In the four months following Diablo III‘s opulent release the game has suffered from several problems, ranging from simple bugs to digital purchase issues. But by far the biggest issue raised by Diablo III‘s players was the perceived lack of progress for level 60 characters.

The Paragon mode introduced by patch 1.0.4 is intended to provide players with level 60 characters with incentive to play, by giving them the opportunity to further develop their characters. The patch added a total of 100 Paragon levels on top of the 60 normally available to the player, and every ten levels the character’s portrait will earn an increasingly impressive decorative frame. It goes without saying that each level will also reward the player with typical bonuses to Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence and Vitality, as well as 3% increases to Magic Find and Gold Find.

The latter two bonuses double as the first steps in Blizzard‘s transition away from gear-based Magic Find bonuses. This issue has been identified by the development team as interfering with the core purpose of playing Diablo (kill stuff to find better stuff), and introducing the Paragon mode serves as the first step in eliminating Magic Find bonuses from items: by allowing players to gradually reach the cap of Magic Find and Gold Find statistics, those that gear-swap in the middle of the fight for better loot drops will not be instantly penalized, while those that do not will eventually be on equal footing with those that do.

The estimated time to gain the first Paragon level is about equal to the time needed to reach level 60 from 59, while the total time investment required to gain all 100 Paragon levels is expected to be roughly equal to the amount of time needed to reach level 99 in Diablo II.

These changes come on top of various other larger and smaller tweaks. The most important of them is an overhaul of the legendary items system, which now now have a chance to activate unique abilities, such as summoning creatures or igniting the ground beneath your feet (character’s, not the player’s), unique visual appearance and benefit from impressive power boosts. Further tweaks concern Nephalem Valor, which grants a 15% bonus to Experience, Magic Find and Gold Find per stack, beyond the 300% cap for the latter, calculation of item drops in cooperative games (Diablo III will no longer average the Magic Find statistic between players), monster experience and loot rewards (the rule of thumb now is “the harder the kill, the better the reward”) and bridging the gap between normal monsters and Rare/Champion mobs.  Of course, there also the assorted tweaks to player characters and standard bugfixes. The full 7000 word changelog can be found here.

Happy slaying, Heroes!