PvP Analysis after Two Weeks on PTR Patch 2.4 - Mechanics, Class Balance, Meta Changes
08.02.2022 um 11:39
This guide examines the impact of the changes introduced in Patch 2.4 of Diablo II: Resurrected on some important game mechanics and how classes will operate in PvP. Some classes will not alter much, but others will see more radical changes.
The changes announced by Blizzard for 2.4 will profoundly affect the PvP meta. While
the previous analysis
was done after simply on the base of the patch notes, we will now draw more conclusions after PTR testing.
Changes to PvP Game Mechanics in Patch 2.4
Some of the general changes made in Patch 2.4 will have a big impact on the entire PvP meta.
Hit Recovery Change
This is by far the biggest change around for PvP, and I'll refer it a lot later on. It's so important that there's an entire article devoted just to this change. Please review it if you're unfamiliar with this part of the problem.
Hit Recovery Changes to PvP in Patch 2.4
Dual Wield and the Weapon Speed Modifier Bug
Changed how attack speed is determined while dual-wielding weapons. Swapping weapons between hands should no longer result in dramatically different attack speeds.
The first time I read this patch note, I hoped this would take the attack speed bonus from both weapons into account for calculating the final attack speed for dual wielders, not just the attack speed of the main weapon.
However, Blizzard had other plans. Instead of making a global dual weapon change as the patch note insinuates, they just fixed the WSM (weapon speed modifier) bug, an old bug that was allowing players (particularly Assassins) to reach their needed attack speed breakpoint with slower weapons than should have been possible. Reverting will restrict them almost 100% to the weapon types Greater Talons and Runic Talons in PvP, as these are the only way to reach the adequate attack speed and thus keep up their ability to lay traps quickly. For Assassins, trap laying speed is determined by Increased Attack Speed stat (IAS), not to Faster Cast Rate (FCR).
Class Changes for PvP in Patch 2.4
The Guided Arrow buff isn't that big.
Only some-hundred damage should be gained with the classic Fortitude-Faith build. It's far from being as consequential as some feared, but it is always nice to have for Amazon players. It also feels unnecessary in PvP because that patch already give them a lot of power in other ways.
The buff to Strafe is scary.
Not only is the removal of the weapon damage reduction a 33% flat damage buff, but also the attack rating buff is good. It will help Amazons to hit their targets efficiently even before getting buffed by Barbarian Shouts.
Increased number of projectiles is a great quality-of-life change!
All Bolts and Arrows have had their stack sizes increased from 150 and 250 respectively to 500 for both. This is a welcome convenience.
Dodge animation is not preventing Amazon from others actions.
This new mechanic seems to be working just fine. This will obviously allow Amazons player to deal more damage while being attacked, which should be a really strong buff. This potentially pushes the Amazon into the S-tier in 1vs1.
Amazon Class Changes in Patch 2.4
On the state of Assassin in 2.4 in general regarding the Hit Recovery change:
It is really hard to say where Assassins will land if the stunlock nerf goes live. It seems probable than Trap based build are strongly nerfed and not even really enjoyable to play anymore, as they can hardly set up aggressive play without their capacity to stunlock. It's mostly speculation at that point, but Assassin players may switch to more physically oriented Hybrid or Ghostsin build (melee-only build without serious trap damage). These will count on high-damage claws to deal heavy melee damage with
from the Chaos runeword, also inflicting Open Wound and some poison damage provided by
. In that setup, the buff to Blade Shield could also potentially come in handy.
A major problem with those kind of builds is that they cannot get a lot of crit stat with out dropping their FCR break point, which makes them a bit less fun to play. With a slow
cast speed and the nerf to stunlock, its also harder for 65 FCR Assassins to catch their prey, especially when compared to Barbarian builds. Indeed, Barbarians in PvP have a somewhat comparable gameplay but much higher mobility.
could answer a part of that problem, but I'm not a big fan of it, as it is an auto-targeted skill poorly designed for PvP with limited options for counterplay, beyond having maxblock or high defense stat.
Another option would be to keep the current mainstream Trap based build and play defensive, with only short aggression from time to time to proc Open Wound. However, it's poor gameplay when compared to the current offensive style.
Finally, I don't see any future for Assassins in Team vs Team (TvT) environment. Their stunlocks are the whole reason they are appreciated in TvT, and barring that, there are classes who bring far more to the table.
Regarding Dragon Flight buffs:
With the current trap based Assassin gear,
would gain somewhere between 15% and 20% damage when maxxed. This is noticeable, but not as much as some feared, especially because defense and block stats will now impact whether
hits or not.
Regarding the changes to Lightning Sentry synergy:
Taken out the context of this patch, this change would be a strong buff to Assassins. However, with the stunlock nerf factored in, it's hard to be sure what to do with the 20 extra points. Maximize
? Without Stunlock, going melee to use that skill may no longer be seen as a viable option.
and maybe even
might be more likely candidates. And then there is
for those who want a more physical build. Chances are, you can actually max 2 on those instead of one, because maxing
could very well be pointless with 2.4.
