PTR 2.7.3 Season 26 Update Overview

Content of this article:

Disclaimer: All Information presented here is still subject to change during and after the PTR! We will keep this post updated!

(March 19): Updated with info from the first PTR Update (3/17)!


Overview

The Public Test Realm (PTR) for Patch 2.7.3 began on Thursday, March 10 2022 and will last two weeks. During this time there may be periodic maintenances, outages, hotfixes, or minor patches.

  • PTR-unique buffs are active to help you on your journey: increased experience gains and double Blood Shard drops. You can also buy new gear for testing from the special PTR vendor, Djank Mi'em, who can exchange Blood Shards for class-specific bags full of Legendary items.
  • Class and Balance Changes: Some classes have received reworks, buffs and nerfs. Hop in, try them out and give feedback!
  • New Season Theme Testing: Blizzard is looking to gather feedback on the seasonal theme content!

All patch notes are listed below, along with our predicted impacts to the game.


Season 26 Theme: Echoing Nightmare

New Season Theme: Season 26 introduces the Echoing Nightmare, an optional and rewarding end-game challenge where players fight within the memories of Nephalem who fell in a Greater Rift. Today’s Nephalem must stand their ground until they are inevitably Overwhelmed or defeated. Players must collect a Petrified Scream from defeated Greater Rift Guardians to gain entry to the Echoing Nightmare. Transmuting a Petrified Scream in Kanai's Cube summons a portal that players can enter to face the horrors of the Nephalem's past.

Season Theme Details:

  • Petrified Screams and the Echoing Nightmare can only be accessed with Seasonal characters.
  • Only one player needs to transmute a Petrified Scream to open an Echoing Nightmare in a multiplayer game.
  • Similar to a boss encounter, all players in a multiplayer game must accept a prompt to enter.
  • While within an Echoing Nightmare, the difficulty scales as players progress in the encounter. Players can progress faster by defeating monsters quickly.
  • Players receive the following rewards upon completing an Echoing Nightmare: EXP, Legendary Items, Blood Shards, Gems, and a new Legendary Gem, Whisper of Atonement.
  • The Whisper of Atonement is a Legendary Gem used exclusively for Augmenting Ancient Legendary items. It drops pre-ranked based upon player's performance in the Echoing Nightmare.

Opinion: For the first time we actually receive a new form of endgame content as a Season Theme. In addition to the typical GRs and pushing, this will offer a fun new way to play the game and optimize builds and strategies around it. It's very rewarding (especially in EXP and the Whisper of Atonement augment gems) to give everyone an incentive to go in and try it out. We're excited to take our builds to the limit in this new system and potentially see it implemented and refined as a permanent feature for future seasons!

With the PTR update from March 17 the following changes have been implemented:

  • Rare monsters now spawn.
  • Meteors now fall from the sky.
  • Hellish Machinations now appear, which spawn streams of Exploding Lunatics.
  • Rift Guardians now spawn.
  • Increased the frequency of which monsters spawn.
  • Updated the Shadow Clone explosion to better reflect the area of effect.
  • The exit timer has been increased to 60 seconds.
  • Increased the possible rank a Whisper of Atonement can drop to 125 based on the Tier completed.
  • Monsters in Echoing Nightmares can no longer be Frozen, Stunned, Rooted or Knocked Back.
  • Fixed a bug that caused Conduit Shrines to deal less damage than intended.

What it looks like

Using a Petrified Scream (seen below) found from Greater Rifts will open a portal to an arena that spawns scaling waves of monsters. Your job is to fight them off as long as possible until you inevitably get overwhelmed, which happens when too many monsters stay alive for too long. Defeating monsters reduces the overwhelm bar and the Pylons can be used when needed to help you out. There are different arenas and monster sets that can spawn.

This game mode has new requirements for your build and playstyle. For example, Movement Speed and single target damage are useless while heavy AoE-builds shine. The concept is really cool but right now we expect massive changes to this system to make it both more interesting and rewarding in the long run to provide more endgame diversity. We'll keep you updated with more info about different builds and strategies! In any case it's a great source of EXP and Augment gems in the form of Whisper of Atonement gems that come pre-leveled up to 125 based on your performance!


