Changes that will affect high-end group dynamics

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Hey folks,

Many concerns have been brought up regarding "the meta" - the current group composition perceived to be the best at high levels of play. From a design standpoint, our job as a development team is to give players tools and leave room for players to combine these tools and perform optimizations to reach the highest greater rift that they can. The top-performing 4-player group composition is not something we rigidly design. Indeed, we feel that if we designed in such a rigid manner so as to know what the best composition is beforehand, we likely haven't created a rich enough space for players to explore.

Over time, the community settles on a small set of ways to combine these tools. Every so often, a discovery is made that shakes up "the meta," but these discoveries become more rare as the game matures. In reaction to this some players would like us to change the balance of the game just for the sake of change. I want to be clear—"the meta" being stale is not a good enough reason for us to take action. As Diablo matures the "meta" is not going to change every season. With that in mind, there are three criteria we use to decide whether change is warranted:

1. Does the current best composition represent a variety of classes? For example, we have taken action in the past when 3 Demon Hunters was the best answer, or 2 Monks and 2 Barbarians.

2. How far ahead is the top tier vs. the next best composition? If the top composition was 2 greater rift tiers ahead there might be a sense that there's still room for alternate specs, or people could make a playstyle choice at the sacrifice of some efficiency. When the top composition is 10 greater rift tiers ahead, then even farming groups or casual community pickup groups start to organize into this composition.

3. Most importantly, how interesting is the gameplay? As much as we'd all love to see a variety of classes and gameplay styles, it's actually the most critical that when you are playing these high-end group compositions that the gameplay is interesting and engaging.

How do we define interesting and engaging?

  • It's more interesting and engaging if you are moving occasionally than highly stationary
  • It's more interesting and engaging if you have to adapt to the type of monster you're fighting
  • It's more interesting and engaging when you are playing the monster mechanics
  • It's more interesting and engaging when a group has to coordinate for maximum benefit

Currently there are many suggestions on how to shake up "the meta". There have been a LOT of really great suggestions. We've reviewed many of them through the lens of the three criteria I've outlined. Most specifically many people have called for a straight up nerf of the Twisted Sword. While we are going to nerf Twisted Sword, I also want to explain why we are going to do more than that.

If all we do is nerf Twisted Sword, we believe what will happen is most groups will simply swap out the current top Wizard build and go to the next highest DPS build. You'll still see a grouper/tank (usually a Monk), a puller (usually a Barbarian), a DPS buffer (a Witch Doctor) and then whoever outputs the highest DPS in the game (currently a Wizard). Only going after the Wizard is going to do very little for addressing criteria #2 and criteria #3.

There are three major problems and three corresponding major changes we are looking to make.

PROBLEM #1: Bringing damage support buffers is more effective than bringing a second damage dealer. Why bring damage dealer #2 when you can bring a damage support who increases the damage of damage dealer #1 by 300%?
CHANGE #1: We are going to be reviewing the party-based damage buffs provided by all the classes. The degree to which some classes can buff party damage is a huge contributor to the 1 DPS - 3 Support meta.

PROBLEM #2: It is too easy to group monsters together. This is bad because:

  • It disproportionately increases the damage of the group compared to adding a 2nd damage dealer. If you have twice as many monsters grouped, not only are you dealing twice as much total damage - you're also scaling Area Damage upwards.
  • On top of this, many of the grouping mechanics encourages stationary combat. If you're chain-pulling monsters to a point, you're fighting in one location for extended periods of time.
  • In addition to being stationary, you’re also casting spells at a single location – it’s more engaging when you have to adjust dynamically to a changing battlefield.
  • The grouping mechanics also act as a soft crowd-control, disabling monsters from attacking players, causing combat to feel stagnant and non-interactive.
  • Grouping increases visual noise, which makes discerning (and hence responding to) monster mechanics difficult.
  • Finally, it can cause server issues. While we are always working on server performance optimizations, we also need to recognize that the current game design rewards players for bringing as many monsters as possible onto the screen at once.

CHANGE #2: We are going to make adjustments to crowd control and pull effects to make it harder to perpetually pull monsters onto a single point.

PROBLEM #3: Extremely high rates of healing favor standing still to do more damage instead of respecting and avoiding monster mechanics .
CHANGE #3: One of the reasons you can ignore most monster mechanics is the amount of healing available. Expect to see a drastic reduction in available healing.

