These are my thoughts after taking a few days of gathering information and forming my own preferences on improving the systems shown in the Diablo 4 demo.
Please discuss after reading:
The Skills should have individual trees for each skill. Currently each skill has 15 ranks, increasing the damage and functionality of the skill at certain ranks. This is a good system for leveling up, making meaningful choices, and increasing the power of the skills you want, when you want; however, if you only get to change the way your skills work based on your item’s abilities, you won’t have enough choice to affect all of your skills in a meaningful way. At most, you will be able to really change half of your skills in any meaningful way.
Without even the runes from D3, everyone is stuck with the same skills without any legendary abilities changing the way they work. The current system offers just as little build diversity as D3. The talent trees barely affect builds at all, with only barely meaningful choices, and no real gameplay style affecting talents. These are the reasons why skills need trees of their own.
By giving skills trees we can make actual meaningful choices about how we want the skills to operate in conjunction with our other skills, and then our gear. I propose simply adding on to the current system, where as we get to certain ranks in a skill, you can choose to take the skill in a different direction. Have different choices at each tier (5 ranks, 10 ranks, 15 ranks, as an example), allowing you to really make your build personal, before you even think about gearing with legendary powers.
This would allow more vague legendary powers to be usable across all classes, and other much more specific to skills, allowing build defining or truly gameplay changing powers (Not shooting 3 fireballs instead of 1, like a skill tree node would enable).
Quin69 in a stream made a good point about Skill Tags, or specific terms that both skills and items share that affect each other. Examples: Projectile, Area of Effect, Freeze, Ignite, Electrify, Slow, Hit, etc.
They are like some of the affixes used in Diablo games, but they need to be vague enough to work across most items and skills. An example would be: Instead of an item saying: “Fireball shoots 3 fireballs instead of one, each at ~50% damage”, it would say something like: “A single projectile skill instead shoots three projectiles at ~50% damage each”. This would allow multiple skills to profit from the “Multishot” ability of an item instead of just Sorc’s fireball skill. Players could then plan out or choose a branch of a skill to go down if it changed a skill into a single projectile skill or not.
These systems would effectively ensure much more build diversity and personalization than the current state of D4’s item and skill systems.
My advice: Skills and items need to be diverse and interchangeable enough, that even the developers won’t know what the best combos are.
This leads me to the Talent Tree system. It simply is not enough to compete to systems like Grim Dawn, Path of Exile, Last Epoch, Wolcen, etc. While I personally do not think the system should be anywhere near as complex as Path of Exile’s, I think large branching, maybe intertwining Talent trees make for more interesting builds with more diversity. A point a lot of players have made is allowing for out of the box “meme builds” that are not what the Developers intend but should still be explored. Half the fun of build making is finding weird synergies and combos that others have not yet.
I strongly agree with these sentiments and hope for a much more explorable Talent Tree system. I believe adding in Attribute Points back to the drawing board could further enhance this system (Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence, etc.). Take Grim Dawn’s constellation system, which is explorable by any class, where you select a starting attribute, and branch off to whatever trees you want.
I believe by selecting your stat points every level, you should gain access to certain vague talent trees that any class could explore. For example: Strength gives you access to a martial/physical damage trees ability tree, Dexterity gives you access to movement/ranged damage trees, Intelligence gives you access to Magic Damage/elemental trees, etc. There could also be more class specific trees, allowing some classes to dip into others for more diverse builds. (Fire Barbarian, Physical Sorceress, Holy Necromancer, etc.) Just giving players more access to builds you wouldn’t think of will add that much more replay ability, build diversity, and plain simple fun to the game.
There needs to be more less specific, and more specific tree nodes. Most posts about this topic talk about more Path of Exile nodes that truly make or break a build. The end nodes of a tree branch should offer nodes that powerful if players want to build towards it. They should also keep the more generic end nodes for general use of course. Nodes in between should give generic bonuses to enable the different builds players want. (Stat bonuses, health points, resource points, defense stats, skill bonuses, less specific mini legendary bonuses, etc.)
My Advice: The final version of the Talent Trees should be complex enough to enable out of the box builds but restrained enough as to not confuse or turn away new players.
The current trees and skills are not nearly complex enough and are only made for players who don’t care about fun builds or taking time to think about a build. They have streamlined everything, so you don’t have to think while playing, and that simply is not good enough for a modern ARPG.
Thank you, and please give your own thoughts on these ideas, and your own ideas.
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© Post "Discussion on Skill Trees and Improved Talent Trees" for game Diablo 3.
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