The Diablo 3 Expansion is the perpetual topic of interest for everyone in the Diablo community, and since IGN coughed up an article focused on it today, we might as well have at it. The article gives some summary of the Diablo 3 plot and basic game features and suggests what we might see in the Expansion plot, but it’s not one of those, “my top ten expansion wish list features” forum posts.
Rather, the article discusses how the expansion might change Diablo 3 structurally, mostly in terms of he Auction House and the always-online requirement.
As the updates to Diablo 3 already released have shown, though, smaller foundational changes are more meaningful to the exact nature of the game and a full expansion will likely be no different. Lords of Destruction’s biggest change to Diablo 2 wasn’t the addition of Assassin and Druid classes, but how it overhauled the gameplay. An expansion could conceivably remove Diablo 3’s most divisive features, particularly the need for a persistent Internet connection and the game’s Auction Houses.
An Auction House-free Diablo 3 on PC certainly sounds like the dream version of the game. Rather than a delicious, engaging adventure that yielded the best rewards as its difficulty scaled, the biggest problem with Diablo 3 was how the Auction House drove all of the game’s long-term systems. The very best loot didn’t drop regularly enough for even the most diligent player, so they were forced to farm gold or pay out actual cash for the gear they wanted. This reliance on the Auction House even crippled the game’s campaign, and Blizzard’s known it since the game released. While the new crafting system was brought in to “refocus players away from farming the Auction House and onto farming monsters,” it’s still only a half step.
So really, this isn’t an article about the expansion. It’s about how the author doesn’t like the Auction House or always-only requirement, and how he hopes those are changed in the future. Which is a valid set of topics, but it’s not like we don’t see 50 posts a day about one or both in the forums already.
I wasn’t a fan of either feature when they were first announced, but over the year of release I’ve come to like the AH and not care about the always-online. I suppose a SP-offline mode of D3 would be useful once in a while, such as during the weekly maintenance periods, but all my characters are online (obviously) and I have friends on my list I like to play with and talk to and public games are nice once in a while, and if we ever get a decent dueling system I’ll be all over that. And all those things require online-only characters for security. Plus, let’s be honest, Blizzard isn’t going to give up on the online only thing unless/until some magic occurs and PC games stop being pirated at a 90+% rate.
As for the Auction House, like most players today, I feel like it’s essential for my characters to progress, and I quite enjoy selling and reselling and flipping and get more excited by the “your item sold” pop up than most anything else during a play session. (And I really wish I could hover on the text to see which item it was and how much it sold for.) That’s much less true now than it was upon release, after multiple patches of Inferno difficulty-nerfs, but there are so many super-rare, highly-specialized items required for most builds in the game that it’s infeasible to find them all yourself. I’d love to see an Ironborn mode (though it didn’t sound like Travis or Wyatt were really grappling with the separate-ecosystem requirement of such a feature), but I think it should be optional.
Of course that’s talking about the game as it is now. As the IGN article points out, the Diablo 3 console is *not* going to feature an AH, and will presumably make big changes to the item quality and drop rates in order to let characters find enough good gear, and find it quickly enough, to enjoy Inferno. And a game with such generous drop rates basically wouldn’t work with an AH, barring lots of binding or other such features (items reduce in quality when sold/gain a buff while kept?) since the AH would instantly flood full of all the best gear, with the over supply driving prices down to pennies.