Hello guys, this is going to be a long post, so I'm going to divide it into topics instead of doing a TL;DR, if you can't read it all, read the topics you are interested in. Also I will try to be brief and won't beat round the bush about what I have to say, so I'm sorry if this doesn't feel like the most perfectly written article.
My background as a D3 player:
I was a Diablo 2 player, though at the time I only played Diablo 2 casually and when the Hero Editors became a thing, I kinda lost interested very quickly. When Diablo 3 launched, I was very excited and still came in as a casual player. My initial thoughts were not very good, it was a game that felt like it was best played only once, as a movie you could interact with, but it felt unfinished and not exciting enough to keep playing after you already finished the normal campaign. Something that disappointed me a lot was the fact that legendaries were close to nonexistent and killing bosses felt unrewarding. This is something I feel has not changed enough, I'll talk more in depth about this later.
When the Auction House started out, things changed very quickly, it suddenly became more fun to play the actual Auction House than actually playing the game itself. After that I quit for years, I even had a message from Blizzard saying I had some money on the Auction House and that it was going to get shut down, I remember simply laughing, I didn't have any good items, much less legendaries on sale and couldn't believe someone actually had bought something for real money.
Initial thoughts coming back to D3:
I came back to Diablo 3 only in Season 12. The game changed so much, I couldn't say it was the same game, this was a breath of fresh air. The pace of the game changed substantially. The end game became the actual start of the game and I liked that. The game felt like a Halloween party with several fun activities that made progression and loot acquisition feel more fun.
Still playing this game casually, I didn't feel like there were many issues with the game, though the issues I found were not minor.
What destroyed diversity and balance in Diablo 3:
Area damage and multipliers. The end.
Though seriously, I don't think you can say much about this, but this has basically been the biggest issue with Diablo 3 in terms of making builds viable.
The way multipliers work in this game, is kinda of a layer system, so some builds like the LON Star Pact Wizard get to abuse this into oblivion, which makes hard to balance out things.
What do I mean by layers? Lets say you have only 2 multipliers. 6 piece bonus adds 10,000% damage, than you have something like Travelers Pledge for example for 100% increase damage. This means that 100% is the top of the layer, making the 10,000% increase damage actually 20,000%.
The more multipliers on different layers, the more the damage increases exponentially. This is the same with damage reduction multipliers. This is a real nightmare when it comes to some builds, this literally means that a single item can make you be able to farm T13 without dying instead of not even being able to survive T11 properly.
Legacy of Nightmares felt like an attempt to contour this issue. The necessity of sets due to extremely high damage multipliers made only a handful of builds work and most legendaries useless. I think Blizzard did a good job with Legacy of Nightmares overall, it is far from perfect, but not having this option would be extremely boring.
Area Damage is the same thing, you have 10 mobs, you hit 10 mobs with Star Pact, they all get hit from the initial hit, each mob triggers Area Damage, so let's say the initial hit was 100, since every mob got it, total damage output without Area Damage is 1000, each hit triggers Area Damage, if you have 100% Area Damage, this would be 10x 100 per mob, so 10x (10x 100) + 1,000 = 11,000. This was a 100 initial hit but the total damage output was 11,000, yes this is game breaking, specially since you can get 100+ mobs and this is how Star Pact could clear GR150 packs with a single hit.
This is something that cannot be fixed anymore in Diablo 3, it's too deep into the game, but it's something that can easily be prevented in Diablo 4.
If this had been nerfed in the beginning, this wouldn't have snowballed to an impossible mistake like it is now, so take notes in the future, if something is broken, fix it, don't keep breaking things to mask the initial problem, in the end you just end up with a broken game.
Randomness (RNG) and the relationship between skill and luck in game design;
I was a long time Magic The Gathering player and former judge. There is a video online of the creator of the game, Richard Garfield Ph.D talking about balancing skill and luck in games, this was an amazing video and very enlightening to me, I recommend people to watch it, specially Blizzard staff, it's on Youtube.
