Between the time Diablo III released in 2012 and had its expansion in 2014, the game’s updates were sparse and of little consequence. The biggest changes during that time frame were paragon levels and monster power levels for added difficulty, but they didn’t change the game much in any fundamental way. The “Reaper of Souls” expansion blew all of that out of the water, with a shut-down auction house, revamped difficulty slider, and a revamped paragon system, as well as the addition of Adventure Mode. Months later, Blizzard is still giving us reasons to be excited about Diablo III, and this time it’s patch 2.1.
The first major addition to the game is Seasons. Seasons give players the ability to create brand new characters with their own stash, gold, artisans, and paragon levels. In short, you’re completely starting from scratch. Why do this? Playing a seasonal character will get you on the leaderboards and give your character first access to brand new Legendary items. Don’t care about Seasons but you want the sweet loot? Those items will become available in the “normal” game after the season ends. Also, all progress earned during seasons including character levels, paragon levels, gold, and achievements will carry over to normal mode once the season ends.
Another exciting new feature is the addition of Greater Rifts, or Grifts for short. Like Nephalem Rifts, Grifts open up at the Obelisk by using a keystone. However, this particular keystone is called a Keystone of Trials. Its purpose is to open a “trial” rift to grade your performance and place you in a Greater Rift of appropriate difficulty. Once the trial is complete the player can enter the Grift proper. The goal is to kill monsters to summon and then defeat the Rift Guardian – but within fifteen minutes. Complete the task and the player is awarded with the choice of a Legendary gem (which players can upgrade) or continue on to a Grift of higher difficulty. Grift levels go all the way to 100, but only the most dedicated players will be able to go higher than 30.
The only criticism in this patch is that it’s probably not for people who don’t like Rifts, greater or lesser. One doesn’t have to actually run any rifts, but he or she will end up with a truckload of unused keystones in their inventory, compounded by the fact that it now only takes one keystone to enter a lesser Rift.
There are many other, smaller features as well. Ever wonder what’s on the other side of the portals that Treasure Goblins try to escape through? Well now players have a chance of going through those portals into Greed’s Domain – a dimension filled with literally millions of gold pieces, giant treasure chests, and of course a boss fight with Greed, the Baroness of the Treasure Realm.
Of final note is the new tileset, the Cesspools, located only in Nephalem Rifts and Greater Rifts. They were originally a tileset to be used pre-Reaper of Souls, but Blizzard didn’t get to finish them in time. The Cesspools are essentially a rotting docks area reminiscent of Act III of Diablo II.
Blizzard’s new approach on Diablo III is really keeping players excited and engaged in the aging action RPG formula. Whatever they come up with next will likely do the same thing again.