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diablo 3

Diablo 3: Thoughts on the Upcoming 2.1.2 Patch

I still haven’t given the PTR a shot yet for Diablo 3 (I did manage to download it). But I have watched several streamers demonstrate it as well as hear commentary from streamers and forum posts. I wanted to share my take on this patch.

First, as someone who plays a Demon Hunter for a main class, I feel that the nerf (and we’re going to start calling it what it is) is a bit severe. While I do understand the logic from the developers’ viewpoint in terms of the restructuring of the Mauraders set, I have to argue against the changes that will become retroactive. The changes might improve the game play but I think a lot of people do, in fact, enjoy the play style. Not everyone does but quite a few people do like how it plays out. The primary reasoning behind the shift of the Mauraders set from having automated sentries back into the Demon Hunter is to make the damage focused more around the Demon Hunter.

Now, for me, while I understand the intent, I feel that this direction actually violates the principle of what sentries are; that is, essentially the medieval versions of the guns you see in the Aliens movie. Right now, the Mauraders set strikes a pretty good balance between offense and defense, both in group and solo play. In higher difficulties, the Mauraders set helps boost the Demon Hunter’s survivability by essentially allowing him/her to duck out of sight.

Now, not everyone agrees with this play style which has condescendingly been labeled as “Tower Defense.” Part of me believes that some of the non-Demon Hunter hatred is derived from melee classes (particularly barbarians who seem to endlessly complain about their class, despite being at the top of the leaderboards at the moment). And there are those within the Demon Hunter community that feel the current set dumbs down the class too much.

For myself, I feel that the play style is very unique and focuses more on strategically plotting the layout of your defense. Yes, it is a form of Tower Defense, but it’s a meta game unto itself. It helps truly differentiate one particular style of play from the typical spammy (and carpal tunnel syndrome inducing) of other classes like the monk and Pet Doctor. So yes, while the class does play easier overall, it’s merely a preference for some of us.

My personal proposal to Blizzard is to not make the set completely retroactive. Instead, allow non-seasonal characters to retain the current bonuses and allow us to find the newer Maurader set and determine which one we prefer. I feel that simply relying on the feedback of the PTR, forums and a few streams simply are not enough to conduct a real estimate of how most players will react to this dramatic change. Instead of asking in this case is the class balanced, ask whether or not players on a whole having fun and give them that choice by making them farm new set items and letting them experiment without forcing them into the PTR.

So in this manner, Demon Hunters who want to compete on the ladders for season 2 and other players who dislike Demon Hunters for whatever reason still can compete without affecting those of us who choose to continue playing non-seasonal for the most part. If the issue boils down to fairness with regards to seasonal ladders for whatever attempt at an esport environment they want to convert Diablo 3 into, then just apply that fix onto the seasonal aspect and keep the non-seasonal part separate. I think that provides a fair balance between the two moving forward.

What’s interesting along these lines is that barbarians seem to be receiving a nerf as well when it comes to the Raekors set. The biggest difference is how Raekors will provide more than a single charge and instead apply a DoT-like damage onto the target. The net effect is that barbarian survivability ultimately will shoot down as a result of lacking the instantaneous mega damage that they do right now.

The problems with Raekors in its current form are that the set heavily depends on cooldown reduction and it “doesn’t play well in group situations.” The cooldown reduction part is a huge obstacle to overcome in the beginning because those with below 50% have to find other means to damage their opponents. Since Raekor barbarians are a melee class, they often times suffer issues when encountering elites with affixes like Fire Chains or Electricity, especially in single target situations. Raekor barbarians are most effective against a large number of targets since that helps reduce the cooldown.

So giving the set two charges can help in single target if the play style intended is to hit and run. However, I don’t think this truly solves the Raekor barbarian’s true dilemma in dealing with either high damage inflicted at melee range or providing some way to deal large damage quickly against the timer (meaning the Greater Rift Guardian timer). Also, I can’t see this change improving group play that much since the chief advantage of a Raekor barbarian is being able to quickly charge and clear areas.

