Diablo 3

How Monster Properties Can Improve Build Diversity and Drive Gearing Choice (LONG)

diablo15 - How Monster Properties Can Improve Build Diversity and Drive Gearing Choice (LONG)
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The recent Dev update has a lot of people excited about the direction itemization and skills are taking. However, all of the updates thus far have focused on only one side of the equation: the player.

In D3 all of your gear worked in all situations at all times; you didn't have to make choices each time you went into a greater rift, you just ran whatever it was that you were already wearing. D4 seems to be headed in a similar direction, in that you'll always run 1 set of gear. This feels like a missed opportunity. Monster properties would introduce important choices into build and gearing decisions depending on where in the world you are headed.

The Korean MMORPG "Ragnarok Online" ("RO") is a great example of how monster properties make gearing and build choices matter. Your choice of gearing and the skills you use heavily depend on what monsters you're fighting and where in the world you are headed. Both skills and weapons have inherent elements that can either enhance or neuter the damage you do monsters. Additionally, there are specific cards that can be slotted into gear (similar to runes/gems) that can either enhance the damage you to do monsters by modifying damaged based on a specific monster property, reduce the damage you take from certain monster types, or confers special protections against debilitating status effect that could get you killed.

Individual monsters have 4 different properties

  • Class: Normal, Mini-Boss, MVP (Boss type)
  • Size: Small, Medium, Large
  • Type: Demi-Human, Animal (Brute), Insect, Fish, Dragon, Plant, Formless, Angel, Demon, Undead
  • Element: Neutral, Water, Earth, Fire, Wind, Poison, Holy, Shadow, Ghost, Undead

These 4 elements in tandem allow for different combinations of gearing and skills to have an impact on how your character plays.

As an example on how this impacts gearing decisions, let's look at how what gear we might choose against two different monsters: and Ice Titan and a Fire Imp!

8sbs3z0vbk561 - How Monster Properties Can Improve Build Diversity and Drive Gearing Choice (LONG)

Ice Titan from Ragnarok Online

An Ice Titan is a Normal (class), Large (Size), Formless (Race), Water (element) monster giving us several different avenues through which to optimize our skill and gear choices. The table on the right hand side of the above picture shows the % damage done to an Ice Titan with specific elements ranging from -25% damage from Water property attacks to +200% damage from Wind property attacks.

A magic based character can allocate skill points into different types of elemental attacks such as Cold Bolt, Fire Bolt, and Lightning Bolt. If we assume that both attacks deal 1000 damage to a neutral enemy, they would deal damage to the Ice Titan as follows:

Cold Bolt would deal 100% spell damage * -25% water damage to an Ice Titan, resulting in -250 total damage and actually healing the monster!

Fire Bolt would deal 100% spell damage * 100% wind damage to an Ice Titan resulting in 1,000 total damage!

Lightning Bolt would deal 100% spell damage * 200% wind damage to an Ice Titan resulting in 2,000 total damage!

Clearly, if you're going to fight an Ice Titan, Lightning Bolt is your best choice. But if you haven't invested skill points to unlock that skill, firebolt is still a viable option!

A melee character can augment their attacks by weapon property or through weapon cards

The Sashimi is a wind property weapon; any melee attack with this weapon would change from neutral to wind property and deal elemental damage accordingly

or through weapon cards

A Saber deals neutral property damage and has three slots for cards

Options for weapon cards that would increase damage to an Ice Titan:

Lower increased damage but has a wider range of use cases

Better increased damage, niche use cases

Better increased damage, slightly wider use cases then the previous option

Thus, as a player you have to make a choice! Do you go with a saber with three Minorous cards or three Drainliar cards? The triple Minorous saber would increase your damage less than that of the three Drainlair cards but would have a greater range use cases. It's important to note that these cards are both rare to find and expensive to buy so you likely won't have both until you've played for a substantial amount of time!

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On the defensive side, we can different cards slotted into a shield to mitigate incoming damage from the Ice Titan

Good


Better, and has a wider range of use cases

Best, but more niche!

Again, we run into the same questions as we did on the weapon side. Do we pick the more universal option and take more damage or pick the niche option and maximize our survivablity?

Additionally, the Ice Titan can use a skill called "Frost Driver" which has a chance to freeze the target. Being frozen locks you in place (duh!) and you can't use skills or potions until the ice is broken by taking a hit. This could be DEADLY if you're surrounded by a lot of monsters that could overwhelm you. A slotted armor with a Marc card grants immunity to Freeze and makes fighting Ice Titans much, much easier!

Other status effects include: Stun, stone curse, silence, etc. They're all deadly if not mitigated properly!

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Now, on to the Fire Imp! NONE of the gearing choices we might have made for the Ice Titan will help us in our fight against the Fire Imp! We'll need entirely different gear in order to min-max.

The Fire Imp is a An Ice Titan is a Normal (class), Small (Size), Demon (Race), Fire (element) monster

We need to use a water based magic skill (or at least not fire, earth, ghost, or undead!)

Cold Bolt would deal 100% spell damage * 200% water damage to a Fire Imp, resulting in 2,000 total damage!

a water element weapon

Would double your base damage

or a weapon slotted with a mix of the following cards:

https://preview.redd.it/kyomxzx7ok561.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=b04883b74ea1464e90909971963564998e6de5b7

https://preview.redd.it/gp2i4q4hok561.png?width=722&format=png&auto=webp&s=d586b39606fa1d618aad1bad56a42b5c86505d12

https://preview.redd.it/74353yelok561.png?width=721&format=png&auto=webp&s=641b6305c0dcd5009dfcf7c80cd62e25572ae60b

Leading us to the same decisions we needed to make for the Ice Titan fight; do we pick the universal options and leave some damage on the table or do we go the min-max route? The same goes for the defensive side; do we min-max or go with something we can use more often?

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How this could play out in D4:

The D4 trailer shown at BlizzCon showed several visually distinct areas and showed several different types of monsters. Similar to RO, D4 could categorize its monsters by Class, Size, Type, and Element. The playable demo included monsters categorized as "Drowned"; perhaps all Drowned are Undead (type) and water (element) but come in different sizes (small, medium, large, colossal) and classes (normal, magic, elite, unique). Gearing choices would be a mix of options from more universal options to specific items that really only work against Drowned enemies. With the difficulty of finding or buying so many different items no two characters would gear the same!

These impactful monster properties help give each zone a distinct feeling with unique challenges to overcome. You need to really understand where it is you're going, the monsters you'll be facing, and what type of skills they'll be using otherwise it could get you killed. This, in turn, makes your choices matter! You can't just run through all of the content after getting your six piece set like you could in D3. You have to build up a veritable war chest of items to be able to push end-game content across the board! It's not a one-size-fits-all gearing choice anymore because the monsters you fight actually matter.

Of course, all of this would need to be Diabloified so the different classification types can and should be unique to the Diablo universe, but the end result should be that monsters force gear and skill diversification.

Thanks for reading!

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