Despite my intuition that Blizzard would need another week, Diablo III's Patch 1.0.3 was released today. Truth is, it's the first significant patch for the game and has gone a long way toward balancing and making endgame more enjoyable.
The patch notes are extremely long so in order to be merciful to your mouse wheel I'm going to highlight the most eye-popping items.
- Attack Speed nerf - Attack speed was previously so powerful that it eclipsed other DPS stats. Now it's a good stat but not a ridiculous one.
- Class changes - I can't speak to every class but the Demon Hunter in particular had Nether Tentacles nerfed. Forums are ripe with discussion on which discipline attack to equip now. Don't be surprised if you do less damage after logging in.
- High-end items now drop in earlier acts - Instead of being 100% reliant on the Auction House for progression, you can now find high item level gear from the easier acts. For example, there's now a 2% chance to find iLvl 63 gear (the best the game has to offer) from Inferno Act I. Even Hell has some decent endgame items following the patch.
- Repair costs have been increased - I guess Blizzard didn't like the thought of people corpse-hopping, so you can now expect to pay around 14k in repairs for 50% durability. Tread lightly.
- Magic find no longer applies to looted objects - If you thought the popular farm spot nerf a few weeks ago was bad, this takes it to a whole new level. With this change Blizzard is essentially saying that champion pack farming is the only way to go.
- Blacksmith leveling prices have been reduced - I don't know about you but I stopped leveling Blacksmithing after it got ridiculously expensive. Now the pricing is much more reasonable at the higher levels.
- Elite/Unique enemy drop rules have changed - You are no longer guaranteed two magic items from Unique enemies, but you are guaranteed a rare from Elite packs if you have five stacks of Nephalem Valor.
- Inferno mobs Act II+ have been nerfed - Long gone are the days of entering Act II Inferno and feeling like you stand no chance. Even as a Demon Hunter I've been able to survive a few blows which is almost hard to believe.
In a nutshell, you can farm some high-quality items and progress through Inferno without tearing all of your hair out—that doesn't mean you won't smash a keyboard or two. The full list of patch notes can be seen on the official Diablo III website.
Blizzard is currently planning to release a class balance patch next and by then we should see melee and ranged classes on equal footing. By the time that comes out I expect to see more information about Player versus Player and maybe some new content and/or goodies. Stay tuned.