At that point, it's hard to say which builds will prevail.
Assassin Class Changes in Patch 2.4
Leap itself isn't nerfed, but stunlocks are, so it is still a big
nerf to Leap.
in PvP is primarily used to leaping on place, producing a repeated AoE stun. Thus the "Baseline minimum distance increased" promised by the patch was quite scary for Barbarian players. However, either it is not implemented on PTR yet, or the change is so insignificant you don't even notice it.
On the other hand, the hit recovery change considerably nerfs
as it prevents any consistent stunlock.
Whirlwind still not fixed.
The first hit still doesn't register correctly most of the time. That bug hugely nerfs Barbarians compared to D2:LoD and it was hoped Blizzard would fix it in 2.4.
With the build currently used on PvP Barbarian with good gear, the buff to
being a synergy instead of
) should be around 20% total damage. This is with 1 point in
. With a max
build, it should be less of an upgrade in %, but same in flat damage. PvP Barbarians generally put only one point in
. It's nice to have, but likely it won't change the number of hit needed to kill a target.
Barbarian Class Changes in Patch 2.4
Ravens buff is really strong.
is probably one of the most buffed skills in 2.4. With the damage buff, they currently do incredible damage, able to dominate characters with noblock and low defense in a matter of seconds. Blizzard backtracked a little on that, reducing the damage in a recent update, but it's still high, potentially opening the door for Summons PvP Druid.
In the pre-D2:R days, Druid Summons in PvP has mainly been used as a bad-mannered townkiller (you stay in town and you try to kill people by casting your bear outside), but since D2:R, summons can't deal damage as long as you are in town, so that build disappeared.
teledruid build has been also tried in real PvP, more for fun than to be competitive. The idea is to teleport on your opponent, change into Werebear form and stunlock with
while his Grizzly finishes the kill. That kind of build could work very well with
(and damage buff to
as well), if the new Hit Recovery mechanic wasn't preventing any real stunlock possibility.
At this point, it's impossible to say if Summoner Druids have any real future in PvP. In particular, I'm a bit worried about their lack of interactivity, as simply teleporting on your target and hoping your summons lands good hits seems like pretty poor gameplay. Another concern is managing to hit your opponent as moving targets will easily escape Ravens.
Arctic Blast is useless as a synergy to Twister.
The patch note introduced the possibility to max
as a synergy of
, allowing the swirl generated by the Twisters to last longer, up to 2 seconds. That change was interesting because it permitted Wind Druids easier access to swirl than
, at the cost of a fair amount life or of damage (probably a bit too much to make it worth it), as you had less points to put into the
synergy or into
However, the new hit recovery mechanic made that change irrelevant, as it's currently impossible to stunlock your target in 2.4.
The Shock Wave Volcano Combo is dead.
was used in PvP to swirl and stunlock the opponent. In particular, it was the only real way for a Wind Druid to kill an Energy Shield Sorceress. However, as stunlocks are down in the dirt in the current iteration of 2.4, that skill has lost all value. The same can be said of
for Wind Druid, who was used in combination with
How much life did the summons win for Wind Druid and Fire Druid ?
In PvP, Wind Druid and Fire Druid use summons not for their damage, but as recastable meatshields. Hence, they don't invest more than 1 points into it , with the exception of
. The patch note changes about summon life were quite interesting for PvP as they would perhaps allow the invocations to tank more than one hit in some situations.
It's only a minor buff in life for
are one of the favorite summons in PvP because you can have 5 of them. They received a much more sizable upgrade in life that should permit them to have between 1.5k and 2k life for a decently geared Druid running
, but without getting buffed by
. That's quite nice as it would allow them to withstand 2 casts of
from Necromancers, instead of dying after one.
What about Fire Druid buff?
The buff to Fire Druids didn't seem to aim at the right skill to make them strong in PvP. Gaining physical damage on an elemental class can be massive, but those damage are on
, a highly unreliable skill when it come to hitting your target. The rest of the changes don't impact enough the damage output to push the Fire Druid much higher in the PvP meta.
Druid Class Changes in Patch 2.4
+12% damage for
at full build.
+27% damage for
at full build.
ranforced a bit (around 140 physical damage absorb gained)
That's it, and that's big, as Necromancer is already one of the best class around this is pretty easy to understand they will remain S tier.
Necromancer Class Changes in Patch 2.4
Auradin and FoH (Fist of the Heavens) are scary, and that's not good from the game.
PvP in Diablo is all about fast aim, reaction time, lock manipulation and dueling knowledge. FoH can be an interesting skill because the combo allows following
, but by itself and maxxed out, its probably one of the most unskilled and problematic tools around. It has an auto-aim function that doesn't even require namelock to touch a foe, and once cast, the projectile can't be avoided in any way, except by dodges from Amazons and clawblock from Assassins. Combined with the aura
, that's make pure FoH build fun gearchecker for others players in the Blood Moor. Either you have the necessary stack of Lightning Resistance ready in your stash to make that duel a piece of cake, or you don't and you will probably getting 2-shot without much counterplay.
