Jump to content
FORUMS
Starym

The Paradox of Diablo: Why "Optimal Builds" Hurt the Game

Recommended Posts

50777-season-21-power-hotfixes-visual-an
 

A lot of the comments on my last article got me thinking (and btw, thanks to everyone for reading and hopefully enjoying it) and opened up a whole lot of ideas for followups. But the biggest takeaway from them has to be something I've been struggling with for a long time now: the paradox of Diablo-likes, as I like to call it. Just to put a huge disclaimer at the top here: all of this is my personal opinion and preference, obviously, and there are many people who prefer to play differently, be it use the same build over and over (WW Barb comes to mind) or just push to the maximum GR every single season no matter what. This article is for the rest of us who are at least somewhat conflicted.


The what of Diablo-likes??

Ok, so bear with me here. A Diablo game is composed of three basic parts: the combat, the skills and the loot. Everything else is set-dressing and enhances (or diminishes) those three parts. I've already gone over how Diablo 3's combat is almost pitch-perfect and hasn't been matched yet in the genre (sorry Lost Ark), the skill system is problematic in most games in the genre so we'll skip that, which leaves us to focus on the real problem of (current) Diablo 3 instead - the itemization.

We all want the best gear. We all want to be optimal. We all want to push the hardest difficulties and feel powerful and awesome. That's what the game is about - power fantasy, killing demons, getting powerful rewards to kill more demons with etc. The problem arises when obtaining and using that best optimal gear becomes more important than everything else. When it becomes more important than fun. Think about that for a second. Something in a GAME you're playing is more important than having fun with said game. When you look at it from an outside perspective, it's a ludicrous statement. You play games to have fun, why on earth would you instead have less fun just so you can get better items and be more optimal? It makes no sense. And yet it's what I'd wager happens to most players. It's absolutely what happens to me every time I come back to the game. It certainly happens to anyone that goes "hardcore" (no, not the game mode) in these types of games. Now, obviously for that contingent of players that goes hard at the actual leaderboards and only wants to push themselves to ever higher Greater Rifts, THAT'S the fun in the game, but I feel pretty certain there are builds they'd rather play if they could push with those.

So the paradox here is that the point playing the game is to get better gear, but getting the better gear can make the game less fun at high levels of gear optimization, as it forces you into specific builds.

2rnwuwb.jpg


The Loop

In Diablo 3, it goes a little something like this: you get the set that buffs you with infinity-gillion% damage and it's really fun to play, whether it's from the seasonal journey or from farming it the regular way. Then you play it some more and more and it gets less fun, as every repetitive activity does. Now if the set you have isn't the MOST optimal one you get to farm for the next one and when you get it, the loop repeats. But it only repeats once. Now you're stuck with this optimal set, and, ok, you can now search for the ancillary pieces of the build, the few legendaries and cube items that complement the set. Usually though, these don't add much to the build in terms of gameplay, they just make that way of playing more powerful. This is the end of the loop in terms of gameplay gains, unfortunately, as you're now farming for small percentage upgrades, that perfect roll with the maxed affixes that give you that +137 Strength or 1.5% crit chance that will push you to that next GR level (don't even get me started on Greater Rifts and their litany of issues). Now, don't get me wrong, this issue isn't related to just Diablo 3, it's a problem in all loot-based games. The better ones manage to distract you from the issue and possibly downplay the need for being optimal.

For Diablo 3 specifically, the issue really only appeared after Reaper of Souls, because that's when the excellent new legendary system was introduced. This is one of the best additions in an expansion I've seen to any game I've ever played, as it took the potential of ARPGs and put it into overdrive. Until then we had stat sticks for items and that was fine, that was the way it's always been, with the very occasional legendary that actually had an ability (ah, MaximusMaximus, you were ahead of your time), or sets that gave you just more of the same stats. But with RoS, every single slot you had was now an option for deep customization of your gameplay style. Sure, not all legendaries had gameplay changing abilities, but they all added something to your build, at the very least visually. I'd say that initial Reaper of Souls period was the absolute best in terms of itemization and build diversity (although I'm sure there were plenty of optimal and "must-have" builds even then), because legendaries were pretty scarce so you had to make do with what you had and create builds based on that.

Then came the enemy. The sets system in Diablo 3 is just bad, there's no way around that. It takes the loop and just speeds it up infinitely. When the change to sets to make them actually viable was first announced, I was thrilled. Permanent Call of the Ancients with a 6 set for Barb? Sign me up! I didn't even think of the fact that that was 6 slots immediately gone, with additional ones having to bend to the now Ancients focused build. The deathblow came when sets became infinitely powerful with the various nonsensical +28193463184327423% buffs and legendaries weren't buffed alongside them.

Shadows-Mantle.jpg
The bonus is now 75,000%.