Will this affect solo play? Yes - some solo builds will be affected. For the most part we are trying to target the changes so they affect groups more than solo play. Weighing the needs of solo players vs. group players is a never ending and difficult task and in this case we feel that the quality of improvement to group play warrants the changes. It is an ongoing goal to make more builds viable, and the classes closer together in competitiveness. The requests for buffs to particular class sets or legendary items have been heard, we just feel making meaningful changes to group play is more important at this time.

Will this cause the highest rift tier to go down? To be frank - probably. We've never really done this before - nerfing the top performing builds. There are open questions ahead of us. How will this make the season feel? How will this affect non-seasonal play? In the past we've always had a philosophy to adjust the balance of the game by buffing what's low, but in this case that's not really an option. Take a look at the problems and solutions being proposed - these are problems that can't be solved with larger damage numbers. These are problems with group-based damage multipliers, healing, and combat utility.

Finally - I want to circle back to a statement from the start of this post - as developers we do not know what the new optimal group composition will be. We're making some significant changes here and the game is intentionally too complex for us to figure out optimal strategies on our own. The collective wisdom of the player base is far more resourceful and capable than us. As a result - we really need people to jump on the PTR and try this stuff out! Particularly 4-player groups. If some highly competitive group discovers a composition of 4 Crusaders that is the most effective but deliberately "hides" it from the rest of the community, then there's not much we, the development team, can do. While we are ultimately responsible for the quality of Diablo III, we can't improve this game without your help.
Highly Rated
Sweet, thanks for checking in, finally.
This would have been the 3rd season in a row, that the meta would have been 3 support and 1 dps... with that being a twist wizard launching twisters into a wall so they won't move... That alone should be enough to warrant a change, but hey we just play the game, right? Regardless, at least something is finally being done.
Thanks for the post!
Thanks for the information, your proposed changes make sense to me. Let's see what develops.
Can't the ET stacking bug be fixed? I don't mean the limit which will be or is set to 8 in the PTR, I mean the fact that they stack and remain still in one location. Seems like a quite unintended mechanic and fixing this would make it so the ET sword and build are not so over the top OP compared to alternatives.

Options: When a twister is stuck in place, despawn it after a few seconds. When a twister is stuck in place, make it move! change its speed and direction.
The silence is broken, TY! Are there additional patch notes to go along with this post? I'll see you on the PTR.
looking forward to the next PTR patch
There will be specific changes available to peruse in the next PTR patch.

Fair warning: The reduction to group buffs is severe. People will be shell shocked.

If the goal is that 2 DPS can do more damage than 1 DPS + 1 support then it means no single class can bring > 100% worth of damage multipliers to the party. A support Witchdoctor in particular increases the effectiveness of party DPS by 300%+.
I'm somewhat pleased with that.

Give us a shell shock, shake up group compositions!
Man, this is awesome. I really appreciate the response, as I'm sure many others do as well. I know there's a ton of people willing to test this stuff out.

However, I REALLY need this part addressed:

06/24/2016 12:31 PMPosted by Wyatt Cheng
Take a look at the problems and solutions being proposed - these are problems that can't be solved with larger damage numbers. These are problems with group-based damage multipliers, healing, and combat utility.

I agree that the meta is definitely broken by what you said, however besides this there is a huge disparity even inside classes themselves. For example

- LoN for crusaders is better than any of their sets, and is totally just an infinitely better version of the Akkhan set.
- Monk's raiment set desperately needs DR to compete in group play at all.
- Monk's Uliana's set has a bunch of "hidden" mechanics that most players won't know about without looking outside of the game
- Barb's Wrath of the Wastes set is much lower compared to the other sets, and requires insane gear rolls to even get to "not completely useless" status.
-Wizard's Vyr's set is completely useless after Swami nerfs
-WD pets are still clunky and require a massive CD reduction for better "manual direction" or better targeting AI

I'm sure there's way more than that. But my point is that just nerfing support options isn't alone going to balance the meta (it will definitely change it, though). If supports are nerfed and LoN Bomb becomes the group new meta, people are still gonna be upset because LoN Bomb is boring and not crusader-like at all.

