Gloves, Helmet, Pants): 25% chance for an extra Greater Rift Keystone to drop.
These are in addition to a few commonly used legendaries for Followers. So in effect, the ones added here are very utilitarian and in fact are completely useless in a Greater Rift. With that in mind, the items that are useful from the above list for a Greater Rift are:
- Dovu Energy Trap – Can really help with cooldown reduction such that you can use weapons or gloves for a more useful stat.
- Rakoff’s Glass of Life – Decent if you’re a resource starved type of character.
- The Flavor of Time – Best amulet since this is one of the harder to obtain ones that make Pylons really empower a character, especially in a season like 22.
- Krede’s Flame – Situational usage since you’re required to be on fire
- Nemesis Bracers – One of the biggest improvements that will compliment a Flavor of Time since you not only are getting double the power from a Pylon, but you’ll be shrinking the time of a Greater Rift by increasing the rare spawns.
- Spaulders of Zakara – Another quality of life improvement for Greater Rifts as you can chain Greater Rifts without worrying about gear repair. Pretty much a must have for early leaderboard people.
The other items really are better used for non-Greater Rift content (obviously). I think the Sage’s Journey set inclusion will be huge, especially in the early stages of a season where people are trying to farm Death Breaths. So finding and crafting this set early on will be a game changer as Death Breaths in early Torments are fairly difficult to farm for solo players that aren’t climbing as fast.
The Cain’s Destiny set is a better mid game set once you’ve got your basic equipment and need to farm Greater Rift Stones. Similarly, the Broken Crown will be far more useful in the later game as that will be the time you will start planning for augments.
Custerian Wristguards will be good early on, especially in the pre-70 leveling process if you manage to acquire some. Later on, gold farming will start becoming bigger so the other gold farming pieces like Goldskin, Gladiator Gauntlets and Avarice Band will synergize very well along with the Boon of the Hoarder. Combine those and Custerian Wristguards and you will be able to farm experience as well in non-Greater Rifts.
Now, let’s get into the Follower skill revamps. I believe these still will be available in pairs, which means that you can only choose four total (unless you’re using the Follower relic which allows for them all).
- Crippling Shot – Ranged attack that deals 140% weapon damage and slows enemies hit by 80% for 3 to 6 seconds based on the Scoundrel’s Dexterity. So basically a CC attack.
- Powered Shot – Ranged attack that explodes on impact, dealing 120% weapon damage as Arcane to enemies within 10 yards and has a 100% chance to Stun enemies for 3 to 6 seconds based on the Scoundrel’s Dexterity. Sounds more like an AoE CC effect.
- Hysteria – Whenever you or the Scoundrel land a Critical Hit, you both will go into hysterics, increasing all damage done by 3% for 3 to 6 seconds based on the Scoundrel’s Dexterity. A nice boost in damage.
- Anatomy – Increases Critical Hit Chance by 1.8% to 4% for you and the Scoundrel based on the Scoundrel’s Dexterity. This is a huge min-max type of update where you’re effectively gain up to 4% more critical hit chance that might make up for the missing or lacking stat on other key items like helmet or gloves.
- Multishot Passive – Passive: The Scoundrel’s special attacks have a 50% to 70% chance to fire 3 bolts based on the Scoundrel’s Dexterity. This can really boost their first skill to help with an area attack. So potentially a lot more CC here.
- *Skill Rework – Vanish – When you take fatal damage, the Scoundrel conceals you from enemies for 3 to 7 seconds based on the Scoundrel’s Dexterity and prevents your death. Really nice cheat death ability. This is a HUGE update, allowing you to have more cheat deaths and/or a freed up passive
- *New Skill – Night’s Veil – The Scoundrel launches a cloud that covers a 20-yard area and lasts 5 to10 seconds based on the Scoundrel’s Dexterity. All attacks against enemies that are inside the cloud will be critical hits. Massive damage boost for AoE type of attacks that depend on critical hits.
- *New Skill – Piercing Shot – Ranged attack that pierces and increases damage done to enemies by 10% for 3 to 6 seconds based on the Scoundrel’s Dexterity. Sounds like a single target type of damage boost.
