I’m torn on Blizzard’s new 1.0.4 patch for Diablo 3. On one hand it’s full of changes that the game really needed; better legendary items, more useful skills, and more end-game level progression. On the other hand it didn’t address the game’s most fundamental problem, its lack of end-game content.
If you were a fan of the game before this patch then these are changes you can most likely get behind, but if you weren’t then this patch probably doesn’t do much for you. Either way, it probably won’t do much for the game’s long-term success; though it might be enough to keep those still playing around for a little while longer. In a lot of ways Blizzard’s 1.0.4 patch for D3 is like an economic stimulus package, full of short-term solutions designed to keep the game afloat without addressing any of the larger fundamental problems.
Finally geared! Now i’m off to find adven… more gear.
The biggest addition to D3 in this new patch is the paragon leveling system, an additional series of levels from 1-100 that becomes accessible to players once they reach level 60. These levels will give players additional base statistics, as well as a permanent increase to their gold and magic find. For those who enjoy the game, this is a welcome addition as it gives level 60 players a something more to strive for than simply loot, not to mention it makes the game a bit easier even if it’s only a little bit at a time.
If you’re like me, however, then this new system wasn’t really what you were hoping for. It increases the amount of time needed to reach “the end” without adding a single drop of new content. The mobs and the maps are the same, and the gameplay wasn’t really touched. The only difference now is that there’s just another experience bar. Sure, you get bragging rights when the outline around your portrait changes and some new stats, but that’s about it.
Take that going outside! Check out my new portrait border!
There’s also something else bothering me about the paragon system; it wasn’t their idea. A few months ago I began looking for tips on how to improve my somewhat dismal barbarian play and found a guy named Kripparrian who played the barb on hardcore mode. Besides all of the tips he had for other fledgling barbarians he also had some unique and insightful ideas for D3’s future, including what he called “champion levels.”
In his video titled Kripp Tips for Diablo 3 he pretty much outlined (starts at 10:30) a quick fix for D3’s lacking end-game content by adding additional “champion” levels for players that reached 60. He then goes on to describe pretty much exactly what Blizzard implemented in their paragon system, right down to the subtle base-stat increases. I’m not saying they stole the idea, sometimes a good idea can grow organically in more than one place simultaneously, but there are too many similarities in what he described and what Blizzard implemented to think the idea came solely from Blizzard. They couldn’t even thank the guy for a good idea?
For all my nitpicking I will say that their new legendary items are vastly superior to the ones pre-patch. For starters most of them just have flat-out better statistics, meaning players will be less likely to roll their eyes in disgust after identifying them. Nothing was worse than finally having one drop and realizing that some random blue I found on a skeleton a week ago was better by a mile. Most of them now have unique statistics that aren’t available on items of lesser tiers, making even some of the weaker ones worth using. My existing legendaries sitting in my inventory are still as crappy as ever, but at least it’s a start.
I actually want legendary items again!
They’ve also made the rare and elite mob packs a bit easier, even going so far as to remove that awfully unforgiving invulnerability prefix that often halted any progress I was making, especially as a barbarian. They were so difficult before that I’m surprised they made it this far into release as the sounds of Blizzard’s QA testers slamming their heads against their keyboards should have been enough of a warning pre-release. At least now those who wish to make their way through 100 paragon levels will be able to do so without having to take two steps forward and one step back. I will say though that the bosses are still way too easy, and that’s just silly. Aren’t they supposed to be harder than a pack of glowing blue skeletons? The bosses don’t even feel like bosses, they just feel like giant treasure chests that are more difficult to open.
Why is this treasure chest labeled “The Butcher,” and why does it have a health bar?
The last noteworthy change was to some or most of the skills used by each of the classes, many of which were straight up buffed from lack of use. This is also another change I can get behind, as one of the feathers in their cap was a top-down renovation of the skill system compared to D2. While it seemed as if players had more skill options in D3, the reality was that many of the skill just weren’t viable and others were almost required, pigeonholing players into a handful of defacto “builds.” There were a bunch of abilities I enjoyed using as my barbarian, but as the game became more difficult I was forced to replace the fun ones with the necessary ones, defeating the entire purpose of their more open skill system. Now however, I may be able to go back and mess around with some additional skills or builds.
My biggest problem with Diablo 3 is that there’s not much to do once you hit level 60 except the same thing you’ve been doing to get to 60, killing things and farming. While I expect this to be at the heart of every dungeon crawler there has to be a point to all of it. I mean come on at least D2 had PvP. That being said, I think this patch is a step in the right direction, even if it is only a baby step. I don’t think I’m going to sit down and grind out 100 paragon levels, but I may be inclined to play the game a bit more now and then in the hopes that someday Blizzard will add the PvP system they’ve been promising.