Diablo® III

Life leech: The million dollar question.

86 Tauren Warrior
3775
I read an article recently that really struck a chord in my brain:

http://hothardware.com/Reviews/Seeking-Sanctuary-The-Definitive-Diablo-III-Preview/?page=3

Life leech. Always a controversial topic in Diablo 2. I recall it with equal parts fondness and disgust; at its best, it was a tremendous feeling to blast through a dense pack of baddies with nigh invulnerability, sucking life back so quickly that even massive amounts of incoming damage were trivialized. At its worst, it was a game-killer, as you found yourself stuck against a group you couldn't leech from for whatever reason but who didn't stop sending massive damage your way.

This recollection was really only relevant in the end game. Not that it wasn't valuable in the beginning of the game, but the fact of the matter was that for most characters its role didn't have much significance at all because the gear just wasn't there to support it. Even if you could find leech gear, it usually was in amounts scarce enough to be negligible.

And that's the nature of percentage-based life leech. It's impossible to balance. In virtually every game out there that involves equipment-based character progression, damage *always* increases significantly faster than survivability. Not typically a problem in a PvE scenario, because monsters can always be adjusted to fit. But... that changes when you've established a system of linearly converting damage into life. Suddenly, that exponentially increasing damage output translates into exponentially increasing survivability. Naturally, since the game designer wants to provide a challenge, they're forced to up the incoming damage to compensate. End result: Incoming damage so huge and spikey that you're screwed the moment you stop dishing out damage for whatever reason (examples from Diablo 2: unleechable skeletons, Iron Maiden, ranged attackers that you can't reach in time).

For all intents and purposes, it seems like Blizzard is intent on not only retaining life leech mechanics in Diablo 3, but extending it to all damage for all classes. In my estimation, this is a huge mistake.

I really like the way things are shaping up in the beta right now. The limitations on health potions mean that you've got to manage your health carefully and intelligently, avoiding getting surrounded by too many damage-healers, potentially having to evade attack for awhile to re-stock on life. It adds an almost cerebral quality to a game that's already fantastically action-oriented. Strong tactical elements in a game with great control precision and twitch-based gameplay? Magic!

We should all be legitimately concerned that this system is going to degenerate into another life-leech-centric scheme, where one-shot kills are the only way Blizzard has to deal with the fact that you can heal practically instantly the moment you start doing damage.

That said, I am *not* opposed to the idea of mods that add a fixed amount of life when you hit an enemy. I think that's fairly manageable. If you know how much life a character has at any given level, then you can pretty easily figure out what a reasonable amount of fixed life-regeneration frequency to balance around. This, I think, is a very different beast than percentage-based life leech, which ties your healing to your damage in a way that's frankly just impossible to balance.

I have to assume that Blizzard is figuring this out as they playtest the final stages of the game in the lead-up to release.

What are your thoughts on this problem?
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86 Tauren Warrior
3775
I'm not quite sure I see the correlation. In the absence of gear type restrictions on various classes, they didn't have really great options for making melee classes "tougher" than ranged, which obviously they should be given that they're right there in the fray. That's a problem that affects all levels of gameplay.

We saw, on the other hand, that in Diablo 2 life leech was only really relevant in the end game. And the way the mechanic works (i.e. exponentially increasing damage, further coupled with an always-increasing percentage of life leech), that situation is unavoidable.
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04/04/2012 05:24 PMPosted by Kromp
We should all be legitimately concerned that this system is going to degenerate into another life-leech-centric scheme, where one-shot kills are the only way Blizzard has to deal with the fact that you can heal practically instantly the moment you start doing damage.


I'm not going to be overly concerned until it proves otherwise. I feel Blizzard has made it pretty clear they don't view D2's health-globe pinging back and forth from full to near-empty was much fun.

I'm guessing life-leech will play a strong role for only specific class builds (e.g. Witch Doctor w/ Blood Ritual passive, etc.), as each class seems to have several options for boosting mitigation and recovery. If you take life-leech, then you're giving ground on other item effect options.
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86 Tauren Warrior
3775
I'm not going to be overly concerned until it proves otherwise. I feel Blizzard has made it pretty clear they don't view D2's health-globe pinging back and forth from full to near-empty was much fun.

I'm guessing life-leech will play a strong role for only specific class builds (e.g. Witch Doctor w/ Blood Ritual passive, etc.), as each class seems to have several options for boosting mitigation and recovery. If you take life-leech, then you're giving ground on other item effect options.


The health globes weren't the best system, but they work well along with other options for life-regeneration.

I don't see a lot of evidence for your second point. When items have as many as six affixes on them, one of those affixes being life leech instead of some other minor stat isn't really all that significant of a difference.

The case against life leech has two very significant pieces of evidence supporting it: (1) Mathematics, and (2) Diablo 2.
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I'm a bit worried about Life leech as well. It was clearly broken in D2.

No matter how good gear you get at lvl 60 Health orbs, and to a lesser degree some HP regen/heal skills, should be your primary way of getting health back. To make sure you will have the feeling that you are fighting toward that next Health orb drop to potentially save your life in the higher difficulties.
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It needs to be either a % of your health rather than of your damage done, or your health needs to be drastically larger than the amount of damage you pump out.

