Blizzard on PvP and Clvl by Difficulty

The long-standing rule of thumb estimate of character level progression by difficulty level has been 30/50/60. That’s what Blizzard said in the past, but it was just an estimate and a rough design goal. What are players actually experiencing in play testing? Kaivax shared his own experience in a short post today.

In my actual experience (admittedly, with a full build that reflects where the game was in difficulty a month ago), I had to push my demon hunter up to level 32 to get out of Normal, and up to 55 to get out of Nightmare.

The oft-stated design theory of DiabloWikiInferno is that players will need to linger in Hell for a while to build up the high quality gear necessary to survive the end game. Replaying Hell isn’t meant for D2-style level grinding, but many of us figured we’d finish Hell at level 58 or something, then gain some levels while item hunting. Apparently not, at least not on our early, non-twinked, non-rushed chars.

Another blue commented on DiabloWikiPvP, which we’ve been told will not be enabled upon launch, but will be added in at some later date. Most everyone who played the Arena demo at the last two Blizzcons loved it and can’t see any reason the devs don’t enable something much like the 2011 deathmatch demo, in the full game upon launch. As Blizzard hasn’t given any official explanation for the delay beyond a generic “more polishing,” there are two main fan theories:

1) Blizzard saw how much fans loved playing the Arena, realized the potential of the system, and they now want to launch it in a more balanced and polished form that they’ll gradually transition to an DiabloWikiE-Sport.

2) Blizzard doesn’t think D3’s PvP is noob-friendly or DiabloWikiaccessible enough and wants to put in more “gold star just for trying” WoW-style DiabloWikiachievements.

Neither theory gets any support from Zarhym’s nonspecific comments today, which could have been presented 6, 12, or 18 months ago without a single word being changed.

We want PvP to be incredibly challenging and fun, but we want to avoid turning it into a truly competitive leagues/ladders eSport. We just don’t think Diablo gameplay is very conducive for that type of controlled environment where balance is paramount.

That said, we want to develop PvP as an engaging and rewarding system. What we don’t want to do is take a traditional eSports approach to PvP, where balance will become so important to a competitive ranking system that solo and cooperative gameplay feel a bit neutered as a result.

We want your characters to feel totally imba. Then we want you to enter some Arenas, send the scorched remains of other players’ corpses flying, and let the satisfaction wash over you — until your opponents take similar care of your hero, that is. 😉

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61 thoughts on “Blizzard on PvP and Clvl by Difficulty

  1. F-I-R-S-T

    Okay, now that is secure, I want to get an issue I have had across. Why are you pushing PvP so hard, Flux. Yes, you played PvP at Blizzcon 2011, and yes, you loved it, there is absolutely nothing wrong there. What I took some issue to, though, are some of your answers which were of type. “If you had played it, you would have cared that PvP isn’t included in the game.” These were relativly common from you back during that poll on PvP when large percentage of visotors said they didn’t care for PvP. I have to say that I do not necessarily condone these types of comments from you, and that I find them somewhat condescending. I am generally uninterested in PvP. Yes, I am sure it will be fun, and I may play it, once a week or month, to get my “PvP fix”, however I really and truly not interested in PvP in Diablo 3.

    Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against inclusion of PvP in the game, and I certainly support different preferences in end-game, so if someone, anyone, wants to spend most of their game time PvP-ing, more power to them. I, however, in several years of playing D2 (yes, I know, not as long as some of the veterans on this site that were playing since 2000, which is something I plan on rectifying with D3), only ever played two matches, and never had, and still don’t have any interest in doing it.

    Don’t take this comment the wrong way, this isn’t a personal attack against you, or anything like that. I respect you and the work you put into this site for us readers, and this is certainly my favorite Diablo site, and the only one I visit on daily basis. However, I just wanted to get to your attention that there are readers of your site who are simply aren’t interested in PvP, and that the comments of the type which assume like of knowledge in your readership, as somewhat irritating.

    Lastly, I would like to say that I am not native english speaker, so I apoligise beforehand for any mistakes in this post.

    • You know on, there is a word filter for “first post,” shifting it to “boobies” and moving the entire post forward in time so it is no longer the first post.
      Maybe we should have something like that here? 🙂

    • Here’s the tin-foil-hat angle – they don’t want PVP to offer a PVP that kick’s WoW’s ass.  Not like that would be hard.
      One of many things gimped about the fundamental design to avoid direct cannibalization of the WoW sub base.

      • That’s too much tinfoil for me. Cannibalization was addressed with the WoW annual pass, and it would be counterproductive to sabotage an up-and-coming game to protect the customer base of a game that’s entered its decline phase.

        From a business viewpoint, Having the 3m players who were probably switching to GW2 anyways buy D3 and its expansions and participate in the RM market is probably a better long-term business strategy. At least until Titan comes out.