Greater Rift & Quality of Life Updates

In addition to the Season theme and balance changes, the Greater Rift system has also received some tweaks:

Orek's Dream: Greater Rifts have a small chance to roll as Orek's Dream. These dreamlike Rifts have a curated list of maps and monster compositions.

  • 3 maps have been added and 2 maps have been removed from the Greater Rift pool.
    • Added: Fields of Misery, Desolate Sands and Briarthorn Cemetery
    • Removed: Sewers of Caldeum, and Hidden Aqueducts
  • The probability of Greater Rift maps has been adjusted.
  • The probability of monster groups has been adjusted.
  • The following monsters have been adjusted to grant more progression and EXP within Greater Rifts.
    • Blazing Guardians
    • Smoldering Guardians
    • Frost Guardian
    • Noxious Guardian
    • Shock Guardian
    • Blood Clan Spearman
    • Dark Moon Clan Impaler
    • Moon Clan Impaler
    • Blood Clan Impaler
    • Ice Clan Impaler
    • Hell Witch
    • Vile Temptress
    • Fallen Shaman
    • Fallen Conjurer
    • Fallen Prophet
    • Fallen Firemage
  • Players can speak to Orek to close an active Greater Rift. This option is only available when in a single player game.

Opinion: All of these are amazing changes for the game! We finally have a way to close Greater Rifts for fishing, the monster progression updates are reasonable and a good start for future tuning to make them more balanced, and the new maps feel amazing. All three of them have open, dense layouts and add to the pool of good rifts to get both for farming and pushing. And finally, no more Sewers!

Orek's Dream is an interesting concept and - while quite rare right now - could also be a stepping stone towards a real "pushing mode" that will test your build and skill without the tiring "rift fishing" if that system is refined and implemented as another option next to Nephalem Rifts and Greater Rifts.


Item & Balance Changes

Barbarian

  • The Legacy of Raekor (4-piece Bonus): Furious Charge gains the effect of every rune and deals 1000% increased damage. For every 1% Life you are missing, the damage of your Ancient Spear is increased by 2%.
  • The Legacy of Raekor (6-piece Bonus): Hitting enemies with Furious Charge or Weapon Throw increases the damage of your next Ancient Spear by 5500% and causes it to release multiple spears from its target.  This effect stacks and is consumed from each released spear. This can only consume a maximum of 5 stacks at a time. This effect stacks and each spear throw consumes a maximum of 5 stacks.
  • Arreat's LawWeapon Throw and Ancient Spear deal 150-200% increased damage.
    • Weapon Throw generates up to 25 additional Fury based on the distance of the enemy hit. The generated Fury can go above the maximum cap by 200 Fury.
    • Ancient Spear refunds up to 25 Fury based on the distance of the enemy hit and resets your Fury cap to its base maximum.
  • The Three Hundredth Spear: Increase the damage of Weapon Throw and Ancient Spear by 150-200%. The attack speed of Weapon Throw is increased by 200%.
  • Skular's Salvation: Increase the damage of Ancient Spear by 150-200%. If your Ancient Spear Boulder Toss hits 5 or fewer enemies, the damage is increased by 100%.

Developer's Note: We reworked Raekor’s Legacy to give the set its own identity. It felt natural to the team to infuse the charging fantasy of Raekor’s Legacy with the Barbarian’s ranged skills.

Developer's Note *3/17: We've added additional Weapon Throw buffs to give players more build options when playing the reworked Legacy of Raekor set. We've also updated Arreat's Law to allow players to reach new levels of Fury.

Opinion: Updating Raekor is a good first step to improve the Barbarian's lacking competitiveness and removes one of the three very similar HotA builds from the game to provide a new playstyle. Throwing big rocks (Boulder Toss) is fun, they feel impactful and the AoE-damage is great. On the other hand, the single target capabilities are terrible and Weapon Throw is not even included in current PTR builds, so some changes are needed to make the build feel more fluid and create synergy for a ranged Furious Charge playstyle. The low-life mechanic on the 4pc Bonus is interesting for a more strategic playstyle but it's hard to make use of it because of the set's lacking toughness.

