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d3 Wyatt Cheng Addresses Changes to % Bonus Damage Affix in Diablo's Patch 2.4

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Diablo 3 Senior Technical Game Designer Wyatt Cheng is spending a lot of time on the /r/Diablo sub-reddit lately, and he has established the philosophy behind some of the larger item changes that 2.4 will bring.

Popular community figures such as Quin69 have come out in opposition to the changes the new patch will bring, arguing that it kills off build diversity. The argument against such a large increase to the % Skill bonus means that if a player uses a particular skill, they will feel like they are being punished for not using the corresponding % Skill bonus item. This would dictate that players only use certain items with certain skills, possibly forcing only cookie-cutter builds to be viable.
Cheng wrote a pretty sizable response to the less favorable reactions, which followed up a short tweet Cheng made on December 8th.

Read the full post below:

Blizzard Icon Wyatt Cheng

I understand Quin's critique and totally get where he's coming from. Putting large skill bonuses means you can't cube the item and reconfigure them around as much.

Design is about tradeoffs, and we wouldn't do it if we there aren't upsides as well.

Furycrab correctly identified some of the issue here:
What we've done is sacrifice some illusion of choice for real choice. While this is a bad trade-off for some (particularly cutting edge explorers), it is a win for many others.

If we were to increase the damage of base skills and lower legendary item +%s it gets the number where it needs to be for that configuration, but also affects every other configuration. Let's use Fury of the Vanished Peak as an example. Maybe it's at a certain spot in IK builds. Yes, we could shift some numbers out of the item and into the base skill, but how does that affect Might of the Earth builds? Legacy of Nightmares builds (for which there are innumerable configurations)? Pushed far enough what if it was a huge buff to Raekor builds? Now don't get me wrong - having lots of toys to play around with and configure in different ways is GREAT. We love that. But what will inevitably happen is if any one of those builds is 10% better than the others you don't get an increase the variety, you end up with a decrease in variety due to there being a "right answer". There are innumerable ripple effects and if any one of those ripples ends up disrupting the status quo then it becomes the new standard by which every other class/build is judged.

Another downside of simply buffing base skills rather than pushing the power into legendaries is the effect it has on the level up game. How does the game play in all yellow items during the 1-70 experience - new players are entering the Diablo community every day. (and some of them post here in /r/Diablo to talk about what a great time they're having!). We can't have Wave of Light doing 3x as much damage as every other skill during that period.

The reality is that sometimes a +% on a skill is the only way to get a skill where it needs to be competitive at the upper tiers of play without disrupting the existing ecosystem. The choice for us becomes use a +% skill on an item or allow to skill to simply go completely unused for end game players.

Patch 2.4 is looking to have more viable builds than any patch to date. The team is really excited about this and we hope all of you are too. (Source)

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