Diablo III’s Attributes via Items System is Lacking?

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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33 thoughts on “Diablo III’s Attributes via Items System is Lacking?

  1. Yes, stats are simple on D3, but the D2 comparison is incorrect. In D2, the only stat that matters is Vitality. Str / Dex, just the minimum needed for item requirements, and Energy is a complete waste of points.

    • @Smith
      You are wrong.

      In HC vita. But in SC I goes for pure dex for my bowazon. She had only 550hp unbufed but dmg and ar was huge.

      So everyone played what they want to. I do not like coments pure vit. I am out of system!

      • Bowazons were one of the very few exceptions to the rule. Also, not everyone built them with max dex.

    • Also in Diablo 2, there were the items that required a certain amount of str or dex or int to use making preparations for builds that were dependent on certain uniques. So sure Sorceresses could just stack points into intellect and keep gaining mana and damage or whatever they still would need str to wear certain armors etc, I think this is a dynamic that D3 is missing that would help.

      • Only a few weapons required dex to use, and most of those were ignored by players. The main exceptions are claws and flails.

        I also don’t think there were any items that required vit or energy. People pumped vit because str and dex didn’t contribute enough, not because they contributed nothing. With massive mana regen from meditation or mana leech, energy was a non-issue. Str provided so little damage that while pumping it was an option, it wasn’t worthwhile. This is similar to how primary stats in D3 offer you such insignificant defenses; your total resist gained from int as a non-WD/Wizard is probably less than the possible +all resist on a single good rare.

        Dex was an exception because while the damage bonus was “meh” the AR bonus was really nice. For a zon, the damage bonus was okay because they could avoid just about all incoming damage because D2 was about how fast you kill more than about killing stuff that kills you. Slow moving waves of giant cows that can be slowed over 50% and even frozen? Of course max dps is all you care about. I’m sure that zons doing stuff like tristram are a lot more likely to pump vit.

        Blocking was another “meh” stat. It was great for pvp but largely unnecessary for pve, and it got a big nerf (I think in 1.1) that made it far less appealing to most classes. Before the nerf I think just about everyone was going for 75% block, but after it was mostly just characters who needed AR or maybe some pvpers.

        The stat system in d3 is definitely flawed, but not really any worse than in d2. The main problem is the lack of good legendary items. D2 was fun because you got excited when you found a legendary. It’s still exciting to find legendaries in D3, but it happens far less often and they actually have a far greater chance of being worthless than uniques did in D2. The main problem is that every item falls on a gradient of power based on item level and that almost nothing has unique stats that make it cool; for example, frostburns may be level ~8, but they’re good at level 99 for some people. There’s no way a level 60 in d3 would even consider using any legendary under level 50.

        I think they went far overboard on the rare idealogy. They decided it was a problem for uniques to be all that matter, when it was actually one of the major fun factors of the game. It’s great that they removed bad low level sets; sets are pretty lame when you’re leveling so quickly and can’t find the whole set until you outlevel its usefulness, but the level 60 sets in D3 are a joke. Nobody wants to equip a full set with many mediocre stats when the set bonuses aren’t even as good as a single good affix that you’re giving up to wear it. Of course legendaries and perfect rares should stand up to sets, but right now the only use for set items is to pick and choose individual good ones (like WD boots) and throw great rares on in every other slot.

        The game is still salvagable, but right now it’s in a pretty sad state. I’m not motivated to play atm, but I haven’t given up on it. Hopefully Blizzard keeps realizing the mistakes they’ve made and helps rectify almost all of them (AH isn’t going away, but hopefully they can fix crafting to make up for it).

    • you never pumped dex for max block ?
      or to increase bow skills ?
      or to increase javelin skills ?
      how about pumping energy for energy shield ?

      energy was not a complete waste for every build
      and neither was vitality the most important stat

    • “no more 5 minutes standing still whacking a target while chugging potions”

      That’s how my barb killed inferno Ghom.

      Actually, pretty much every boss.

