PTR 2.7.2 Preview & Initial Thoughts

Content of this article:

Find the Official Blogpost by Blizzard here.

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


Overview

The Public Test Realm (PTR) for Patch 2.7.1 begins on Thursday, November 4 and will last over the course of two weeks. During this time there may be periodic maintenances, outages, hotfixes, or minor patches.

  • There will be three PTR-unique buffs active to help you on your journey: increased Legendary drop rate, 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 will exchange Blood Shards for class-specific bags full of Legendary items.
  • Class and Balance Changes: To ensure that the most significant class changes receive an ample amount of attention, we'd love for you to focus testing and feedback on the set changes to Witch Doctor, Barbarian, Necromancer, Wizard and Demon Hunter.
  • 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 25 Theme: Soul Shards

New Season Theme: Season 25 introduces a new type of socketable item called Soul Shards. Nephalem can find 7 unique Soul Shards, based on the Lords of Hell, which give players demonic new powers. 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.

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.

Opinion: This looks like an interesting change, although how interesting depends entirely on what Soul Shards do. All we know right now is there's 7 shards in total giving us 12 unique combinations of Prime Evil and Lesser Evil Soul Shards. One interesting note is that Soul Shards can be "utilized in Caldesann's Despair". This Kanai's Cube recipe allows you to enhance an item by using a rank 30+ legendary gem and three Flawless Royal Gems. Since Soul Shards can only be upgraded 3 times, it is unlikely they will take the place of a legendary gem here, meaning we might be able to add something other than Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence or Vitality to our items!

Soul Shards can be used in Caldesann's Despair in place of legendary gems. They are equivalent to rank 50 gems unupgraded and improve by 25 gem ranks per each shard rank. A rank 3 Soul Shard is equivalent to rank 125 legendary gem.

Salvaging a soul shard gives 3 random Imperial gems with a small chance to give 1 Flawless Royal gem instead.

Prime Evil Shards

Socketed into a helmet. Does not interact with Leoric's Crown.
Upgrading the shard with Hellforge Embers unlocks additional effects at each rank.

  • Rank 0. Unique shard effect #1.
  • Rank 1. Same stats as socketing a Flawless Royal Gem of every color:
    • 12.5-15% Cooldown Redcution
    • 12.5-15% Resource Cost Reduction
    • 23-25% Life
    • 40-50% Experience (4-5% at level 70)
    • 32-35% Gold Find
  • Rank 2. One defensive stat roll out of:
    • 900-1125 Dexterity, Intelligence, Strength or Vitality
    • ~500-750 Armor
    • ~500-750 All Resistance
    • 15-20% Mellee Reduction
    • 15-20% Ranged Reduction
  • Rank 3. One of 3 unique shard effects #2
Sliver of Terror

Rank 0 Effect
Your cooldowns are increased by 25%. For every skill on cooldown, you take 12.5% reduced damage and deal 75% increased damage.
Rank 3 Effects

  • If three or more skills are on cooldown, your Lightning and Fire skill damage are increased by 50%.
  • Your Attack Speed and Crit Chance are increased by 7% for each skill on Cooldown.
  • You cast a devastating Ring of Fire after killing 50 enemies.

Opinion
Looks to be the strongest of Prime Evil Shards at the moment. It's very easy for nearly every build to have 2 skills permanently on cooldown and that already gives us 150% damage and 25% damage reduction just from the Rank 0 effect. The downside of negative 25% CDR is very mild, and every build that can put up with it will use this shard.

Shard of Hatred

Rank 0 Effect
Your deal 15% reduced damage while you have 3 or fewer enemies within 25 yards. If more than 3 enemies are within the same distance, you deal 10% increased damage per enemy (to a maximum of 100%).
Rank 3 Effects

  • You now deal 15% for every enemy instead of 10% (to a maximum of 150%).
  • Your Movement Speed is increased by 50%. Each enemy within 25 yards reduces your Movement Speed by 10% up to 70%.
  • Killing an elite enemy pulls all enemies within 40 yards to where the elite died.

Opinion
A backup option for DPS builds that absolutely cannot stomach negative CDR. Provides 150% damage in the rift, but on most Rift Guardians it doesn't work leaving you with 15% damage penalty. This will make the bossfight extremely long for almost every build.

Fragment of Destruction

Rank 0 Effect
You move unhindered through enemies. Each enemy you pass through will be marked by destruction for 7 seconds. Each marked enemy that dies removes 1 second from one of your skills on cooldown. If the Mark of Destruction expires before the enemy dies, you lose 2% of your maximum health as damage.
Rank 3 Effects

  • Increase the duration of Mark of the Destruction to 10 seconds.
  • You have 25% chance to restore 5% health when an enemy dies with Mark of Destruction active.
  • You now leave a trail of fire in your wake that slays enemies with the Mark of Destruction that are below 10% health.