The main issue with the Raekors set is the 2 and 4 piece bonuses, which for the most part are useless. I do think the extra charge is nice but it doesn’t effectively solve the two problems described above. Instead, I think the 2 and 4 piece bonuses should either provide additional cooldown reduction for Furious Charge and/or a mechanic to improve some defensive stats for the barbarian, perhaps in conjunction with another skill such as all runes being activated for Threatening Shout.

Outside of the slight changes on the set bonuses for Monks, I really have no comment on the class. So far, they seem to be the best class going into season 2. But it’s hard to say at this point since the new gear for season 2 is not related at this point nor will be released for patch 2.1.2.

Another heavily debated topic is Ancient Items. I’ve talked about it in a separate blog post and I personally find the issue to be okay. The sheer rarity of Ancient Items doesn’t sound game breaking. Instead, I think what is important is the increase in drop rate for items that are currently deemed super rare. Items like Starmetal Kukri, Kridershot, Calamity, Furnaces, etc. ought to appear slightly more often than they do now and I think that aspect is far more important than hunting down Ancient Items as some of these super rare items are just too critical in being able to create ideal builds.

One topic that might not be implemented in patch 2.1.2 is improving Kadala. John Yang did mention throwing the idea of providing hints to Kadala through a player’s spec. It is something that I did write about in a previous blog post. But I want to provide a few more ideas in improving the Kadala dilemma. I think most of the items that cost 25 Blood Shards are fine in their current stat (outside of the impossibly rare Tasker and Theos gloves). The real overhaul needs to occur at the weapon and ring/amulet level. The weapons category just is far too broad and at 75 Blood Shards can be horrifically frustrating. My suggestion is that weapons need to have individual categories the same way that shields, mojos, etc. have their own place.

So the idea here is to have a dedicated tab just for weapons where you can select any type, whether it’s spears, mighty weapons, 1 handed swords, etc. At 75 Blood Shards, I feel that lumping everything into either 2-handers or 1-handers is simply too ungenerous. So either split the weapon categories up in order to retain the high cost and/or reduce the cost of Blood Shards to 25.

With rings and amulets, the problem is that the cost just is too high for what you get. Like weapons, rings and amulets are lumped together at very high cost. But unlike weapons, rings and amulets can’t easily be split the same way. Perhaps, one solution is to split rings and amulets into defensive, offensive, healing and set categories. In that manner, people can better target the type of item they want along with preferred statistics.

The funny thing to me about rings and amulets is that ironically, I find more rings and amulets than anything else in the game when it comes to legendaries. That’s why I can’t understand the immense cost for rings and amulets. I think Blizzard can use my suggestion of the category splitting or at least level out the cost for jewelry to a flat 25 Blood Shards.

Another upcoming controversial aspect is the mega nerf for Conduit Pylons. I’ve heard a few arguments about how Conduit Pylons should be implemented. Some feel that they should be taken out of Greater Rifts entirely (as certain players have managed to rank up the ladders just by being able to focus on finding them exclusively). But I think most people feel that the overall nerf to the power of Conduit Pylons was too heavy. For myself, the big issue right now is that it’s not a broken system. The broken part of the game is the damage and life scaling for mobs in the game and the inability for each class/set combination to not have an equal answer to that. Conduit Pylons are just meant to be fun to help clear things faster. That part should remain the same. Instead, the real focus needs to be on taking a hard look on making current builds more viable. And I think the player base at large will agree upon this part.

I don’t think Demon Hunters are broken with M6 and that Raekors set need a way to be revamped as I suggested in adding more defensive synergies to skills. Similarly, other sets should be fixed in that manner as well by removing useless bonus attributes (like +500 dexterity) in favor of having a defensive or offensive skill boosted in place of the removed attribute. Either that or provide more augmented legendaries such as the Angelic Hair belt that boosts Punishment for Crusaders or the change to Wormwood to help Witch Doctors.

