Content of the article: "Some thoughts I would like to see considered for D4. Warning: LONG post"
To preface this list, these are things I consider positives and negatives that came to mind as I was typing.
It’s far from an exhaustive list on any front, but I think all of these things should be considered as a list of popular pros and cons from a long time Diablo fan.
It’s important to remember that my experience with D2 started pre-LoD, at launch, and is up to now.
I played thousands upon thousands of hours, had near enough perfect geared characters on multiple realms including a fully decked out USEast account with very high end BvC, CS zon, Hdin, Zealer, Wolf, FB soso, Bone nec and an LLD pally.
My D3 experience was from launch for about 2-3 years of heavy play.
For quite some time I was high on wiz leaderboards until I discovered HotS.
Most of my criticisms of Diablo 2 simply wouldn’t happen if the game was made today with modern design approach and past knowledge, and I’ve heard some of them addressed in developer interviews as things they wish they had done, but not all of them.
Diablo 2 features that shine best
– The implementation of itemisation means that you can have any rarity be your BiS:
Examples include the huge variety of choices, where rare, crafted, unique, magic or a white turned into a runeword can all be BiS depending on your build, what breakpoints you’re aiming for, and your playstyle. This single point, how creative items are and how pretty much every single drop is a possible God roll, is the single strongest point in D2 for replayability imo, and is the best part of the game itself in terms of achievement. To add on to this, having to consider many more options adds a lot of replayability and is less obvious than focusing on weapon damage as the main factor, or main stat/crit damage/crit rate which was so limiting.
– Unique, set and runewords can lead to completely unique gameplay mechanics, such as a bear sorceress, a fireball necromancer who doubles as a vampire, a teleporting druid, mercenaries with extra auras or many more.
– The social side of the game was smooth and straightforward. It’s a great shame we never got the planned guild halls or “game/lobby fusion” that was planned, but the chat channels were a great way to make friends and the straightforward (but primitive) game list were easy to use and let you find people to duel, trade with, baal run, or whatever else you fancied getting up to.
– Character diversity – 7 distinct classes with their own flavour, identity, look and feel.
– The best PvP in any arpg, largely by accident but regardless it is relatively well balanced, every single class is viable with several builds, and very few items can be considered busted. PvP kept me playing this game for over 10 years, far too much, and it kept me engaged with the PvM side because pushing new ladder was a chase which I knew would help me keep upgrading those PvP items when min-maxing.
– Incredible music. Matt Uelmen captures the environment and mood perfectly, it’s a soundtrack you could easily listen to outside of the context of Diablo and enjoy.
– Each class handled stats different. Barbarians gained the most life per vit, Paladins had the best shields for block rate, Sorc more mana per energy, for example. http://classic.battle.net/diablo2exp/basics/characters.shtml covers this in more detail, from the official Arreat Summit website.
– Potions cover both resource and have no cool down, though the rejuv is kind of imbalanced it’s nicer that the option is there and rejuv stands as a scalable potion.
– Horadric cube gave so many options, and thankfully was carried over to D3 in its own way. Crafting was huge and the higher your level the better the items you could craft – this was an interesting mechanic, and one I’d like to see built on as mods have by adding some interesting, or quality of life increasing, recipes.
– An absolutely HUGE number of random maps meant every run felt different. Sure, it was sometimes annoying finding certain things but it really made every game feel different.
Diablo 2 features that DiaBlow
– A complete lack of economy management aside from the odd rust storm and ban wave, everything is wild and lead to anyone taking the game seriously moving over to off site trading forums, as in game trading was absolutely terrible due to the lack of a defined value on items, and frankly a true Godly item was worth far more than any full 40 square inventory could contain.
– Levelling up is horrible. If you played a long while back, you’ll remember pre-nerf cows…now, frankly it’s just tedious. I think NL should have addressed this at least, and kept ladder as the grind that it is. If you honestly enjoy doing 4000 8 player baal runs, more power to you, but it’s not fun for me and pretty much anyone I know after a while.
– Light/Medium/Heavy armour…wtf? This just eliminates most things from being viable in PvP, especially the way blocking works with movement. This limited appearance options, I love the look of ancient/sacred on paladin but would never use it in PvP.
– Inventory size. Enough said. You can say “mods fix it” but not for BNET, which really is the way BlizzNorth intended and put a huge amount of work into. This is largely solved on d3, however having to play seasons to earn new stash tabs for increasing costs is a bit tedious.
– There’s huge build diversity, but there are 2-3 builds which are 100% without question the most efficient farming builds when end game geared; Hammerdin, Lightning sorc, CS zon. Nothing else comes close in PvM.
– Recasting buffs. This is also horrible in D3, and if anything is worse in D3 considering it came out like 12 years later.
– The game has been seen to be busted at higher resolutions since many skills have as much range as your screen can show (blizzard, teleport, etc), but Blizzard North staff have stated they regret not having hardware scaling options to enable higher framerates and resolutions than what was offered in the game itself. Diablo 3 was a step forward on this point, but also felt like the FoV was limited on higher resolutions.
