Blizzard Shares their Philosophy on Patch 2.1 — coming “Soon”

Blizzard has posted a lengthy manifesto explaining their goals in the massive and long-brewing Patch 2.1. Blizzard Shares their Philosophy on Patch 2.1 — coming “Soon”?

Hey all!

With the release of patch 2.1.0 drawing near, we wanted to take some time to share the balance goals of this patch. There were two major goals:

  • Reduce the number of extreme outliers in class balance in order to set us up for ongoing improvements
  • Provide ourselves a new metric (Greater Rifts) by which we can more easily identify future outliers
  • The changes we’ve made so far to our six classes exemplify these goals. For example, the re-tuning of DiabloWikiExploding Palm, DiabloWikiThe Furnace, and DiabloWikiRimeheart weren’t specifically made to nerf Monks — it was to remove a clear, standalone issue from interfering with other changes aimed at giving Monks the tools they need to survive and compete in Greater Rifts.

    Over 9000... is a nerf?

    Over 9000… is a nerf?

    The implementation of DiabloWikiGreater Rifts allows us to rate classes much more quantitatively. Ideally, each class should be within a couple Greater Rift tiers of one another. Our latest internal testing, where we often copy actual characters from players in the DiabloWikiPTR and run them through Greater Rifts, shows that we’re pretty close. Inevitably, there will always be room for improvement, and now we have clear, tangible data for us to check in on what’s going on and re-evaluate.

    Here’s what we’re *NOT* aiming to do (at least, not yet):

    Expand class diversity

  • This is a design goal for us, and we’ve touched a little on it (see below). However, we want each class performing similarly and with fewer outliers before we introduce new play styles.
  • Buff every class through the roof

  • While power creep is somewhat inevitable with new content (DiabloWikiLegendary Gems, I’m looking at you!), you need to sand down the rough edges before you primer them! We want to reign some things in, buff some things up, and ensure each class has comparable (if different) tools available to them.
  • Click through for the rest of the lengthy post, and their main dev goals for this patch:

    The overarching philosophies for this patch are as follows and apply to most, if not all, the classes:

    Provide elemental diversity among a class’ available skills

  • This is an ongoing process, and while we’ve partially addressed elemental diversity for most classes, there’s still more to go (such as addressing Poison and Cold for Demon Hunters and Crusaders respectively).
  • Buff significantly underused skills by increasing numbers or redesigning runes with more interesting or useful mechanics.

  • Channeling spells for Wizards or Furious Charge for Barbarians are great examples of these changes. There’s still some skills out there that need work, we just may not get to them for 2.1.
  • Buff Healing

  • This can apply to every class. We want players to use healing on their gear, especially in higher level Greater Rifts, and it should feel much more reliable and on-demand (depending on which type of healing you prefer to stack).
  • Ensure that the elemental types and skill mechanics fulfill the fantasy of the class

  • We talk about class fantasy a lot, and making sure your class feels the way it should. The addition of the Crusader set, DiabloWikiRoland’s Legacy, is a prime example of this. Crusaders should feel like they have options in melee, and we feel this set helps satisfy that need.
  • Phases of the PTR can be a little trying, because what you end up seeing from the outside looking in is what our iterative process looks like — except with none of the context. It’s like trying to tell what the entire picture is from a few unmatched puzzle pieces, because some bits of our larger, overarching goals just can’t (for one reason or another) be crammed into a build before it goes out.

    What can be frustrating is that our iterative process on a subject can be much longer term than the cycle of a single patch. Class balance is a perfect example of this, particularly because it’s an aspect of the game that’s never really “done.” It’s fairly inevitable that there will always be work to do on this front, especially as we add new content in the future (and even more so where DiabloWikiLegendaries and DiabloWikiSets are concerned). Class balance is the sum of several wholes, including Skills, Set Items, and Legendaries that have been added or adjusted. That’s a ton of stuff to look at, and sometimes there’s simply not enough time to fit everything into a single patch (even if it’s in our plans).

    This is an ongoing process for us. There’s a lot of new toys and quality of life changes in this patch, but that doesn’t mean it launching closes the doors on additional tweaks or changes for the future. If a class falls behind, we might put out a 2.1.1 or 2.1.2 to address the clear outliers.

