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Random Ideas to Improve Diablo 3

December 17th, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

Even though the action RPG genre can be aggravating sometimes, i’ve sunk way too many hours into Diablo and Diablo 2 in their day to ignore Diablo 3. It’s an extremely polished game, especially in terms of visuals and presentation. Plus you get to spend half the game hanging out with Tyrael! What’s not to love? Well, a few things – so i have a few suggestions.

Item Auto-Pickup Conditions

Are speedy character builds such as “Spin Barb” and “Tempest Monk” intentional designs? If so, item pickup is what breaks their rhythm in a mundane way.

What if players could script a series of rules to automatically pick up and ignore certain item types? A one-page checklist would allow players to grab legendaries, rares, and Flawless Square gems by simply running over them – while ignoring blue and white items. If new players find this confusing, it can be hidden like Elective Mode or locked until lvl30 or lvl60.

Advanced players would love this feature, and pickup timing can be tuned to display the legendary orange beam for a split second before it’s bagged. (Seeing that beam is definitely an awesome moment! Whoever came up with that effect deserves a raise.)

Legendary Item Divination

The PC version of Diablo 3 contains an Auction House where players can purchase items from other players for in-game gold or real money, from which Blizzard takes a cut. Not surprisingly, many design decisions regarding the importance of items and their drop rates were clearly driven by promoting the Auction House. (A maxed-out lvl60 character struggles to kill a lowly lvl1 zombie without items equipped.)

Basically, top tier item drops were so necessary and so rare at launch that everyone was forced into using the Auction House. Thankfully, the console versions abandoned the Auction House entirely and redesigned itemization accordingly. Legendary item drop rates have been increased dramatically, with item stats catered to the player’s character class – to prevent the colossal disappointment of finding an awesome Wizard wand with a useless Strength boost.

However, the new system doesn’t make it much easier to obtain a specific item. It’s still a matter of dumb luck. If your whole reason for playing Demon Hunter is to try a Windforce bow build, you may never get to do that. Worse still, you can’t switch classes until you find one, because legendary bows almost never drop for any other class.

Furthermore, two-handed weapons naturally become superior to duel-wielding simply because it’s almost impossible to find comparable one-handed legendaries back to back. Upgrading gear every ten levels basically forces you into using two-handers. If you happen to find an awesome legendary fist weapon for your lvl40 Monk, wouldn’t you love to force another one-handed legendary drop before it becomes obsolete?

Well, Diablo 3 already has a prophet/healer NPC named Brother Malachi. He doesn’t do much. What if he accepted some resource (gold/gems/essence) to manipulate the next legendary item drop? For instance, it might cost 5 Demonic Essence to specify an item category – along with a Perfect Square gem to influence its primary stat.

As an added bonus, this would allow your lvl60 Witch Doctor to farm for low-level Barbarian gear so you could actually enjoy using it early on! Or your Wizard can find a Buriza-Do Kyanon crossbow with a Dexterity boost for his Scoundrel follower.

Rejuvenation Wells

Healing Wells are easily the most disappointing type of shrine to come across. What’s the purpose of a Healing Well? If you’re running away from a mob and encounter a Healing Well, it should allow you to recover instantly and get back into the fight.

In Diablo 3, low health is only half the reason to avoid combat. Running out of resources like Mana or Spirit is actually the more common reason to retreat or hesitate after a battle. If all Healing Wells were converted to Rejuvenation Wells that refill both health and resources while resetting active cooldowns, it would go a long way toward making them feel compelling.

Destructibles vs Doorways

D3’s heirarchy of priorities for the PS3 X button is incredibly intuitive for the most part, but here’s a case where it doesn’t behave as expected. When you’re trying to break a destructible near a map gateway, exiting the level always takes precedence over attacking. This happens even when the destructible is highlighted.

Perhaps this was a conscious design decision to make sure players can always exit a map when they’re running away from a mob? That’s the only reason i can think of, but it’s honestly never come up for me – whereas accidentally exiting a level as i’m trying to break something comes up all the time. At the very least, destructible objects should not be highlighted while near a map gateway.

Skill Rune Descriptions

Many skill runes are annoyingly vague in their descriptions. Why is this information hidden? Simple modifications such as reducing resource cost, increasing damage, or extending duration should be specified numerically – especially since precise numbers are listed for a select few skills, such as the Monk’s Transcendence passive.

