Diablo IV - A Return To Darkness

You can always just make another character, nobody’s forcing you to respec. I strongly preferred the D3 method.


I did like respec because it was fun/faster to switch builds a few times between 0 and 70, but I didn’t like that choices had zero stakes. I also didn’t like that we couldn’t sync extra points into skills a la d2. Hopefully d4 gives us some combination of both approaches.

The problem I was getting at, though, is that there are no rules to it. You play with certain skills at any one time, but you are always just a Barbarian or a Wizard until you get deep enough into the post-70 content that your itemization gets hard to change. At which point there is no free respec. Enforcing your own build would mean choosing skills at character creation, and never equipping another skill or rune even when the slots are open. I mean that’s fine I guess, but there was a lot more exploration possible in D2. So then how do set any boundaries on that exploration? And if you do, who do you discuss it with? You have to design your own format and convince other people to care about it.

I don’t even think there needs to be a cost to respec the builds I’m talking about — just rules that define how builds can be built and some ritual mechanism for changing it. And maybe some form of “iron man” mode that makes respeccing difficult or impossible.

Red Shirt Guy weighs in with some thoughts on Diablo IV:

I could also blindfold myself or tie my foot to my hand to make things harder.
I prefer the game comes with good systems that enforce thinking about a build to begin with instead of allowing switching at will with zero stakes.
Zero stakes = zero risk = zero reward.

I’m not advocating a system that allow you to never respec at all.
But take Path Of Exile, for example. You get respec points there, but they are limited. That way, if you made a mistake early, it can be undone later, but you can’t switch around wildly without limit as in D3.

It’s also a problem of D3 that it is just way too easy for way too long as you level up. Path Of Exile gets harder much earlier. Way before you reach the “end game” - I’d say halfway through the story or so.

Commitment and experimentation are not mutually exclusive. I mean, yeah some never derive from a given build/guide, but I think most do their fair share of experimentation along the way and only very few end up with a 100% copy.

I do the same, but merely knowing that I could at-will change everything without consequence whatsoever seriously dampens my enjoyment, even if I do not allow myself make use of that. You can pretend there’s a gun pointed to your head, but in the end you know it ain’t so.

Who is red shirt guy?

He’s MVP of 2018.

All of these respec or not questions can be easily solved with iron man/different game modes. Allowing players to choose the kind of experience they like, is always better than appeasing one group or another.

I disagree that it’s that simple. How you set up this sort of thing has significant design impacts throughout a game.

Say in Diablo 4 they wanted to have only hardcore: you only have one life, if you lose your character it gets deleted. If you were designing that game, considerations in how you design your combat are going to change. In a typical ARPG you can get severe damage spikes that come out of the blue that feel like instadeath traps. Having too many situations like that in a hardcore-only game would be a no-go, you’d need to tune things differently. Maybe combat lasts longer, maybe there’s more dodging/ability for players to escape, encounters are set up differently, etc.

I’m not sure Diablo 3 would work as a game if you couldn’t respec. It’s still not clear to me if any particular skill is supposed to be superior to other skills.

Let me ask this: If a character is naked, wearing no equipment, then choosing any particular skill is supposed to be the same as any other skill right? All the skills involving damage are based off the weapon you’re holding? So are there skills that do more damage than other skills given that you’re holding the same weapon in your hand when you switch between them?

Anyway, that’s the impression I got, is that given no equipment bonuses, I thought every skill in Diablo 3 is supposed to be the same? So the only thing that makes it different is the equipment you’re wearing that makes some skill more advantageous than others?

You’re absolutely right, it impacts design at a low level. They could offer different game modes, but one or both wouldn’t hold up unless they committed effort to balancing them differently.

I would expect a game without respecs to have substantial synergies in the skill tree, so it’s difficult to waste points and totally gimp yourself. But if you do that in a game with free/cheap respecs, it makes builds feel less differentiated when you can “do well with anything”.

Your hardcore example is exactly what Diablo 2 was like at launch. It was still addictive as hell though. Dying constantly meant having to start over, but luckily playing through Act 1 was really fun in Diablo 2, and the way the character progression is designed, you get character levels pretty fast early in the game, so it’s fun to start over and play through Act 1 and 2.

But they kept going back to smooth out the difficulty spikes. When the expansion came out, they smoothed out most of the difficulty spikes on Normal difficulty. I remember that being a huge modifier in how we were playing the game. Instead of it being a game about someday maybe beating Diablo on Normal difficulty, that part of the game was smoothed out so most hardcore characters could do it, and it became more about surviving in the next difficulty tier. And then years later they released another big patch that introduced Runes and other changes, and then they had it smoothed out enough that we could get more than half our characters through that difficulty tier too, and only die in Hell difficulty.

One downside, those early days when the challenge was in normal difficulty in hardcore, i do miss those days because later on, getting through normal and nightmare became a little bit more of a chore once the dangerous spikes got smoothed out. I miss having it be a more compact experience. Live. Die. Repeat. Instead it became: Live. Finish Normal. Finish Nightmare. Die. Repeat.

The skills all do different amounts of damage. It’s keyed off your weapon damage so that it scales as you gear up, but one skill might do 350% while another does 120%. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the skill with less damage hits more enemies or attacks faster - it might generate resource or have a different cool down, it might have secondary effects or a unique shape, it might get different boosts from one or more passives or interact / interleave well with another skill. The skill system in D3 is outstanding, it’s just designed to be more like building a Netrunner deck than building a character.

I think they should do the work to make characters feel unique by giving some weight to skill choices, but then again I always loved playing and tweaking the quirky magic deck instead of the flavor of the month.

It might be enough to have a set series of challenges or dungeons you can tackle where your build is fixed for the whole sequence, then ratchet up the complexity of the sequences with dungeon affixes or immunities on elites or w/e so that you really get this rigorous test and can clearly measure achievement. This would be more like mini-campaign in the style of an adventure mode act, but with the idea being that when you beat sequence 1 you can move on to sequence 2 and not before. That would let you really get a sense of accomplishment when you make a build that can play through sequence 5 or 6 or 12 or w/e.

GRifts don’t provide that kind of feeling because they are mostly gear/paragon level checks, they don’t contain much excitement other than the end boss, and they are designed to be run over and over. They are great for that purpose, but the game also needs a sense of progression other than “did I do it fast enough this time?”

Talking about making hardcore too easy: I started playing a hardcore character in D3 just a few days ago and they are up to 53 now, and not quite done the regular campaign (not particularly dawdling either). Diablo died in about 5 seconds for each of the 3 stages and my health didn’t waver at all. It seems I am not allowed to set the difficulty to something challenging until I complete the story.

I think I got rather lucky with the combination of legendaries that dropped. Though I do admit it is strangely fun just vapourizing stuff.

What difficulty do you play on in Diablo 3 though? You can turn it up enough that your hardcore character will die early.

You could also switch ISPs and use Charter, like me. You’ll die early and often.

The difficulty ramps up pretty well starting at level 60. It’s entirely possible to die between level 60-70 if you run into the wrong set of skills on a few enemy packs. Before level 60 it’s pretty much impossible to die.

As far as I can tell, the hardest I can do is play at Expert (which I am at). I can’t unlock Master until I have a hardcore character beat the story mode, and I can’t unlock Torment until I get to level 60 (which at this rate might happen before I finish the last Act).

Does that happen automatically or is it because Torment levels unlock?

Its automatic, there is a huge power curve between 60 and 70.

Monster have like 100x more hp at 70 than 60. So, if you have bad equipment, monster will do way more damage than you have hp and you will have problem killing stuff.