Now look, obviously a lot of this isn't the developer's fault. The team is ridiculously small and was getting smaller ever since RoS, so tweaking % numbers is an easy way to make it seem as if something is being added. I get that, that's fine, you do what you can with what you have. But it's not just Diablo 3 that has this issue. The more power vs. more fun is an eternal struggle in the whole genre. The glaring thing with D3 isn't that its itemization is bad, it's that it has SO much potential with all of these legendary powers that's being squandered.
 

Unsolvable?

Is this even a solvable issue though? Yes and no, unfortunately. The basic loop I mention above will always be there, there will always be an optimal build, no matter how hard developers try to avoid it. However, there are things that make it either last longer, make it a more smooth loop or make it less noticeable. There are plenty of potential solutions, too many to write up here, but the below are the ones I feel are most relevant (and easy to explain).

  • The easiest way to resolve the issue is to simply not care. Take whichever combination of items you enjoy playing, head to the difficulty those items allow you to play and have fun! I'm sure plenty of people do this already, but I've tried many times and everyone I know has as well - we never keep at it. We always end up defaulting back to the "good" builds.
     
  • Items HAVE TO be hard to get. Of course everyone wants to get to play with the big toys and it's not actually fair that only people that spend insane amounts of hours in a game get to use the most powerful items. But, once you remove rarity as an issue, other than small % upgrades, the system collapses in on itself. Once the powerful builds become easily available to all, those are the ones that will be used. By all. They are supposed to be the goal, the carrot that keeps you playing and farming and enjoying the gameplay.

    Now of course the reason things are as they are in D3 at the moment is because it's a 7 year old game and the hardcore players (again, not the game mode) have already had all the powerful items, so it's completely ok for more casual players to get them too, but I'm talking in general here. Making tiers of power (not tier sets, mind you) as incremental goals is the way to go. So casual players get to play with powerful things, but they know there's more out there. Getting one full complement of gear from a single tier allows you to start going for the next one and so on. Just to clarify, by tier I don't mean the same items with bigger stats, but you take your legendary pool and see which are more or less powerful and sort them that way. This is already a thing, as you can always find tier lists for items in any game, ranking them by their power. The problem there is that you can skip huge parts of that if you get lucky with a drop. So, if you get a really good top tier item, that's it for that slot, you just completely ignored the other options available there. There are so many fun and interesting legendary combinations in D3 that are simply ignored because they aren't powerful enough.

latest?cb=20141009005449  

  • Content helps out a lot, as doing various different things to obtain gear keeps it feeling fun. Specific game modes or dungeons can completely revitalize a game. For example, if you came across a dungeon with really good rewards, but weren't allowed to use any of your top items, that would make you instantly have to change your build and playstyle, play with what you have available and adapt. Balancing said dungeon would be a nightmare, but it would be doable. Even separating the loot pool into different game modes is an option, so certain content is only accessible with the "worse" loot. It still rewards you with desirable items, but in order to get a chance at it you have to make sub-optimal builds with items that are weak. There are many different ways to do this and use content to liven up the itemization game, force players out of their comfort zone and get them thinking.
     

My solution

While most of the above is only applicable to a new game I've found a solution that works for me in Diablo 3 specifically. It's still a tough sell to some of my more hardcore-minded friends who physically can't have fun unless they're pushing the absolute highest GR possible, but I'll force/threaten convince them of this new way eventually. So what is it? Well it includes a bit of patience, unfortunately, but basically you make your own tiers and see how far you can get with them. If I stumble upon Ancients for my old reliable Cyclone + every single passive legendary possible that deals damage to everything around you Monk build I'm going to play it until it's no longer fun and try to see what GR level is the maximum I can get with it. Basically that Cyclone set is my own endgame. But here's the thing - I can have MANY endgames this way. Whenever I stumble upon an interesting combination of legendaries that might work well together, I'm going to try them out (or keep them in the stash because I need one or more additional legendaries to make it work) and if it's a fun build, then bam, I have another endgame goal for myself - take THAT build to it's maximum potential and gather items for it.

I'm actually going to make a spreadsheet for this purpose (yes, it's a bit much, but I have to keep myself away from those damned optimal builds somehow), charting what builds make it how far and how I can improve them.

All of this might seem like a lot of work and mental discipline for just one game when there's so much else to play, but it's worth it for me. Diablo 3 has many flaws and issues, but at its core, it's still the best in the genre and if I have to put in a little effort on my end to get it fresh again I'm absolutely willing to do that. Having tried literally every alternative out there in the genre for significant amounts of time, I keep coming back to D3 and there has to be a reason for it. That's not to say the other games are bad, but they're just not what I'm looking for - perhaps I truly am a gameplay snob.
 

