Diablo 3

D2 Runes and Runewords is the best loot system in any aRPG. It should be a industry standard by now.

diablo18 - D2 Runes and Runewords is the best loot system in any aRPG. It should be a industry standard by now.

ARPGs are struggling hard with loot systems. Pick any modern day aRPG loot system and the game is plagued with excessive clutter and too generous drop rates that makes grinding feel unrewarding and monotonous. From D3 to Wolcen to PoE, the loot system is always one of the features the community more commonly complaint about.

This post is about how D2's rune words, if expanded to encompass all type of items, would solve most of those problems. Advantage of runes over traditional system:

  1. Clutter Avoidance: Adding a new item or affix to an ARPG has the side effect of making all other items slightly harder to obtain. In order to add diversity without increasing grinding times, drop rates must go up – generating clutter and destroying the feeling of finding a cool new unique or rare because those are just too common now. Rune words don't have this issue: new rune words can be added and no adjustment to loot tables is needed because those are just new combinations of items that already exists.
  2. Steady Feeling of Progress: From the moment you drop your first El on Act I, you are already making progress towards your BiS runewords. It's small progress, but progress it is. It certainly much better feeling to obtain 1/10000 of your shining BiS item than roll 1/10000 a bunch of times and get nothing.
  3. While Farming is Fun: Many games address the above issue by having more "deterministic" loot systems. In PoE and vD3 you farm currency and obtain what you need through trade. In current D3 the game showers you with your spec items and keep the grinding part being purely numeric (be it paragon levels, augments or better rolls). All those solutions kills the fun of farming by making it very monotonous and the fun of progression in D3 case. Runes are fun because certain runes are rarer then others. You always have the feeling you are making some progress but some times you hit the jack pot and make huge progress at once.
  4. Keep Player Autonomy: The core feature of rune system is to craft your items from a combination of runes. So for example if you have runes A, B and C you can choose item AB, BC or AC. On the traditional system you need to drop a bunch of those items until you get the one you need. Some times when that happens you have already over leveled the item. Runes allow players to engage itemization proactively, even when loot is random, specially in a game without trade.

Whether runewords could take over the role system or be blended with traditional loot like in D2 is up to debate. But I believe there is enough advantages to the system that it should show up in D4 (and in any aRPG) to some degree.

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