Finally, we have the first patch 2.7.2/Season 25 announcement for Diablo 3. They are introducing a concept called “Soul Shards” as the seasonal theme where the “Nephalem can find 7 unique Soul Shards, based on the Lords of Hell, which give players demonic new powers.” It seems like a pretty cool concept and I will go more into it below.
The gist of these items are:
“One of 3 Prime Evil Soul Shards can be equipped into Helms and one of 4 Lesser Evil Soul Shards can be equipped into Weapons. Each Soul Shard can be upgraded three times using a new seasonal-exclusive consumable, the Hellforge Ember.”
So people are describing this as being legendary gems in your helmets and weapons. I don’t really see it the same way because they only have a limit of three upgrades with the consumable Hellfore Ember. While I am certain they will have a great deal of power, they won’t have the scaling in the same manner as legendary gems.
Additional notes on these socketable items are:
“Soul Shards and Hellforge Embers can drop from anywhere in Sanctuary, but Soul Shards have a higher chance to drop from Bosses. Soul Shards cannot be traded, but can be salvaged or utilized in Caldesann’s Despair. You may only equip one Prime Evil Soul Shard and one Lesser Evil Soul Shard at a time. Lastly, Soul Shards and Hellforge Embers only drop in Seasonal play, and will not transfer to your non-seasonal character when the season ends.”
It seems that with the newer seasons and items, they’re sticking with making these powers just seasonal only. I’m a bit disappointed just because I want to see the accumulative results of these powers. I’m guessing that these Soul Shards are going to be like another version of an Ethereal, except that instead of having to deal with the randomness of both a good base, passive and legendary power, you will have more flexibility in where you can use the item.
This part is good because with Ethereals, the main issue came in the form of set weapons/offhands. For instance, you could not run the Bul-Kathos mighty weapons as a whirlwind barbarian if you wanted to play a high end build. Same thing for Chantodos wizards. Or in the case of Demon Hunters who wanted to play the Shadow Mantle set, you had no option for a melee weapon.
Another thing is that they haven’t specified what the Prime Evil and Lesser Evil shards actually do. Since they seem to take over the gem sockets, I’m guessing that you’ll lose out on the typical Emeralds and Diamonds (damage increase and cooldown) or whatever they normally have in those slots. Instead, I’m guessing that these powers will at least replace or improve upon those base gem powers as you will be losing out on quite a bit of damage and cooldown (or resource cost reduction, etc.)
In concept this sounds cool, but I need to see what these powers will do. I feel that they won’t be nearly as powerful as the Ethereal weapons but hopefully provide some interesting play styles and factor into the attributes or skills of a character.
Now for the rest of the patch. Most of the changes look to be in the form of legendary powers and sets. So I will enumerate those:
- Remorseless – While both Wrath of the Berserker and Call of the Ancients are active, Hammer of the Ancients deals 600-800% increased damage. So my the developer comment is that they wanted to boost up the Hammer of the Ancients without putting the power into the set. I can see why they might have done this but I don’t think this is going to make the Immortal Kings anymore competitive without improving the base set.
- Shukrani’s Triumph – Spirit Walk lasts until you attack 3 times or until an elite enemy is within 20 yards of you. Attacks while in the spirit realm deal 75-100% increased damage. This is a weird item to buff. I wonder if this item will be used anywhere. It seems like this should be good for Mundunugu’s Regalia but no one in their right mind is going to replace Gazing Demise for this. Pretty much this proves to me that the 4th Kanai Cube slot is needed badly.
- Lakumba’s Ornament – Reduce all damage taken by 60% if your Soul Harvest stack is at least (1-3), and an additional 2% for each stack of Soul Harvest. This is a great change. Soul Harvest is one of the most annoying skills around because it is pretty much one of the de facto skills required to reduce your damage in conjunction with this item. But the current iteration provides 6% damage per stack. So having that baseline of 60% is a HUGE quality of life improvement and will help manage the awkwardness when Soul Harvest is on cooldown or in largely empty areas, especially in boss fights where you die or your stacks drop off.
- Spider Queen’s Grasp – Corpse Spiders deals an additional 600-800% damage and releases a web on impact that Slows enemies by 80%. This is an incredible change. I’ve never seen a Corpse Spiders build, even though I like the skill. But most people playing Spirit of Arachyr end up going Firebats. So all the other pet attacks end up getting ignored which sucks because there’s some very interesting possibilities as opposed to a wonky channeling skill.
- Brood of Araneae – Corpse Spiders deals an additional 75-100% damage, and each spider bite causes the target to take an additional 1% damage from Corpse Spiders for 5 seconds. This looks like an entirely new item (but it’s not marked as such). I cannot tell what item slot this will belong to but I presume it’s either going to be a belt or an offhand. Either way, this is going to boost of Corpse Spiders damage even more and probably require the player to use Depth Diggers and Simplicity’s Strength in some form.
- Spirit of Arachyr (2-piece bonus) – Corpse Spiders now spawns with health and attacks twice as fast. This is a good change because they moved the spider queen aspect into the 4 piece bonus while making the 2 piece bonus improve on damage with Corpse Spiders. Because of the emphasis on pets, I’m wondering if Zunimassa’s might become a viable hybrid set with this change.
- Spirit of Arachyr (4-piece bonus) – Summon a permanent Spider Queen who leaves behind webs that lasts for 15 seconds and Slows enemies. You take 75% reduced damage while in the web. The Spider Queen is commanded to move to where you cast your Corpse Spiders. Again the spider queen has been moved into the 4 piece bonus. The key though is the damage reduction here. So it’ll be similar to Slow Time bubbles except that you depend on the Spider Queen to put the web down. I think this combined with the changes to Lakumba’s Ornament will make this set a lot more fun to play since you won’t be as squishy.
