Today, Blizzard announced the last day for Season 23 on July 18th. While no start date for Season 24 has been released, it is suspected that with Diablo 2 coming up in short order on 9/23/2021 we should be starting the new season on July 23rd which provides roughly 2 months of solid farming action for Ethereals during season 24 to warm our taste buds for Resurrection. That said, I wanted to share my overall thoughts on Season 23 and what I believe they could have done to improve what to me was my overall favorite season thus far.
First off, let me say that I had a blast for this season. The added Emanate capabilities on Legendary items with an expanded inventory list for Followers motivated me to play for a fair amount of time without feeling too frustrated. I think effectively enabling items like the Sage’s Set for extra Death Breaths, Flavor of Time, which often would be difficult finding great stats and the ever useful Nemesis Bracers made the update very intriguing alone. In that sense, I felt the desire to push further in looking for better items and trying out a few things as a result of effectively having more item slots.
The few things that did get revamped (for the better supposedly) intrigued me at first with the Firebirds set and the Rathma set ended up falling by the wayside. In the end, I felt neither were really for me. Firebirds, while having a very unique play style, just ended up being awkward since there were too many crafted pieces that were being used in top tier builds. More importantly, the Mirror Image with Illustionist build simply felt off putting and more like an accidental discovery than something that was designed in the minds of developers.
Rathma’s too simply was another cooldown build that had a unique function but didn’t perform to make me want to play it. I think this build will end up having another look in the future just because it still doesn’t match the power of Masquerade or LoD builds, but more importantly didn’t get the attention that I think the developers had wanted (even with Masquerade getting a nerf for next season).
The one sad aspect was the nerfing of the GoD Demon Hunter build through The Ninth Cirri Satchel’s lowering of the number of piercings. According to the developers, that was due to some weird mechanic with missile shields slowing the piercings that would be exploited. I think that was a mistake on the developers’ part to nerf and that the interaction should have been examined instead. That said, I did try the GoD DH on the latest PTR and felt with an ethereal, the build is still top tier. But it might not hold up without the 4th Kanai’s Cube slot to help bolster it in the future.
Another major wonderful update added was the Leaderboard UI improvement. While some people might look at it as a new way to compete, I look at it as a way to see more builds and finding ways to try new things out. With the update, I tried three different Wizard builds, including a Hydra build that I kept through out the season and two different Crusader builds. On the PTR, I was able to see new builds emerge with the upcoming Ethereals changing builds around for each set and no-set builds. So this definitely was a game changing positive in my book.
Lastly, the Season Journey itself was quite good. My friend, whom I helped gear up and power level, was able to complete the journey like myself as a result of Avarice being added to the pool. Of course, that partly coincides with the Follower upgrade and Emanate addition, allowing one to use an Avarica Band, Goldskin, Nemesis Bracers, etc. to bump up the ability to obtain gold all at once. Also, having those Nemesis Bracers, Shrine Gloves, etc. made it so that certain speed achievements very doable solo.
Unfortunately, the downside of this Season was the lack of a true Seasonal Buff. Many group players complained that their efforts were hampered while the motivation for doing the season was lessened. And while I must commend the 1-2 developers that still are working on Diablo 3 (we know one by the name of Carlos now), the fact is that the season did feel a bit lackluster.
So here’s what I would have suggested if they decide to make another dedicated Season for Followers. First, the seasonal buff, I suggest, would be to enable all Followers for a single player. Then for each additional players in a group, subtract one follower such that a four man group would have no extra followers (which would mean that 3 mans could make for an interesting meta). As I mentioned in another blog, a group of 4 players will always outshine the followers so I don’t see any harm in this method.
Then one can experiment a lot more with powers on their followers. For instance, I wish I could have used items like Gladiator Gauntlets, which were taken up by default with the Cain’s Scrinver or Sage’s Purchase just because I was too lazy to swap between Greater and normal rifts. But the only way I can get those types of bonuses would be to have it enabled on other Followers. Likewise, rather than having a Flavor of Time in each necklace slot, I would have liked being able to use a Rakoff’s Glass of Life or Dovu Energy Trap. Instead, those items once again were relegated to a 2nd class citizen status as Forgotten Souls rather than something I would be excited to equip and keep. And to ensure that these items aren’t that overpowering, I would have insisted that they would not stack, thus encouraging one to mix and match other Emanate items for additional builds.
And I have talked about my desire to eventually introduce Asheara’s Vestments as an Emanate enabled item. I feel a huge opportunity was missed in seeing how this would feel by doing what I have mentioned above to experiment with what Asheara’s Vestments could do in the future. In relation to a season that enables all followers in the manner I proscribed, a revamped Asheara’s Vestments that I have talked about in a different blog would not add anything. It would be like having two Rings of Royal Grandeur.
The other thing that was clearly missed was an Armory section for Followers. This is a minor QoL complaint but it just made swapping GR vs non-GR builds a pain. And while there really weren’t many new combos one could do between the two that would be significantly meaningful, it is one of those aspects that I hope will change in the future, especially if the Emanate pool is expanded upon.
Now, my idea of the Follower buff may sound quite powerful but again it’s meant as a season buff that creates an incentive for playing the season as well as allowing for a bit more of group play without penalizing smaller groups too heavily.
At any rate, I hope that they make another season for Followers using my ideas here in the future. I am looking forward to Season 24 as I have done various “tests” on the PTR, which now is closed. I think the Ethereals are a pretty cool deal. That should liven things up a bit and I don’t mind the item hunt. The only thing I wish is that they allow for more character rebirths. 3 just isn’t enough.