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2017 Year in Review - Diablo 3

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Senior Game Designers Joe Shelly and Travis Day looked back at 2017 milestones.

Diablo 20th Anniversary Event

For the 20th anniversary, the team wanted players to go back and experience the dungeon (Cathedral) just like they did in Diablo I 20 years ago. They built new effects, sounds and applied some visual filters to make it look retro. The portal to the event was placed to Old Tristram. The anniversary event will return in January and you can find a full guide for it here.

The Necromancer

2017 was the year of the Necromancer. The dark commander of the Dead was brought to the game. They have a lot of skills that players are familiar with from Diablo II. Bringing back iconic abilities such as Corpse ExplosionCorpse Explosion or ReviveRevive was a lot of fun. Being able to bring back essentially almost every moster in the game was a ton of work for the devs, because they had to rebuild those monsters almost from the ground up. Don't forget that the Necromancer pack and the game are on sale until October 31! If you're playing a Necromancer this Season, check out our builds here.

Patch 2.6.0

The patch released alongside the Rise of the Necromancer pack and brought cool new features to the game including Challenge Rifts, the Shrouded Moors and the Temple of the Firstborn. The team also added the Realms of Fate, which have temporal Vortex, where you can encounter various terrain types.

(Source)

There will be no Diablo announcements at this year's BlizzCon!

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I really hope Blizzard is aware of how much potential a well-made ARPG has both for popularity and for monetization. As for the latter, I'm not talking about microtransactions. A bi-yearly expansion and some content patches in between (Not talking about "Sets do 2x more damage now!") is all it takes to secure the paychecks for the devs. I know that nowadays it's about maximizing profit for shareholders, which is why they didn't invest more in D3.

 

I really liked the Vortex, it was a very welcome surprise to see you "travel around the world" like that. I hope they're working on a D4, without the dumbed down loot and skill system and instead opt for a more complex system. I really like runewords and the complexity you get from that, but I would suggest reducing the power levels of runewords a bit (Everyone running around with teleport just means homogenization instead of diversity), and I really feel ARPG's shifted too much into "Lets opt for builds that can close distances really fast".

 

I mean, just look towards the direction Path of Exile has gone these years. If you don't have a build that can "oneshot the map" nowadays with 1 skill, you are laughingstock. Is that really what you want in an ARPG? Just 1 skill and crank it to 11? That's sadly what D3 and PoE have turned into. There's still a few builds out there that weave different skills, but it's usually one skill to buff the other anyways (Hi, Monks.)

 

Get the D2 Assassin and add more combinations. Or a Wizard that freezes things and then throw a meteor on it for massive Shatter damage. Grab a Druid that uses thorned vine skills to cause massive bleeding on a target, then transform into a werewolf for a bloodfrenzy effect.

 

There's just so much potential. Never used. :(

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12 hours ago, Yridaa said:

Get the D2 Assassin and add more combinations. Or a Wizard that freezes things and then throw a meteor on it for massive Shatter damage. Grab a Druid that uses thorned vine skills to cause massive bleeding on a target, then transform into a werewolf for a bloodfrenzy effect.

At least with solo builds, you often have to do it yourself. In groups, you literally spam one ability as a DPS and let your supports handle everything else.

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20 minutes ago, Valhalen said:

Too bad neither of the two skills are viable in the metagame. So it kinda feels like a waste.

Land of the Dead ruined the Necro release IMO. Every single build that can actually push revolves around that skill. It's like Archon for Wiz.

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3 hours ago, Blainie said:

Land of the Dead ruined the Necro release IMO. Every single build that can actually push revolves around that skill. It's like Archon for Wiz.

Yes. It is simply not fun. I got a bit disappointed with the Pet Build. Is not as engaging, and to be honest, the playstyle is annoying with the need of constantly having to re-summon Skeletal Mages; I'd rather them being permanent Pets like Witch Doctor's, who in turn has Pet Builds far more engaging. 

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22 minutes ago, Valhalen said:

Yes. It is simply not fun. I got a bit disappointed with the Pet Build. Is not as engaging, and to be honest, the playstyle is annoying with the need of constantly having to re-summon Skeletal Mages; I'd rather them being permanent Pets like Witch Doctor's, who in turn has Pet Builds far more engaging. 

Yeah, just waiting for globes from your Barb and spamming mages wasn't fun. The damage output was great for clearing, but even then, it wasn't worth it compared to RG-killer Necro and zNecro for groups or Blood Lance for solo, unless you felt like farming paragon in 90-100s.

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17 hours ago, Blainie said:

Yeah, just waiting for globes from your Barb and spamming mages wasn't fun. The damage output was great for clearing, but even then, it wasn't worth it compared to RG-killer Necro and zNecro for groups or Blood Lance for solo, unless you felt like farming paragon in 90-100s.

I've been having WAY more fun with the Witch Doctor's Helltooth Gargantuan build. I think that is how the Summonancer should have been in the first place: all pets there killing things while you just debuff stuff.

The whole mechanic of Skeleton Mages despawning is really bad design. Just an excuse to keep players' fingers "busy".

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7 minutes ago, Valhalen said:

I've been having WAY more fun with the Witch Doctor's Helltooth Gargantuan build. I think that is how the Summonancer should have been in the first place: all pets there killing things while you just debuff stuff.

The whole mechanic of Skeleton Mages despawning is really bad design. Just an excuse to keep players' fingers "busy".

Yep. The lack of any kind of displayed timer on them made it even worse. You had no idea when they were despawning and just spamming was normally your best bet.

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1 hour ago, Blainie said:

Yep. The lack of any kind of displayed timer on them made it even worse. You had no idea when they were despawning and just spamming was normally your best bet.

