Wyatt Cheng on Diablo 3 Combat and Healing Changes


Wyatt Cheng followed up yesterday’s article about the Pace of Diablo 3 Combat with a couple of detailed replies, answering various player questions/concerns and sharing more about the Diablo 3 combat and healing changes we’re going to see in Reaper of Souls.

Hi guys, I’ve seen some great feedback so far. Let me answer a few questions and address some concerns.

Regarding the existing monster affixes. We’ll be keeping an eye on these. For example, DiabloWikiReflects Damage internally has been changed to a flat amount rather than a percentage. I don’t know if it’s going to ship this way but that’s the current internal version.

If we don’t want a game defined by one-shot deaths, then we can’t have damage that is defined by its burstiness. Some people have suggested that the solution to making the game more tactical is to make all mechanics 100% avoidable. This sounds good on paper but unfortunately doesn’t address one-shot deaths. What we want to do is avoid the extremes. Maybe in one case you can avoid all of the damage, but in another case “good play” means you avoid half of the damage. Having a broad spectrum of attacks with varying degrees of avoidability means both combat decisions and gear matter.

Click through for much more from this long and info-rich post.

There have been some concerns that we’ll swing back to the extremes of hyper-defensives builds such as when the game first came out. This is not the intention. As DrothVader pointed out, there’s a middle ground here where you’re able to gear and play offensively, but you still have to concern yourself with the dangerous affixes and other mechanics.

A clarification: When I said “After we pull in the rate of healing, next we analyze the patterns in which monsters deal damage” I meant those as steps in the development process. Sorry for the confusion. I didn’t mean for a moment that we were going to release in between those two steps. As TheTruth posits, this is an iterative process. There are actually MANY steps involved, those are just the first two. We’re changing a lot of things and we’ll do a lot of testing of the whole package before putting it all live.

I also share ComposMentis’ concerns that although we’re trying to adjust how combat feels, we should make sure the result isn’t a game that feels slow. Diablo is still an action RPG. As Bomdanil says, there’s still a lot of room to “hack and slash through endless piles of monsters”. Creating room for players to mitigate incoming damage through smart play is not mutually exclusive with being able to blow them up at a fast pace. A few people have jumped to the conclusion that tactical = slow, or created a false dilemna between “fast paced action RPG” and “strategic prolonged tactical combat”. There are more possibilities than this. The goal is a game where the combat can still be very fast, and you are mowing down enemies, but you also get to make quick decisions about when to use a CC ability, when to pop a defensive ability or who to prioritize as a target. These are tactical decisions that don’t detract from a fast pace.

I want to thank everybody for the really solid and constructive discussion. It’s good to see so many thoughtful posts. I can’t realistically respond to everything (such as the suggested modified damage model or some of the potion ideas) but I do appreciate that so many people put effort into stating their reasons and opinions clearly.

With the new emphasis on life on hit to stay alive, any word of returning some nerfed proc coefficients …
Wyatt Cheng: We’ll be doing a detailed tuning pass on all DiabloWikiproc coefficients so DiabloWikiLife On Hit and other effects work reliably across all skills. No single skill becomes the mandatory “go-to” because it’s the only one that provides enough LoH to survive. Similarly we will ensure no skill’s proc coefficient is too low to sustain you.

Rather than looking at things as buffs and nerfs to proc coefficients, think of it as the proc coefficients of skills being on equal footing with one another and the damage and healing of monsters is tuned against this baseline.

This all comes in a suite with other game changes, so even with the detail we’ve seen from the datamined skills and items, we players are evaluating it with very incomplete insight. One thing to note on the early stuff; as far as we can tell especially from the skill changes, DiabloWikiLife Steal is going to be almost eliminated in Reaper of Souls. Almost all skills that provide it are changing to LoH, or Life % of total, or Life from Spirit/Fury spent, or flat bonuses modified by your DiabloWikiHGHB, or etc. Presumably Life Steal will not be found on items any more either… which goes nicely with their changing Reflects Damage to a flat value rather than a % based as we see today.

Thoughts on the other changes hinted at by Wyatt’s communications? Part One from him was here, if you missed it.

Comments

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  1. As DrothVader pointed out, there’s a middle ground here where you’re able to gear and play offensively, but you still have to concern yourself with the dangerous affixes and other mechanics.
    Sounds exactly how it should be. Going to either of the extremes here is a bad thing.

    The goal is a game where the combat can still be very fast, and you are mowing down enemies, but you also get to make quick decisions about when to use a CC ability, when to pop a defensive ability or who to prioritize as a target. These are tactical decisions that don’t detract from a fast pace.