This game leans way too heavily over to "luck" (RNG) and since the game has the problems I already spoke about when coming to multipliers, this means you need to grind some things simply to play the game as intended.
A game doesn't need to be extremely skill intensive, but it still needs a balance in terms of skill to luck.
I feel like the " attempts" that Blizzard made to make this a lesser problem, only exacerbated it. You can craft items in several ways and reroll stats, but that's simply only supplying the gamer with more lottery tickets, it is not only a band aid, it is an illusion of a band aid.
Games should feel rewarding the more effort you put in. In the larger picture, this is still the case in this game, but I'm not talking about extremely large numbers. Progression in games individually should be like several small victories, this actually has a psychological response where you actually have dopamine and serotonin responses to, dopamine making you feel good and serotonin making you feel like a winner.
When you reroll an item 5 times and get a primal, you get a dopamine rush, you get happy and everything is perfect, but you don't necessarily feel like you are worthy of it, to a neurological level. Now let's talk about the opposite, lets say you do 500 rolls or 1000 rolls, a week or a month worth of grinding towards a single goal and you get nothing. The neurological response you get is demoralizing, this is the same response you get for failing and usually in life, things like this are what lead to depression.
This game has no way of rewarding determination towards a goal, everything is lottery tickets. This is bad game design. You can have a game that plays like gambling, but it can't be all gambling. Maybe Haedrig's Gift started out like a "fix" to this, but it's not enough and it's outdated. The balance problems mentioned above with multipliers, make some builds near impossible unless you get really lucky several times, which often happens after hundreds of hours of play, but not always.
There is no worse feeling than getting the primal you have been farming for the last couple of months and it has bad rolls, making it useless. This doesn't necessarily pertain to primals. Bazooka Wizard for example, requires triple rolled ancient rings, weapon and optimally a quad rolled source, getting these are extremely hard and there is no way you can guarantee to get them no matter how much you play.
Primal Ancient Items:
Reading the text above, some might believe I was simply venting or QQing about primals, but it's not that, it's about working towards a goal. Primal drop rates are ok, if they were designed to be this rare, that is fine, but there are way too many useless primals and getting a useless primal is literally a joke.
When testing primal drop rates, people online often refer to one drop every 450 or 500 legendaries, I agree in my experience. Salvaging a Primal only to get 15 Forgotten Souls is beyond blasphemy. You could salvage a primal, get 100 Forgotten Souls and it would still not be "overpowered", 100 Forgotten Souls is only 2 reforges. As it stands, you need to trash 4 primals to get one single reforge.
Something so rare has to be rewarding no matter what.
This season I must have gotten 60 primals. Of those 60 primals, I think I only use 6 on 4 different classes and close to 50 of those primals are completely and utterly useless and they just rot in the stash, because they are worth way more than 15 souls each.
Overall primals were an excellent addition to the game, but lacks work and polishing.
Thoughts on 2.6.4 and the Season of Grandeur:
It felt like Blizzard all of the sudden started to hear the players feedback more, this season was the best I'v ever played.
Pros: Legacy of Nightmares became viable again and this is the biggest change;RoRG buff was fun and promoted a twist in the season that made it worth playing;Set balance changes were for the better and the game felt the best since I came back;Quality of life changes were a breath of fresh air;Guaranteed primal at GR70 made people more comfortable in knowing they actually unlocked primals and it made a guarantee for casual players that they could get at least a primal per season.
Cons: Legendaries are still overall on the weak side, this made LON less diverse and a bit clunky;RoRG was good but on a season where LON was finally viable, not everyone got to fully enjoy RoRG;The guaranteed primal for GR70 still is completely random;Primal beam and icon, though great QoL improvements, usually get covered by other legendaries on the map and specially on Greater Rifts you often don't see you picked up a primal.
Preview thoughts on 2.6.5 and the Season of Nightmares:
I think Blizzard has really been going in the right direction and have surprised a lot of D3 fans in a good way. A lot of people including myself have speculated on a LON season right after the RoRG buff reveal. I believe this will be my favorite season of all and I'm extremely excited about this.