Diablo 3 is a game which didn’t launch the best but became a very good game over time, especially once RoS launched. Unfortunately my favourite feature was removed, but I definitely think it should but won’t return for Diablo 4, due to vocal community feedback.
Diablo 3 features that shine best (Past and current)
– The Auction House. Regardless of your views on the RMAH, which I’m not going to go into detail on but will say it didn’t bother me, the auction house solved all of the problems of a complete lack of in game economy “regulation”. It cut out the item sites, it cut out (most) of the need for off game trading, you could search for 6 affixes and could simply list things in the background between games. I felt the removal of it was a terrible choice, even if they settled on removing the unpopular RMAH they should have kept trading & the gold Auction House. Having had so many well geared, min-maxed characters on D2 this was a Godsend, and I wish it had stayed in the game.
– The transmog feature is a great way to make sure you can use your best gear without looking like you thrifted your outfit.
– Endless endgame, always something to chase if you’re a player who wants to compete on the leaderboards, greater rifts give endless goals. These aren’t the most engaging thing necessarily, but compared to the endless baal runs they’re much more enjoyable, and generally rewarding.
– Potion effects make the choice interesting for builds, as there are a lot of options with wildly different effects to pick for your build.
– Movement in game is so free flowing, this was pretty much the best feeling. Cooldowns aside it had smooth, fast paced gameplay which felt great to engage in.
– Treasure goblins were a great idea, they ended up being crazy in later patches but it was awesome seeing everyone jump straight on to them and chasing them in the earlier days when good loot was much harder to come by.
Diablo 3 features that DiaBlow
– I feel that there’s actually more build diversity than Diablo 2, but the end game (same as D2) has very few viable builds at the top level when efficiency becomes the biggest concern.
– Potion effects are great, but before unique potions it was just a horrible healing potion on a huge timer.
– Cooldowns are horrible in an ARPG in my opinion. I understand some of them such as archon, but long cooldowns simply slow down gameplay and feel horrible to deal with. When something like crit mass circumvented it and gave the game pretty much the feel of d2, it got removed.
– Recasting passives/buffs is annoying and wastes half or more of your skill slots, except for monk auras which at least have a passive buff and an active property.
– I preferred a unified resource system (mana in d1/d2), the different resources weren’t poorly implemented but it would have been nice to have resource potions at launch, even if on a cooldown. End game it wasn’t such a problem and as I said it was well implemented, but I preferred the mana system from D2.
For me, I would like to see inspiration from these positives for Diablo 4:
– The graphics engine already looks good, but I would definitely hope that it improves before final release. I want it to look great. D3 animations? Good. Character models? PS2.
– I think the trading economy needs to be nailed to avoid people either spending their entire time on trading sites/games with a wild west economy as in d2, or a complete absence of trading with 1000 legendaries per hour in d3. An auction house would be a fantastic reintroduction to keep people within the game. As I said I’m indifferent about the RMAH, but there’s no reason to get rid of the gold one.
– Itemisation in D2 was the best thing about the entire game. D4 would benefit greatly from a system with so many wide-ranging options, where all rarities are viable and have unique strengths, and with a runeword system that isn’t just a basic “cause and effect”. It was incredible as someone playing from launch seeing all these new options appear in 1.10, and further in 1.11. They literally changed the game – some people feel for the worse – and opened more doors than any unique had before.
– Transmog, at least at end game, will tie in so nicely for character customisation. I see no reason for them to remove this as it’s very popular.
– Continue the tradition of having a wide range of options for characters – Ryker did a video which helped put this into words better than I can, showing why it’s so beneficial for players but also player retention to have options to suit all different types of player.
– Support high resolutions, support ultrawide properly.
– Build on the greater rifts. It sounds like the proposed dungeon system may meet this, because the main flaw with GR as endgame is that you’re just chasing a number. It’s still better than running baal 4000+ times to get to level 99, but the limited number of environments make them a chore eventually too.
– Make all skills such as frost armour, energy shield, BO, magic weapon etc passives that you choose rather than something that wastes a skill slot or needs to be recast like clockwork every 3-5 minutes.
– The movement of D3 without the cooldowns would have kept me playing due to how much faster paced the game could have been, I’d love to see this worked on as it’s part of why the PvP in D2 was so excellent and the movement is, for me, what kept D3 feeling so good to play. Marrying up the two design ideas would be perfect.
– Random dungeons more on the level of D2 – they felt much more varied than D3.
There are, I’m sure, dozens more points I could make given time or if both games were 100% fresh in my memory (as in, at my height of playing either.)
However, I feel this covers most things I’d like to see considered, addressed, or axed.
Notice I’ve not really touched too much on environments – the story/artists/etc can seemingly make almost anything seem appealing and I am happy to see either something completely new or something we’ve seen before in an improved state.
It seems there is a talented, passionate team behind this new game so I wanted to type out a little bit of mine and hope that some of you will agree, if you disagree that’s fine too and I invite you to post why in the comments!
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- After playing D2:LoD a bunch – D3 wasn’t that bad of a game honestly
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