    I don’t really believe you can add tactical decisions without slowing down the combat (note: I’m very much a supporter of slowing down the combat).
    People need time for their tactical decisions, which aren’t only ‘popping a defensive skill’ but also very much moving around in response to what the monsters do.

    If you keep the high speed but expect tactical responses, then it becomes ‘twitch’ gameplay instead, requiring crazy fast reaction times, and then it is more like instinctive responses, rather than tactical responses (which in my use of the word, requires conscious thinking between action and reaction).

    Again, as with most other design matters, going to either extremes are a bad thing. Super-fast combat that requires reactions is one such extreme.
    Combat should be slowed down a bit.

    • It depends on what people consider “slowed down” and from what. That part of the discussion won’t go anywhere until that’s established.

      That said, other games and series have some degree of tactical combat at various paces, like Devil May Cry (particularly 3), Street Fighter, Marvel vs Capcom (super fast paced), Mass Effect, Borderlands, and The Witcher. What typifies fun tactical combat that Diablo 3 is missing is the reliance on player decision making in the timing and choice of ability use due to the over reliance on cooldowns and sustain (LS/LOH).

      Whoever said damage should be 100% avoidable was close; it should be 70%-90% avoidable depending on class and build.

    • Martial arts. F**cking fast. Very tactical. You gotta develop it. Normal – nightmare is a it more for begginer .. Inferno and advanced acts would be for people who got the fine-tuned reflex !

  2. Most of the monsters are stupid.

    The ones that are tough are because they hit like trucks or have a debuff or a stun.

    Tactical game play may be achieved on bosses as it is expected for them to not die instantly. Belail is probably the scariest fight you will encounter if playing on a proper MP to wear he does not die immediately. That kind of fight should not be in the wild. If you accidently pull a double/triple pack, the battle is usually pretty intense, but that s rare in act1.

    I think it will ultimately boil down to how the “end game” or non story modes work. It would be cool to have a boss fight with an elite pack, or you walk in a room with 5 elites. Really test your merit… I wouldn’t care if there was loot involved, I love a good challenge.

    • I think this is also nailing a way to give more satisfaction to players indeed – make monsters more intelligent. give them more “tricky” abilities.. that you must learn to maneuver around/with… include more “pack” of eliteS. (multiple elite packs in the same fight) doesn’t need to make enemies tougher as per their life or dmg dealt. just requires us to be mentally tougher and finer strategists.

    • it’s a great dilemma. The game has to be balanced to a certain level. So lets say they balance it around your 5 elite packs, where it provides a nice challange but is doable. So then what happens when you encounter 1 pack? You mow through it in 5 seconds? Similarly, if they balance for 1 pack, 5 packs will be unbeatable (if only due to all the affixes). I think these are extremes anyway, I don’t think I’ve ever encountered 5 packs, 3 maybe 🙂

      It’ll be interesting to see what they come up with, but 1-shots should definitely go, I was always against that.

  3. I’m all for changes to create more tactical game play and using some of our defensive types of spells even if it means “slowing the game down”, which I don’t think slowing down is what will happen anyways. All of our skill set ups are solely based on offensive game play 5 out of 6 skills at least because of how we can face tank with so much damage and life steal.

  4. What I think all of this points to,

    They’re trying to make the best game possible, it seems like there’s more than one head in the room so we won’t end up with their favorite class being the most dominant.

    I think what we’re going to end up with is the best version of D3 as it stands now. It’s kind of like an 4/10 person getting a facelift, it might not fix all the underlying problems, but at least we’ll have an easier time looking at them.

    I think Azzure is the one who really wants to see sweeping changes to itemization and how D3 approches individual stats. I just don’t see that happening. In any system you devise, with millions of people, you’re going to see a “this is the best” end game solution. So whether you have the “Sweet 6” or a system that makes more stats viable, it’ll always get melted down to, “What are the five steps I need to take to make my character the best?” And people will take it from there.

    Finally, you can die in hardcore on console, and it hurts. Regardless of my wealth, I’ve lost the best gear I own, (why would I wear the second best?), and I have no way to reobtain it.

    No auction house increases replayability by forcing me to find my own gear, attempt to save pieces for every 10-15 levels and manage my stash size.

    I spent $100 to get D3 and an Xbox 360, I have not Internet so PC isn’t a current option, what a brilliant $100 it was.Paragon 2 barb, looking to reach 10 then start a monk.

    I’ve lost a 59barb and 40dh

  5. “Diablo is still an action RPG”
    -Wyatt Cheng

    Doesn’t even know what his own game is. It’s a hack-n-slash dungeon crawler, inspired by nethack, a rogue-like dungeon crawler.