Opinion
This shard is great for support characters, giving you Illusory Boots, Messerschmidt's Reaver with extra steps, and The Executioner.

Lesser Evil Shards

Socketed into weapons.
Upgrading the shard with Hellforge Embers unlocks additional effects at each rank.

  • Rank 0. Unique shard effect #1.
  • Rank 1. Same stats as socketing a Flawless Royal Gem of every color:
    • 270-300 flat Damage
    • 130-150% Critical Damage
    • 20-25% Elite Damage
    • 28,000-30,000 Life on Hit
    • 38,000-40,000 Thorns
  • Rank 2. One offensive stat roll out of:
    • 12-15% Attack Speed
    • 25-50% Damage
    • 7-10% Crit Chance
    • 50-75% random Elemental Damage
  • Rank 3. One of 3 unique shard effects #2
Essence of Anguish

Rank 0 Effect
Every time you deal Poison damage to an enemy you increase your Cooldown Reduction, Movement Speed and damage received by 5% for 10 seconds. Max 10 stacks.
Rank 3 Effects

  • Your Movement Speed and Cooldown Reduction can be increased up to 15 times by dealing Poison damage to an enemy.
  • When you deal Poison damage to an enemy they receive 50% increased Poison damage from all sources for 10 seconds.
  • Killing an enemy deals the damage done by the death blow to all enemies within 25 yards.

Opinion
One of the strongest Lesser Evil Shards, giving you tons of Cooldown Reduction. Classes that can't normally deal Poison damage can still activate this effect by rolling their (or their follower's) weapon damage range to Poison or by activation this shard's rank 4 explosion on kill.

Remnant of Pain

Rank 0 Effect
Your Critical Hit Chance is reduced by 15%. Attacks against Incapacitated enemies are automatically critical hits.
Rank 3 Effects

  • When you critically hit an enemy, you increase the Attack Speed of all players by 5% for 5 seconds. Max 10 stacks.
  • Hitting enemies with Cold damage has 50% chance to Freeze them. Cold skill damage is increased to frozen targets by 20%.
  • While your Movement Speed is 50% faster than normal you gain passability. When you move through enemies you knock them back and stun them for 2 seconds.

Opinion
Another very powerful Lesser evil shard that encourages you to give up Critical Chance an instead apply hard CC to enemies before hitting them.

Dregs of Lies

Rank 0 Effect
Reduce the damage of enemies hit by 33% for 5 seconds. Damage you deal is reduced by 50%.
Rank 3 Effects

  • Double the damage reduction enemies receive when you critically strike them.
  • Each elite enemy slain with damage reduction effect from this soul also reduces all your active cooldowns by 5 seconds.
  • On receiving fatal damage spawn a shadow, that prevents your death, restores your health to 35%, and grants +225 All Resist to all party members while it is active. The Shadow only lasts 15 seconds.

Opinion
Another great shard for supports, that can reduce enemies' damage by 66%!

Stain of Sin

Rank 0 Effect
You deal 25% less damage. When you kill an Elite enemy, you spawn a pool of blood that increases the damage non-elite enemies receive by 250% and lasts 7 seconds.
Rank 3 Effects

  • The pool of blood now collects Rift Progress Orbs.
  • The pool of blood now also freezes non-elite enemies.
  • The pool of blood now negates Elite affixes within its area.

Opinion
This shard also comes with damage penalty, which makes it useful mainly for support character when combined with The Executioner or similar effect. The buff, however, is kinda backwards giving you non-elite damage after you kill an elite. In most cases non-elite enemies will be the first to die.


Item & Balance Changes

Barbarian

  • Remorseless
    Hammer of the Ancients damage bonus increased from 200-250% to 600-800%.

Opinion: This change boosts all three HotA builds by 6 Greater Rifts tiers, bringing them closer to Whirlwind’s level.  It’s a nice move for Barb build balance, but not nearly enough to make it a META Barb build.

Witch Doctor

  • Shukrani's Triumph
    Spirit Walk lasts until you attack 3 times (up from 1) or until an elite enemy is within 20 yards of you (from any enemy within 30 yards). new Attacks while in the spirit realm deal 75-100% increased damage.