Pros: This is a very strong season buff and this season will be very different, this is the opposite of boring (lol);Legendaries are finally getting a rework, some builds are resurfacing and it will be exciting to see changes;The added Torment levels will definitely impact the pace of progression once more, I can't say more before trying it out;Ancient and Primal Puzzle Rings apparently will be finally worth using, maybe new content? Hype is real;Stash space!;Bounties getting instant indicators will be such an amazing QoL change;Milky way??;No more lost keys and crafting materials over lost Rift Guardians.
In case the legendaries mentioned are the only ones getting changed, this is not even 10% of the necessary changes needed;The necromancer is a very weird class at the moment, it needs some rework on the set items and they skipped this on S16, though since the necro enjoys LON, I understand this is something that can be skipped to S18;Same as above, the set changes were not enough in the previous patch, some sets have utterly useless buffs and some are not yet properly "balanced" (viable);Haedrigs Gift seems weird if unchanged if it's the LON season;Not all classes can benefit from LON and this issue is related to the lack of legendary items rework, I hope they add a lot more before the patch goes live;Death's Breath will likely be dropping 10+ in T16 with Sages, if nothing is done, people will have hundreds of thousand of DBs while lacking lesser mats.
Suggestions for S17+:
Primals: Instead of a random primal drop in the first GR70, have a consumable item rewarded that when used on another legendary item, that item becomes primal and retains it's previous rolls. The GR 70 can also be maintained and have this suggestion added as a GR100 reward since GR70 is not as hard as it once was when Primals were initially added. (this is not my idea, but I don't remember who I read it from previously, though it was on Reddit)
Salvaging primals produce a Primordial Essence*, it can be used to upgrade items into primals and allowing you to reroll a second affix on a primal, this would make it that if you get a primal item you want, you can always fix their rolls later. I reckon this is a big change, but 15 Forgotten Souls for a primal is a bad joke, please do something about it soon. This allows for a more linear, less RNG aspect rewarding system to the game.
Primal pentagram icon when dropped should overlay the other icons. Have the Primal drop sound be different as well.
Ubers and Bosses: Bosses should always drop a legendary, not matter how bad, they are special kids after all.
Uber zones were really cool, they became just another narcolepsy farm fest. If you could implement Ubers in the same way as Greater Rifts, this would be extremely fun and maybe even some exclusive rewards, like in D2 and another challenges to pursue in the leaderboards. Another option is to have Primordial Essence* drop in these new challenging Uber zones.
Legacy of Nightmares:
This is the solution that was created to circumvent the set item problems and inability to use legendaries. Ring slots became extremely important in Diablo 3 and some builds are not possible because LON requires 2 rings. Have Legacy of Nightmares become a single Legendary ring that doesn't allow any set items. This is something S17 will help see if it's a viable suggestion.
This is being done in S17 it seems, but if it's just what has been release so far, it is not enough. Look closely to all legendaries that were meant to do something and make them do something, because most of them don't.
Haedrig's Gift 2.0:
As time passed, the game pace keeps changing, I don't even care about Haedrig's anymore. There are other ways to get your set that sometimes are faster. I don't know everything and I don't have the answer to everything, but it seems something is missing. My first primal suggestion would be a great addition, but still, I think there is more that can be done in Haedrig's that could reflect in upgrades that last a little longer than a day or two.
It seems like you want to make bounties more interesting, there are a lot of things that can be done, this is one of them, it's not something that is required or as important as other suggestions, but it's something that can possibly make bounties more interesting.
I talked a lot and at the same time I know I didn't talk about everything, but I guess is somewhere to start. I hope this was a worth read and that someone at Blizzard saw this and was able to get something useful that could improve the game more in the future. I'm extremely excited about the next season and the direction that things appear to be moving. Thanks for everyone that read this and please leave your feedback, let me know what you think about my opinion in the game and my ideas. Lets discuss and I hope to see you all in game and let's see how things are at the PTR.
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