There’s a nice analytical-article about Diablo III over on Gamasutra, in which Josh Bycer studies the game systems and evaluates their pros and cons. All the analysis in the article has been seen many times in news posts, comments, and forum threads here, but the article is a good collection of some of the critical thinking about Diablo III’s pros and cons.

    Topics covered include the excellently-differentiated class design, the good story-telling tools, the randomized level design, and the creative boss battles (no more 5 minutes standing still whacking a target while chugging potions). The author offers more criticism of a few core issues though, which include the way the class design is undermined by a lack of character individualization, the way the simplified attribute system devalues most gear, the much-too-easy Normal difficulty mode, and how the online-only requirement contributes to lag spikes of doom.

    Here’s a quote, and thanks to snipeattacker for the tip.

    In Diablo 3, while characters still have 4 main attributes, players no longer assign points to them. Instead characters will gain a few attribute points on level up and the rest from equipment bonuses. The problem is that the designers went too far with simplifying attribute bonuses and hurt the options players have.

    In Diablo 2, every attribute had value to each class. Intelligence affected mana pool, strength affected melee damage and so on. But in Diablo 3, only two attributes matter per class: vitality and a primary stat. The primary stat affects both the defensive options of the character and adds a direct bonus to DPS.

    What that does, is now the only equipment that matters is if it has a bonus to the primary attribute or vitality. As a barbarian, there is no reason why I should take gear that gives a bonus to intelligence when I have one that gives a bonus to strength. Since all skills scale from DPS only, it’s suicide to not boost the primary or vitality whenever possible, especially on the harder difficulty levels.

    The other consequence is that the search for loot has been dumb down. Each class can only realistically search for items relating to their primary stat. All barbarians are going to want strength items, demon hunters: dexterity and so on. If the other attributes offered some kind of meaningful bonus, like increase power regeneration or add a small bonus to the effect of each skill that would be a different story.

    However, with the simplistic attribute system, the search for loot has been neutered. Given the decision to base each class on one main stat, I’m confused why I kept finding class restricted gear that gave bonuses to other attributes.

    Like most of his arguments, this is a bit simplified. The other attributes do provide some value, with Dex boosting Dodge and Int boosting Resistances, but on the whole his argument is correct.

    How much value you place on your non-primary stats will vary with your character, gear, and play style, but for instance, how much Dex would you give up to add Str for a Barbarian? All other mods being even (which they never are), I’d probably prefer +50 Dex or Int to +5 Str for my Barb, but I’d have to compare the items in my stats display before I decided. Still, if we just pretend there’s some agreement on the 10-to-1 ratio of benefit, that’s obviously not an argument against the article’s point, that some stats are vastly more beneficial than others, and that this greatly limits equipment choices per class.

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