The real name of the game

Creativity. Creativity and build diversity are the one and only solution in the end. Everything else I wrote about is just trying to emphasize that one aspect. If a game's items spark your imagination, make you think "OMG, if I just combine these 2 legendaries, and add this third one in, and then another and another, it'll be amazing. I can't wait to get them and try it out!", that's it, the game has you. Discovering new ways to play and creating them by yourself is what makes these games fun in the long term. As good as the gameplay can be and as good as the individual items are, they all have a pretty short expiration date. Finding new builds that change the way you play extends that to the extremes. There's nothing better to me than finding an item or items for a different class that immediately has me thinking I HAVE to try this class out now, look at how great this item is! Then, every once in a while, hop on to your optimally built destruction monster and stomp some crazy high GRs and Torments for some catharsis, just for good measure.

NleT8YM.jpg?1


Conclusion

In closing, obviously you should play EXACTLY the way that you want to, and if pushing the high GRs and using the absolutely best gear that is available in a season is what's fun for you, then that's great, I'm actually envious of you! If using the same build all the time is what makes the game fun for you who am I to tell you different! This was just about my personal issues with the game and genre, and potential solutions to it. If you found any of this useful (or at all comprehensible), great! Let me know what you think of the whole thing above, from the paradox to the potential solutions and if I missed something in my reasoning. A big part of why I wrote this article (and hope to write more) is to see what other current Diablo 3 players think after 7 years, and to potentially be able to tell Blizzard what we want from Diablo 4, as they seem to not really have a firm idea themselves.

  • Like 5
  • Thanks 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the article, and I have to say I agree completely. I usually prefer to play on lower difficulties but with more creative and "off-meta" legendaries. Of course, it would be even better if we could equip most items and still be strong enough for the latter Torments, but that might be too much work for a small team.

In the end it's still a game, and IMO that means I should play to have fun.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The whole thing boils down to them adding "set items" and making "legendaries" a step-up from "rares". Very early in D3's lifespan, rare items were actually best, and the game was much better back then as far as character progression goes (but it had a lot of other problems which resulted in an overall poor experience anyway).

Look at PoE's item philosophy. There are "unique" items there instead of "legendaries" (think about the name!). All that makes a "unique" item special is that it has unique properties - they are 'building blocks' for builds, and they are generally taxing to run because they lack other useful stats along with the property, compared to running rares in the same slot. This is how it should be. You should struggle to piece the build together whilst still trying to get enough raw stats from the other (typically rare item) slots. THAT's what makes the item chase fun.

In many ways I still like D3, but character progression and customization are two things they completely missed the point of as far as ARPG's go. It's like, they totally misunderstood what made D2 fun for most people when designing D3 RoS (and D2 was similar to what I described about PoE in many ways, although using slightly different tools to achieve it [runewords and items with skills on them - which I believe is where PoE took their inspiration for skill gems]).

Edited by Thaya
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In the old days i used to enjoy trying different combination of skills in diablo 2 LoD. Then came skill synergyes.... It's kinda fun for increase in complexity, but suddenly we are locked to certain combination and no longer free to mix and match.

Based on that i think somehow tired player that hates META set, META skill and META team composition will enjoy some chaotic moment. Something like season (or special mode) of no legendary/set effect but all dmg increased by xxx% and dmg reduction increased by yy% ?

Maybe then we can see some crazy build like trap DH or clone Wizard (i know these build is not possible).

Well that's my idea if number tweaking is all we can ask from Blizzard.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Risen said:

In the old days i used to enjoy trying different combination of skills in diablo 2 LoD. Then came skill synergyes.... It's kinda fun for increase in complexity, but suddenly we are locked to certain combination and no longer free to mix and match.

Based on that i think somehow tired player that hates META set, META skill and META team composition will enjoy some chaotic moment. Something like season (or special mode) of no legendary/set effect but all dmg increased by xxx% and dmg reduction increased by yy% ?

Maybe then we can see some crazy build like trap DH or clone Wizard (i know these build is not possible).

Well that's my idea if number tweaking is all we can ask from Blizzard.

Yep, content pushing build variety is a really good solution, which is one of the things that have to make it into D4.

  • Confused 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The idea of powerscale will always be a problem in a game with leaderboards, even if you don't play to be part of said leaderboards. You'll see your buddies pushing on higher GRs than you, and feel your pride hurt because you're playing with a less "optimal" build. You will always find yourself lacking power, at some point, even if you have near perfect itemization. And Tier Sets completely ruined that, as well. You use X Tier Set until you find Y, because it is better. It is quite frustrating.

I've been playing Leapquake Barbarian since they introduced it. I find the gameplay style extremelly enjoyable and hard to get bored of. Yet, it is a build considered mid-low Tier for GR pushing; and it is something I feel when I play with friends that use the "Top Tier" builds, cleaning stuff faster than I do, to the point I feel that my presence in the group is a mere placebo.

I've tried other Barbarian builds that are deemed better than Leapquake, but none of them felt good to me. So I stick with Leapquake because it is the way I have fun in the game. Same with Ulliana, another build that is deemed low tier compared to other Monk builds.

If Blizzard really wants to make an impact with Diablo 4, they will have to step-up their game and either change how the whole system works, or tweak it in a way that makes it enjoyable again and not a huge chore. But with the internet, things will always be tricky, because there will always have those threads with questions like "Which is the best build in the game?!?!?"

