The Diablo 3 Journal: Day 9

Inferno seems like a wall at this point, if Hell’s difficulty is any indication. I assume there will be patches and fixes and update and new strategies crafted, but until then, it’s where my characters will probably stop playing.

I want to swing back to something that’s the core of all Diablo titles, and one of the major issues the game seems to have: loot dropping. I’ve come to terms with the fact that there are no more Baal runs. The game has made that explicitly clear by having bosses drop ZERO rare items in Nightmare and beyond. While it’s annoying that even the FIRST time you kill Diablo himself in Nightmare you get nothing good, I accept that the best items are found in the roaming champion mobs around the land, and the way to get better gear is to move forward in the difficulty.

But past that, there are many, many issues that need to be dealt with, or at least explained. For starters, With my 55 hours, my friend’s 40 and my roommate’s 20, that’s a solid hundred or more hours of gameplay where between us we’ve found exactly ONE unique legendary item. It was my Witch Doctor in Act I of Normal that stumbled across a level 7 unique monk weapon (which was garbage), and we’ve seen nothing similar since.

The only good place to find Legendaries is the Auction House.

I  understand low drop rates, but to find ONE legendary item in over 100 hours of gameplay seems ridiculous. Equally goofy are the stats on Magic (blue) and Rare (yellow) items that make up 99.99999% of the other drops. Blue items are now not only viable, but they’re actually TOO good at times. No one finds joy in picking up a blue, but it’s strange when it ends up being better than the high level rare you have in terms of damage or stats. There are even reports that some blues have stats better than Legendaries themselves, and it seems like a bad system. No one wants to be decked out in blues in Hell mode. Rares and Legendaries need to be buffed, and the drop rate of the latter needs to be increased.

But why won’t it be? Why are Legendaries so hard to come by? The Auction House, which is itself the source of much confusion in the game. Blizzard didn’t want the market flooded with the best items, so they’re making legendary drops almost non-existent. That’s great for the economy, but bad for players trying to farm items and have fun.

The Auction House in general seems like it mucks up the entire point of the game. In Diablo 2, there were only a few ways to get the best items in the game. Either you would farm until they dropped, or you would farm until other items dropped that you could trade for what you wanted. You either needed skill in farming, or skill in bartering, but now? All you have to do is grind, as gold is king.

Simply put, the Auction House has made farming for items and the new smithing system almost entirely useless. Why spend time farming for a vitality item when you can just plug in +100 vitality to the Auction House and spend 10K on what you’re looking for? Why spend time and money rolling the dice crafting 12 pairs of rare pants when you can go to the auction house and get exactly what you’re looking for at a fifth of the price?

If you can spend real money on items, I haven’t found that part of the AH yet.

I guess Blizzard doesn’t realize that most people think the fun of Diablo is not beating the levels, but getting the best gear. Before it required a lot of luck and a lot of trading skill to get what you wanted. But now? It’s only about the hours you put in amassing gold. Anyone can buy anything with simply enough grinding.

It’s funny, because this whole system was put in place to PREVENT as much mindless grinding. If you’ve played the game for X amount of time to get X amount of gold, you deserve to have the item you’re looking for. I guess it’s kind of nice in that regard, but I felt almost like…a cheater when I finally broke down and buffed up my health by 10K by spending 60K in the Auction House for new items for my Barbarian. That said, without these upgrades, I probably wouldn’t have been able to move forward in Hell, so it’s kind of a two way street. I’m still trying to figure out if it’s a better or worse system than the old way, but all I know for sure is that it would be nice to find more than one legendary on my own every hundred hours.

The game is fun, but obviously rushed. Outside of the problems with the items, it’s clear things started to get hurried toward the end of development. Acts 1 and 2 have 10 missions each. Act 3 has 7, Act 4 has 4. Even though this game took a decade to come out, it clearly had to sprint near the end to meet some deadlines, and it shows.

It’s undeniably enjoyable in many ways, but there are a great many issues that are going to have to be sorted out if they want people to keep playing at higher levels. I’ll see you back in here in another week or two, and we’ll see if the game has evolved any further.

  • polpot

    i guess it’s just me but i don’t really see what the whole hype was about. this was my first diablo game, wish I could have rented it or something first. I beat it with a witch doctor and i honestly don’t feel incline to play anymore. Maybe and this is a big maybe with a monk, but if i have the time.

  • Pijus

    While I’ve spent most of my Diablo time in patch 1.10+, I did go back and play a little bit in 1.07(the version that Lord of Destruction shipped with). It was horrible. Item drop rates were ridiculously bad, monster packs could spawn impossibly hard to defeat. Lord de Seis would spawn with a pack of Oblivion knights instead of Doom knights. The game was also riddles by bugs, even more so than now.