The last thing we want is something like life tap all over again... "Oh I made contact! Instant full health!"
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Yeah I was kind of disappointed at first. I remember they initially said that leech was just a bad mechanic and I agreed with them. Now it seems to be back in the game, but maybe they've found a more balanced way to implement it - I won't judge till I've played it.

Leech in D2 was awful though. Mainly cause poking one monster would restore your entire health globe, with just a Cathan's ring.
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Leech in D2 was awsome though. Mainly cause poking one monster would restore your entire health globe, with just a Cathan's ring.


fixed!

Ok seriously though,

1. You could originally offset lifeleech vs. iron maiden pre 1.1, but you still had to be careful.

2. Life leech on a melee character was never over powered compared to:

A. Hammerdin

B. Pretty much any good sorc build. Ranged characters get a pretty big advantage just by the nature of ranged damage. Melee has to get some treats to make running into the midst of a huge pack of crap worth while.

I'm not saying Life Leech wasn't a reallllly strong mod, but there were tons of things in D2 that made LL look second class.

Let us also not forget the removal of potions. If melee gets no life leech and no potions then frankly why even bother, might as well just play ranged and own everything.

Anyone who thinks LL is the biggest possible broken thing in the game just doesn't have proper respect for the power of ranged classes with good evasion/avoidance options.
Edited by Peacefuldude on 4/4/2012 11:19 PM PDT
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90 Human Paladin
10095
Peacefuldude: Just because one thing was broken does not validate another also being broken. Broken is broken and not wanted in game. The point in this thread is that % based ll is broken , not that there should be no life recovering mechanics based on attacks.

The problem with Diablo 2 is that in later difficulties the amount of damage a character could deliver was vastly inflated compared to their life totals, leading to a single hit recovering all lost HP and to a necessity of binary life (1 hit kills) to enforce difficulty. % ll could be balanced if damage delt remained proportional to the heroes' maximum HP and incoming damage.
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Alternatives to life leech:

1) HP per hit. This is harder to balance because it favors dual wielding and fast attacks.

2) HP per kill. This doesn't make sense in co-op. Do you get hp if you get the killing blow only? Do you gain hp for any monster killed in the area? This stat will make you want to solo, because you get all killing blows and monsters die faster - more hp per second.

Life leech adds life based on how much damage you did to the monster. It's more fair than either 1 or 2. It's also more interesting than health regen because it favors actively fighting over waiting between fights for your health to creep back up.

That all said, I found life leech to be generally broken in D2. In D3, they are broadening the mechanic to allow spells to leech as well, which should make things a bit more even between spellcasters and melee. However, the power of the affix needs to be very limited. It needs to provide a trickle of health (relative to total health), not giant chunks. In D2, I could go from empty to full multiple times during a single whirlwind with my barbarian. This feels wrong. The giant chunks should come from skills used in an emergency. If you are able to siphon HP at a large rate, like in D2, the only danger will be provided by 1 hit KO monsters.

I think there should be a cap on life leech. I have seen it on weapons and belts so far, up to 1.2%. I feel that D1 had a relatively good cap on life leech. At most you could get around 5%. I hope a cap exists for D3, or there are diminishing returns. Or your damage is low enough compared to your life pool that you cannot heal to full by hitting monsters 4 or 5 times.
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Life leech in D2 was crazy because damage in D2 was crazy.

The implication in D3 so far is that players will have more health (in the 10's of thousands at level 60) and enemies will have less health (judging from the high-end damage of weapons at level 60 being in the hundreds) - meaning players will be leeching less life and that life will fill up less of their health globes.
Edited by Steve on 4/5/2012 7:33 AM PDT
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i remember when the necro had the iron maiden/ blood golem glitch, ENDLESS HEALTH!
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LL allows those who want to play more aggressively to have a survival mechanic in their build.

They sacrifice utility and defense for a pure offense. The only way to survive this pure offensive build is to sacrifice your gear for life leech gear. Otherwise your a glass cannon.

I like how LL works. It gives players more freedom to expand their builds and try things they normally would not.
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life leech was op in d2 because of numbers not because life leech is essentially op.
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86 Tauren Warrior
3775
I think it's a good observation that life leech would work kinda sorta well if damage output and health were proportional, HOWEVER... That is much easier said than done, and also is only really the case if the percentage is fixed, I.e. all classes get 10% life leech across the board, regardless of equipment. In actuality, it's more likely that somebody who just barely completed Hell will have 8% leech, while somebody who's been clearing Inferno will have 30%. And be doing double the damage or more. Just arbitrary numbers of course, based more on Diablo 2 than anything.

Here's kind of a basic equation describing the factors that play into damage:

Damage = weapon * (strength|dex|int) * critical * IAS * (other???)

"other" could be many things, like modifiers on skills. But hopefully we can agree that there are many more stats in Diablo 3 that affect damage output than survivability.

Life, on the other hand, is as follows:

Life = (base + vit) * (increased life)

I would say that no matter how they lay out the stats, damage is *always* going to end up scaling faster than damage. Which is fine, as long as they're not directly linked. You can always scale monster life and damage output appropriately.
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