A lot of people will disagree with me, but I feel that if Blizzard really takes the supposed route and make the game like Dark Souls, replayability will become something more engaging. I played Dark Souls 3 over and over countless times because of how enjoyable it feels to fight those hard bosses again, but with full gear and spells and whatnot.

Edited by Valhalen
  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I love the format, and the in-depth topic of game design. It would be wonderful to see more analysis' (analysees? analysi?) on topics such as skill systems and class structures. Keep up the good work.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 4/7/2019 at 5:42 PM, Starym said:

Diablo 3 has many flaws and issues, but at its core, it's still the best in the genre and if I have to put in a little effort on my end to get it fresh again I'm absolutely willing to do that. Having tried literally every alternative out there in the genre for significant amounts of time, I keep coming back to D3 and there has to be a reason for it. That's not to say the other games are bad, but they're just not what I'm looking for - perhaps I truly am a gameplay snob.

This, right there. I couldn’ta cared less about this season after straying off to Path of Exile, a suitably fun, suitably developed, suitably being-developed game, but then their season ended and they rolled out the new expansion, and starting anew in there seemed extremely unappealing. I still haven’t figured out how to stop these incessant, sudden deaths on my main character: Stepping on the wrong Pixels of Atrocity and Apocalypse and getting inexplicably one-shot into losing 10% of my total progress to the next level is not exactly my idea of a good time, considering that a single percentage point takes in the vicinity of five minutes to attain. I also read that it could be caused by a flaky server and tried to fix it with some manual sync command macros, the whole idea of which is as ludicrous as it is sad in a modern, supposedly powerful, spottily polished game engine. That game needs a combat log or at least anything in that direction; it doesn’t even have Diablo III’s simple “was slain by” messages.

Anyhow, after spending quite some time and, indeed, money on that game, I decided that if I were to start an ARPG from scratch, it might as well be ye olde faithful Diablo III. And despite picking my least favorite class, which I’ve blissfully ignored until now, I had a blast. The game has so many flaws, so many errors, which are all the more excruciating because it’d take a beginner programmer such as myself little more than an afternoon to fix. And yet there’s this strange attraction that keeps me going back to killing fruity, by today’s standards outdated-looking demons by the thousands. After months of making actual progress with a game that’s alive and well and tempting for a nerdy mind to crunch the numbers of its manifold possibilities, I find myself craving Diablo III’s fast food-like, greasy and sleazy and indubitably unhealthy (because short-lived) burgers, simply because their secret recipe – the combat – has never been copied by anyone outside the Krusty Krab: Guilty pleasure inludite.

I recall a similar situation many years ago when a far less popular game of a different genre, the real-time strategy–RPG hybrid Warlord’s Battlecry III, had this fascinating band of followers despite its endless flaws and, more importantly, its factually superior alternatives (Blizzard’s own Warcraft III, Spellforce, etc.). Not being a developer myself back then, I just admired its premise of never-ending progress, an utter niche but rewarding grind, long after it had been abandoned not only by the people who hated it from the start (and there were a lot), or those who liked it for a while and played it with me before shrugging it aside, but even by its own developers. So this tiny but glistening core humbly asked the company, at least what was left of it, for the custody of their misshapen, grotesque but all the same beloved game – and got it. After signing an agreement not to share the game’s code, they were allowed to make their own alterations and modifications to an already dead, zero-profit patient, and revel in whatever perverted homunculus might emerge.

If Diablo III ever found a fate like this, I’d gladly pour my spare time into raising this abandoned kid, for I know that with such coruscating potential at its core, one could develop something grand. Knowing it is about as likely as seeing a successful manned Mars landing in my lifetime, I get frustrated and consider equally frustrating options like Path of Exile again, simply because its many glaring mistakes have at least a mild chance of being fixed. Other developers would kill for an engine and combat like Diablo III’s, but Blizzard curses its offspring with a terrible sentence for the chubby son: Disregard.

  • Like 3
  • Confused 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Think you nailed it on the head Infinal, Diablo III has the best engine / combat of the genre, while Path of Exile has the best itemization / crafting systems and a great on-going support, imagine what could be done if both's best parts were to be merged...Diablo III with actual support / innovation going on as well as a rewarding, long-term progression chase, and PoE without lag / rippy deaths all the time and more engaging gameplay.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 4/7/2019 at 6:04 PM, Valhalen said:

I've been playing Leapquake Barbarian since they introduced it. I find the gameplay style extremelly enjoyable and hard to get bored of. Yet, it is a build considered mid-low Tier for GR pushing; and it is something I feel when I play with friends that use the "Top Tier" builds, cleaning stuff faster than I do, to the point I feel that my presence in the group is a mere placebo.

I've tried other Barbarian builds that are deemed better than Leapquake, but none of them felt good to me.

