Along with the noob questions, the open beta weekend is bringing a lot of discussion and debate about issues we’ve kind of beaten to the glue factory, but which are fresh to new players. A prime example is this post, which goes into a lengthy and not very well argued complaint about the lack of character customization options or skill choices granted per level up in Diablo III.

    I’ll excerpt from the OP, since it’s long and not very clear. We’ve heard Bashiok’s reply many times before, but the difficulty level element is kind of new, so maybe it’s worth a read on a slow Sunday. The full thread can be seen here.

    …Diablo 3’s leveling experience is a painful compromise in a genre of games where leveling and directing a character is an integral part of the gaming experience. Other than D3, no other RPG has such an absence of choice when leveling up. I see this as a deeply influential flaw that will turn away a lot of the cerebral players out there.

    …When you level up, you don’t even think or plan or do anything. Mercenaries have a more organic feel to leveling than your main. This is laughable. All I do in Diablo 3 is click click click, pick up items, and when I level it doesn’t feel like leveling at all – just another skill or rune I never planned for thrown at me. We’re really supposed to put up with this all the way to 60?
    I think it’s a symptom of the beta where you’re in the part of the game where we’re very deliberately guiding players by handing out a skill here, a rune there. It’s really a crafted and linear experience to start (both in system introduction and environment) because the first couple hours are the most crucial to a successful and long term experience. We’re not in the mindset to drop all of the game systems on you and say “Good luck, sucker!”

    To some the approach we’re taking is likely a turnoff because they want to feel like they’re part of an elite group able to figure out complex and obtuse game systems, and be challenged the second the game begins. I think if they stick with it they’ll find that there is a ton of depth and complexity to the game. We put the depth into the gameplay, skill, and decision making itself and not the requirement to overcome the UI or understand how the game even works.

    If you’re one of those players you’re going to blaze through Normal, hit Nightmare, and things are going to start feeling really good for you. You just have to understand that not everyone is like you, and we’re making the game so a wide range of people can enjoy it.

    I agree with everything here, except the whole “you’re going to scream through normal” thing kind of sucks, honestly. I want to enjoy the story the first time through and also feel challenged. But it seems like that’s not gonna happen until at least nightmare. But then I’ll already know the story and what’s going to happen.

    Not sure what the solution could be, but it’s kind of a bummer.
    Honestly many people here find the later acts of Normal very challenging (like they can’t beat the last boss for weeks on end challenging), but I don’t want encourage someone to pull up my words later and say “You said it would be difficult!” 🙂 I’m not sure what additional balancing could happen before release.

    If you’ve stopped laughing at the line about “turning away cerebral players,” consider that both the OP and Bashiok have a point. Yes, the early going is pretty brainless, without any real choices to make or strategy required, And there are never really any skill choices with even a semi-permanent impact in D3, since you can always respec in a matter of seconds. (Well, I guess if you died in HC due to stupid skill choice, that would count as a permanent effect.)

    That said, by level 30, much less 50 or 60, every character will have literally hundreds of skills + rune effects to choose from, plus a couple of dozen passive skills which, if chosen wisely, will make a major difference on your skill choice and use. No, you don’t have any real character customization in Diablo III, but you do have vastly more skills than you can use at once, which functions as something along the same lines. Right?

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