And Blizzard just buffed FoH, effectively more than doubling their DPS by reducing the cooldown of the skill from 1 second to 0.4 seconds. I don't know if it will change much in PvM, but from a PvP point of view,, this is an unhealthy change to an unhealthy build. In the end, it probably won't matter too much as people will acquire more and more gear as time goes on and will be able to stack Lightning Resistance rather easily, but it is still a fair bit annoying.
What is even more annoying are Auradins, who literally just need to charge around and stay alive to deal damage. However, Blizzard backtracked a bit on those buffs, only leaving Holy Fire buff and decreasing it a bit. Furthermore, that class spec is often banned from tournaments and GM PvP in general, so I don't expect the buff to change the meta much outside of public games.
Paladin Class Changes in Patch 2.4
Blizzard reverted the buff damage for Hydra, but permitted Sorceress to cast them faster.
That's a nice quality of life change that might make some Energy Shield Sorceress invest the 2 necessary points to be able to use it as a means to harass or to defend a position. To put things into perspective,
should deal close to 2k damage by hit with only one point it it for a fully geared Fireball Sorceress.
Blaze looks both overpowered ... and certainly overkill.
Blaze has been buffed on the PTR to provide 2 Fast Run Walk (FRW) points per level when used. With full PvP gear, it means more than 50 FRW. This is an insane mobility buff, particularly useful when you are getting stunlocked as it's generally easier to move by running rather than Teleporting in those situations. However, as stunlock is currently being removed from the game, this buff feels overkill and won't have as much of an impact as it was expected at first.
Nova and Thunder Storm got buffed for 100% and 140% damage respectively with maxxed synergies, which is pretty massive.
This is the RAW value of the buff as both those skills get currently NO SYNERGY at all.
Nova Sorceress aren't really strong right now in PvP and are more considered like a "fun" build, but could doubling their damage change that?
A fully built PvP Nova Sorc currently deal around 3700 Lightning damage average (depending the build, but that number provide for a good example). With PvP reduction, the maximum of allowed resistance, and stack, this is around 50 hp depleted when used against a decently geared character. The patch would push that to 100 hp per hit, which is obviously not enough to make it viable. However, a character not geared enough will suffer greatly from this change when facing a Nova Sorceress.
, which deals currently a bit more damage by hit than
when maxed, deals close to 230 hp by hit after applying PvP reduction, resistance, and Thundergod's VIgor absorb. It's nice for poking, but won't do much more. Also keep in mind it hit one time per second, has to be in range to trigger, and can be absorbed by summons.
In general, Lightning-based Sorceress builds aren't really played in PvP, so it's nice to buff them. However, the strongest lightning Sorceress build in PvP currently revolves around is the spell
and they don't have any more points to invest into either
. That means these buff help them but will help the Nova Sorc, who can invest into Thunder Storm easily. Thus, the overall PvP meta should remain unchanged, but Nova Sorceress will have an even better time against badly geared opponent.
Sorceress Class Changes in Patch 2.4
Final Thoughts on Patch 2.4 and PTR for PvP
There is no argument: the PTR is a great idea by Blizzard. However, it doesn't offer build items commonly used by PvPers, so it doesn't really allow players appreciate the extend of the change in PvP. Indeed, if PvE builds often target at being efficient with low gear to progress in the game, PvP builds are by nature always endgame builds that require specific items to work. For example, some things not on offer include high FCR amulets for casters, Grand Matron Bow for building Faith , specific tiara for Amazons, specific claws for Assassins, etc etc. While it's still possible to test PvP with incomplete builds, it doesn't help players evaluating any of the the changes done.
The whole process of "duping" items by muling them, then deleting the mule before leaving and rejoining PTR so you can "respawn" the mule felt heavy, slow and boring. It must be noted than Private Realms have historically presented more practical solutions, such as NPC selling efficient gears and newly created characters having the option to reach directly high level. This is also how it's handled on other Blizzard games' PTRs, such as World of Warcraft.
Finally, some clarifications from Blizzard could be great, especially to understand the change in general gameplay. I'm not only talking about the Hit Recovery change (and I'm still unsure to fully understand that one), but also about the block animation change, which remain fairly obscure at that point. To be fair, Diablo 2 have always been obscure on a great numbers of mechanics; that is not relative to PTR testing only.
PvP balancing in general is a complicated matter that requires deep understanding of the game dynamics and the different match ups to be successful. It shouldn't be approached lightly, at the risk of upsetting the balance of a game having a stable community since more than a decade.
PvP is a important part of the endgame of Diablo 2, not only from a gameplay perspective but also from a trading perspective. Chances are that more and more people will invest in it as time goes on, should the game keep prospering and expanding. Having a specialized approach to that matter is important to health of the game in general.
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