Agree 100% and I have had the same experience but substitute "Leapquake" for "Whirlwind." That has been my favorite playstyle since D2. I love it.

A shame it caps out about 2-3 weeks into a season and pushing it beyond 100 is nearly impossible. And to do so basically requires grinding high rifts on another build (for me zbarb, which I enjoy but it gets old and requires a full meta group to be worth anything). 

My friends who like multishot DH, DMO frozen orb, and tons of other core, iconic builds that have FULL SETS designed around them have the same problem. There are playstyles and builds they really enjoy, but they very quickly max out and cannot be played in viable groups beyond GR100. 

And now we have "Season of Nightmares" that will just make 2 of the same top meta builds even stronger, while now making the other builds even WEAKER as they lose RoRG.

Season of Nightmares is right....... a nightmare for anyone other than the 2-4 super OP LoN builds.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 4/7/2019 at 5:42 PM, Starym said:

A big part of why I wrote this article (and hope to write more) is to see what other current Diablo 3 players think after 7 years, and to potentially be able to tell Blizzard what we want from Diablo 4, as they seem to not really have a firm idea themselves.

I personally would like to see that in regards to itemization Blizzard goes back a bit more into the direction Diablo 2, where unique items (the legendaries of D2) had predetermined affixes and were also not limited to 4 primary and 2 secondary affixes like in D3.

Some legendaries in D4 could have 6 affixes, while others have 8 or even 10 different affixes, and not just one special affix, but maybe even two or three, if it fits the fantasy of these items.

Also, their special affixes shouldn't be like insane damage multipliers to a single skill (because as you said, it funnels everyone into the same builds in the endgame), but more generic and not just apply to a single skills, but be useful to various builds.

Furthermore, there probably should be various Best in Slot legendaries for different purposes. There could be for example a really offensive oriented legendary Best in Slot weapon, then there is a defensive BiS legendary weapon, then maybe a BiS utility legendary weapon, or even several other BiS legendary weapons that provide offense and defense and utility in other ways than the previous ones.

==============================

If anyone is interested, I attached some concept art I made to this post to illustrate of how such legendaries could look like.

The numbers and so on are just examples for the purpose of illustration and if that would be a real game, the numbers might change.

There are a few more concept arts here:

https://imgur.com/a/Z5NswCo

==============================

Thanks for your article / blog post.

It very much reflects the thoughts and feelings I have about Diablo 3 as well.

Windforce - Kopie.jpg

Earth Shatter.jpg

Bloodfist.jpg

Vampiric Embrace.jpg

Heart of Ice.jpg

The Mahim Oak Curio.jpg

Lenymo.jpg

Blade of Time.jpg

Thundergod's Wrath.jpg

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nice article. IMHO, set items should be the standard, like start sets to get that little extra bonus )not the insane bonus u get now, but not in DH..:D) while legendaries should be the real deal and primals only on "legendary" items, not set items. that would make the set builds usable to a certain level and from that point on, u must work on ur legendary (and add possibility for all pieces to have sockets and modify more than 1 affix/suffix, after all, why to we horder so much gold if there is nowhere to spend it beside paying for grs?

The opportunity to reroll and get better affix/suffix would change the face of D3, turning the legs/primals the real goal not set items....

Just my thoughts tho..

Brgds

GK

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

D3 hasn't had any major content update since RoS, - 4 years ago?  Content helps instill game-playing adventure, and peaks interest, which indirectly helps alleviate the continual grinding.

Content updates are needed for D3, and if not, then I hope they address this for D4 in a timely manner.

Edited by rickster

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, rickster said:

D3 hasn't had any major content update since RoS, - 4 years ago?  Content helps instill game-playing adventure, and peaks interest, which indirectly helps alleviate the continual grinding.

Content updates are needed for D3, and if not, then I hope they address this for D4 in a timely manner.

While I agree that the continual grinding can get stale without updates, grinding is very much a part of Diablo and this style of game. No matter what they change, the grind will always be there and I do think it should be. I'd hope for a balance in Diablo 4, where you get content on a scheduled basis, but you retain that grinding element.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Similar Content

    • By Staff
      It seems an item has been causing a lot of issues for players, but Blizzard was quick to fix it:
      Razor Strop Fix (source)
      Today we addressed an issue related to the Razor Strop item. After some investigation, it appears that the item was causing long game freezes for players and making it difficult for some to connect to games.
      A fix has been applied, and we will keep our eyes peeled if the issue persists. Thanks everyone!
    • By Staff
      The new season starts today at 5 PM PST/CET/KST, and we have the guides ready. The season and patch change things up in the solo department and bring tweaks to Firebird, Bones of Rathma, and Gears of the Dreadlands, including more items. You can also check out our other handy season-related guides here, with a follower-centric one for the new systems and abilities here.

      But enough introing, let's get to it! 

