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    Azzure made an interesting post over on Diablo 3 Markets (his simulcast forum thread is already churning up debate) in which he argues that the modifiers and stats on weapons in Diablo III are not different enough to make the items varied and interesting.

    Here’s a quote from his post, with an interesting collection of some of the top rare xbows now available in the D3 beta RMAH.

    The Criteria List for a random item in D2:

    1. The right Affix combinations, and little to no wasted affixes (ie caster-friendly stats to match a caster-item, rather than strength, lifesteal etc.)
    2. The right item-type to match the affixes. (caster stats for light armor, melee stats for 2h-heavy weaps etc)
    3. The top-end affix range for the affixes (ie 290 out of 300% enhanced damage over say, 83 out of 300%)
    4. A large number of Affixes.

    So if you found a Rare 2-hand axe, you would needed it to have melee friendly stats, and not have wasted affixes like Faster Cast Rate and + Energy etc. That alone had low probability, since there were so many affixes in the pool, and rolling multiple affixes that complemented the class/item was very rare. On top of this, because it is a Weapon-class item, it MUST have the Enhanced damage stat or it is trash. So the requirement of having that Affix roll on the item dramatically reduces the probability further. And finally, you would need it to have high-range stats of its affixes. And the more you had the better. This criteria is so difficult to achieve that it made the item-system in Diablo 2 virtually unconquerable (until the super-powerful Runes came in a later patch). You would always be able to get better items.

    Diablo 3 on the other hand, thus far has very generic, balanced and equally useful affixes no matter what your class or spec is. In fact, before the recent changes to Attribute points, every single affix was more or less equally useful for every single class/spec. In addition to this, item-types in Diablo 3 are far more homogenized, meaning that every class can use virtually every item-type (some restrictions). Wizards can use big 2h swords. Armors have no requirements, usable by all. This further moves away from the D2-style model of low-probability awesome items. It means that when you roll up a rare item, all of its stats are useful, and the criteria for an item to be good is drastically lowered to only one thing: High Stat Ranges.

    The theory behind this (by the D3 devs) seems to be to flatten the item quality at the top end. Thus in D3 we’ll see a lot of items that are basically comparable, rather than the Himalayan peaks and valleys of item quality we saw in D2, where .0001% of elite rare and unique items were awesome, 1% were okay, and 99% were junk.

    That seems a sound theory. The conspiracy part I’m not convinced of (and neither is Azzure). That theory says this is all tied to the RMAH, and that Bliz figures they’ll get more total sales by having lots of top items going for reasonable prices, rather than a tiny handful that are super expensive, with everything else crap you can just find yourself.

    On the larger issue of D3’s top items though, I have been arguing with Azzure about that for weeks. He’s correct about the interchangeability of top items in the beta, (and how lousy the previous attribute system was, where every class wanted the same items) but I think that’s because stats don’t really matter, since the early game is so easy. I think if we had an Arena in the beta, min/maxing would be much more involved and every 5 or 10 points in vitality or strength or dexterity would become very important.

    Moreover though, I don’t think we know enough about late game item needs or affixes to project accurately how important or interchangeable items will be at the top end. +10 str vs. +10 dex makes almost no diff at Clvl 13, but I think +200 str vs. +200 dex will be very important at Clvl 60, especially whey you’re getting one or the other on 8 or 10 different items, making for a huge cumulative difference.

    And I’m not necessarily opposed to the D3 weapon system, where +%damage is quite limited, making the other mods on items much more important. As opposed to D2, where +damage was far and away the most important stat, to the point that no combat weapon was worth using unless it rolled very well on +ED, no matter what other affixes it spawned with. D3’s system should give many more viable item choices, though I can understand the concerns about it flattening items and making legendaries and other super-rare loot much less impactful than it should be.

    At any rate, you are encouraged to read his full post and form your own opinion. I’m sure we’ll be debating this one in the weeks to come, as D3’s itemization system is finalized and more details are released.

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