Diablo 3

Lessons from Seasons in D3 and D4

diablo15 - Lessons from Seasons in D3 and D4

So I've played seasons for the first time. Here are some observations and lessons for D3 and D4.

  1. Given that it took about 10 hours to make a usable build mostly with badly rolled non-ancients, to make a near BiS build with ancients, given that the drop rate is 10% of legendaries, and assuming it takes about 4 ancients of the same type to find a good one, it will take about 400 hours, slightly less if we account for better gear making higher GRs easier. Assuming it takes 300 hours, that's about 3.3 months at 3 hours a day. This also seems consistent with having played hundreds of hours of nonseason.

  2. A season lasts about 4 months. The length of a season determines a meta. Every season old builds become out of meta, and new builds become in-meta. People need to be able to make a good and usable build within a reasonable time length determined by the length of a season. If it takes years to build your character, your build will suck and be out of meta before you even finish building it. So given it takes almost the entire length of a season, 3.3 months with reasonable play time each day, to make a near BiS character, legendary drop rates in D4 can't be too much lower than D3. They could be lowered if offset by better ways to target the items you need to make your build, such as trading. This may seem surprising, since D3 drops a legendary roughly every 15 seconds of gameplay, but actually, good ancients drop like once every 20 hours of gameplay.

  3. Ancient items now seem to be a better idea than when they were first introduced. They give people a relatively quick way to get to play the build they want, just with lower numbers. But the gap between how long it takes to make a usable version of the build with ordinary legendaries, and a near BiS version is too large. For D4, it seems more reasonable that the drop rate is tuned such that it takes about 20 hours to make a usable version of a build (up from 10 hours), and 2 months at 3 hours a day (down from 3.3 months) to make a near BiS version, with a season lasting 4 months, and people playing new in-meta builds every 4 months.

  4. It took about 10 hours of gameplay to make a in-meta, good and usable build capable of doing GR90, and around 15 hours to get to GR110, which is somewhat close to the power of a nonseason character. Rerolling was not fun, I did not enjoy it. Splitting the community 33% to 66% (the proportion of nonseason and seasons games) is unnecessary when season reaches and eventually surpasses the power level of noneason so quickly. And given that everyone, including nonseason characters need to regear with the meta shifting due to the balance changes made every season, splitting season and nonseason is even more unnecessary. The season buff is so powerful that high GRs in public games are significantly easier on season than nonseason. The buff should not be restricted.

  5. It took about 30 minutes to get from level 1 to 70, from asking someone to powerlevel me on the Powerleveling community chat to completeing a few rifts to get to level 70. So restricting respeccing is dumb.

  6. The way you build your character is not a free choice. It depends on the legendaries that you find, which is random, you don't choose them. Whenever a powerful lengendary drops, I changed my build. Furthermore, different builds are created to be optimized for different endgame activities: solo GR pushing, group GRs, speed farming normal rifts, bounties, and in D4, PvP. This makes restricting respeccing insanely dumb, and directly counters the idea of having multiple endgame activities. In fact, it's repeating the same mistake of Classic WoW where people wanted to build shadow priests and ret pallies, but they were forced into healing for the good of the raid. People will be forced to make group specs they don't want to play for the sake of efficiency and the good of the group, while being restricted from the builds they do want to play.

  7. Group necro farming (rat runs) are overpowered. The most efficient way to play is to repeatedly do these runs. A group of necros can clear GR130 in 1 minute, which is how people get 5000 paragon levels in a few weeks in seasons. And the fact that necros are paid, makes the game P2W. It also infects non-necro solo GR leaderboards as paragon is transferable. Nerf rat runs, cap main stat paragon, and bake the necro into the base game.

  8. The idea that self-found represents accomplishment and work is total nonsense. My season character in less than 10 hours of gameplay found a Primal Deathwish, one of the best possible items in the game, and my nonseason character with several hundreds of hours of gameplay has never found anything like that. Did my season character do anything to deserve it? No. Self-finding an item does not indicate you earned it in anyway, it indicates you fluked it. To buy items on an AH, you need to earn the gold to buy it, and that's more earned by playing the game over time bit-by-bit, as opposed to the RNG just randomly dropping you the best item. For example, take 1% of the items that would otherwise be generated through in-game drops, and put them them on a AH and allow people to bid on them. This isn't real trading, nothing is excahnged between people, it's all player to NPC, but it allows people to target items they need and work towards items.

  9. Power creep has become insane. Conquests based on 1-shotting bosses and speed running seems a bit degenerate. Instead of a endless cycle of buffs every season, stop the power creep by rotating in powerful affixes each season to change the meta, rotating them out at the end of the season, and rotating in new powerful affixes at the start of the next season. For example, Vulthuk's Rebuke makes Energy Twister go in a straight line and increases its damage by 400% this season, but instead of this being permanent. at the end of the season it should revert to a base level, say 50%, subject to balance.

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