      Barbarian:
      Support GR Build with Raekor and HotNS Sets (Top) Frenzy Build with the Horde of the Ninety Savages Set (Top) Rend Build with Wrath of the Wastes Set (Top) Leap/Earthquake Build with Might of the Earth Set (High) Seismic Slam Build with Might of the Earth Set  (High) Furious Charge Build with Immortal King and Raekor Sets(Mid) Hammer of the Ancients Build with the Raekor Set (Mid) Hammer of the Ancients Build with the Immortal King Set (Mid) Hammer of the Ancients GR Build With LoD (Mid) Whirlwind GR Build with Wrath of the Wastes Set (Low) Frenzy/Thorns Build with Legacy of Nightmares Set (Low)
       
      Crusader:
      Heaven's Fury Build with Aegis of Valor Set (Top) Thorns Bombardment Build with Akkhan and Invoker Sets (Top) Thorns Build with Invoker Set (High) Blessed Hammer (Hammerdin) Build with Seeker of the Light Set (Mid) Sweep Attack Build with Roland's Set (Mid) Blessed Shield Build with Legacy of Dreams (Mid) Condemn Build with Legacy of Dreams (Mid) Fist of the Heavens Build with Aegis of Valor Set (Mid) Condemn Build with Akkhan Set (Low) Shield Bash Build with Roland's Set (Low)
       
      Demon Hunter:
      Support Build with Gears of Dreadlands/Marauder (Top) Hungering Arrow Build with Gears of Dreadlands (Top) Rapid Fire Build with Legacy of Dreams (High) Rapid Fire Build with Natalya's Vengeance (High) Sentry Build with Natalya's and Marauder Set (High) Shadow's Mantle Build with Impale (High) Multishot Build with Unhallowed Essence Set (High) Cluster Arrow Build with Marauder Set (Mid) Grenade Build with Unhallowed Essence Sets (Mid) Rain of Vengeance Build with Natalya's Set (Mid) Fan of Knives Build with Legacy of Dreams (Low) Chakram Build with Unhallowed Essence Set (Low)
       
      Monk:
      Support Build with Inna's Mantra Set (Top) Tempest Rush Build with the Patterns of Justice Set (Top) Tempest Rush Build with Sunwuko Set (Top) Wave of Light Build with Legacy of Dreams (High) Wave of Light Build with Sunwuko or Inna Sets (High) Crippling Wave Build with Raiment and Shenlong Sets (High) Seven-Sided Strike Build with Uliana's Stratagem Set (High) Lashing Tail Kick Build with Legacy of Dreams (Mid) Lashing Tail Kick Build with Sunwuko Set (Mid) Exploding Palm and Mystic Ally Build with Inna's Mantra Set (Low)
       
      Necromancer:
      Necromancer Support Build With Pestilence Set (Top) Bone Spear Build with the Masquerade set (Top) Corpse Explosion Build with Legacy of Dreams (Top) Poison Scythe Build with Legacy of Dreams (Top) Bone Spirit Build with Rathma Set (High) Army of the Dead Build with Rathma Set (High) Generator Build with Grace of Inarius Set (High) Skeletal Mage Singularity "Rat" Build with Legacy of Dreams (High) Corpse Lance Build with Legacy of Dreams Set (High) Corpse Lance Build with Pestilence or Trag'Oul Set (Mid) Thorns Skeletons Build with Legacy of Dreams (Mid) Skeletal Mages Build With Trag'Oul and Jesseth Sets (Mid) Blood Nova Build with Legacy of Dreams (Low)
       
      Witch Doctor:
      Spirit Barrage Build with the Mundunugu's Regalia Set (Top) Carnevil Poison Dart Build with Zunimassa Set (High) Carnevil Dagger of Darts Build with Legacy of Dreams (High) Spirit Barrage Build with Legacy of Dreams  (High) Soul Harvest Build with Jade Harvester Set (Mid) Zombie Bears Build with Helltooth Set (Mid) Firebats Build with Spirit of Arachyr Set  (High) Gargantuan Build with Zunimassa Set (Mid) Gargantuan Build with Helltooth Set (Low) Acid Cloud Build with Helltooth Set (Low) Grasp of the Dead Build with Helltooth Set (Low)
       
