Players 8 in multiplayer – why it’s an issue

Before I start I just think we need to address the concept of balance in PVE games.

  • Game designers as a whole think it's important for there to be multiple viable paths or METAs available in a game.
  • This can be seen pretty much everywhere, guns tend to have similar damage, in a game like final fantasy, different characters tend to have similar levels of strength.
  • It's important for people to be able to play characters/playstyles they enjoy, without feeling left behind or weak.

Regarding Diablo.

  • Diablo's patch history from it's "heyday", showed that the balance team/devs thought the above was true.
  • Bowazons were heavily nerfed in 1.10 as they were considered too strong for their investment.
  • Paladins previously weak caster spec, hammers, were heavily buffed.
  • Elemental druids got a big buff
  • The above 3 balance changes show that PVE balance between classes was definitely a priority for d2 devs/patch teams.
  • Teleport was given to everyone via enigma to help balance how strong teleport is

So why does this effect player 8?

  • All melee specs will be hugely behind in terms of ability to grind gear and experience.
  • Players 8 specifically favors PoisonMancers, Infinity users, Hammerdins and Trapsins more than any other spec.
  • So players 8 essentially massively weakens Barbarians, Shapeshift druids, Martial Arts Assasins, Zealadins and Bowazons as the game is currently balanced.
  • When you double the loot gained per run, you increase the discrepancy between meta and non meta specs. What might be a 5 rune advantage in 2 weeks on normal battle net could be a 10-15 rune advantage with players 8. Caster specs have a lot of "overkill" damage or casts which are wasted while melee don't, this is why Javazons clear p1 cows pretty much the same as p3-4.

Ultimately, as the game is balanced currently, players 8 would be the death of what little build diversity we have in diablo 2. Anything aside from the cookie cutter AOE specs would be little more than a meme build you make to have fun, with no real efficient use in terms of game progression aside from uber builds.

  • Saying "just roll a sorc/caster" is not an answer, people should be allowed to be competitive with melee/physical damage specs.

Introducing players 8

If people agree that balance is important in diablo, and also want to introduce players 8, they have to realise that to actually do both requires not just some quick number changes, but fundamental restructuring of mob hp and density across the board to stop AOE having such a large advantage, essentially what this means is players 8 in multiplayer creates much more problems than it solves.

I just want to reiterate the above, I have probably around 15k hours in d2, there is a reason people like MrLlama and a lot of people with huge amounts of time in d2 are well against players 8, it's such a balance mess it would take dozens of patches to actually get close to correct, and the reality is you would need to gut sorcs/hammerdins/javazons/corpse explosion etc in order to not make a joke of anyone who decides to play melee.

I have seen a recurring theme from people debating for players 8 on battlenet. Decent fixes for lobby leeching are dismissed (passworded games, level caps, possible "act locking" etc+), other suggestions such as allowing it, but really bringing down the power level of some of the above mentioned specs is received with even more flame etc than other suggestions. This leads me to the only real conclusion to draw from most comments I see – people want players 8 simply to get loot faster on some of the OP specs in the game. This is a really bad reason for fundamentally changing drop rates, quick gratification isn't worth completely breaking what little balance we have.

Only real solutions for having players 8 are:

  • Allow players 8 in non ladder only
  • Completely nerf the mentioned specs to the point where they aren't full clearing cows/CS 5-10x faster than melee.

Does anyone else have solutions on how players 8 could work without heavily favouring meta farmers?


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