    I think what is happening here, is Blizzard is still developing the game. We, the first wave of players, are a beta test of sorts. We will play the game, complain, Blizzard will make notes, and then come out with patches that rebalance everything. Some time later there will be an expansion that adds the mystic NPC, and PVP.

    I find this quite frustrating, as the game could be so much better. They could have learned from the way Diablo 2 was played, and made all the adjustments BEFORE RELEASING THE GAME. Sure, they wouldn’t have done as good a job at tweaking everything before the release, but they could have done a hell of a lot more than they did, and tweak some more after release.

    Also, the item drops rates influence my enjoyment of the game. Blizzard make items drops horrible on purpose to make people use the auction house. So they can take a cut. Blizzard are making my gameplay experience worse so they can make money on the auction house. Gee, I feel valued as a customer.

    By contrast, I played abit of Torchlight 2 beta, and it was a blast. Uniques dropping left and right. Make playing the game by yourself so much fun. I suspect having high drop rates will hurt the games longevity, but it’s a lot more fun loot wise than Diablo3.

    Wow, bit of a wall of text there….

  • Bakakyo

    Wow, i loved the review! I was also thinking the game was rushed and I couldnt really tell where, but now its clear. The acts I and II are a lot better than the other two.
    About the AH, i really think they should make us choose servers and commit to that like WoW. The way it is now is an economy that has been flooded in a week… If people were divided by realms, WoW style, we would have a lot better economy. I play HC and soft, and I can say that in HC the economy is a lot more stable and interesting, just because there are not a lot of people playing and the AH is not flooded. Gems and crafting books and items are worth shit.
    Other thing that should change is the fact that u can salvage gems back. This way a gem will never leave market and in a month they will all have value near to the cost to selling to a vendor.
    About the bosses, that is sad… I love to fight yellows and blues, but the bosses, aside from Belial, they are all dumb… Why not make a boss spawn with a random skill like the elite monsters? Just imagine Belial with waller… omg that would be crazy!
    Anyways, I think the most problematic issue on the game is the AH. The other problems are things Blizz will prob work out the next patches.
    Right now Im having so much fun it hurts, and I cant really say how much time Im spending on the game, but all I can say is Im playing almost everytime Im not working, sleeping or eating (yeah, my wife is playing too so no much, well, u know :P)

  • Wermine

    I want you guys to compare vanilla Diablo 2 and LoD 1.10. Then think what we now have with Diablo 3 and what the expansions and patches will change. Also, D2 act4 was extremely short compared to previous acts, just like in D3. Even though there are lots of things to improve, I’m sure they will be taken care of.

    Inferno is another thing. I could compare it to D2 mod, medianxl. I couldn’t imagine to beat the uber bosses within a week of the release especially when I couldn’t know the best builds and couldn’t get the best gear (and don’t forget the tactics). When you are level 60 in D3, the progress focus moves to items. The longer we wait/play the cheaper the good items will get. Inferno is constantly shifting into easier mode because of this.

  • Jake Fortner

    I think Blizzard is ding the something similar to what they do with WoW. With WoW, they are constantly changing and upgrading it, now to the point that WoW now is completely different to Vanilla WoW. If this is true, then Diablo will be like what someone else said, a sort of Beta. I don’t think it’s necessarilly that bad of thing, either. I know a lot of peoplw will say they should have worked on making the game perfect or nearly so at release, but what we traded for that was a game that will continue evolving and get better and better based on our experiences.

    But if Blizzarad isn’t going to do this, then yeah, they dropped the ball.

  • shwiggles

    The story wasn’t that terrible, just slightly. At least the individual dialogue with all the characters/followers/artisans/npcs are neat. Let’s not forget that the AH was created so Blizzard would have a money stream to support this game in the future, so if the game progression mechanics aren’t what they used to be…it’s what we signed up for (maybe unwillingly). For those who have mentioned WoW, I agree that WoW 4.3(?) is a lot different from vanilla WoW, and I imagine it will be similar in D3. I completely agree that the AH has made leveling my own artisans pointless, which is kind of sad, but I’ll throw money their way once I get the stuff for Whimsyshire done. Stupidly addicting, but flawed, and Blizz will eventually get around to hopefully polishing everything, as is their tendency. It’s only been out 9 days, let them soak in the critique and then get to work.

  • Doombot

    Inferno is so broken that you can farm Bosses but get stomped by elite/champion packs/mobs. Inferno SK is nothing compared to Elites/Champions wit waller, illusionist, extra-hp & molten/plague. The only good thing bout em is that their hp stay the same the last time you engaged em. If blizz decided to troll and reset their hp everytime we die. Head will roll.

  • joe

    What are you jaks bitchin about now?