    Did Blizzard just look up the definition of action RPG and build Diablo 3 accordingly?

    • Buddy stop tryin to be stupid, to be fair Diablo genre has no ‘oficial’ name, its like MOBAs, some people use them, others don’t.
      Some people call Diablo and ARpg (action rpg), others a dungeon crawller, others a hack-n-slash…Maybe its everything, isn’t easir and quicker just to say an A-Rpg ? After all…IT IS.

      • No, Diablo is a dungeon crawler, inspired by nethack. This is a fact.

        • You can read a link discussing it here, http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/131484/audio_content_for_diablo_and_.php?page=2

          “In December of 1994, I caught the Nethack bug from David Brevik, the man who can claim to be the creator of Diablo”

          […]

          “Though the game had absolutely nonexistent graphic and sound design, the fundamentals of the play mechanic were largely unchanged in Diablo, with the crucial difference being that we made the transition from step-time to real-time somewhat early in the development cycle”

          Anyone calling Diablo an ARPG is a moron. Diablo 2 is a progression of Diablo. Blizzard is trying to turn it into a…I have no idea what you want to call it other than an abomination.

  6. There is a world in difference between 70% and 100% avoidance though.
    More than 70% of dmg is already avoidable I guess.

  7. Well, it does not really matter whether the wooden blocks are 15% thicker allowing for a higher and less stable jenga tower if most of the people do not want to build a jenga tower with them, does it?

  8. QUOTE

    There is a world of difference between 70% and 100% avoidance though.
    More than 70% of dmg is already avoidable I guess.
    
    It should never be 100%.
    90%? Maybe, probably wouldnt be much of a difference from now.

    Let’s define avoidable sometime – I can avoid 100% of damage by staying in town, but I’m not really playing the game at that point.

    Realistically speaking, the only class that really attempts to avoid a lot of damage instead of heal and/or CC through it is the Demon Hunter. It’s largely considered the worst farmer because the class actually has to avoid avoidable damage instead of just truck through it, and the class doesn’t have the tools do to a lot of damage on the move, unlike Spin2Win.

    When I speak of avoidable damage, I’m speaking within the context of the non-super power builds. I run an SNS variant meaning that there isn’t even damage to avoid in 95% of the cases after I teleport in the middle of a group of enemies (the opposite of how I figured I’d play my Wizard, of course). Fact is, there is some damage in the game you’re going to eat no matter what, which causes a defensive stat check. Those should be muted somewhat in power; the A1 Bulls that can charge from offscreen are a great example of something a tad too strong: they can charge from nearly point-blank or off-screen and elite bulls can one or two shot characters that are otherwise well safe at their MP level. Attacking from off screen requires the player to simply have enough stats rather than allowing the player to employ any strategy or use any tactic, because, let’s face it: you’re going to avoid all but maybe one or two bull charges in a play-through by simple movement, but one or two is all it takes because the knockback can set you up to get hit by something else while dealing substantial damage.

    Yet there should be plenty of opportunity for players to use defensive skills to avoid or mitigate damage that mere movement wouldn’t do: I’m not talking about dodging mortars, I’m talking about slowing those super fast spiders. I’m talking about those act 3 guys that burrow a hand in the ground and slap you from afar sometimes attacking your mystic ally instead of you. There should be defensive technique that players should be able to apply using the skills given that avoid the damage, not just dancing out of the way of the attack.

    Depending on the skills chosen, the overwhelming majority of enemy attacks should fall into the second category. I’m not trying to get caught up on the number, but the concept. Thematically, some classes should be better at this than others.

    • My ideal has always been that 100% of attacks should be *theoretically* avoidable one way or another, even if the random nature of Diablo makes it unlikely to actually get to 100%. Whether it’s by moving out of the way of a charging bull, CCing leapers jumping at you, interrupting an elite before they Vortex you, or simply killing things before they get a chance to hit you, I do believe their should *always* be some reasonable way for a well-rounded build to avoid any specific danger altogether (I don’t think “you must have Skill X to avoid this” is reasonable a la the Jailer escape skills). I don’t see any reason why this can’t and shouldn’t be the case.

  9. @ ShadoutMapes

    I don’t really believe you can add tactical decisions without slowing down the combat (note: I’m very much a supporter of slowing down the combat).

    in d3? no, but i think you can have tactical combat in a game without slowing the game down as long the designer gives you viable tactical options, but like i said this doesn’t apply to d3.