- Heal and Loyalty – These skills now scale based on the Templar’s Strength. Basically, a quick healing with a cooldown.
- Intimidate – Enemies that hit or are hit by the Templar are slowed by 80% for 3 to 6 seconds based on the Templar’s Strength. Basic CC attack.
- Charge – Charges a target, dealing 280% weapon damage and stunning all enemies within 8 yards for 3 to 6 seconds based on the Templar’s Strength. AoE stun attack.
- Intervene – Taunt enemies within 10 yards of you for 3 to 6 seconds based on Templar’s strength when you are hit. Make enemies attack your Templar rather than you.
- *Skill Rework – Onslaught – Delivers a massive blow to an enemy for 800% weapon damage and causes the target and nearby enemies to take 10% increased damage for 3 to 6 seconds based on the Templar’s Strength. Increases the damage you can land on enemies.
- *Skill Rework – Guardian – When you take fatal damage, the Templar will rush to your aid, knocking back enemies within 15 yards, healing you for 15% to 25% life based on the Templar’s Strength, and shielding you from all damage for 5 seconds. Another cheat death. See Scoundrel for comment
- Erosion – Conjures a pool of energy that deals 330% weapon damage as Arcane over 5 to 7 seconds based on the Enchantress’s Intelligence. Affected enemies will also take 10% increased damage. DoT area damage as well as a debuff.
- Focused Mind – A 40-yard aura that increases attack speed for you and the Enchantress by 3% to 6% based on the Enchantress’s Intelligence. Increased attack speed bonus.
- *Skill Rework (Renamed from Powered Armor) – Powered Shield – Reduces damage by 6% from ranged attacks, increases Armor by 3%, and slows melee attackers by 60% for 3 to 6 seconds for you and the Enchantress based on the Enchantress’s Intelligence. Really nice defensive addition.
- *New Skill – Temporal Pulse – The Enchantress casts a guided orb that deals 150% weapon damage and slows enemies by 80% for 3 to 6 seconds based on the Enchantress’s Intelligence. Slow enemies AoE.
- *New Skill – Amplification – Increases your highest static elemental bonus by 5% to 10% based on the Enchantress’s Intelligence. Elemental damage bonus. Will go great with sets like the Firebirds that are elemental specific heavy.
- *New Skill – Prophetic Harmony – Reduce your skills’ Cooldowns by 5% to 10% based on the Enchantress’s Intelligence. This is pretty huge as again any cooldown dependent character will benefit great by another 10% cooldown reduction.
- *New Skill – Fate’s Lapse – When you take fatal damage, the Enchantress empowers you to speed up your movement through time for 3 to 7 seconds to avoid death based on the Enchantress’s Intelligence. Cheat death. See Scoundrel
So the bulk of the changes are for the Scoundrel and Enchantress, which make both HIGHLY enticing to play.
Another key observation here is that the skills of the followers are all dependent upon their key attribute. What that means is that augments might be worth it for followers, adding another dimension to what you can push.
Right now, it’s looking like critical hit and damage intensive builds will probably go with a Scoundrel, Templars will still be used somewhat defensively, especially for ranged characters, while the Enchantress will go well with any characters that are cooldown or elemental dependent.
One thing that comes to mind immediately is that with an enchantress, you can get an additional 18% cooldown reduction. That’s a pretty massive incentive to take one since there’s quite a few cooldown dependent builds. For instance, imagine a GoD build that can move the 10% cooldown reduction from a weapon and another 8% on gloves to a stat like resource reduction.
Another major thing to consider with the revamp are Follower relics. Normally, people only use the Follower cannot die type of relics. However, 50% cooldown reduction and access to all skills start to look a little more enticing with the revamp. For instance, with an enchantress, the best relic might end up being the access to all skills because you will get 18% cooldown reduction on top of a cheat death.
Also, if you start to think of Followers as temporary buffs, then the other two relics become a lot more meaningful in specific circumstances. Like maybe instead of 18% cooldown reduction, you only get 9% cooldown reduction and a cheat death due to your follower dying in a high level rift. Or that a Scoundrel having 50% more uptime on certain abilities is worth it.
