Greetings, ladies and gentlemen! I haven’t died, I promise.
A couple weeks before the end of Diablo III’s first season, my buddy, Groupy, and I decided to roll some Seasonal Hardcore toons just for shiggles. It was an interesting experience. The drop rate of legendary items, even on Normal difficulty, is fairly high. We bumped up the difficulty anytime the game started feeling too easy, but with a couple legendaries on our characters the difficulty increase wasn’t doing too much. I’m not saying there weren’t a couple occasions where one of our characters, mostly my Crusader, came really close to biting the dust, but beyond those select few situations the leveling was fairly smooth. I would seriously hate to die, though, for two main reasons: I don’t want to lose the gear I have found, and low level crusaders are boring as bawls. Luckily, starting over for Season 2 hasn’t been as bad as I had anticipated as my new Seasonal Crusader is already rocking a legendary axe and ring at level 14. However, today’s topic will revolve around an idea that I was reminded of while doing some Rift runs on my main, non-Seasonal and non-Hardcore, character: the itemization in Diablo III is terrible.
While I do have a great deal of fun playing my Witch Doctor, I still run into those instances where I find myself sighing, or aggressively facepalming, over how terrible some of the loot drops can be. I’ve managed to acquire some great items over the last few months that have made playing the game more enjoyable, but, again, the droprate of terrible items, especially those of the legendary and set variety, still dramatically outweighs the droprate of items that are worth using. After having played well over a hundred hours of Diablo III, I have a pretty good idea of how loot drops function; plus, it helps that crafting recipes somewhat spell it out for the player. The biggest issue with Diablo III’s current itemization is that there are too many variables, which makes for a butt load of randomization and an incredibly high chance the items that drop will be destined to become crafting materials (though, crafting does not appear to be a viable way of acquiring gear anymore).
In order to summarize each item that I believe to be a fault in Diablo III’s itemization, I have broken them into individual chunks. The issues are as follows:
- Stat Composition: The stats that appear on items are entirely random. This wouldn’t seem so bad if the game didn’t have such a large pool of different stats to roll on, which often leads to pretty horrendous stat combinations. I honestly don’t want an item that gives me +Area Damage, +Resource Cost Reduction, +Cooldown Reduction and +Physical Damage%. The very thought of finding a legendary item built like that just makes me want to shed an iridescent tear.
- Min-Maxing: The values associated with the randomized stats are also random. I hate this feature of itemization… actually, I loathe it. While you have randomly generated stats appearing on item drops, there lies that possibility where you will find a legendary item with 4 of the same stats as the legendary item your character is currently wearing, and a legendary bonus that works REALLY well with your current build, but the stats on the item you just picked up are all weaker…
- Short Changed: The number of stats that appear on an item is random, often ranging from 2 to 6 total stats. However, this number is fixed at a total of 6 stats for legendary and set items, which is good because if it was 4 to 6 total stats like it is for rare items, then grinding for legendaries might make people want to burn the itemization team lead with fiery brimstone.
- Legen – wait for it: Not all legendary items are legendary. In other words, not all legendary items that drop will come with a legendary bonus, but the stats that appear on said “legendary” item will be significantly higher than on that rare you’ve been carrying around. So, what makes those items without legendary bonuses qualify as legendary items? Nothing, I suppose.
- You’re Just Number Two: For some reason, both Gem Sockets and Legendary Bonuses are considered “Secondary” stats on an item instead of being separate entities like the Set Bonuses from Set items. This creates a system where a player will lose the benefit of two other stats in order to benefit from both Sockets and Legendary bonuses at the same time. For instance, I have a weapon that provides only three primary stats, one secondary stat, a legendary bonus and a socket; this means that in order to carry it, I am losing the benefit of another primary stat and another secondary stat. The gem I currently have placed into the socket is powerful, but the legendary bonus is expendable.
- Satisfaction not Guaranteed: Legendary and Set items, especially those that drop in the Torment difficulties, do not have guaranteed gem sockets. I think it goes without saying that gem sockets are a nice thing to have because it allows the player to modify the item with the gems s/he has available. The annoying part comes when you have to reroll a stat in order to get a socket, especially in order to get that massive critical hit damage bonus added to your new weapon.
- A Bit Heavy Handed: Two-hand weapons are STILL worthless. I don’t know what it is about two-hand weapons and their sheer inability to be worth anything for my Witch Doctor, but the way they have been designed just makes them completely, and without question, the most worthless items in the game. If I try to equip one, the game tells me that I can lose upwards of 20-30% of my damage. HOW?! How is that even possible? Even if I try to put a socket on a two-hander and compare it to the one-hand/mojo combo I have going, it still drops my damage by at least 10%. What is the deal? Why is there no lateral symmetry between using a one-hand/off-hand set up and using a two-hand? It just doesn’t make any sense and needs to be fixed. After how much time has elapsed since the release of Diablo III and its expansion and even now with Season 2 having started a few days ago, the Diablo III developers have seen fit not to buff two-handed weapons. Blizzard even showed off a two-hand staff (in First Look: Season 2) that would be good for Witch Doctors… if only two-handers could compete with one-hand/mojo.
- We Can Build It: The Blacksmith and Jeweler have become pointless. While leveling and before you start collecting legendaries in the Torment difficulties, the Blacksmith can be useful to make some workable items; he can even build a few legendaries if you have the recipes for them. Once you get to that point where legendaries are dropping from the skies like skittles, crafting gear starts to lose any sense of worth because it suffers from much of the same randomness listed above even if you are creating a specific item. The Jeweler also serves no real purpose as he is incapable of making anything of merit, his most useful feature is the removal of gems from items, and his most extravagant feature is combining lower tier gems into higher tier gems. For Season 2, I have created a rule for leveling my latest Seasonal Crusader to not salvage any items for crafting materials and instead sell them for gold (at least until level 61+ items starts dropping), because crafted items won’t be as good as the drops that I will find, and you don’t actually have to craft items in order to level up crafting like you do in WoW – it just takes gold.
Now, with all of those ideas in mind, I have devised several ways to tweak (well, more like overhaul) Diablo III’s itemization that provide many quality of life improvements without taking away from the hunt for those specific legendaries and set items. I won’t go into the details here as this post is already getting quite lengthy. The purpose of my proposed changes is to alter the gameplay as a whole from chugging through a horde of crap items to having the capacity to make items work for your class, the build you’re using or even for a specific type of gameplay. Personally, I want to be able to make items work for me instead of hoping they will. I would also like to see more abilities utilize the secondary stats, as well as see more unique gameplay experiences added to the game, but those ideas could be discussed in future posts.
So, in the mean time until I finish Part 2 (which is located here), do you have any gripes with Diablo III’s itemization? Is there something else about Diablo III you have issues with or concerns about? Join the discussion below.