    @ MindGeyser

    What typifies fun tactical combat that Diablo 3 is missing is the reliance on player decision making in the timing and choice of ability use due to the over reliance on cooldowns and sustain (LS/LOH).

    sure, and don’t forget auto hit. if they want players to make more tactical decisions. you have to give them more tactical responsibilities and options. however, the danger is the increased responsibility means that players become even a bigger factor in their own success or failure and in a game where the ideal seems to be steamrolling content on mp 10. i’m not sure they can handle it.

  10. @ yovargas

    My ideal has always been that 100% of attacks should be *theoretically* avoidable one way or another, even if the random nature of Diablo makes it unlikely to actually get to 100%. Whether it’s by moving out of the way of a charging bull, CCing leapers jumping at you, interrupting an elite before they Vortex you, or simply killing things before they get a chance to hit you, I do believe their should *always* be some reasonable way for a well-rounded build to avoid any specific danger altogether (I don’t think “you must have Skill X to avoid this” is reasonable a la the Jailer escape skills). I don’t see any reason why this can’t and shouldn’t be the case.

    The actual answer is “because then there’s no gear check.” Which I’m not saying I agree with, I’m just saying, that’s why not.

    • Except that there is. Just because it’s theoretically *possible* to avoid every attack type someway doesn’t mean that anyone anywhere will *actually* be able to avoid all of the hundreds and hundreds of attacks thrown at you.

  11. So this is their answer to the most annoying aspect of the game, the inability to see wtf is going on. We ****ed up so now we will make you suffer, typical blizzard thinking. They really screwed up with the combat in this game because of the op effects. Anyhow, lets remove life leech, slow combat down and totally punish all melee characters. On that note, I wonder if they’ll ever come up with some class specific weapons that actually matter.

  12. how about just beeing able to dodge like in d2.. the more skillful you are, the more damage you’d be able to avoid.

  13. Just met some fast, jailer, mortar and frozen pack in Act 4 (those wizards that cast meteors) and all i can say to Mr. Wyatt is that there is NO ROOM for tactics. They do zillion of damage, they are 3 times faster than me and they throw CC ALL OVER THE SCREEN. You just need to kite to the death or die, that’s all. Slow Time spell? Mirror Image? Good laugh sir.

    • They brought this onto themselves. They tried to do all the combat ‘over the top’ in D3. Just follow what Jay Wilson said over the years…

      Most of the affixes on the monsters don’t even feel ‘Diablo’. They just threw them in there because they have no idea of what they are doing other than ‘cool, more zillions of damage and fireworks on the screen’.

  14. The challenges that the “post Jay Wilson team” is facing now are a direct consequence of the failed initial endgame design. I did like the new monster mods, however, they worked well only when all (Inferno) elite packs were still super-hard in Diablo 3 version 1.0. Now, that they went from long-lasting “MMO style combat” against mini-boss packs to fast hack & slash in the following patches, it all doesn’t quite fit anymore.

    Simple upscaling of monster hitpoints and damage through Monster Power obviously didn’t do the trick, so the only solution I see for the future is the reintroduction of monster AURAS, which provide solid and meaningful amplification of certain monster abilities that you have to avoid or counter through equipment without the risk being one-shotted.

    I have the impression that Wyatt is pussyfooting around here with his healing anaolgy to describe the problem, which is in fact the failed initial monster design for the super-hard Inferno mode.

  15. I got 5 in VotA once. It was actually easier than just 1 or 2, amusingly enough.

    But really, if you’re even using the word balance in an ARPG and you’re not describing making many builds viable you’re doing it wrong. These games are all about the broken stuff, and ideally you get a MvC style balance out of it, or at least plenty of builds that can smash all the face. But if you’re like omg build A is 10% better than build B, or enemies do 15% more damage than they should… I think you’re missing the point.

    • And I think you’re missing the point that a lot of people want interesting combat and believe we can have it. I’m glad that Blizz at least speaks like that’s still a goal worth chasing.

  16. I would much rather have debuffs (like on life or armor) from monsters or things that counter my abilities and cause me to adjust my game-play than have my character jailed, walled in, or vortexed. Loosing control of your character and surviving a fight is luck not skilled game-play.

    D3 gameplay is fast enough right now with everyone sprinting to the next pack. Lets slow it down and mix it up a bit shall we?

  17. QUOTE

    Hey, we can hope and IMO they're at least saying a lot of the right things to push us in that direction. 
    
    (Though I already think the combat's pretty damn fun; there's just a lot of room for improvement.)

