Friday, 27 September 2013

Thoughts on Changes/Adds to Diablo III - Reaper of Souls

Class Changes:

Item Affixes:

At first I thought I would go in depth, line-by-line of the posted info.  But considering that this is just internal testing and a lot, if not all of the information shown here will change as time goes on.  I figured I would just keep this post relatively short and simple.

The Diablo team at Blizzard seems to be going in the right direction, although I personally feel that this is not a complete fix of the real issue with the game.  But of course, to fix what I feel the real issue of Diablo 3 may require a complete rebuild of the game engine, and I guess they might not want to go down that road.

So what is the real issue? 

In my opinion, the game's flaws with itemization stems to how the character's damage output of skills is directly tied with a simple calculation of Main stat x Weapon DPS.  This means that no matter what you want to do, you are still limited in your design.  You can make unique items do special things and make certain skills more effective, but you will still eventually run into the same wall.  I think they knew this, and I feel that this is also the reason they decided to close down the controversial auction house.

The game as it stands today is in a relatively poor state because of the auction house, but at the same time, the auction house is not the core problem.  All it did was speed up the real problem.  Poor itemization is a huge part of the problem, but itemization I feel is a result of a shallow skill system.

If you look at Path of Exile's skill system, you see that their system allows for far more flexibility in their itemization because some skills do not base their damage off the weapon, they just scale off themselves as the skills level to higher versions of themselves.  This means that certain builds actually have different items that are optimal for the builds alone, and there is no true one "Best In Slot" item that several builds go for.  Each build revolves around a certain combination of items.  A unique item maybe required by some builds to be optimal, but a lot of builds are still effective with just rare items with the right stats.  This system gives the developer quite a bit more freedom when it comes to fixing things specifically, and not just having to play around with numbers.

Both still though have the same inherent problem, and that is how the players are rewarded.  Players have to play the game, and hope for the item to drop.  This means that for a long time, players are fixated on their own optimization, so they will always favor the "best" builds, and the most "efficient" builds.  The game eventually gets to a point where it becomes very hard to promote other "fun" builds because it is not "efficient" to play in that manner.  So I hope that the new itemization not only opens up more diverse builds, but these builds are at least comparable to the "top" builds.  For example, I would be ok with being 80% as effective as the "best" build, if it meant a more unique and enjoyable play style that I like more.

So what am I going to do when the expansion comes out?

A group of us will be playing "group" found.  It will be self found, but we will still trade within our group so that we don't need to step out and actually trade with people.  I feel this will prolong my enjoyment of the game, and with any luck (and the change in item drop rates in loot 2.0), that the road to reaching "end game" is still reasonable, without being totally out of reach.

I am definitely looking forward to ladders, as I feel that will keep a lot of players coming back to enjoy the game and to encourage people to try different things.  I've come to a realization that consistent resets of the game economy does help with the enjoyment of the game.  Most players do not like to play a game and realize they are far behind everyone else, and by having a ladder system that resets the economy will definitely have chances to test themselves on a regular basis.

I also hope that they add in unique items or unique challenges that change with each ladder to at least keep things fresh for those who plan on taking part in every ladder.  Perhaps not even an item, but maybe unique trials that only happen in a ladder season before it transfers back to the main server.

So, I am looking forward to Blizzcon and hope we get more information about the expansion, and maybe even another new character?

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