- Marauder’s Encasement (4-piece bonus) – Sentries deal 400% increased damage and cast Elemental Arrow, Chakram, Impale, Multishot, and Cluster Arrow when you do, as well as automatically cast your equipped Hatred spenders. So the idea with Marauder’s is that they’re effectively flipping back in time and allowing the Sentries themselves to autofire. You can still fire in triggering your Sentries to target something specifically but it’s back to drop and run around type of play style. I’m not certain if this is going to improve things but the main benefit that I can immediately see is that you should have far more resources available. Maybe Kridershots will be valuable again? That said, the set might still be super squishy and slow. I would have preferred them just giving something like +15% damage reduction per Sentry. If anything though, the game play should be interesting again.
- Marauder’s Encasement (6-piece bonus) – Your primary skills, Elemental Arrow, Chakram, Impale, Multishot, Cluster Arrow, Companions, Vengeance, and Sentries deal 12000% increased damage for every active Sentry. The key item here being added is Sentries. So effectively, you can just drop your sentries, hop behind a wall and let them do all the work. I will make some comments after I finish up this list on Marauders.
- The Shadow’s Mantle (6-piece bonus) – Impale deals an additional 75000% weapon damage to the first enemy hit, and 25000% to subsequent enemies. The developer’s note states that this change is to help with multi-target damage since this set specializes mostly in elite/rare and boss kills but is pretty weak with area clears.
- Bones of Rathma (6-piece bonus) – Each permanent active minion increases the damage of Army of the Dead by 1750%, up to 31,500%. Quite frankly I never thought the damage with Army of the Dead was the issue. The issue is the long cooldown. The better solution was to make Army of the Dead’s cooldown drop by a full second instead of forcing the person to wonder around uselessly while waiting for Army of the Dead to become active again. So I don’t think this is going to do much in terms of improving the overall usability of the set where it fails.
- Firebird’s Finery (2-piece bonus) – Disintegrate Ignites enemies, causing them to take 1500% weapon damage per second until they die. When you die, a meteor falls from the sky and revives you. This effect has a 60-second cooldown. Disintegrate is effectively getting cut in half here. Honestly, I don’t think that was the problem since Disintegrate by itself would do horrible damage. So again a very nonsensical change.
- Firebird’s Finery (6-piece bonus) – You gain 2500% increased damage while Ignite is applied to a target. Hitting an Ignited enemy with a non-channeling fire spell deals Ignite damage multiplied by Combustion stacks. Damage again is halved. There was absolutely no reason for this change. I’m certain people are going to complain about this and they’ll be forced to bump up for damage modifiers back up once they discovered how bad this set is getting nerfed. Besides, Energy Twister LoD probably is in better shape.
So there’s two sets getting some big boy buffs with Spirit of Arachyr and Marauder’s. I shouldn’t say getting a buff for Marauder as much as returning to the original play style, which I argued should not have been altered in the first place. But let me dive into each of the changes a bit.
With Spirit of Arachyr, this set looks pretty damn interesting. I think it’s going to be a better version of Delsere’s except more pet oriented. The real question is what slot the Brood of Aranae will be. I’m guessing belt since most people who will use Corpse Spiders won’t be going Firebats, thus freeing up that slot. Also, you won’t need to use a Staff of Chiroptera in the cube. One idea here is that you can just cube a Wormwood to use Locust Swarm passively. From there you could swap Locust Swarm’s rune to Cloud of Insects and just have a natural 25% damage reduction.
The other thing I’m looking at is possibly coming this with Zunimassa’s. The problem with going Zunimassa’s is that you’ll lose out on the benefits of items like Dagger of Darts in trying to make everything fit. The only real benefit from using Zunimassa’s gaining a little more damage reduction with Fetishes but that might be more problematic than they’re worth.
One thing I’m very happy about with the change to Spirit of Arachyr’s is that Hex is gone. This does mean exploding chicken will need some serious rework but the dependency on Hex as a healing cooldown mechanism will not be sorely missed. That pretty much frees up other abilities in its place. Instead, you can rely on Spirit Walk and Soul Harvest as your main defense mechanisms.
Now, let’s talk about Marauder’s. This is a very strange but interesting change. I never thought they should have altered the original version because it had a very unique play style. With sets like GoD and Unhallowed Essence, Marauder’s loses a lot of its original appeal because GoD is far faster and smoother to play. Also, the only real benefit of the change to Marauders is being able to hide from things while the sentries do all the work. You could still walk into an area without having the benefit of an Elusive Ring and get one shot.
But the thing is that with these changes, I can’t tell if one should be adding all the variety of skills to their hot bar and trying to fit in weapons to boost that damage. Like do we want to be using a Manticore along with a cubed Yang’s Recurve? Or do we still want Dawn for Vengeance? Also, this change means that CDR will play a higher role than Resource Cost Reduction. I think it will make the build more flexible, certainly one will need to experiment a bit since so much has changed after the initial iteration of this set had come out.
As for the other changes, the only one that might impact me is Rathma’s. I’ve decided to use Rathma’s as my Set Dungeon so I will have to play Necromancer a bit every season at least until I can obtain all the basic stashes. But the change I wanted was a cooldown improvement rather than a damage improvement. For the set dungeon, my main issue was of how slow Rathma’s was. I might even have used an In-Geom to ensure that my cooldown was as high as I could put it. Nonetheless, I barely beat that set dungeon and hope that whatever this Soul Shard nonsense is, I will be able to get through that smoothly.
At any rate, I’m really looking forward to this upcoming PTR. It’s dropping the same day as my car finishes up supposedly so maybe I’ll have something to do after I return home.