I’ve been playing Diablo 3 since launch and would describe my recent game sessions as sporadic. I classify myself as an experienced casual Diablo player; with the emphasis on the casual. By no means do I consider myself an expert on all things Diablo and I’m dating myself, but yes I’ve played the original Diablo when it first came out way back in 1996 and loved the game. Diablo 2 and its expansion Lord of Destruction was a grand follow up to the original and kudos to Blizzard for supporting the game after all these years. I still play Diablo 2 and despite its dated graphics; it is still one of my favorite games.
My goal with this post is to give a constructive critique of Diablo 3 in its current iteration. After a year of play and reading the forums, I thought I would give my two cents worth. I’ll try to be clear and concise in my critique; however please forgive any long winded tangents. I’ll also do my best to back up my statements with constructive reasoning, examples, and thoughtful rational. With that being stated, you won’t read anything with numbers in reference to gear, stat points, and formula related paragon or monster power percentages. I’ve seen other posters do an excellent job in describing these aspects of the game and definitely could spin circles around me. At best, this post is going to be very general in nature; however with specific ideas on where I would like to see the game to mature.
First, I really enjoy playing Diablo 3 and I truly think it is a good game. Yes, I do think the game could improve in areas of itemization, player input, and creative diversity. In its most recent iteration (patch 1.08) I like the direction the developers are going with the game. I do understand it does take time to implement new concepts into the game. I appreciate the developers listening to player feedback and I truly think they do try to make a conscious effort with the feedback that is given. I believe the foundation has been laid for an amazing game experience within the world of Sanctuary. It is my opinion the developers created a robust game engine with the potential of adding, enhancing, and improving upon the existing game mechanics. I think the game engine itself is an amazing achievement for the Diablo team. My understanding it was created from the ground up. From a laments point of view, I am amazed at the physics, special effects, rendering of animation detail of the classes and monsters, and the technical coding the game engine uses to make it all come together. The hard work and devotion that went in to creating the game engine is appreciated by this player. This is why I think Diablo 3 has the potential to be not a good game, but an amazing game! The foundation is there and I think the Diablo team realizes this.
Now for the specifics on where the game can improve. Upon reading the recent posts from the blues, I think the right direction is being taken. Like other players I want these changes now, but rational thought sets in and I do understand improvements and testing those improvements takes time. So far with Nephalem Valor, Paragon levels, MP, brawling, the legendary item enhancements, Key Wardens, multiplayers co-opt, and the Infernal Machine are welcomed additions. I believe the design team is trying to keep Diablo 3 fresh and continue to enhance its replay value. I am encouraged by the most recent post by new game director Josh Mosqueira (6/5/2013) and game designer Travis Day on future itemization (March 5,2013). So with that being stated, I’m going to focus on itemization and what I think could improve on the enhancements thus far.
Based on the post of Mr. Day, I agree with the forethought of “Less is More”, “Rarity=Power”, and increased stat changes on weapons and gear being rolled based on the level of the monster that drop said item. Right now, if you kill an elite pack, a boss monster or open a replenishment chest, you get this plethora of mostly rare items (basing this on a class at level 60 Inferno with stack NV 5, at whatever paragon level). Currently, this eruption of loot is not a “viable commodity” and the game is just shooting blanks. However; I am encouraged of the possible changes that we may see in a future patch. My suggestions:
With rare, set, and legendary weapons and gear, please continue to add these “special abilities” to those items. In patch 1.05 we saw this implemented to some extent with special effects or affixes added to the weapon or gear. Diablo team please continue with this, but go with the “over the top” special affixes or abilities. Examples: Barbarian’s melee legendary weapon is given some ranged ability that the player can control. For instance: bind the letter “E” from the keyboard to let the player shoot off some kind of energy based or projectile type effect at the attended target. You could have a cool down, so that it makes using that ability of the weapon more special. Or this legendary weapon has a “charge up” over time and when at full peak, the player hits whatever bound key to fire off that special ability of the weapon at attended target. Barbarian animation could show flipping the legendary weapon on its end and the special effect projectile shooting out upon hitting the bound key. Same idea could apply to the range classes. Wizard: A legendary armor piece has the ability to “charge up” and at peak the player again hits bound key to set off “armor rotating glaives” to shred close proximity monsters. My point is, give the player some more “option” input into the game. It would give your player base more of a sense of control of its class; instead of left click, right click, hit numbers 1-4, and the letter “Q”. We can handle it, your Diablo player base are excellent at multitasking. This idea came from watching “Evil Dead” movies (Bruce Campbell), so it germinated from the zaniness of those films. I do like Mr. Day’s philosophies of the potential of where itemization is heading though.
