Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Working Towards a Greater Diablo Experience

It’s been over a month since the launch of Reaper of Souls and I have a much better understanding of what the game requires to continue to keep players hooked. I still recommend the expansion to anyone who enjoyed Diablo 3 because it a huge improvement over the vanilla copy of the game. However it still suffers from a lot the same problems that Diablo 3 had even with the updates.

The first thing that needs a rework is most of the legendary items. Currently only a handful of legendaries are useful and that’s mainly because those “good” legendaries provide extra useful stats such as increase in damage or a stat that’s not generally available to that slot. Legendaries should each provide a unique buff that’s useful for a player. While players will generally want a pure damage increase on their legendary items, I think there are other viable affixes that legendaries could bring to the table that would be unique. Elite/Champion monsters have specific affixes like arcane sentry, vortex, plague, and electrify. These could be distributed to different legendary items that will allow the player to drop these affixes against enemies and scale based off either primary stat or weapon damage. We already have fire walker boots which is essentially the molten affix from mobs. You would have to change the color of the effects so players know which are friendly arcane sentries and which are ones dropped by the enemy.

I think legendary gear should also have a level up mechanic introduced. Each item should have an experience bar with a few sets of levels. Each increasing level will either give a buff or provide the player with some new effect. One example could be the following. If lets say Arcanium Boots drop one arcane sentry beam for equipping, and then each level up that the boots receive will gain an extra sentry up to lets say a maximum of five beams out at once. Vortex items could pull mobs from further away with each level up. The level up mechanics shouldn’t be just an increase in damage output or survivability. If this was the case then players would feel that leveling up a new items means they’re going to be wearing a downgrade for awhile until they can get the new item to the appropriate level. You could allow the player to transfer experience from one item to another through the Mystic vendor but allow for some of the experience to be lost. So the player would only be allowed to transfer experience from items in the same slot and they would have to transfer all the experience over but only receive lets say 30% of the total on the new item. Blood shards could be used as a reagent for this transaction.

Currently fire skills have a huge advantage over the other elemental skills. Fire naturally has an increase in damage compared to lightning and cold skills since those are considered more for utility purposes. However increase to fire skills is available on more pieces of gear than the other elements which makes fire better than the other skills. Increase to fire skills is available on a glove, a chest, two 1-handed weapons, and one 2-handed weapon. Cold damage is available on a glove, and two 1-handed weapons. Lightning damage is available on a belt, a one handed weapon and a two handed weapon. I rather not see any nerfs to the fire damage items but see new items that help close the gap between fire and the other elements.

Death’s Breath should also receive a rework. Players should be able to use Death’s Breath as a currency to buy other crafting mats. The ratios would need to be tested thoroughly before implementation but something along the lines of 10 Death’s Breath for one  Forgotten soul, 1 Death’s Breath for 5 Veiled Crystals and 1 Death’s Breath for 10 Arcane Dust.

Blood Shards could also allow players to fight the specific purple named monsters to acquire the specific legendary crafting material needed for some legendary items. The player would be able to donate 40 blood shards (again this number can change depending on which monster to spawn) and that monster will now spawn in the next rift as an enemy wandering around.

I believe the cost of rerolling an item should decrease over time. Blizzard should think about making the item cost reset back to the original cost over a two week period. I’ve gotten some items where I increase the reroll cost significantly and still had not received the stat I wanted. I ended up just chalking it up to a loss and decided to wait for something else to drop so I didn’t have to lose all my money for a single stat. Resetting the costs would also allow players to try out new stats without having to worry about the cost in the long run.

I would really like Blizzard to add in some new vanity items to help create a diverse set of armors that players can choose from. It should work in a similar fashion to the way World of Warcraft challenge modes reward players. Completing certain achievements (specifically the more challenging ones) should provide the player with new sets of armors to transmorg. The idea of tiered rifts could also give the players new sets of wings that are only available from the higher level of tiered rifts. They can also create different types of vanity rewards such as killing a monster has a chance to make it rain blood everywhere, or picking up health globes turns the character red indicating that they bathe in blood. These would be effects that you can toggle on and off in the character sheet or a new tab under the paragon menu.

Blizzard could add in monster challenges where you fight in an arena against a specific type of monster. You have to defeat each wave of that specific monster with each wave becoming harder then the last (increasing the number of affixes the monsters gain). Your reward could be a pet that resembles that monster or a set of gear that looks like the monster. There would be leaderboards for the fastest clear times plus highest wave achieved. If Blizzard really wanted to add some randomness to this, the higher end waves would have a higher chance to drop the pet, or pieces of gear that you use for transmorg. That way the player would have to go through the waves more than once to try to acquire all the pieces of gear. Torment difficulty would also scale with the drop rates allowing players who can handle higher Torments to have a better chance. There could be two separate modes, one for coop and one for single player since coop seems to make the game a lot easier.

I would absolutely love some controller support for the PC version. I prefer controllers over keyboard/mouse for gaming since that’s what I’ve been using for most of my life. Diablo 3 feels pretty natural on the Xbox 360 when I played the demo a few months ago. Honestly I know this probably won’t ever come to the PC since it requires an entirely separate UI but I still hope Blizzard will consider it one day in the future.

Most of these ideas help to push for more content and add reasons to continue playing but are far from the only ways to improve the Diablo experience. Most of these ideas could be fully fleshed out as separate game modes (similar to adventure and campaign). So far Blizzard is on the right track towards creating a greater Diablo experience and I just hope they don’t get side tracked along the way.