Given the changes, it does feel like a good start to really buffing up and making Followers more meaningful. However, there are a few things that are missing that I would like to see, both in terms of Followers and with a few things I feel are missing overall.
- Asheara’s Vestments – This is a set that needs an overhaul. I really would love to see it being incorporated as a set that the followers THEMSELVES can use in the future so that we can bring all three along. While the two sets that are currently implemented are awesome QoL changes for farming, I feel that Asheara’s Vestments would add another unused by potentially interesting set into the mix for Greater Rifts. Here’s my suggestion: keep the set the way it is. So that if say Followers use it, they can further summon the other two. However, if all THREE followers are using the set, then they are permanently summoned. I think this would be very fair given the cost for making this set and thematically it would work very well. Also, if augments becomes a major task with followers, then the idea of procuring ancient versions of these items would balance out the four pieces necessary to bring all three followers along.
- Blackthorn’s Jousting Mail – I like the fact that some developer remembered that these exist. However, the update really feels worthless. I think these should get a new examination especially that Followers can use all slots of gear. Maybe if a Follower wears these rather than the player, the Emanate effect could be a generic elemental damage reduction rather than a raw immunity to the various effects from the normal set bonus.
- Armory for Followers – It’s looking as though followers will have their own types of builds too with specific situations. So I’m hoping that along with these changes, followers can also have a “save build” function in the Armory dresser.
- Transmog for Followers – Since we’re talking about possibly saving a follower’s gear builds, we should also talk about the ability to transmog their gear, especially now that they’re getting their own full gear slots. It’s not a huge deal but it makes them feel more customizable, which is something I think that just adds another small addition of depth to their character.
- More Follower Weapon Updates – Right now, there’s only a limited number of useful follower weapons. Also, there’s a variety of useless weapons (including crafted ones) just sitting around. I think the foundation laid here with the attention to followers should suggest that these weapons should receive equal attention in the future to work with followers.
- Legendary Gems for Followers – The Emanate ability for followers opens up a lot of possibilities in terms of carefully controlling what can go into a new pool of abilities. One such group that I’d like to see down the line is Legendary Gems. Unfortunately, there’s quite a few gems that just don’t get used. Even with Augments, you just use the gem up and replace it the next time you do a Greater Rift. Alternatively, what we could see is more Legendary gems introduced for followers.
- The idea of a Follower Value – As I think more about the possibilities of updating followers, I’m also thinking that what could happen is a new value for followers. So the main character would receive full benefits of an item (like a legendary gem) but a follower might receive a lesser percentage that can be shared with the player. It would function similar to how double Unity + Undying Relic works. Heck, maybe the solution is to create another item to synergize different aspects of a follower’s gear with the player.
- 4th Slot to Kanai’s Cube – I think many people agree that the 4th Slot to Kanai’s Cube was an incredible addition in Season 22. The seasonal buff with Shrines/Pylons was great as a dedicated buff. However, the 4th Slot to Kanai’s Cube should really be a permanent addition. It was implemented very well in providing that extra flexibility for a generic 4th item. Even though at the end of the day, there always would be some form of a meta, I still feel that it was too good to give up now that it’s been introduced.
- Ring of Royal Grandeur Permanent Buff – Like the Kanai’s Cube 4th slot, I feel that the Ring of Royal Grandeur should be kept in somehow. Instead of making it a generic buff, I think the better way to introduce it is through discovering it from bounties as one normally would do. Then cubing it would permanently unlock the bonus.The main reason for me pushing for this idea is like the Kanai’s Cube 4th slot, I simply love the idea for more gear flexibility and the potential for more builds. For instance, with a GoD set, I would be able to use both a Depth Diggers and Hexing Pants of Mr Yan, which synergize exceptionally well with this set.
At any rate, I’m super excited to try all this out. I still am hoping for a permanent 4th Kanai’s Cube slot. But the follower update alone is enough to keep me motivated in giving all of this a try.