Opinion: This is a very interesting change that impacts nearly every Witch Doctor build. Shukrani's Triumph currently  lets you freely attack and stand next to enemies during the initial 2 (3 with Jaunt) seconds of Spirit Walk, with the restrictions only applying after. If that remains unchanged, then this item lets you have 3 seconds of double damage on demand. Most WD builds don't have very powerful offhands and weapons, Shukrani's Triumph is easy to include.

  • Lakumba's Ornament: Reduces damage taken by 60% if you have at least 1-3 Soul Harvest stacks plus an additional 2% per stack. (up from 6% per stack).

Opinion: This is a very welcomed change, making all WD builds significantly tankier. If before the change your toughness was 100% with just the bracer and 175% with Sacred Harvester on top, , you will now have 233% and 350% respectively.

  • The Spider Queen's Grasp
    Now also increases the damage of Corpse Spiders by 600-800%.
  • New Brood of Araneae
    Corpse Spiders deal an additional 75-100% damage, and each spider bite causes the target to take an additional 1% damage from Corpse Spiders for 5 seconds.
  • Spirit of Arachyr
    (2) Bonus: Corpse Spiders now spawn with health and attack twice as fast.
    (4) Bonus: Summon a permanent Spider Queen who leaves behind webs that lasts for 15 seconds and Slows enemies. You take 75% reduced damage while on the web. The Spider Queen is commanded to move to where you cast your Corpse Spiders.

Opinion: These item and set changes bring us a new Corpse Spiders WD build. From a glance the numbers look very underwhelming, but we don't know how exactly the 2-piece bonus and the new item work. The new damage reduction from 4-piece looks extremely clunky and might force other Arachyr builds to include Corpse Spiders.

Demon Hunter

  • Embodiment of the Marauder
    (4) Bonus: Sentries now automatically cast your equipped Hatred Spenders but no longer deal 400% increased damage.
    (6) Bonus: Now also affects your Sentries.

Opinion: This change is a fairly large (5-10 tiers) buff to Marauder set, which brings back the autofire Sentries from Season 1. This might be big enough buff to make Marauder Multishot a #1 DH pushing build, but probably not enough to become a good XP farmer or META DPS. Incidentally it also nerfs the N6M4 build by a few tiers.

  • The Shadow's Mantle
    Impale also deals additional 25,000% damage to targets beyond the first.

Opinion: This buffs Shadow by approximately 5-7 tiers, and also makes it into a more normal build and less of an elite hunter. As a side effect, all runes except Overpenetration become unplayable.

Necromancer

  • Bones of Rathma
    (6) Bonus: damage bonus increased from 500% to 1,750% per active minion up to 31,500% (from 9,000%).

Opinion: This is a welcomed change buffing Rathma by 8 Greater Rift tiers.

Wizard

  • Firebird's Finery
    (2) Bonus: Ignite damage reduced from 3,000% to 1,500%.
    (6) Bonus: damage bonus reduced from 5,000% to 2,500%.

Opinion: This nerfs Firebird by 9 Greater Rift tiers. While the set was clearly overpowered and needed a nerf, this might be too much. It also doesn't address any issues the build currently has, namely its reliance on Mirror Image AI and Deathwish.


Possible New Builds

We theorycrafted 2 new possible builds below. These are not final and still subject to change! We don't even know what item slot the Brood of Araneae is, nor do we know which multipliers apply to Corpse Spiders with the new Arachyr 2-piece.

Marauder Multishot
Greater Rift Solo Push (Fire)

Concept & Gameplay
Multishot will likely be the most powerful skill to use with the new Marauder set, because Hellcat Waistguard doesn't work on Cluster Arrows shot by Sentries.

The build is pretty similar to UE Multishot, the only difference is the addition of pet multipliers: Enforcer, Tasker and Theo and Sentry damage.

For the playstyle, there's two notable changes. Firstly, the positioning of your Sentries now matters a lot. Secondly, where you aim your own attacks doesn't matter at all. You win some, you lose some!

Arachyr Corpse Spiders
Greater Rift Solo Push

Concept & Gameplay
This build is almost completely unknown. Currently Corpse Spiders are not a pet skill so things like Mask of Jeram and Enforcer shouldn't really work, but the new 2-piece makes them have health so we won’t know until we test it. Another unknown is the new item Brood of Araneae, which we assume is either a belt or weapon/offhand.

In the end, even in the best case, scenario when all the possible multipliers work, this build is not looking terribly strong.


Changelog

  • Added detailed information on Soul Shards.

We will test all these changes thoroughly, give constructive feedback and enjoy the reworked Embodiment of the Marauder and Spirit of Arachyr sets. We’re also excited to unveil the Soul Shards. See you on the Public Test Server!