The Dumbing Down Of Diablo III

Will I buy Diablo III? Yes. Will I play Diablo III? Yes.

Will I play Diablo III more than once? Maybe.

Will it matter how I build my character? No.

From what I've read--and correct me if I'm wrong — if two players have max-level barbarians side-by-side in Diablo III, items and names aside, there will be zero difference between our characters. We will have access to the same base stat build and access to the same selection of skills and runes.

Welcome to the "stupidfication" of Diablo, where build skill no longer matters. If I didn't care about build and only wanted to find items, I'd rather put 80 hours into Final Fantasy.

Differentiation between characters was what made my Diablo II characters unique, not the items I had. Why can't I make a unique stat-heavy ranged barbarian or a melee wizard? Well, that seems impossible in DIII.

"Levelling" the playing field reduces replayability and the customisation we've come to expect and love in Diablo II. I want my characters to be tweaked how I want and not some cookie-cutter build.

There's some evidence that character builds, player-defined stats and fixed skill trees lead to great games, especially within the Blizzard family. This was the case in Diablo and Diablo II obviously. But what about the introduction of heroes in Warcraft III (both Reign of Chaos and the Frozen Throne), where proper hero skill placement and attribute calculations could mean the difference of a ladder spot, or more importantly victory or defeat?

And what about the long-lasting playability of Defense of the Ancients (DotA), a wildly popular mod to Warcraft III, which has evolved into its own genre. In each of these games, efficient skill placement and calculating attributes was not only critical, but it made playing and replaying the game fun. I'm pretty sure if you nerfed or removed the skill tree and attributes in these games or allowed unlimited skill "respeccing", replayability would suffer.

If I'm Blizzard, I want "replayability" built into my game. I want players coming back for more. I want them building and rebuilding characters over and over. I want the difference between newbs and players to be more than items and reaction time. Right now, I'm only going to play this game five times until I max out each character class and then... well really, what's the point?

I remember spending hours calculating optimal builds and skill placement in D2. I remember doing maths on the fly about MF% ‘magic find' or CtB% "chance to block" or HP to MP ratios for the perfect PvP mana-shield sorceress. Teach the next generation of Diablo players how to do maths instead of doing it for them.

So Blizzard, give us back the power to allocate stats, let me build unique characters built for rushing, magic finding, and low level PVP. Or at least make it an option for the non-lazy stupid players — you could call it "Hardcore Mode".

Jesse (@jessema) is on the Legal Team at Gawker Media and has been an avid gamer since Contra.


    "Build" "skill".

    Replayability doesn't come from having to start again from the beginning because you bought into an ability that turned out to scale poorly at high level. It comes from the game being fun.

    Diablo II's customisation was bad hell, I think everyone remembers that unless you were playing a build that specifically used it, putting points into Energy was a waste of points. That's just bad game design. The fact that it was a fun game anyway tells you how unimportant it really was.

      "Replayability doesn’t come from having to start again from the beginning because you bought into an ability that turned out to scale poorly at high level. It comes from the game being fun."

      Fun being a subjective set that includes a subset of pretty much anything anyone enjoys. Some people enjoy building characters up with numbers. In the case of Diablo I'm surprised that isn't the main reason so many people find it fun. You mean to tell me pointing and clicking your mouse till you see the credits is something fun? Wow, of course that's your subjective view of fun, who am I to argue, but doing that without some heavy customization sounds extremely boring.

      Except that most people like experimenting

      For those too lazy to do the effort of figuring out where they should invest there should be an auto level up system either with an adequate build supplied by blizzard or one that evaluates the players playstyle and then levels accordingly

      This system shifts all build style into gear meaning that blizzard can utilize the RMAH for even more profit since to experiment with your character in the ways of old your going to new specific gear to do so

    A little late to complain now...this news has been around for a few months now.
    Anyway you can still customise your character through spell and rune selection - yes another Barbarian may choose the same as you but there are heaps of different combinations that it really isn't going to be that big an issue.

      I think that was the articles point..

      These "customisations" have less to do w/ how a person would personally build their character and more along the lines of "how much gear grinding time can you invest"?

        I don't see what 'gear grinding time' has to do with anything, especially since that's what you did in D2 anyway.

        As phaded said below, the majority just put points into the same stats, and as for abilities, nothing's worse than finding that the points you put in X are now completely useless, and without any way to respec, you had to reroll. Sure, I had fun a few weekends back when with some friends I made a Bowcromancer, but after the first act I was already thinking that it'd end up with me being carried by the others in the group.