    • If you were a porn movie actor / actress….fucking would be the last thing on your wishlist come Monday morning.

      Same here man. It’s a job, it gets tedious and boring.

      I work as a software dev. The majority of our clients have a third (at best) of working knowledge of their businesses than we do. We are a service provider ffs and we have to teach them how to run their business.

      It’s common, it’s retarded…but that’s how it is out in the real world.


  2. Level 55 for the end of Nightmare? That’s a little higher than I expected. I wonder how the difficulty changed during the last months and how player progression through the different difficulties was affected, if at all.

    • Keep in mind that Kaivax is probably terrible at the game.  I recall when they said their QA team had trouble beating (and thus effectively testing) normal-difficulty raids in WoW, which are pretty easy.  So I expect that most of them aren’t that good at the games they play.

  3. That’s the best game decision I have heard in a long time.  Being a huge fan of PvP in D2 (I still don’t know what PvE is, PvM FTW), I was afraid Blizz would try to emulate WoW PVP balance system completely destroying D3PVP. I have always believed that PvP should truly be imbalanced.  Something should always be better than something else.  Some builds are just not viable in PVP.  Some match ups are impossible to win… That’s what you bring your buddies in for, or switch characters in attempt to re-balance the match up.  Item gear will always matter.  (helps create a reason to continue to find gear in inferno).  I could go on and on. Yes, i’m 24 years old and just got that giddy feeling in my stomach that D3 PVP may resemble D2 PVP rather than WoW.  

    • I agree with that concept, but it just begs the question… what are they waiting for? If they really are not concerned about balance or esport prep, and they’ve had a working arena system in-game for at least 2 years?

      • Ok, time for a real post rather than just a rambling.  I believe Blizzard would be waiting to polish over certain aspects of PVP.  For example, (never played blizzcon demo), they are working on finishing move animations and death animations?

        Maybe they decided to add new arena’s, formats and possibly game play?  I would tend to think in a MW aspect where Blizzard has put way more emphasis on the single player / coop campaign mode rather than work on the multi player pvp function.  Remember this is a game developer who has delay after delay, so a completely different game function might take more time to develop (i hate this reason).

        Would it be possible that Blizzard is working on in game “balance” features.  I’m not saying things need to be e-sport balance, which i don’t believe they should (see last post), but for example, in D2, mass resistances and exploits completely ruined some dueling match ups which were annoying to deal with (hence calling friends or another character).  

        Maybe they were thinking of locking skills in place and could not change during arena?  Or maybe change after each round.

        Just brain storming here. 

      • Perhaps they don’t want just arena in on release? Wishful thinking, but it would be nice if the reason for delay was because they wanted the release of PvP come with multiple modes; instead of tuning the whole thing around arena and wedging CTF, hold the point, etc. in at a later time.

      • With PvP available as it was, critics would include it as part of their review and overall score, and that might be worse than not having PvP at all for the initial reviews…

        The name of the money game is high metacritic scores. 

      • I believe they’ve glimpsed greatness as you’ve, and are working something amazing out. Not a D3 port of WoW Arena, but something tailored for a Diablo game. Hopefully something that involves randomized maps and objectives.

      • They want to be sure it’s great on consoles? It’s not so obvious that PvP is fine on gamepad right now. Maybe they want to check more arena design, rewards, test gameplay on angry birds players to be absolutely sure what they are about to ship and etc. Skills UI has changed quite lately, so big decision are still made on the fly simultaneously with console port.

    • PvE 
      Player vs Environment
      exploding barrels, buildings that are on fire, and now falling chandeliers and walls (still wish they caused damage)

    • So… your saying that if barb vs wiz or DH as an example isnt a good match-up, i should just switch characters? I don’t plan on making anything more than a barb, I honestly was praying to god that arena would be balanced and competitive so I wouldn’t have to make other characters just so i dont get raped in pvp. bringing friends is a joke, because my friends are competitive people and if im using underpowered characters they won’t like me being on their team, and ill feel like im holding them back. Also the item statement is horribly wrong, if my class is imbalanced I wont bother getting pvp gear, and as a result I won’t be grinding to find items for pvp. This idea of it not being balanced and competitive is honestly an extremely large reason I might not play pvp, and not because I don’t want to, but because I can’t. I always wondered why they couldn’t just have seperate pvp and pve spell balance etc because that seems to be the only reason people don’t want pvp to be a e-sport, because it would ruin pve.

      • Skills in PvP use different data tables than the PvE ones. They are balanced independently.

          • Dunno when it was said or who by but I remember a blue saying that  they had a separate table for PvP.

        • I know that but from what it sounds it doesn’t seem like they care about it being balanced enough so that I could play against my friend and we wouldn’t need to worry about how bad my character is against theirs. Idn I care that they are forcing me to make another character based entirely on the fact that pvp isn’t balanced. Which I won’t do.