So, besides the support meta nerf, simple damage numbers are in-fact needed.

Regardless of what I think about balance, I'm beyond delighted that we finally have a response. This type of communication goes a long way. Thank you.
How about giving solo players the chance to reach as high GR level as groups do? Please Wyatt, can you make similar post about how to decrease hole between solo and group play? Reducing monster health was good, but it is not enough.
you know, if you don't want multiple dps of the same class for the group meta than you HAVE to buff underperforming sets to a reasonable level to make them at least able to compete against the new meta.

right now as it looks like its gonna be multiple LoN crusaders since they still can go GR 100+

there is no way you can tell me that it costs you too much resources to buff FoH crusader or Whirlwind barb to a reasonable level so they can at least compete against those GR 100+ specs (right now LoN Bombardement crusader and LoN Fan of Knives DH)

You gave the crusaders a FoH complementary legendary and a small akkhan set buff, yet Fist of Heavens cant even really do GR 80 (the dmg potential already caps out at GR 75). How is it too hard to give this build a 10.5x dmg multiplier? So it can almost precisely clear 15 tiers higher and be competetive. this build also needs a complementary shield, right now they use Lidless wall.

whirlwind barb is doing GR 85 at max right now. why not just buff its dmg by 4.8x times so it can do 95? to do 95 as whirlwind barb though we need more thoughness, too.

I have never seen witchdoctor dps in the meta since patch 2.06... you might wanna look at that too.

pls give us love before the patch arrives!!!

Whats the point behind playing group then when u can do the same GR solo? Playing groups is the most fun alteast for the majority of the ppl that plays online games. There should alaways be visible difference between solo and group records.
Finally, we may see some significant changes!

#1: I think that "team buff" should be similar to Unity passive (Monk). It gives a full 20% (when you are 4, but that's not the point) to you and only "25%" to your team (5% damage).

Follow this for most debuff/buff. Example of change:

-Gem of Toxin: 15% damage increase for you, 5% damage for your team. 15% damage mitigation for you, 5% for your team.

#2: This won't be popular but I think that the density should be lowered (but you scale up the progression they give). You should also make individual monsters more dangerous (more dangerous doesn't always equal more damage). There's currently too much stuff happening on screen. It makes it extremely hard to notice dangerous "attacks". With fewer but more dangerous mobs, we would have less visual pollution.

With lower density but high reward (progression), skills that deal high single damage suddenly become more interesting.

#3: Please consider continuing adjusting XP reward in higher GR. People doing lower GR shouldn't feel like that they are earning 500% less XP than people in much higher GR. Higher GR should be about PUSHING and upgrading gems, not farming.

If higher GR is not "mandatory" for efficient XP farming, many more builds are going to be welcomed.

Please consider making non-GR content more rewarding (XP).Regular Rifts are much more fun. People can join or leave --- it doesn't bother us in any way. It's "casual". Forming GR parties in public games are needlessly complicated (it's better to do it with a clan/community).

Allowing us to select which range of "GR" level we want before joining a public game would be extremely welcomed. When you open the MMS, you select "GR between 65 and 70". You are now matched with like-minded people.

GR stretches between 61 and over 110. It's very unlikely that you are matched with people who want to do the same thing.
anyone know when next ptr update is or when season 7 will start on PTR not live I know 3 months after april 29 is when s6 ends on live
what about going sth smiliar few other games already have, if u have 4 different classes in team u gain more experience or every player get full experience per monster instead of exp/4. This can be done for other things. This would force to play each class in group. This can be easily changed to sth like u gain 25% more exp if u have 4 diff classes or so.
What really concern me right now is why the solo play is being affected... pretty unfair, I always play alone and makes me feel like I must quit, even being a casual player.
It's about damn time! Any plans to make changes to GRs directly? Perhaps finally allowing open maps to spawn? Or putting something in place so we don't have to fish as much? I feel like each map should always spawn with enough density to fill the bar 50-60%, there should also be something that limits the amount of each kind of enemy spawn. Having to find a map packed with easy enemies is boring, and on the other end of the spectrum getting maps packed with annoying enemies is frustrating.
what about solo gr fishinG?

why not just add 1 big grift map with all the monster/elite in there make it fair for every 1 instead of fishing

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