The other thing that should be examined is making combined sets more interesting. I realize that the developers do not intend non-6 piece set bonuses to be end game gear. But you have to ask yourself then why even bother having any set gear at all beyond 6 set bonus types? Like why introduce the Vyr’s set or the Demon Hunter’s Shadow Bane set if they’re essentially useless?

A huge problem in the game is that most legendaries are pretty much useless in the game. If that’s the case, why not just trash all non-useful legendaries and give people crafting materials? See, that’s the failure of logic in the development team. And I have to be slightly sympathetic in knowing that more than likely the team is probably a lot smaller than say their World of Warcraft team. However, this is a huge problem that Blizzard itself has to look at more seriously in helping to maintain one of their premier titles.

If the game is about getting excited upon finding a legendary, then every legendary should be made special and eventually have a place in some form of end game content. At the moment, that simply is not the case. I would love to see new builds come up in the next few patches based on the few changes I have seen. For instance, just using Mauraders with 3 pieces, a RoRG and perhaps either Natylia’s set or The Shadow Bane set for more defensive capabilities. Without skill trees that define the power of a character and relying entirely on the gear you find, this system places more emphasis on making those legendaries more viable somehow through the combined creativity of the community and developers. The reward shouldn’t just be about the excitement of discovering a legendary but how one can apply it to change their play style that goes beyond just the boundaries in a very limited test bed that we’re currently given.

One other point I wanted to argue against is something John Yang mentioned during one of the “Play It Your Way” talks recently on Twitch. Yang pointed out how the Wizard pretty much with the Firebirds set plays in a very limited manner in that you essentially are just using 2-3 buttons maximum. Two buttons end up becoming passives for the most part (with some form of armor and possibly Magic Weapon or Familiar). Now, I kinda feel that this might be a junior designer judgment error in having the desire for the player to be madly scrambling on the keyboard to press everything all the time or that every key needs to be meaningful. But for myself, I truly hate spammy classes and I don’t enjoy madly slamming my fist against my keyboard just because a few action bars are there.

I think what’s important to the game is to provide a wide variety of play styles as opposed to something that amounts to a wannabe, weak sauce version of Street Fighter. Someone like myself who has accumulated severe physical pains through intense gaming, bad posture and tons of bad habits over the years can find a more spammy play style an immense turn off because our endurance quickly runs out. That’s why I like playing the Demon Hunter as I find the style to be more relaxing and allow me to concentrate on the in game UI elements as opposed to rapidly punching my mouse and going to sleep with numb hands (which is how I feel right now with the Pet Doctor, even though I like the idea).

Part of the issue I feel might result in this fake masculinity people in gaming/internet like to put up for a front to mask their actual impotence in life. I mean, it’s a fucking computer game at the end of the day. Rapidly pushing your mouse button and having slightly better hand-to-eye coordination does not define your penis size. Yet some of these kiddeos enjoy berating others who might genuinely enjoy what to them seems like a “boring” play style (which is why I think a lot of these people end up playing a barbarian as in truth the play style is actually their IRL persona).

If everything ended up blending together as just one spammy, rapid button pushing game, I’ll just quit right now. My physical problems aren’t going to go away any time soon but certainly they won’t be fixed by me staying and playing at a reasonable level if this is the direction of the game. Not to mention, I would grow bored because the game would just seem the same, no matter which class I play. And if you follow my blog and what I’ve done in Diablo 3, you’ll realize quite quickly that I play EVERYTHING. Lastly, the only reason why I play everything is because I want to try different things out. I don’t like the idea of these classes becoming one single entity, which is what game balance ends up doing at the end of the day. I mean, if that’s the case, why not just eliminate all classes, merge every single skill together and just have something like, “defense, offense, ranged or melee” as your abilities?

At any rate, I still am looking forward to the Patch 2.1.2. However, I don’t think it’s ready and I don’t think Blizzard is ready for the negative backlash that will result when players return to the game upon the announcement and find out that their game play has changed without their approval.

 

 

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