  4. it is pretty odd that they aren’t releasing what they had ready at blizzcon.   Surely it was good enough.   I doubt PVPers would mind much if things changed in PVP after release.  Just so long as they got to pvp in the first place. 
    I’m not a pvper, tho I am definitely intrigued by the arena style that was in the last blizzcon.  I’ll definitely give it a shot whenever it comes out. 

    • Well here is a thought.  Perhaps they’ve been so busy on the main game, important things like match making were put to the side.  And since they obviously got word from up high to release the damn game, they just said ok, we’ll do pvp later. 

  5. Imagine how angry PvP fans will be if when the finally release PvP, it is hardly different from the last few Blizzcon models. IMO they should have just released what they had.

  6. They should include both an arena deathmatch type pvp i.e what they’ve shown but I’d love it if they focused upon a PVE + PVP mode. Where you were battling against another team in trying to kill a certain demon. They’ve built some of the lore in the magic wars. It would allow you to force some PVE builds (what the game is built for) but then also introduces some PVP element based on teamwork and skill. It would be much easier to balance than pure player versus player and the rewards make more sense as you are still killing demons and getting loot.

    • If said demon was beating on each team as they fought their triangle of death, then I for one would watch arena battles.  Not sure this will be implemented.  Truly nor sure. 

  7. Chances are they’re working on a matchmaking system that doesn’t make the game feel like crap when playing PvP.
    One of the reasons it was fun at blizzcon was because it was in a sandbox, premade characters with premade gear. 
    Taking it out of that sandbox, and you don’t want to end up with things like uber geared group v. under geared group.  That’s just a pointless matchup.  But balancing the matchmaking to properly take that type of thing into account (as well as potentially history / skill) is something that is fairly challenging. 

      • I don’t want to see Blizzard make a sandbox. From initial concept, a year later, they’d be wondering “does it have to be sand? What if it were, say, monkeys?”.

      • Well I’m not arguing that, though I think the sandbox style should be their long term project, for esports. Of course they can’t balance the full game with all the char/skill/equipment permutations. But it seems like they could pick like 3 builds of each class with preset gear and let players choose from those and go in team PvP matches. I’ve been told that WoW PvP is handled that way in tournaments.

    • These were my thoughts exactly. Blizzard has made some great innovations with matchmaking since WC3 and I think expectations are high for a balanced, competitive, fun PvP environment. The Blizzcon version, while functional, was done with pre-made, pre-balanced characters. They’ve had enough bugs with getting people into a game on the right quest for PvE, I can only imagine that PvP matchmaking is proving difficult to finish at Blizzard-level quality as well.

  8. I would much, much rather they focus on getting the PvE game balanced and worry very little about PvP issues. PvP in D2 was a cute diversion, and it should stay that way in D3. Half the reason WoW has turned into the homogenous mass that it has is because they’ve had to maintain “PvP fairness”.

    • That “cute diversion” that you mentioned ended up being the core end game for a lot of players.

  9. I have an idea for PVP and would be interested to hear your thoughts, What if PVP had two options upon entering a game.

    1.To play with your own created character as is,
    2.To play as a sandboxed pre-made pre-balanced character with predetermined selection of skill options, reason being -would be to balance the playing field so friends who maybe are different levels or have different equipment, or who don’t have developed characters in pve, can still have fun playing against each other in a more fair and instant way. Maybe these pre determined characters come in tiers, for instance level 10 characters, level 20 etc etc, and the higher tiers only unlock when your player reaches that level in pve. So you can actually decide to play pve as a limited level 10 with less options for skills (Could make it interesting)

    I wanted to post this to the blizzard forums but only have a trial account so can’t post a new topic 

    • The latter could work for tournament situations, but 95% of the time people are going to want to play with their own characters that they’ve invested time and effort (and possibly money) into building. With the exception of very special circumstances I can’t see option 2 being worth the development time.

  10. In one word:
    DLC! (Expansion)
    Campaign mode has enough meat in it as is..why not shift additional and highly demanded feature to DLC and milk some $$$ out of true Kotick style..

    • That was asked almost immediately on the announcement, and Bashiok confirmed PvP would come in a free update rather than paid DLC.

      That said, I see PvP as rife for DLC components… New game modes and new arenas for a couple of Blizzard Bucks each.

      • I recall Bashiok also confirming that the addition of a fourth difficulty would be a lazy compromise that they would never do.  Hmmm.  If they add if for cash they will just use some PR pixie dust and muddle the minds of most and piss off a few.

  11. The pvp description, barring one thing, sounds absolutely fantastic to me. That’s exactly what I want.
    The one thing it’s missing is variety in modes. Have that, deliver what the CM said, and it’s pure win. It would keep me playing for a long, long time. 