There is now a small icon above your action bar that displays the expiring only for the first one you summoned, but it is not enough. Plus it forces you to constantly check when they're about to expire, which is exhausting given you're already trying to maintain a X number of Skeletons while activating the rest of your skills... It is not a complex or challenging build. It is just troublesome.

I don't like Corpse Lance builds either. So I guess I'll just have to go with the Bonestorm build. Or maybe the Corpse Explosion build you guys posted. It's Mid-Tier, but seems fun!

Edited by Valhalen

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56 minutes ago, Valhalen said:

It is just troublesome.

Exactly. Same was for Blood Lance. Not difficult, not fun, just annoying hunting elites with 10% HP and having the entire run ruined by a Juggernaught you didn't notice.

57 minutes ago, Valhalen said:

I don't like Corpse Lance builds either. So I guess I'll just have to go with the Bonestorm build. Or maybe the Corpse Explosion build you guys posted. It's Mid-Tier, but seems fun!

<insert Lord Marrowgar joke here>

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22 hours ago, Valhalen said:

Yes. It is simply not fun. I got a bit disappointed with the Pet Build. Is not as engaging, and to be honest, the playstyle is annoying with the need of constantly having to re-summon Skeletal Mages; I'd rather them being permanent Pets like Witch Doctor's, who in turn has Pet Builds far more engaging. 

Every now and then I enjoy a passive build, however the resummoning was getting old.  I honestly think one single aspect could improve D3 by at least a few hundred percent,  Anything that is summoned (timed or permanent) has a skill bar and can be managed by the player.  If you want your mages to hit something other than what you're attacking? that's what you do, force them to attack that other thing.

I would have liked to see Necro's and WD's be more of a puppeteer than a damage dealer with little minions running along side them killing stuff for them passively.

Like a WD summons a gargantuan and then casts "Hex A" on the ground causing Gargantuan "Skill B" to soft enrage the Gargantuan and causing him to do massive AoE damage (on a cooldown).  Then the WD casts "Spell B" which causes her zombie hounds to sniff out hidden mobs and do bleed damage when the hounds "Skill A" is used.

To me it would feel kind of like a dance between buffs/debuffs and having the pets actually do something that is player controlled.

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3 hours ago, DeathsDesign said:

Every now and then I enjoy a passive build, however the resummoning was getting old.  I honestly think one single aspect could improve D3 by at least a few hundred percent,  Anything that is summoned (timed or permanent) has a skill bar and can be managed by the player.  If you want your mages to hit something other than what you're attacking? that's what you do, force them to attack that other thing.

Tbf, you can do that by hovering over the target when you summon them. It only works when for that first target, but that's normally a boss anyway. Interesting thoughts on the rest though. Somewhat more like Water Elemental or Warlock Demons in WoW.

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27 minutes ago, Blainie said:

Tbf, you can do that by hovering over the target when you summon them. It only works when for that first target, but that's normally a boss anyway. Interesting thoughts on the rest though. Somewhat more like Water Elemental or Warlock Demons in WoW.

Yeah something along those lines, but maybe with a bit more interaction with the pets/summon side of things.  Of course i've been wanting controllable summons since Vanilla D3, and with 2 "summoning" classes I feel it could be done, Mystic Ally doesn't exactly have the same feel to it but it could be conformed to the summoner's feel I guess.  Same thing with DH pets.

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2 hours ago, DeathsDesign said:

Yeah something along those lines, but maybe with a bit more interaction with the pets/summon side of things.  Of course i've been wanting controllable summons since Vanilla D3, and with 2 "summoning" classes I feel it could be done, Mystic Ally doesn't exactly have the same feel to it but it could be conformed to the summoner's feel I guess.  Same thing with DH pets.

I do wonder if too much focus on the manipulation of pets would then change the nature of Diablo somewhat for those sets. Blizzard seems pretty set on the idea of that pure hack'n'slash, clearing through swathes of mobs, even with pets. Would too much management of them stray from what they seem to want, I wonder?

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15 hours ago, Blainie said:

I do wonder if too much focus on the manipulation of pets would then change the nature of Diablo somewhat for those sets. Blizzard seems pretty set on the idea of that pure hack'n'slash, clearing through swathes of mobs, even with pets. Would too much management of them stray from what they seem to want, I wonder?

You know... that's an excellent question.  As good as my idea might be I think you're right, I think it would deviate too much from the core aspect of Diablo's just pure hack'n'slashery.  But maybe for a Diablo 4 or World of Diablocraft it would be a good idea.

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1 hour ago, DeathsDesign said:

You know... that's an excellent question.  As good as my idea might be I think you're right, I think it would deviate too much from the core aspect of Diablo's just pure hack'n'slashery.  But maybe for a Diablo 4 or World of Diablocraft it would be a good idea.

I think that in Diablo pets should just follow you along and kill stuff. No need to actually control them, but having a "Command" option to make them focus fire, much like the Command Skeletons, would be greatly appreciated. I just want them to fix the pet AI, because if there is one thing that really grinds my gears is when the Gargantuan just stay there, chilling, while I'm like "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!"

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8 minutes ago, Valhalen said:

I think that in Diablo pets should just follow you along and kill stuff. No need to actually control them, but having a "Command" option to make them focus fire, much like the Command Skeletons, would be greatly appreciated. I just want them to fix the pet AI, because if there is one thing that really grinds my gears is when the Gargantuan just stay there, chilling, while I'm like "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!"

You mean like when you use Simulacrum as Necro and suddenly he either casts nothing or casts it on a completely random target? Yeah.

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