Path of Exile isn't the only action RPG coming out with an expansion in March. Diablo III has a big expansion due out March 25th. It's going to work like a pretty standard Blizzard expansion. All the things are getting increased (a 6th class, a 5th act, and 10 more levels on the level cap) and pretty much all of the game systems are being reworked. They can't well mix the old systems and the new ones so they just patch everything into the new systems. That patch came out last week so a lot of the new changes can be tried out now. Some pretty major things have changed...
First off, the auction house is dead. They've decided people want to find their own loot, not buy their own loot. Personally I want to be able to progress with my own loot and that wasn't possible in the original game. That made me very sad. So I like this change. One might think this would just funnel all the loot sales into disreputable external websites to they've also made all the unique items bind on account and you can't trade gold anymore. So if you want a specific build defining item you'd better kill a lot of monsters!
Loot has also changed substantially. The days of enemies exploding in a shower of loot you need to sift through are gone. Now it's pretty rare that an enemy will drop anything at all, even white items! White items are actually in high demand because you can disenchant them into valuable crafting materials. They've narrowed the ranges for item stats so you can't get a truly terrible item anymore. If a max level item has int on it then it will have a pretty reasonable amount of int. Loot can be 'smart' which means it will spawn with stats your class wants and skip ones it doesn't want. So a wizard won't get drowned in items that buff witch doctor skills or have strength. You're still going to need to kill lots of monsters to find the specific stat mixes you care about, but it should be a lot more likely to find something you can use.
Paragon levels have changed. They used to give a flat amount of stats and magic find. Now they've added in a system of paragon powers similar to the end game leveling systems from games like Final Fantasy XI or Everquest. So my wizard gets to put 6 points into either int, vit, movement speed, or maximum arcane power. Then 6 more points into either attack speed, cooldown reduction, crit chance, or crit multiplier. Then 6 more between life, armour, resist all, or life regen. And then finally 6 more between splash damage, resource cost reduction, life on hit, or gold find. So we get lots of different options for how to spend extra levels. Oh, and all characters on your account share the same paragon levels. So my level 1 alt also got to spend 24 points getting more powerful! Unfortunately this does mean that the best way to power up any character is to play your best character... Well, unless you want loot to drop for the other character since the smart loot system will prevent it for dropping on your alt!
Difficulty levels have been drastically changed. There is no more normal/nightmare/hell/inferno anymore. Instead all the enemies scale based on your character level and you can use a slider to make them even harder for more rewards. I didn't mind playing the same stuff through 4 times but some people did and this change will be good for them I guess. I'll end up playing everything through multiple times anyway to grind paragon levels anyway! Leveling is also a lot quicker, especially with a friend. I started a new character on maximum monster difficulty and the enemies had 41k health and I would attack for 17! On the plus side I had a ring that would summon a fireball that hit for 2k so I could eventually kill them. But then Tom pointed out his max level character could do 41k damage and joined me... I hit level 58 in a couple hours!
Perhaps the biggest change, and certainly the most needed one, is the addition of guilds and chat channels. There were plenty of reasons why I got tired of playing Diablo III but the lack of a guild to easily rant with people was the biggest one. And they finally fixed it! I created a guild that's up to two whole members! If people are going to play Diablo III again they should join the guild too. I can't find a way to send an offline invite, but if you message me on any sort of system (Facebook, Gmail, Skype, ICQ...) and I'm awake I'll log in and hook you up. We can maybe run the infernal machine ring quests for a 35% xp ring!