  12. I wonder if Kaivax is just an average player or of nightmare/Hell/Inferno will really be that hard. I remember from D2 after killing Baal on normal Id be about lvl 24 or something around that and Nightmare was a significant increase in difficulty especially when killing the scarabs in act 2 for the first time ^^

    • I think that highly depends on the state of the game when he played it, and also his playstyle.

      He may be the type of player that doesn’t want to have a grueling time slogging through pack after pack, and maybe wanted access to certain runes or gear in order to level out the difficulty curve a bit.
      Myself, on the other hand, I’m just fine and dandy slogging along. 

  13. since all classes will be fine for pvm, i wonder, if one class is op in pvp, and a lot people roll that class just to be op, what they will do.

  14. Anyone think there will be a “horde” mode, like so many games have nowadays? You could team up with your friends and fight waves of monsters. They could make it interesting by throwing in temporary bonus items that are very powerful when you achieve a certain objective (like in the bonus rounds in Gears of War 3). Probably not gonna happen, but I think it would be fun.

    • Not at launch, though they’ve spoken warmly of some such bonus PvM type game modes for down the road. I wouldn’t count on anything like that before D3X, though.

    • I wouldn’t like a horde mode, I think, because if it dropped loot, then it would be the only thing that players did. If it didn’t drop loot, nobody would use it. Well, not “nobody” but you know what I mean.

      I would hope, though, that they’d have a kind of huge siege fight in the game that felt like a shortened version of horde mode. A really big slugfest like what the bloody foothills could have been. 

  15. PvP is definitely geared towards option 2.  I don’t see what would be wrong with a ladder and a non-ladder deathmatch style as well.  It’s doesn’t need to be e-sport, but with no ladder the spirit of the competition is really lost. 

  16. I don´t know why some here assume that Kaivax is a crap player. This guy has played the shit out of this game for at least a year now. If he says he needs around 30+ to get out of normal and 55ish to get out of Nightmare then I take that as a good average indicator for what I will need. Some might not be ready to believe that this game will kick their arses. 55 and not even in Hell ? I get the feeling that even Hell will be incredibly challenging already, not even mentioning Inferno. I consider it a big achievement for myself if I ever get to see Inferno. I am absolutely not sure I will make it there. They already said You need Level 60 plus Uber-Gear for that.

  17. Honestly, i really think they just put PvP on hold because they revamped the skill system so much.
    What’s more interesting to me in this post is difficulty level. I know everyone always is like “D2 got it all wrong and was really easy with all the RW’s” and blahblablah, i think it’s going to be difficult to create a game that’s doable to untwinked gameplay while still being challenging when twinked. I predict a lot of “it’s too easy” and “it’s too hard” whining of naive fanboys who do not have common sense. I wish Blizzard would provide some extra hard dungeons in Inferno though, dungeons that are by all accounts impossible for anyone who isn’t twinked to the core.
    Captcha wins again: “exercize more”

  18. I would be extremely bored after doing all the PvE and finding out PvP isn’t serious in D3. What am I farming gear for then? To play more PvE? Nuts to that.
    I want a serious ladder like SC2, where your rank and league means something. PvE is only fun for so long, for me it’s just the first run through before it gets boring.
    An eSports like environment builds PERSISTENCE, blizz. That’s why some games are played for years after their release, and some fizzle out after a few weeks like a cheap Hollywood blockbuster.

  19. In DII I only rushed through Normal to Act 5 Nightmare. I wallowed in A5 Nightmare until I felt I was geared up. Granted, after getting twinked I spent less time there, but I still tapped Shenk and Baal 8-10 times each before moving on.

    In the early days before they finally made a bunch of lvl 85 areas, we all wallowed in either Forge runs or A5. I hope they learned about spreading things out, but I do not think any of this dynamic is likely to change in D3. We will have the number crunchers tell us the best places to run, and perhaps it depends on class.

    I don’t care about PvP. 

  20. If there are indeed separate damage\skill tables for PvE vs PvP mode that would be great.   Obviously, PvP is a completely different encounter than PvE.  How many times have we seen ‘balancing patches’ (e.g. WoWO nerf (or in some cases emasculate) PvE skills?  Guild Wars had a really good system IMHO; skills were immediately toggled to PvP mode when in a PvP area or the player elected to begin PvP activity.  Skills would toggle back to PvE mode once the encounter was done.  

    Hell, from a programming standpoint it’s just a simple Boolean condition; here check it out:

    If player is in PvP area\mode
    Toggle PvP skill\damage table
    Restore PvE skill\damage table
    End If

    I’ve always hated and never agreed with inflicting skill modifications designated for PvP mode onto PvE players whether they like or want said changes or not.

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