Thursday, 6 February 2014

Diablo 3 ROS updates - Blizzard continues to disappoint

So there's been a couple of big posts on the forums, written by well known members of the community.  These posts revolve around the latest decisions of the development team and their attempts to fix issues that they did not foresee.  This came about when the developers pigeon holed themselves by doubling down on a critical design flaw of core game.  The whole concept of "damage = Main stat x weapon damage" is finally being seen as a poor design choice, and Blizzard had the perfect opportunity to address this issue with an expansion, but instead, they choose to cover it up with other "improvements".  It is good to see that there are more people out there that realize this and have stepped up to speak out about it to spread the word.

For those curious, here are some links.

Nubtro's post:

Drothvader's post:

Has itemization been fixed?

Kind of, in a sense that if you thought itemization was the only issue, then that has somewhat been resolved.  However, as I've mentioned a few times in other blogs and other posts around the web, the itemization issue is a result of a deeper problem.  Items were boring, yes, and they have tried to fix that, and to some extent from what I have seen/read/heard, there are more interesting items.  However, the problem has come back though, that now the "end game" is about using the right combination of legendary items to get the right combination of special affixes.  This problem is caused by the fact that you can still get a stupid amount of main stat on an already powerful item, so then there technically is no choice in using the item over another, since it has everything you want.

This is completely stupid.  There is no meaningful choice to choose a rare item over a legendary, you do not sacrifice anything at all for going for a powerful affix.  Where in other aRPG games, you would need to sacrifice something to gain something, so players can make the decision for themselves if it is "worth" it.  Take a look at Path of Exile, the unique items do enable builds, but since they almost always come with some downside, a player has to change the other items in their kit to make up for the lack of stats in that one slot.

Another flaw with Diablo 3 is how the stats are rolled, and the amount of possible stats is tied to the items level.  This, combined with how important it is to maximize the amount of main stat you have in total, makes lower level items completely useless.  The developers know this, and instead of fixing the actual problem, they just use a band-aid solution by allowing some legendary items to spawn at all item levels.  So, although a certain legendary can be powerful, you will always want the high level one, which in some cases may take you quite a long time to even encounter.  Especially with the practical removal of trading in general, this removes a key feature of most aRPGs.  I think they could have at least allowed players to trade within their clan/guild without any restrictions.  This allows friends to help each other out, especially those who do not have the time to invest in the grind.  But now, by effectively removing trading from the game, you further remove the larger community feel of the game.  To me, there's no point in showing off gear anymore, and to me, this somewhat diminishes any sense of value of the loot you find.  Plus, if I find an upgrade for myself, I can't trade or even give the old item which might still be useful to someone else.

What about the gameplay?

I think that adding the adventure mode is a good thing, same with rifts.  However, I feel that it is not enough.  I will concede that it is hard to make a game that caters to both casuals and the hardcore no-lifers.  What I would have liked to see is more environments, and longer levels.  I would have also liked to see more of what Path of Exile has; races and ladders.  There were talks about ladders at first, but now there has nothing since the early talks about it.

Having a fresh economy for everyone to play on would definitely hide a lot of the core issues, such as the issue of legacy items being too powerful even in the expansion.  So instead of removing the ability to re-roll the old items to help smooth the transition of players into the expansion, by having a fresh economy, everyone has to start over with nothing anyways, so there is nothing to re-roll.  Then you just need to make some sort of incentive for players to take part of the ladder, and just keep existing gear on a "standard" server where anything goes.

Also, by having the infrastructure to create new leagues/ladders, would open up the game to have unique races that can cater to the casual players.  This would give the community something they can get behind and take part in, and would strengthen the community.  This is one thing that Path of Exile does really well.  If you are bored of the regular PvE, you can take part in optional races to play the game in a slightly different way, or even allow the developers to try out new things, i.e. Descent races in Path of Exile.  I feel this would have been a perfect fit for Diablo, as it can expand and play out like the Starcraft Arcade feature.  Have player created content, and have let the community squeeze out some more life out of a game while you, the developer, work towards something bigger.

So given some of the attempts at fixing things, and how close we are to the release of the expansion, I think this will be yet another disappointment to fans.  For me, I will keep waiting, and maybe I will have to wait for Diablo 4.

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