This has probably been mentioned in the forums before by posters or by the blues, but I want to discuss itemization and forging. To the point: give the player more “selective control” when it comes to forging a weapon or armor piece. Example: You have a legendary weapon tome that the blacksmith has just learned. Give the player a limited selection criteria (like how it’s set up in the AH) of the desired stats, abilities, or skill enhancement specific to that class (socket, MF, reduced cool downs, etc. maybe limit it to three). The newly forged legendary item will come with the desired criteria selection, but it will still be randomized in the stats or percentages of those selections. As mentioned, maybe limit it to three, but it makes the player have a choice. In my opinion, it gives the player a hard choice, depending on how the selection is set up. Actually I would have the blacksmith limit this “forging ability” to only legendary and set items. Again example: (I’m trying to be clear) upon forging legendary item, the player selected criteria MF, the item forges with MF, but rolls at whatever randomized percentage. Again it gives the player a sense of some input to customization to his weapons and gear and makes that legendary/set item more personable.
I’m going to conclude with what I call creative diversity. (Whew! I know this post is more long winded than concise.)
Diablo Devs/Blues: Please give the game random generated maps! With more random events, side quests, special hidden areas, and even puzzles oriented tasks! Yes I’m pulling the map randomization card, only because Diablo was the original in ARPG to have this. Bring it back, please! Example: Another OP came up with a very original intelligent narrative describing the player making a visit to the treasure goblin lair and having an encounter with the Lord Greed. (Apologies for not remembering the OP name)
Give your player base some kind of assigned point system. We miss it; we also want this back too! Now for the backup explanation: I believe you can keep the game in its current state with MP and paragon leveling to include a player input point system. First you raise the base level cap to 100(which I would imagine you would with the upcoming expansion) and add whatever new abilities to the classes. The base level will become active once the player has reached paragon 100. You can still do the auto stat points with strength, vitality, dexterity, and mana as the class levels up in the paragon level. This gives the player a sense of goal and reward system once paragon 100 is reached. Then the base core leveling system kicks in and onto level 61 and beyond! As the player levels, new abilities and runes are unlocked, just like how the game original does. A new ability or rune could be unlocked every five or ten levels until the player hits base level 100. All while the core stat points are still auto assigned.
During this course of base leveling after 60, guess what Diablo Devs…you give your fan base the point system. But you’re wondering to what? Guess what Devs, you already have it in place and actually in my opinion there are a couple of options to put points towards. Option one: put the point system to the rune system (rune points?) and have it synergies base. Details: Five point spread (a la core Diablo) of the player’s choosing to whatever active rune. Player assigns points to a rune are permanent; but are tiered to a factor of two. Meaning: each rune has the potential of having ten points assigned, but once the tenth point is spent for that rune, the second tier is reached. Example: Monks wave of light skill: assign points to any of the five runes or active rune that becomes available upon core leveling. Say the player assigns a point to the explosive light rune; once the assigned point is set to that rune, it gives more damage or area effect of that rune. It would be synergies based to the core skill and upon leveling the player could assign more points to it until it reaches the final second tier. Option two: The same method could be applied to just the active skills. The active skills become synergies based on a two tier system. Again the player can assign any of the points over a five point spread. Option three: passive skills point system, but limited to three points and not synergies based. This option is more limited, but could make passive skills more potent and diverse.
A fourth option: include a point system for your follower and have that synergies and tier based as well.
Include active and passive scroll abilities that are available to all classes. Again make this option available upon reaching paragon 100. They would be randomly dropped from elite or boss monsters. I would limit it to four slots and they can be under the passive skills, Followers could use them as well. Followers would be limited to a two scroll slot.
I’m on the fence about the AH, I see its merits and I see its drawbacks, but again the development team did create AH as totally optional. I’ve used the gold AH, but would never spend real money on something. I understand what the Devs were trying to negate the third party involvement. I’m not sure how the impact would be on the community if they totally scrape the AH entirely, time will tell what the Devs decide. Anyway in closing, I think the Diablo team is on the right track and I am excited to see what becomes of the expansion. Thanks for reading. Please comment if you agree or disagree with my assessment of the game and its future. I request to keep it constructive and professional; because in the end it’s just game we play. I look forward to Diablo’s future; maybe the story leads our hero to angelic empowerment or demon’s dissension?