Blizzard has detailed the Diablo 3 patch 1.0.3, due out later this month.
Writing on Battle.net, Diablo 3 senior technical game designer Wyatt Cheng revealed plans to change the Inferno difficulty, rare item drops on bosses and bonus monster damage when playing in a group, among many other things.
The headline change is the best items in the game will drop from many more places - not just Act 4 on Inferno. This, Cheng said, should make a wider variety of play styles viable. "If you would rather chain-pull elite packs in Act 1 than three minute cat-and-mouse in Act 4, we'd like you to be able to do that and know you can still find the best items in the game," he said.
The patch also reduces the number of guaranteed Rare items on bosses when players have their full five stacks of Nephalem Valor from two guaranteed rares to one guaranteed rare. In exchange, all champion and rare packs will now drop a bonus guaranteed rare item when you have your full five stacks of Nephalem Valor. The thinking behind this change is to push players to soldier on after defeating a boss.
Elsewhere, the patch removes the bonus monster damage per additional player in a co-op game in order to encourage players to group up. "We feel the bonus monster damage per additional player is one of the biggest inhibitors to wanting to play with your friends," Cheng said.
Monsters in Inferno Act 2, 3 and 4 will see their damage and health lowered in order to "smooth the difficulty ramp out a bit". "If a monk or barbarian is geared well enough that they can use a heavily offensive build and murder everything in Act 1, they should be able to swap to a more defensive build and do okay in Act 2," Cheng said. "As they gear up they can begin adjusting back to becoming offensive in Act 2, at which point they can jump into Act 3 with a focus on defence, and so on.
"Difficulty certainly ties into itemisation, encounter and enemy tuning, and class balance, and all of these things together are going to paint a more reasonable difficulty curve as you hit Inferno in 1.0.3."
Repair costs will be significantly increased in order to discourage "graveyard zerging" tough enemies or "chain rezzing allies on a boss". "Repair costs on level 60 items are going to go up a lot," Cheng warned. "Our goal is the next time a player is graveyard zerging a boss, it should occur to them that 'this is probably not an efficient way to go about things'. We're currently evaluating repair costs between 4x and 6x their current values."
Other titbits: Blacksmith and Jeweller costs will be reduced to make it "far more reasonable to train them up and craft items". Classes will go largely unchanged, although there will be a small number of skills changes planned. Class tuning will be a feature of the 1.1 patch "with a focus on punching build diversity up a few more notches".
Meanwhile, Blizzard said Legendary items will be tweaked in a future patch - not 1.0.3 - but when they do, they should be "flat out better than blue items". And Blizzard is considering reducing the effectiveness of the Attack Speed stat, which it feels is too important. It looks like it will do this by reducing the value on items, but the developer called on fans to offer feedback.