Diablo changes. Hokay.
For starters, the game is almost exclusively self-found now. (Edit: for clarification, I mean that you get all of your gear from finding it yourself, as opposed to trading or buying it) They have made it so that legendaries are now Bind on Account. Rares can still be traded, but they are usually inferior to legendaries. So how are you supposed to go about getting the best gear? Well, there have been a few major changes.
First off, drop rates have been massively increased for legendaries. You're finding less loot overall, but a higher proportion of legendaries and rares.
Secondly, the things that are dropping now are much better, objectively and for you specifically. Previously everything was much more random, now they have implemented a system they call "smart loot" that, when a drop is rolled, has a large chance to check your class and edit the drop to something that the character you are playing would use. In addition, affix ranges have been narrowed and in many cases buffed, and just stupid combinations eliminated (no more strength on wizard hats, for example.)
Before, you would log in, kill a lot of elite packs, ignore all blues, most rares, and pray for very specific legendaries to drop. Anything that wasn't a Mempo with crit chance was worthless, and you often wouldn't even pick it up. Now, you log in, kill everything in sight, pick up everything, and salvage what you don't use (even whites are useful in this regard). When a legendary drops, and you will find one roughly once every three hours or so, you ID it (rares are pre-ID'd now) which serves as a really cool drumroll effect. And when it's ID'd, more times than not you have this stupid grin on your face because it's really good.
The legendaries aren't good because they have high numbers. A lot of legendaries are just that - just abnormally high numbers. But a lot of the legendaries are good because they have some unique property about them that you make a build around. For example, last night a crossbow dropped for my Demon Hunter that causes him to leave a clone behind whenever he uses Vault (that tumble move). This has led to me making a build where I spam Vault, keeping as far away from enemies as possible, and mowing them down from range. Occasionally I'll vault into the middle of the pack, do a big Fan of Knives, and Vault back out. The legendaries are fun
, not just stat sticks.
And then there's the combat. Previously the combat felt very binary. You were alive and at full health until suddenly you caught a large burst, and then you were dead. There was no inbetween. Now, however, you can be sitting at half health, or low health, and play differently as you scramble for a health globe. You can be sitting at 3/4 health for a significant period of time. You don't just tank through the poison puddles, or move at the last second of the frost nova. You have to play intelligently, and are rewarded for doing so. A large part of fixing this involved removing lifesteal, which allowed the toxic "alive until suddenly dead" gameplay. Combine that with massively increased health pools, and combat is much much less spikey and much more fun. They have made SIGNIFICANT progress with the combat, and it all feels great.
Edit: Wyatt Cheng posted on reddit back in November
, and I feel this really emphasizes their philosophy with combat. Coming from Guild Wars, which suffered from similar problems in dungeons, I feel like they've made a lot of very intelligent decisions with the combat this time around. Edited, Feb 26th 2014 11:19pm by IDrownFish