Blizzard: How to fix Witch Doctor Pet Squishiness

John Yang hopped onto the forums this afternoon to share some of the Diablo 3 developers’ plans for addressing the problem of pets dying too quickly on higher Greater Rifts. Blizzard: How to fix Witch Doctor Pet Squishiness:

Can we please get an answer about whether or not pet toughness is getting looked at… so I can decide if I want to keep playing my WD, or just roll the FotM class and get it over with?
John Yang: Hey everyone. We’re in the process of doing a review of Rift Guardian abilities and extremely damaging monster abilities in regards to the amount pets take. Our philosophy on pet survivability can be summed up as follows:

Pets should be roughly as survivable as the player. There’s a lot to this statement so let me clarify a bit:

  • Pets should scale with your survivability stats. They currently scale with most of your stats but not all of them. This is being worked on.
  • Pets should derive their Toughness from yours, and if you skip out on it, your pets’ survivability should be noticeably lower as a result. On the flip side, they should be noticeably tougher if you’ve increased your own Toughness. You shouldn’t skimp on Toughness just because you have pets.
  • We don’t want pets to be invulnerable tanks. In the live environment pets are too squishy, but even after our review is done in a future patch, if your pets are still dying a lot, we want you to be looking to increase your Toughness, which will consequently increase your pets’ survivability.
  • To work towards the first goal, Pets should take reduced damage based on how avoidable the monster attack normally is for a player. This is done instead of giving pets AI to run away from damaging attacks, which would cause them to lose out on DPS time. These monster attacks exist in a spectrum but roughly fall into 3 categories:

  • Full damage to pets – Basic melee/weak projectile attacks, not expected to be always avoided by a player.
  • Reduced damage to pets – Special attacks such as fireballs, which typically deal more damage than a basic attack, are pretty bright and visible, and can sometimes be avoided by the player. Good example are Perdition’s volley attack or Agnidox’s fireballs.
  • Drastically reduced damage to pets – Persistent AoEs for which the player is intended to move out of quickly or highly-telegraphed attacks for which the player is intended to avoid altogether. Examples are Thunderstorm monster affix, Mallet Lord’s arm attack, or Morlu meteors.
  • We’re not at our goal yet but are actively working towards it. Though the vast majority of monsters abilities in the game already follow these guidelines, we’ve identified a number of monsters abilities (e.g. Mallet Lord’s arm attack and some others mentioned in this thread and elsewhere) which don’t, and we will be addressing them in a future patch.

    You’ll note the presence of any “soon™” or other ETA-type comments from John, so WDs can just keep their claws crossed. It’s an interesting philosophy John’s proposing. So basically they’re going to nerf the damage to pets from all the most dangerous/damaging monster attacks, under the logic that if the pet was a player, it would have dodged. Of course the whole danger in the game is when you do *not* dodge such attacks.

    How about the idea of pet’s toughness growing from your own toughness? It’s logical, but many players choose to use in pets as a surrogate for boosting their own toughness. Unfortunately D3 doesn’t have skill points so it’s more complicated to really “invest” in the skills that you want to work best. People who want tougher pets will thus have to boost their own toughness to make it happen, and/or use passive skills for pet strength, and/or the few items that boost pet effectiveness (though those are mostly about boosting pet damage output).

    Tagged As: | Categories: Blizzard People, Blue Posts, Witch Doctor


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    1. I'd like to see an overhaul of the Paragon point distribution system to address this.

      Have a "Skills tab" where a class can incrementally improve a passive or active skill every nth paragon level achieved. Of course there has to be a menu of different skills that caters for each class.

      For example for a DH:
      1. Companion – boost IAS, survivability, or dmg
      2. Hungering Arrow – plus pierce %
      3. Bolas – increase blast radius
      4. Spike Trap – decrease arming time

      This type of system would allow one to work towards boosting a specific skill, if one feels it is lacking.

    2. Pets should have scaled w/ defensive stats from day one. They've only been fiddling w/ hunter/warlock pets in WoW for ten damn years…

    3. Oh, and what about Bats and Ferrets? Those are still invulnerable as far as I can tell.

      • A demon hunter's bat, raven, or ferrets are invulnerable because they don't actually have collision, meaning they can't actually "wall" enemies. Since enemies can simply walk right through them to you, it would be rather silly to give them a health bar. They don't get attacked, so they don't get a health bar. Spider, boar and wolf can all wall and tank enemies, so they are all fair game to receive damage. Hence their life bars.

    4. How about giving them the same 30% damage reduction as melee classes?

      • They already made them op when they put a cap on the damage they could receive, either 1.0.4 or 1.0.6. Before that in Inferno 2 a guarg would die in seconds, dogs one-shot, by normal ennemies.

        The problem isn't pet squishiness, it's the reliance on pet to tank ennemies because we can't take the damage. They ramp up damage to increase GR difficulty, that's the core of the issue.

        Blame always-online.

        • Yes, because always online is the issue, not balance…

          • Yes, pets are already too strong, so it's not pet balance. And GR difficulty is "balanced" around HP and damage, that's a direct results of a server-side game (always online) where AI scripts, spells and so on have to be kept as simple as possible to keep the amount of cpu threads at a minimum. That's why monsters are almost as linear as in WoW, to save on hardware.

    5. Stop making Jailer and Frozen do damage. Just make them a CC. It’s bad enough with all the other afixes applied to an elite. Reduce the damage that reflect damage does on melee. Reduce the damage that electrical does to melee. Do that, and all will be well.

    6. As a player at top 100 GR solo leaderboards with 2 classes, let me explain how this change is ABSOLUTELY worthless.

      In the high level GRs, players (with UNITY ring combo) can get 1 to 2 shotted very easily, your pets with this change continue to get 1 shotted. If you stack toughness, the above formula remains absolutely unchanged.

      In normal Rifts/Lower level GRifts, this does ABSOLUTELY nothing as well. Why? Because you already farm the content and even with pets as they are now, they survive just fine.

      So what does this change do again? Oh right , NOTHING.

      • Honestly, I don't see the problem. Players asked for a dungeon that perpetually increases in difficulty. We got it. The damage and HP of enemies slowly becoming unmanageable is the core principle and a necessity of this system. If at a certain GR level you get one-shotted or you can't kill the enemies that's not a balance problem, it only means that you reached your or your character's limit. If you have absolutely endgame gear with perfectly rolled stats it's most likely time to stop pushing at that point, although GRs are random enough that you may be able to progress one or two more levels if you get lucky. If you don't have endgame gear then it's time to get back into farming mode.

        If you're racing against other classes then there are clear balance issues at the moment, but there always will be given that the classes aren't completely homogenous. Still, amongst all the inter-class balance issues pet survivability stands out as a global one and if the design John put forth will be completely implemented (like he said most enemy attacks got a special treatment, long before 2.1) that will most definitely help with this case.

        • The great rift is totally flaw from the very beginning. Generally if all class is balanced , PVP is much more welcome than what the fcuk " great rift"?

    7. As long as sentries don’t get jailed and frozen or otherwise cc’ed besides being invulnerable, this will still leave the demon hunter on the top.

    8. Great news, glad to hear it's getting addressed someday. So the answer to the question "how to fix WD pet squishiness" is to wait for the next patch, not hotfix I'd guess. Meetings, discussions, more meetings, eventually PTR I assume. I fear this might take awhile.

    9. It dosen't solve anything out. They improve the defense for now but WD will sometime arrive 50+ G rfit! Under current "difficulties " model, those 40 ok pets will face same situation as now in 50 60 or 70. Buff again?

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