      Wizard:
      Mirror Images Build with Firebird Set (Top) Frozen Orb Build with Legacy of Dreams (Top) Energy Twister Build with Legacy of Dreams (Top) Flame Blades Build with Firebird Set (High) Archon Build with Vyr Set (High) Mammoth Hydra Build with Legacy of Dreams(High) Energy Twister Build with DMO Set (High) Frozen Orb Build with DMO Set (High) Frost Hydra Build with Typhon's Veil (Mid) Arcane Orbit Build with DMO Set (Low) Meteor Build with Firebird or Tal Rasha Sets (Mid) Explosive Blast Farming Build with Tal Rasha Set (Low)  
      We hope you have fun in the new season, and you can check out the full patch notes here.
    • By Staff
      Season 23 starts today, and we're looking at which class to play and the tier rankings.
      Solo Greater Rift Push Build Rankings for Season 23
      If you like to play alone and would like to push rifts, we recommend you the following builds for each class, with more builds listed in our solo Greater Rift pushing guide.
      Barbarian: Wrath of the Wastes Rend Build Crusader: Aegis of Valor Heaven's Fury Build + Thorns Bombardment Build Demon Hunter: GoD Hungering Arrow Build Monk: Sunwuko Tempest Rush Build Necromancer: Masquerade Bone Spear Build Witch Doctor: Mundunugu Spirit Barrage Build Wizard: Firebird Flame Blades Build Speed Farming Tier Lists for Season 23
      These are your best class choices if you prioritize speed-clearing bounties, Greater Rifts, or Torment 16 standard rifts in Season 23. For more details, check out our speed farming and rankings guide.
      S-Tier: Necromancer, Demon Hunter A-Tier: Wizard, Barbarian B-Tier: Monk C-Tier: Witch Doctor, Crusader The Group Meta for Season 23
      Determining the exact meta is more complex, which is why we're listing class roles at which the classes excel in Season 23. You can find a more in-depth look at how individual classes perform in a group environment in our group meta overview.
      Best Trash Killers for Season 23 will be Masquerade Bone Spear Necromancer. LoD Poison Scythe Necromancer and Firebird Flame Blades Wizard. Best Rift Guardian Killer compositions revolve around DPS builds that focus on single-target damage, mainly stacking the Bane of the Stricken gem. The best ones are Aegis of Valor Heaven's Fury Crusader and Firebirds Flame Blades Wizard. Best at Grouping are Support Barbarians with their Ancient Spear and other classes that utilize items like The Executioner and Strongarm Bracers. Best Tank Support for Season 23 goes to Inna Monk! The best class for Experience Farming is Wrath of the Wastes Rend Barbarian since Barbarians can move extremely fast while dealing consistently high AoE damage. We hope you will enjoy Season 23, and we'll see you in the game!
    • By Staff
      Something went awry with Followers on consoles, so Blizzard will release a hotfix to address a few of their skills.
      The hotfix should be live within the next 12-24 hours.
      (Source)
      Hello all -
      We are currently working on a hotfix that will address an issue with a few follower skills on console. Night’s Veil (Scoundrel), Erosion (Enchantress) and Onslaught (Templar) will be part of this hotfix. We will have an update here in the next 12-24 hours on deployment on this for all consoles and I will update this thread once this is deployed!
      Thanks!
    • By Starym
      Diablo 3 Season 23 is coming on Friday at 5, and it's one of the bigger ones in recent memory (at least for solo players), so we poked our resident expert and guide writer Deadset to hear his thoughts on the upcoming season, currently live patch and all the changes it's bringing with it. One of the major things discussed is the change for Leaderboards, with each set getting its own!
      Start Date
      Firstly, I can't help but notice that Season 23 continues a tested Blizzard tradition of starting out on a holiday. This date of choice this time is April 2nd, which is Easter weekend for western countries - and falls less than a week from the Season 22 end date, March 28th. I have mixed feelings about this choice; part of the playerbase might appreciate the chance to grind on a holiday weekend, but others have already voiced their displeasure with what seems a rushed start, and especially their irritation with the inconsistency of seasons' end and start dates. The closeness of the new Season start to end of the previous Season's leaderboard push grind certainly doesn't help. A more uniform approach will be helpful to players that need to schedule time off work, especially if they plan a more focused burst of grind at the start. Let's hope this is something Blizzard considers going forward.
       
      Season Theme - Follower and Leaderboard Changes
      The seasonal theme for Season 23 is a mildly amusing topic, since it doesn't have a "theme" in the strict sense of the word. The patch notes have worded the follower changes - which are not to be underestimated, mind you - as the "theme" this time around, but the companion rework applies to non-seasonal players as well, which makes it a little hard to pass off as something exciting to restart a character around. With that being said, the cosmetic rewards of Season 23 are excellent - with the return of the Emerald Dragon pet, as well as the addition a very memorable Lacuni pet and Butcher-themed portrait. If you are a cosmetics-driven player, you definitely have an incentive to grind the Seasonal Journey out.
        
      Speaking of the Seasonal Journey, the Conquests for Season 23 are some of the easiest and least annoying in the game, so if you're in just for a quick weekend, you can easily knock out Divinity, Speed Demon and Avarice and get on with your gaming life. Of course, we have full guides on those and the remaining conquests here on the website. The best Haedrig's Gifts this Season are for Demon Hunters (Unhallowed Essence) and Barbarians (Wrath of the Wastes), both of which will carry you through the Seasonal Journey before you can say "I'm grinding".
      While we have a full guide on Followers and the changes made to their systems, which you can read here, I want to briefly touch upon the companion rework as one of the more notable changes to the game in recent memory. In Patch 2.7, followers turn from a ragtag bunch of mildly helpful walking buffs into nearly full-fledged characters, with the ability to equip a full character's worth of items - that's right, all 13 slots that you're used to on your character, plus the unique follower slot for the follower tokens. While dealing damage is still way out of their reach (they can't equip any damage-oriented sets), they have the ability to equip a plethora of incredibly useful legendary powers and have their effect apply to your character via a system called Emanate. This is an incredible buff to solo play, as your follower easily triples his overall usefulness with powers like Nemesis Bracers, The Flavor of Time,Avarice Band and the Cain and Sage sets, among others.

