Diablo 3

Unpopular opinion: I don’t care for the way Rare items were implemented in Diablo II.

diablo19 - Unpopular opinion: I don't care for the way Rare items were implemented in Diablo II.

Disclaimer: This is not a suggestion for a change in D2:R.

I've been playing Diablo II for as long as I can remember and I love the game, so last year I finally decided to try the original. It's a buggy mess, and the Hellfire expansion makes some things even worse. After installing a user-made patch (Hellfire v1.02.A5) to fix things up I found the game quite enjoyable, if a little slow-paced compared to any other ARPG.

At first, I found the lack of Rare items disappointing, but I soon began to love it and I now believe it's the game's biggest strength over the sequel. Magic items in Diablo made up most of the very best items in the game – they compete only with a small number of Unique items.

This means that every Magic item drop in Diablo is exciting because it could be something amazing. Could that be a King's Sword of Haste? An Obsidian Ring of the Zodiac? Godly Armor of the Whale? There's only so many combinations for a single prefix and suffix so your odds of finding these things are pretty good: much better than the odds of finding a god-tier Rare in Diablo II.

Therein lies the problem of Rare items: by virtue of being able to roll up to 6 affixes, Magic items are rendered totally obsolete. Merely a stepping stone on the path to better loot, it won't be too long before you don't even bother to identify the things except maybe to sell. In Diablo II, the feeling of excitement over randomly generated loot being good is only found in Rare items, which of course is less frequent than finding magic items in Diablo. Even if you do find a top-tier Magic item, you will probably wish you had a Rare with the same affixes and then some.

It does seem there was some attempt made to have Magic items be semi-competitive with Rares as a lot of the strongest affixes in D2 only appear on magic items. For example Magic items can roll +3 to all skills in a single class tree where Rares can only roll +2, but it doesn't make up for what can be gained with four extra affixes. The number of affixes available to Rares also slightly cheapens the impact of Uniques, which seemed to have more value in Diablo 1 when the competition never had more than two modifiers.


I know nobody asked me, but I'm going to share my thoughts on how I would have designed Rare items to be interesting and desirable without making Magic items obsolete. Instead of giving a Rare extra affixes from the same pool of modifiers as Magic items, take a Magic item with a prefix and a suffix and add one additional affix from a separate pool of rare modifiers. These rare modifiers would have more varied and interesting effects available, akin to Uniques, but they would universally come with drawbacks to ensure they behave more as side-grades: potentially good or bad depending on your build. Stuff like:

  • Convert Life to Mana / Mana to Life
  • +/- Stats
  • +/- Resists/Max Resists
  • -X to Max Resistances for self and enemies
  • +% to damage dealt by self and enemies
  • Convert X% of one damage type dealt/taken to another
  • Use Vit to determine Defense bonus.
  • Use Eny to determine Stamina bonus.
  • Use Str to determine Attack Rating bonus.
  • Use Dex to determine Weapon Damage bonus.
  • +/- Damage dealt to/by different monster types
  • -1 All Skills for several points in a single skill
  • Spend life for skills
  • – Defense, + Attack
  • Bonus to one skill tree, penalty to others
  • +/- Attack, Damage
  • Splash damage on attack/reduced damage to primary target
  • Triple arrow/ 1/3rd damage
  • Knockback immune/slower hit recovery
  • Take more damage but reflect some
  • Leech + Drain Life/Mana
  • Ect.

And bam. Now Rares can feel special compared to Magic items without eclipsing them, and you can enjoy finding both because there are only so many Rare modifiers you would want but none that you would really need. Unique items continue to feel special and powerful by having the most modifiers and being able to have special modifiers like Rares without the downsides.

So yeah, this is just a daydream of what could have been, a version of Diablo II where magic items are as exciting to find as they are in Diablo. I still love Diablo II with all its little warts and am very excited for the remaster regardless of what does or does not get changed. (Though I will take this opportunity to beg for ladder runewords in SP.)

I am ready for my crucifixion.

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