        It's similar to the talent tree redesign in the next WoW expansion. Do you really have choices if there's really only 2 good choices to spend stats, the rest are just voids that suck your point but give nothing in return? Should the choices be 'good as everyone else' and 'sub-par'? That's not a choice.

          As Sam above pointed it really is just a matter of perspective on "fun". The focus becomes more on the gear instead of the build. I grinded for gears but its the way I constructed my character skill wise that made the experience worth it for me.

          Some people like the flexibility of odd/weird builds. And while the argument for it being "non practical" to level someone from scratch for a personal build is there it somewhat misses the point of *why* people do it. Because people genuinely derive enjoyment from making a char from scratch for a specifically unique build. It's really up to the person how they want to "waste" their time per se.

          From what I can see here though is the biggest "for" argument is from the top tier "effeciency" people where the game is devolved into the "best" build for maximum gain. Which is fine you will always have that top tier people for effeciency. Some people like me though like flexibility and mucking about... sure I will never be "top tier" but thats not how I have "fun" on an RPG anyway.

    You clearly didn't play Diablo 2 at a high level.

    This was stats allocation for Diablo 2:

    put in a bunch of strength to wear armor, every single other point into vitality

    2 high level barbarians in diablo 2 had the same stat allocations, give or take a few points in str depending on how many stats charms they had

      That may have been the case, but that's no excuse to remove the whole system, instead it should have been improved upon to make stats relevant and balanced while making more skills useful.

      Hahaha, no. You clearly didn't play at high level. It all depended on what gear you had. If you put it all in str, you're doing it wrong.

        Given he said you invest minimum strength to wear your gear he's absolutely right.
        Klutar I implore you don't read the instructions on bleach I fear you'd drink it because it's non-toxic in Klutar-vision.

    SIgh. This again.

    This has been debated over and over again in the forums for D3.

    To sum it up: stats and 'building' of a character in D3 was not really worthwhile. With respec available and the fact that there was only really X amount of worthwhile builds that everybody would build anyway, Blizzard decided to remove it. There's an interview with Jay Wilson floating around that talks about this decision.

    Also, calling this a 'stupidification' is a little strange. And claiming that skill no longer matters is basely incorrect.

    More importantly, this is Diablo 3. Not Diablo 2.

    Do some research on what you're talking about before you step out of the legal team.


      Also can we all just wait till the game comes out to start the bickering and complaints. At least try the new mechanic before you hate on it.

    Did you mean: stupidification ?

    Also: I think all they've done is remove the disadvantage for players who don't have 1000's of hours to spend perfecting builds. Say you had a DII build that was 'perfect', but someone else just so happens to have followed the same build instructions and have created an identical character? That's more or less what ended up happening after a while in DII anyway, and so the material difference was only, as you said, reaction times and items.

      But then gives the advantage to people who 1000's of hours to spare grinding for gears/gems =P

      You win some you loose some xD

    LOL, complaining about the dumbing down of Diablo is like complaining they took all the big words out of a child's book.

    "I remember spending hours calculating optimal builds and skill placement in D2. "
    You mean spending hours and hours looking up optimal builds on the net.
    Who wants to play normal mod again and again every time they want to slightly change their build?
    The one thing stopping me from playing back through D2 this weekend with some friends, is the knowledge that the challenge is Hell, and I have to slog through normal and nightmare just to get there.

    There was only 1 or 2 viable builds that required anything other than Str for equipement(a set level for med or heavy armours), Dex at about 75 for block no matter the build, no int, and everything else in Vit.

      Someone who remembers 'spending hours calculating optimal builds and skill placement in D2.' would know that most top tier builds consisted of very similar patterns anyway.

    You can build a ranged barbarian, and a melee wizard :s

    Differentiation of characters in D2, at the high level, was which cookie-cutter build you had, and which elite unique items you had.

    Given unique (legendary) items in D3 will have randomised properties on them, there will be a lot more differentiation between items, and this will be the deciding factor in classes. If, hypothetically the best item in the game has 1000dps with a couple of great stats like Magic Find and increased Crit chance, it will still differ from character to character. I might have it with + Life Steal and +Gold Find, You might have it with + Damage and +Vitality, someone else might have it with +Mana Regen and +Resistance, whilst someone else could have +Crit Chance and +Crit Damage.

    These differences can heavily alter what skill builds you want, and it makes no sense to have to level another character to level 60 just so you can effectively use/try out a combination of gear/skills.

      Diablo 2 has had a respec system for over a year now, and that would have been fine for Diablo 3 as well.
      There isn't a need to level a whole new character up now.

      The point of removing all the stats and skill trees is so gear is more important, so more people buy from the Auction House so Blizzard make more money.