      On the topic of seasonal changes, I should mention that of the unsung heroes of Patch 2.7 is the Leaderboard update, which now creates a separate Leaderboard for every set in the game, as well as a leaderboard for non-set (Legacy of Dreams-based) builds. I cannot overstate how good of a change that is for competitive and semi-competitive play, as well as the overall health and creativity within the game! Diablo 3 has often been (rightfully) admonished for pushing Leaderboard performance around the "meta set" of the Season, and having individual categories for specific playstyles is one of the better band-aids the set-centric Diablo system can hope to receive. I have nothing but praise for its implementation, and can't wait to see what players come up with as they push with their favorite off-meta builds!
       
      Item Changes
      The two targeted reworks in Patch 2.7 are the Bones of Rathma set for Necromancers and the Firebird's Finery set for Wizards. Keeping up with tradition, some of the changes are well warranted and amazing, while others leave us perplexed and confused as to their purpose. Let's dive briefly into what they bring!
      Bones of Rathma
      The Bones of Rathma have been changed into a Revive, Army of the Dead and Bone Spirit-centric set. Do not be fooled by the summoner-heavy appearance of the new Rathma Necro - he maintains a vast army of *permanent* minions at his side simply in order to reset and empower his nuke abilities. Note the emphasis on permanent; the developers very intentionally shifted the Rathma focus away from Skeletal Mages, which are a well trodden path for Necromancers, to say the least - all in all, a good mechanical shift on the dev's part. The set allows for two playstyles, one focusing on Army of the Dead, and another - on Bone Spirit for dealing damage, with dedicated items being created or buffed for both skills.
      From a purely meta perspective, the current damage numbers and overall capability of Rathma playstyles hovers around the middle of the Necromancer pack, and will definitely not outclass staples like the Skeletal Mage "Rat" Necro or the Bone Spear Masquerade Necro. The playstyles however are solid, fun, and different - and likely just a few multipliers away from becoming flavor of the month, which is something we might see as early as next Season.
      Firebird's Finery
      The Firebird's Finery set has been a maligned part of the Wizard arsenal for long, and with good reason; its ignition mechanic simply didn't bring anything inspiring to the table, and at some point early in Seasons' development, got vastly outclassed by other sets and builds. It has lingered dormant ever since, but the changes in Patch 2.7.0 just might bring it back to life!
      The playstyle has been entirely shifted into a "set on fire - detonate stacks" playstyle that tries its best to shy away from the all-reaching grasp of channeling builds, but doesn't quite fully escape it. Currently, the set encourages you to ignite enemies with Disintegrate (finally, a use for the skill!) and then stop channeling altogether and incinerate your enemies into oblivion with an arsenal of non-channeling fire spells of your choice. While the meta points to Spectral Blade - Flame Blades as the optimal way to slice-and-dice-and-sear your foes, you can viably alter into a good number of other fiery incantations including Hydra, Meteor and others.
      On top of that, one of the more curious interactions spotted in the PTR is the ability of Mirror Images (remember that skill?) to proc the combustion effects of the set, as your clones duplicate your spell selection - leading to a very interesting Mirror Images summoner build that will likely be the top end pusher for the Firebird set, albeit trapped in a channeling playstyle yet again. (Guess what you do if your clones are the one doing the manual attacks? That's right, keeping up the Deathwish buff.)
      Gears of Dreadlands, Mundunugu's
      Last but not least, the GoD Demon Hunter build was nerfed as well, but with a timely and reasonable buff to the The Ninth Cirri Satchel, developers have ensured the build remains well into the strong category, and we won't have to endure a dominant Sentry meta once again. The Mundunugu Spirit Barrage build however got hit hard, and with no compensation for this or any other WD build in sight, the Witch Doctor community has every reason to be irritated with the state of the class this season.
       
      Final Thoughts
      With some very robust (and frankly, unexpected and welcome!) mechanical changes like the follower and Leaderboard reworks, Season 23 has the potential to be one of the game's best Seasons yet. On the other hand, the lack of a discernible Season theme and the meandering numeric changes on what are supposed to be the fresh new builds of the Season dampen the excitement of the community overall. I remain hopeful that the acknowledgment of the miscalculated nerfs will lead to a last minute reversal of fates for Firebird at least, and we can have a true - if you would pardon the pun - Phoenix of a Season!
×
×
  • Create New...