Crusader

  • Thorns of the Invoker: The attack speed of Punish and Slash are increased by 100% and deal 67,500% of your Thorns damage.
  • Norvald's Fervor: Gain 200% increased damage while using Steed Charge and for 5 seconds after it ends.

Developer's Note: Norvald's Fervor is overperforming across multiple sets. We want to bring its power down, but we are Increasing the utility of Thorns of the Invoker to compensate.

Opinion: The Norvald's nerf makes sense with how consistently powerful some Crusader builds have been and won't hurt the class too much (around 3 Tiers for Akkhan & Invoker). Heaven's Fury will simply be played with Ivory Tower instead and won't even lose pushing potential, but Fist of the Heavens suffers as a probably unintended casualty of this nerf. It would be great to see some compensation or a real buff to the skill.

The Invoker's change is more impactful: The build can spread its Thorns damage in AoE now instead of being strictly single target. This makes Slash the way to go and gives a good combo between elite and trash damage, but the playstyle seems very similar to another build the Crusader already has: Sweep Attack. On top of that, there's no real reason to have Punish still included in the set bonuses and the whole playstyle is very one-dimensional because you just hold down one button. It would be great to see a slight buff to the set and possibly a combo between the two skills that can be used in different situations.

Monk

  • Bindings of the Lesser Gods: Enemies hit by your Cyclone Strike take 150%-200% more damage from your Mystic Ally for 5 seconds.

Developer's Note: We're happy with the gameplay of Inna's Mantra Monks, but the Fire build is overperforming, so we removed the Fire Ally bonus from the Bindings of the Lesser Gods.

  • All Mystic Allies spawned by Inna's Mantra 6-piece bonus now have their duration refreshed with each attack.
  • Mystic Ally - Fire Ally mini allies now have Passability.

Developer's Note *3/17: We've made improvements to Mystic Ally that should make the skill feel more fluid and less clunky at times.

Opinion: This nerf (around 8 Tiers) was expected with how powerful the Inna Monk has been for the past two seasons. Interestingly, compared to most other heavy nerfs for overperforming builds in the past, this one actually doesn't hit the class all that much. Water Ally is untouched and remains one of the top speedfarming builds in the game, and the pushing playstyle with Fire Ally won't change at all. Additionally, in light of this and the Crusader's nerfs Wave of Light actually turns out to be one of the contenders for best solo pushing builds in the game suddenly! Overall Monk remains in a great spot.


Possible New Builds

We theorycrafted 2 new possible builds below. These are not final and still subject to change!

Raekor Boulder Toss
Greater Rift Solo Push

Concept & Gameplay
The idea is to use Furious Charge to stack up the damage multiplier and generate resources, then throw Ancient Spear Boulder Toss into a tightly stacked pull to blow them up. Extra damage is done through Battle Rage Bloodshed, while Weapon Throw is mostly used for pulling, elites and the boss. This build can decimate big packs of monsters with ease. The biggest problem is the lacking damage reduction, which but the combo of Esoteric Alteration and Relentless allows to stay at low life to gain the damage buff of the 4pc set bonus.

Invoker Thorns
Greater Rift Solo Push

Concept & Gameplay
This build works very similar to the current Punish-based Invoker Thorns build we already have, but now also has some small AoE. Using Omnislash allows the Crusader to hit in all directions so you try to stand in the middle of a pull as much as possible. Stacking lots of Cooldown Reduction, Attack Speed, Life per Hit and Thorns (secondary) is the key.


We will test all these changes thoroughly, give constructive feedback and enjoy the reworked Raekor's Legacy and Thorns of the Invoker sets. We're also excited to push the new Echoing Nightmare system to its limit and find the new season's META. See you on the Public Test Server!