    I think Diablo 1 combat is fun too but that’s not really saying anything either. D3 has identical depth of combat as D1, the monster affixes on champions are pointless. Max dps, max monster resistant effects %. Every skill on every character is almost identical and equally useless; cooldown reduction, +1 spirt/hatred for this or that, invulnerable for 3,4,5 or 6 seconds, increase duration of this that, blah blah blah. Having to wait until you’re max level to access all your skills was the dog turd on top of the pile of vomit that completes this mess of a game.

    • “Every skill on every character is almost identical and equally useless”

      I’m pretty sure you and I aren’t playing the same game.

  18. all this theoretical talk about the game blabla

    we had these developer interviews since 2008, thats a good 5 years now, and what came out of it, a total embarassment of the diablo franchise. anyone with half a brain cell must have realized by now that the words of the blizzard developers bear no content whatsoever. it’s especially annoying when they talk one way, and it sounds somewhat reasonable, but in the end they act exactly the other and the outcome is atrocious.

  19. To my mind, they should diminish the toughness of the toughest combination of affixes. Maybe removing the access to elective mode for monster, grouping affixes: e.g. movement (Waller, jailer, very fast, vortex), floor hazard (arcane, plague,…), defense (extra health, shared life, invulnerability…), etc. And affixed must be balanced like skills. Maybe they can add an PvM arena where you choose the affixes and monster type for us to help.

    I think their base health of elite monster is too much compared to white mobs. Either they increase white mobs’ health or lower elites’ health. The difference between white and elite is too high.

  20. ” Either they increase white mobs’ health or lower elites’ health. ”

    Been saying this a while. At most, I think elites should have 4-5 times more HP. The current HP multipliers are ridiculous.

  21. How about letting normal mobs randomly (like 1 out of 50 or 100) be able to spawn with one elite affix, to mix things up a bit. Give them a color change or whatever to they are a little easier to spot. Still same HP as normal mobs.

    Give all white mobs more HP.

    Elites shouldnt have less HP, the reason they are not working right now is already because they die too fast.

    A little more control over which affixes can spawn together, to remove some of the most unreasonable combinations. Instead buff some of the individual affixes, now that they aren’t too dangerous due to special combinations.

    Could be interesting with ‘positive affixes’ as well, something that has been proposed by plenty of people.
    Like ‘3x droprate’, ‘This guy carries crafting materials’, ‘spawns a goblin when killed’ or whatever. As an affix above the 4 normal ones, once in a while.

    • What about giving all mobs actual resistances to certain types of damage? For instance Elites with fire attacks/Molten ability should take reduced fire damage and maybe slightly more from Ice; Arcane would have high overall Magic resist but less phys/poison/holy resist.
      Immunities is a no-no and 95% resistance is asinine, no one wants that but I think giving them specific defenses against different damage types would make things more interesting.

  22. Damage reflection should honestly just be removed; it only succeeds in being meaningful when it forces you to stop attacking, which is slowing down a game that is supposed to be fast paced. With the \new\ on/off version rather than the old always on, it affects your playstyle in a less negative way, but there’s no deep strategy to it and it’s not fun. It’s always going to be tuned too high and dreadfully annoying or tuned too low and overcome by LOH or regenerating effects.

  23. To make gameplay more tactical they should take out the auto hit mechanic, i.e; Zombie swings at me, I move well out of the way but attack still hits after swing animation is finished despite me being a good 10-15 feet out of range- I am aware that they do this for latency reasons and that dodge/block may proc but it’s a pretty B.S. thing to deal with when playing HC (or a DH in any gamemode).

    Adding in one extra active skill slot would also make a world of difference. Also, is it possible to re-assign the skills to any button you want? I can’t recall, but if the answer is no it needs to change. Also, run speed still capped at 25%…wtf Blizzard.

  24. Yep. Monsters should certainly have resistances. Not related to their affixes imo. Maybe related to the species. Though it would be important that the resistances were spread equally everywhere, so maybe random is better.
    The resist-% shouldn’t be huge, just enough to make it an interesting (but not required) option to pick multiple attack skills with different dmg types.

    I’d take it a step further and add AoE-resistance too, though that would of course require a bit more development effort.

  25. If Iron Maiden is essentially back in D3, I am out. I haven’t run into any 1 shot deaths from reflect yet, and you can hit 2 or even 3 of the mobs with reflect up without dying if you have proper resists and 45k+ health, then kite or grab an orb or something. It’s not my favourite boss mod, but it’s not the worst either.

    I adored the change to D2 that removed Iron Maiden from mobs because even my Javazon could one shot herself, and I didn’t even bother taking Barbs into the CS unless I was significantly over leveled or dpsed so I could one shot everything with beserk.

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