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Hi all, I just wanted to present some of my personal thoughts and opinions on the state of Wizard play in Solo vs Multiplayer. To start off, I'd like to give a little bit of background about myself, I played Diablo 2 and LoD extensively back when it was still fresh (I wrote a PVP Handbook that's still Stickied on the D2 LOD GFAQS board because apparently no one removes stickies on GFAQS anymore xd) and I picked Wizard this time around because I liked the premise of having a ranged damage caster that's built around balancing damage vs utility with the limited skill slots and high amount of support talents/actives.
I played Diablo 3 primarily in solo-play to sort of see how fast I could finish the game and then start Magic Find running to supply my friends with loot as they progress at the pace they're more familiar with. I completed Hell and reached level 60 in a little over 27 hours played time without using any specific gimmick builds (though I did use Force Armor to protect myself from being one shot against various mobs and to increase forgiveness in Solo Play) and it became very apparent in late Hell and Inferno that the majority of challenges (and loot rewards) in this game come from Champion/Elite/Rare mobs, rather than bosses (until 5x Valor anyways).
I don't really mind the recent wave of hotfixes that have reduced the efficacy of Force Armor and Critical Mass, because I can understand the rationale based on design principle why any builds that trivialize character progression and content could be suspect to change, I do however, have a major objection to removing two relatively "safe" builds that allow Wizards to play in small and/or restricted area locations without compensation to the class in any other areas.
I'm not opposed to Wizard being oriented around superior kiting skills and dealing damage from a distance rather than up close, but with the design of being the squishiest class with more and more of our defensive utility being reduced you feel almost punished every time you enter a new dungeon level and there's a challenging elite pack right by the entrance where you have almost no room to maneuver or kite.
In these types of scenarios, it feels like the Wizard has very few options relative to other classes to continue beyond that point without resorting to death runs to pull the mobs away until you can safely clear enough room to kite them down.
I don't really know if this is unbalanced or a particularly important issue, but it feels increasingly less enjoyable to play my Wizard in Inferno when I know already on top of challenging mob combinations (which every class has to deal with) I am now often at the mercy of mob spawn locations because my ability to execute my class' strengths is greatly diminished in confined areas.
Comparatively, most skirmisher builds for barb, DH and Monk don't lose their potency just because they translate to an open area battlefield, and many WD builds have more control and distraction than most Wizard skills.
I'm uncertain whether or not this warrants a change to the class itself, as I find that playing in groups alleviates this problem (tbqh, it feels the game is tuned much more loosely in multiplayer) as the increased forgiveness and the dispersion of focus allows Wizards much more freedom.
I wouldn't mind seeing a change to follower AI and functionality in solo play to alleviate some of the weaknesses for every class though.
Please feel free to discuss, I'm not sure if my opinion is being formed too hastily as I am still only in A2 of Inferno (slowed down to help friends through Hell), would love to get some further insight.
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