Difficulty progression, power creep, and gated items.

General Discussion
Let's be honest, nobody really cares about difficulty anymore. And thanks to D3's very weird item progression, where you can find any item at any time and could potentially get an ancient weapon in your first 15 minutes of 70 and catapult the difficulty you can do from normal to torment in your first few hours, the devs should really take a look at the existing difficulties and the way they're meant to be progressed through.

Currently the difficulty | health/damage is:
Health Damage
Hard (Grift 1) 2 * Damage / 1.3 * Health
Expert (Grift 4) 3.2 * Damage / 1.88 * Health
Master (Grift 7) 5.13 * Damage / 2.73 * Health
Torment I (Grift 10) 8.21 * Damage / 3.96 * Health
Torment II (Grift 13) 13.16 * Damage / 5.75 * Health
Torment III (Grift 16) 21.07 * Damage / 8.34 * Health
Torment IV (Grift 19) 33.75 * Damage / 12.11 * Health
Torment V (Grift 22) 54.06 * Damage / 17.56 * Health
Torment VI (Grift 25) 86.59 * Damage / 25.48 * Health

Looking at that, we can see a two things. The first is pretty apparent: instead of a small number of difficulties with health/damage multiplers chosen specifically by the devs, they chose to have an infinite number of grifts, and because of that, use a formula to determine health and damage mutipliers.

The second is less obvious, and is that the devs, when designing the weapon damage values/health and damage scaling/skill multipliers of RoS had to deal with the fact that the values of highest level 60 were already pretty high (end game damage was considered 150k+ at the time), and they would either have to downscale all the already existing item/monster values or just be lazy and let the exponential difficulties generate numbers that end up being trillions (quadrillions probably eventually?) high. x00,000,000,000

So how do they fix this? And how can they make sure their fix stays a fix an not just a band-aid that falls of when the next surge of power creep appears? Power creep is something that bothers me a lot, because it makes Diablo seem (to me) solely about stat relativity and the obsoletion of older ways (funner sometimes) of playing the game. If you go on some of the places for discussion of future patches, you'll usually see something like, "The devs should buff the classes so they can all do grift 60 instead of 50!" Why? Doesn't that essentially make grift 60 50?

During the last tavern talk, the devs said explicitly that they don't balance around grifts. This is bull!@#$. They very, very obviously balance around grifts, and what I think they meant to say here is that they don't consider grifts to be the end-game difficulty, because T6 is the supposed end-game difficulty. So why don't they rebalance difficulties around what is already considered the end game? How would you feel if you were to log in, and while the grift difficulties were the same, T6 would now be equal to around Grift 45, T3 around 35, T1 around 25 (the equivalent of the current T6), with Master being 15 and Expert being 8, Hard being 4, and Normal 1. (Scale either blood shard and legendary rewards up for normal difficulties, or down for higher grifts.)

All of a sudden, Torment progression actually means something, grifts and the intense frustrations around them in the form of trials, 4 player cheese, pylon manipulation, etc. no longer become end game, but serious, non quick run T6 rifts do, thanks to the 100% buff.

And then, and this is the important part, the devs would have to maintain the average player power level. Instead of arbitrarily introducing new items or new types of items that players can immediately find and slap on and instantly become more powerful, they need to make sure that all the new items they introduce are relatively on par with existing items. If they don't, boom, difficulty is meaningless again.

Let's talk about power creep. Most of the patches since the launch of RoS have brought about power creep in some way or another, either through increase droprates, skills buffs, or legendary affixes. 2.04/2.05 was skill buffs across the board, especially to the croosader, and made it easier to farm RoRG. 2.1 Brought around legendary gems, which were a huge increase to damage. As a result, we've gone from having T6 being restricted to the best of the best gear, which you had to spend hundreds of hours farming, to a faceroll difficulty and level 70 can accomplish in less than 5 hours if they know what they're doing. Legendary drops rates have been doubled, then doubled again within rifts, and set drop rates have been increased as well. Kadala got a 33% buff, and we got access to 200+ shards per 3 minute run vs the >90 per longish rift when RoS launched.

I don't think is a bad thing. I took me over a hundred hours before I found my first set piece on my sader at launch. It was a Tal Rasha's (tx smart loot). But since the amount of time and effort it takes to find end game gear has gone down drastically, shouldn't the end game difficulty also be changed?

Finally, let's talk about gated items. Currently, the only gated items are set items, which start dropping in T1. I don't think the devs explicitly stated why they restricted them, but let's assume it was for the obvious reason: they wanted to reward players for playing higher difficulty, and they wanted to the give the items more status. If we follow that reasoning, shouldn't ancient items be difficulty restricted to? Shouldn't players feel that by farming the hardest difficulties, they're gaining access to the chance of the best items?

Similarly, why is it that legendary gems are all available to you immediately? Why isn't there at least some kind of unlock mechanic, like you have to beat certain grift levels to get specific gems? The current method of ancient gem collection is both boring and in the case where you get dupes you don't need, irritating. What if you got a gem per uber you killed, and gems cost 10+ souls to unsocket? What if you got gems from Tyrael after total act bounty completion? Why the heck can I, at level 70, immediately get every single legendary gem with a single rift fragment? Bane of the Powerful, along with a few others, are gems that give you substantial buffs even at level 0.

Anway tl;dr: take a look at difficulty progression, it's nonexistence, and how it's almost directly relative to immediatly-on-70 power creep through the form of non gated items, and how this combines with the formulaic health/damage increase to create empty lower difficulties and exorbitantly large numbers.

If you read all this, please also think about this: why the %^-* in single player games do we have thirty second respawn timers during which absolutely nothing happens but frustration and thumb twiddling instead instead of simply deducting the appropriate amount of time from the remaining time pool? Does anyone else wonder this every single player grift death?

Also I apologize for any spelling errors/ideas that make absolutely no sense, I was really baked while writing this. Also bare in mind that I wrote all of the above with the idea that the devs would eventually remove perma CC and make the hardest difficulties something other than a dps check.

Thoughts?
I highly agree to this well-written summary. +1
I want to add that it really frustrates me, that every new layer of power creep (500% dmg increase for X here, 293% for Y there...) puts certain items and skills to complete obsoletion.
Lets take a look at
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/class/barbarian/active/overpower
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/class/barbarian/active/revenge
Those 2 skills are flavor-wise very interesting. However, their damage (better: the nonexistence of any item which buffs their damage) does not justify to put them on your bar.

Looking at
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/death-watch-mantle
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/sash-of-knives
even though i know their damage will be buffed in 2.2, i can already tell they will be useless compared to the multi-thousand% damage skills buffed by power creeping sets.

Looking at
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/thunderfury-blessed-blade-of-the-windseeker
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/skorn
Both of them use an affix (skorn even a primary) to add a mere 100´s% damage effect.

Doing a rough calculation of DH´s M6 damage (please dont nail me on the details and this is just an example for the numbers):
With 5 sentrys active, using 1 cluster arrow, nets you with more then 20000% damage.

How are the above items or skills do be any competitive to those damage numbers?

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