I’ve written a fair bit about Diablo 3 in the past. The two main points were as follows:
- Building an single Auction House for 3 million people in an RNG system means playing the actual game has little value. Only playing the AH actually accrued any value. Plus the whole “real money” aspect was flawed. (Disclaimer – I made enough from the RMAH to buy D3 and a few expansions, so the game was more or less “free” to me)
- Extreme randomness does not align with a a design that focuses on 2-3 optimal stats. A 75%+ perfect roll was needed to even compete at top tier, with a less than 0.01% chance of getting it. Extreme randomness rarely works at all but for it to have a chance, you need rather exceptional balance to make as much viable as possible. (e.g Intellect for a Monk is never viable)
So Jay Wilson left (was let go?), they dumped the idea of an Auction House, launched a console version with lessons learned and then released an expansion Reaper of Souls that took that and went a bit further. Doone got me thinking about it with a recent post on the launch of seasons and I decided to give it a go after nearly a year away.
Loot 2.0 for starters. This is a massive design change, where the odds of drops are tipped in your class’ favor. Monks get monk favored drops (Dex, Crit, uniques, etc…) with a few non-Monk items. The stats on the drops have reasonable ranges (300-400 instead of 100-700). The balance against the stats makes sense as well, where mid-difficulty content can be completed pretty soon after you hit level 70 and the gap between the difficulties is solid. Oh, and there are legendaries all over the place, with unique abilities, and they are much better than other items. The game still has random spots but it is so much less punishing than before, it’s barely recognizable.
Adventure mode. Once you finish Act V, any other character can port to any waypoint in any act at any time. There are still shitty spots in the game (bees in Act 2, goliaths in Act 4) and you can skip them completely! Combined with bounties, which are 5 mini quests per act that reward gold/xp and blood shards, you have a reason to go all over the place and see things but with options. Blood shards are used for gambling, which is a nice feature.
Customization. Transmog is there and that’s fine but the ability to re-roll stats on items is even better. Have an item that’s perfect except for one roll? Re-roll it for a better item! It’ll cost you a pretty penny but hey, good way to get some nice stuff.
Crafting overhaul. Crafting now is useful. Sets, uniques and what have you. It makes sense to make items now and actually use this system.
Balance. D3 at launch was notorious for cookie cutter builds, which are indicative of poor balance. When you’re given the choice of ~150 skills and 75% of the population ends up with the same selection – you have a problem. Today, each class has 4-5 viable builds for max level (Torment 6). That’s a hell of an achievement.
Paragon. This was before 2.0 but it’s now across all characters. You get points for each level past 70 (horizontal progress) to assign to specific fields. Allows you a level of customization you might not find on gear. Applies to level 1 characters too!
Seasons. Well, this is a 2.1 change. Seasons and ladders allow you to make a single character, apart from the Paragon pool and level them up. Slightly different rewards, titles, legendaries and what not. Once the season is over, you go back into the general pool. A wonder why this wasn’t in earlier as there’s competition.
Should I play this?
Most games get better with expansions/DLC. Few games can reverse massive suckage, or simply poor design. Marvel Heroes is one. FF14 is another. D3 is now on that list.
I have no idea who they hired to do the system redesign. Whoever it is deserves a medal though. The game is ultra smooth, has a clear progression path and rewards investment. It’s responsive, communicates a lot more in what you can do to get better (or compare) and has done significant re-balance. I’d almost go so far as to call this Diablo 4 since aside from the art, story and classes, this plays like a different game.