Challenge Initiation

The Bashanishu challenge is completed by hurting the unique monster Bashiok with a normal attack using Rakanishu’s Blade, an otherwise useless weapon obtained from the Shrine to Rakanishu event. It’s actually a neat little side quest – utterly ruined when it takes eight hours of reloading and clearing the same level until Bashiok finally spawns.

Mindless persistence isn’t what makes the challenge fun or worthwhile, so why is mindless persistence a requiement? Many of Diablo 3’s achievements demand this sort of blind-luck dedication. Why not simply allow players to activate a specific challenge and spawn the enemy or instance required to fulfill it?

5,000,000 Gold Trophy Alternative

After obtaining every other trophy in the game, most players will discover they’ve only picked up 2.5M gold. I have to say that’s pretty frustrating for a number of reasons, even though i know most developers select trophies and achievements as an afterthought.

The problem is that by the time you earn all the other trophies, the idea of grinding out an extra 2.5M gold is not fun at all. It forces you to play optimized paths repetitively, while wearing +% Gold Find gear instead of +% Magic Find gear. What percentage of console players prefer GF over MF? I’d guess somewhere around zero.

And worst of all, it discourages switching classes! If you start over with a new class, you’re back to earning 10 gold per drop – even though you’re having way more fun experiencing more of the game. That’s why i really think the trophy should’ve required picking up 50,000 gold drops instead.

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  1. December 17th, 2013 at 22:42 | #1

    By the way, i think Blizzard did an amazing job redesigning all kinds of subtle mechanics to suit the PS3/Xbox controllers. As a fighting game player, i found the R-Stick roll ability very interesting.

    I started using it for all kinds of stuff, including a way to travel faster using the Monk’s Thunderclap skill rune to break a barrel from maximum distance and canceling into a roll immediately on impact. I don’t know if this is intentional functionality, but it’s really fun to use before Tempest Rush becomes cost-effective.

  2. December 22nd, 2013 at 19:00 | #2

    I added two more suggestions to the list above: Rejuvenation Wells and Challenge Initiation. It’s no exaggeration that i wasted eight hours looking for Bashiok. What made it suck is that Demon Hunters can’t use melee weapons in the console version of Diablo III, which is a perfectly reasonable change on its own. Except in this case it forces you to play another class to complete this minor challenge, which would be fine if it didn’t take eight hours!

    And it’d be nice if there was a way to skip to the first incomplete Challenge instead of having to scroll through all of the completed ones every time.

    Also i think it’s unfortunate that you can’t see item stats while salvaging at the blacksmith NPC. It adds a lot of extra steps when you have an inventory full of yellow items and you’re trying to figure out if one or two of them are worth keeping.

    This game has a lot of funny/frustrating glitches too. For example, if you find a champion mob with the Avenger attribute and lead them to another champion mob, the first group will grow even if you kill champions from a different mob. They can get really big!

    Sometimes Adria doesn’t appear after killing the Siegebreaker Assault Beast in Act 3. The whole game will crash if you try to progress to the next level. Basically your only option is to quit and reload.

    There seems to be a lot of inconsistency with environment interactions such as the Whimsyshire clouds, the Prisoners of Kamyr event captives, and the Nephalem Power quest pedestals. After pressing X to interact, sometimes you can run/dodge/attack and sometimes you can’t.

    I always try to Vault with my Demon Hunter to quickly get from one cloud to the other, and it’s pretty annoying when it doesn’t work because the input will buffer until after the interaction animation and happen two seconds later. The buffer window is pretty ridiculous in this game. It’s pretty easy to get yourself killed after a knockback attack because your character casts a spell like two seconds after you intended.

    Lastly, it’s pretty weird that legendary blacksmith plans don’t appear as legendary items on the mini-map. That has to be a bug or an oversight.

    By the way, the Barbarian’s Leap ability can jump over some crazy stuff. I’m sure you could make a really fun video of nothing but Barbarians jumping all over the place, like off cliffs and towers. I found a pretty crazy drop near one of the map exits in Tristram Cathedral. It seems like any jump you can make downward can also be made upward, which looks even crazier.

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