    Some of our plans have immediate implementation goals while others stretch on for 6 months or even a year. There’s a lot of spinning wheels and fiddly bits in this Infernal Machine, and a quick glance won’t ever be sufficient to explain it all. Some plans are harder to explain than others, but we hope this lends at least a bit of transparency to the bigger picture.

    This sounds okay to you guys? Pretty much what we’d want from a huge content patch?

    The devs really upped their challenge by adding 1-100 levels of Greater Rifts, since it puts such a magnifying glass on all the very highest end abilities and builds and skills. With Torment 6 as the hardest content (equivalent to GR 25ish) it wouldn’t have been real hard for the devs to give every class a few builds that could compete in T6, and some would be a little faster or safer than others, but if that was the top end in the game, every class would be able to get there.

    Adding Greater Rifts up to 100 blows that up, and suddenly a bunch of builds that were all T6 capable and which fans were accepting as roughly balanced… become capable of GR30 to GR50, and now suddenly there’s massive imbalance and “Blizzard Hates Monks!” (Or Wizards. Or Demon Hunters. Or whoever.)

    DiabloWikiSeasons do the same thing, but with the focus on speed of leveling and power when newly-arrived at 70 without great gear.

    As always, making video games is hard.


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    1. What I do not get is why there buff are always breaking my builds…

    2. Except the monk issues come mostly from set design. There was a recent post showing how if you just took the sader sets and adjusted them for monks all of a sudden the class looks a lot more dynamic. Right now we have Rainment aka the ping pong set that is just weird to use since you are never actually attacking just shooting back and forth and the SWK set which is a good step in the right direction but a majority of the damage again does not come from our abilities but spamming SW or a Mantra so fast to get the proc to happen.

      I seriously doubt anyone at blizz plays a monk and this is including Don Vu the monk dev.

    3. Quote: "We want players to use healing on their gear"

      I recently built a monk with 50,000 life regen and 5,000 life on hit and it barely made a dent while fighting elites on T2. I really hope they do something better with 2.10.

      • FYI 2.1 will vastly increase the amount of healing you can get.

        • However It is waste of time. Healing only help before G30 . In G35 + tons of thing can one shot any class easily

          • I don't see this "endurance road" of fighting and healing going along with feedback. Some people seem to be ok with caster barbarians and crusaders (which has a short range casting "option" on the core design), but killing fast and having fun seem to be a priority, like a jade doc on its prime, why not with some lasers for GR30+.

            People want to kill faster while playing dead/not dead, with some tunes on healt link corrupted angels, uncalled-for-damage on jailer, etc. Nobody ever asked (iirc) "make healing work", except for bring back life steal. When you make something that people didn't ask for as a bonus, better make it great (like a secondary affix, removing single res and buffing AR to compensate that), not just "ok". Or else it will fell broken, imo.

    4. Well, if they want LoH to be noticeable and have some impact, they should let weapons roll at least 20k+ HP on hit, otherwise LoH is pretty useless and it is almost always better to rely on Resistance/Armor and potions.

    5. Their next step(expansion?) is to buff numbers on weapons and skills so that more ppl are able to do GRift lvls 50+. Torment lvls will be obsolete, as the only thing to do out there will be GRifts.
      Am I being pessimistic or what ?

    6. "Ensure that the elemental types and skill mechanics fulfill the fantasy of the class"

      Well, I'm kinda glad that this isn't a priority for them so far, 'cause they're not doing a great job of it (in terms of making changes; the classes are well-designed and implemented in terms of the base game). One day, maybe, they'll hit the point where flavor melds perfectly with functionality, as opposed to changing things willy-nilly to satisfy functionality or balance with no regard for flavor.

      I think there's still some rune with "Holy" in the name for the Crusader that does fire or lightning damage. Why does "Smash" for the Barb's HotA use fire damage (it should be physical, the hammer isn't being enhanced with fire, it's just getting bigger/stronger). There's also a WD rune (Toad of Hugeness) where the banner reads poison damage, but the description reads physical damage. Ugh.

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