        +1 This is the first thing I thought, they are just pushing monetisation. That's all.

    Diablo is and always was a casual mindless clickfest

    Leveling 5 haracters to level 60 sounds like a good 300+ hours of gameplay. That sounds like plenty to me...

      Yeah, I was gonna say. People will want to play through the game "only" five times? Any game that makes me want to finish it more than once has already done what most games can't.


    This article needed more research as the comments have all ready made apparent. Its a childish rant most of the way through.

    Also, having bullshit were you're constantly calculating to get the optimum build is not a "smart" game, a game were there's very little math is not a "dumb" game. Its an ignorant and utterly useless phrase. Complexity does not mean quality.

    Forgive me for sounding like a fanboy but this is blizzard dam it. They know damn well better then you what works in this game and what doesn't.

      Sure they do, that's why the story for Starcraft 2 was so amazing.

      "They know damn well better than you what works in this game and what doesn't".

      No. They know damn well what will attract the a wide demographic of consumers - including newcomers. Games aren't simplified in order to improve gameplay or game quality; they're simplified to increase sales.

    Goto the US site and read the comments there, this article is terrible.

    "I remember spending hours calculating optimal builds and skill placement in D2. I remember doing maths on the fly about MF% ‘magic find’ or CtB% “chance to block” or HP to MP ratios for the perfect PvP mana-shield sorceress. Teach the next generation of Diablo players how to do maths instead of doing it for them."

    This is just plain stupid. There were only ever a few decent builds each character in D2 anyway, so removing the need to start a new character because you accidentally clicked a wrong attribute when leveling up is only a good thing. If you want to do basic level math, go back to high school.

    Maybe I want to play a game for fun instead of using it as a math problem. The whole "uber-metagamer" thing where people will ONLY ever use certain things in games, simply because of numbers, annoys me.

    It's especially annoying in role-playing games. Example: Derpina's character is a swashbuckling "Three Musketeers" type swordsman. Going completely against her character's personality, she chooses to equip him/her with a huge two-handed sword because it does 1d10 damage rather than 1d6+1 that a more suitable rapier would do...

    Or on Battlefield 3... "Herp derp, this is the best gun because the horizontal recoil is only .23 to the left and it reloads in 1.9 seconds, and does a maximum of 24 damage at range."

    "Jesse (@jessema) is on the Legal Team at Gawker Media and has been an avid gamer since Contra."

    Why does this person get to publish a childish rant?

      Because it brings in people who complain which brings in views which brings in ad funding.

    Why would you bother playing diablow when you could be playing a real rpg, like BGEE instead? :-P

    One other thing, which stat was it that increased your magic find in Diablo 2? I forget.
    And considering CtB was capped at 75%, if you calculated a nice amount of dex for early levelling gear, you'd find you had permanently wasted stats when as soon as you got any better gear.

      There was a dedicated magic find stat that was attached to items.

    Just to pile on:

    D2 had the illusion of customization, freedom to screw up your character or follow one of the two viable builds for your class exactly in order to be viable on Hell. You could look at another player and, just based on the weapon they had, know exactly where they had spent every stat/skill point. Either that or their character was damaged beyond repair and would have to be rerolled from level 1.

    In D3, however, set builds are going to be a thing of the past. Instead each class will have access to dozens of viable themes based on a few skills/passives with the remaining slots being filled by utility abilities based on personal preference.

    Instead of being forced into a cookie-cutter character built based on a FAQ, players will be able to truly play their character in the way that feels right to them without having to worry about being gimped and worthless. Even better, each player will have the freedom to experiment with different builds to find the one that fits instead of having to start over just to try something new.

    Unlike D2, there will actually be meaningful choices for players to make when playing their character in D3. That doesn't sound dumbed down to me.

      but there arn't so called "meaningful choices" as you can respec anytime you want..

    Reducing replay value increases the chance people will go back to their WoW subscriptions. :P

    Wow - Blizzard Games don't care about their own history or the feelings of the hardcore gamers that they know will feed them cash regardless of what they actually do.

    REAL big surprise there.

    Blizzard are the Hot Girl Who Knows She's Hot, and they are acting accordingly.

    Grim Dawn is the spiritual succesor to Diablo 2.

    I can see where your coming from but I think this article is a better rebuttal of your argument than I could furnish.

      I was debating whether or not to post this myself. It sums up my general feelings on talent trees pretty well too.

    Last time I checked Journalism was based on facts and/or experience. Starting an article with "from what Ive read" doesn't inspire confidence that you know what you are talking about. Only those within blizzard know what the game will be like past level 10 easy mode. The rest is conjucture and hearsay.

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