  2. I think he is only partly correct. For example, I found those shoulder armor thingies. They had +58 to all resist, +60 to physical resist, +120 Vita +98 Str and +105 Int.
    I play a full tank barbarian, so I can take all the hits for my mates, and this item ist just too good for me.
    +105 Int is useless you say? Well, it adds another 10 Resist all, giving me a full bonus of +68 to all resist plus another +60 to physical. It may only be a small bonus, but when you really want to improve your build you can only do it in small steps.

    In addition to that, dextery also is awesome. My barb has around 480 dex, and a chance to avoi hits of a little bit more than 20%.
    As a tank I really appreciate this small bonus. Oh, did I say small? IT IS HUGE!
    I got around 40% blockchance, and 20% Avoid, giving me a total chance of 52% to avoid/reduce incoming damage, instead of 40% block only. The dmg of every 2nd hit will be reduced.

    So now tell me how this ain’t much.

    • Agreed. I think the attribute system for equipment works a lot better than in D2. +Strength for other classes adds to the Armor rating which is very important for survival just as +Dexterity adds some Dodge and +Inteligence adds some Resists.

      In Diablo 2, a Barbarian had very little need for items with +Energy (Unless of course you were another type of build like a Singer) as long as they had Mana Steal. Strength and Dexterity for many builds were simply used to equip items and then were largely ignored.

    • it aint much in comparison to the vitality

      that’s his OBVIOUS point

      the Int is nice, but come on, what makes those so nice is +58 to all resist, +60 to physical resist, +120 Vita and +98 Str

      the Int is just a freebie bonus

      Are you honestly saying that you would take
      +58 to all resist,
      +60 to physical resist,
      +105 Int
      +98 Dex


      +58 to all resist,
      +60 to physical resist,
      +120 Vita
      +98 Str

      • Depends how much STR, DEX & VIT I got with out either of them, the +98 DEX might give me more survivability than the +120 VIT and +98 STR.

    • HOW they told the story was better than D2, where we were given a wall of text and then let loose.

      The D3 actual story of course is complete bollocks and proves that Metzen is spending all his money on weed and hookers

      • exactly, if the story itself is crap, does it matter how it’s delivered? back then they had that narrator with the sexy voice telling the story of “The Three” and “The Dark Exile”, now they got that moron Arab that speaks like a damn cab driver and female Commander Shepard from Mass Effect

        “soon, now, we shall FEEEEEEED”

  3. Is this post supposed to be news? I thought everyone who’s played more than a few days knows this already.

  4. I for one much prefer the streamlined item stats of D3 compared to D2. Making a game easier to understand is a good thing. D2 had plenty of useless crap you could get on an item too.

    If there’s one thing that is making D3 much easier than it could be is how effective the AH is. Trading has become much easier than ever before and allows player to always be geared up for what’s coming next.

    • So you disagree the attribute system is severely lacking because you don’t mind it.

      Makes sense.

  5. I don’t like the D3 stat system at all. I think everything J.Wilson said about the D2 System is also wrong. D2’s system wasn’t perfect, but it is by far better and less monotonous than the one J.Wilson delivered with D3.

    People that claim there was only one stat to use played SC and did not care dying. The only thing D2 should have changed is to make dying less forgiving (higher repair cost, more exp loss) and everyone playing SC had been considered to stat also Vitality (Life), Dexterity (Block) or Energy (Energy Shield)…

    That for me was the only flaw in the system. Playing HC and dying once made you think twice how to spend your attribute points.

    That was J.Wilson said about D2’s stat system was a bad excuse for not being willing to put more thought in the stat system. Look at some of the other ARPGs from smaller companies coming out soon. They have improved on D2’s stat system. The difference is, they have done it once or twice before…

    TLDR: I prefer D2’s system anytime.

  6. The D3 stat system is very easy to understand and it’s about the same as D2’s system. Skills can be changed around to create just about any build you can imagine.

  7. 10-1 ratio for off-stat to primary stat? Shows how much you know.

    It’s more like 25-1. Not to mention it doesn’t quite work like this. A property wasted on off-stat is wasted. Period. No amount of trade-off will justify to wasted slot.

    • So you never get any DEX at all on your barb wizard or witch doctor? <- if so then you have gimped your guys.

  8. With no stat points or skill points to help bear the load, items have become overburdened with fulfilling both roles on top of what they already did in D2.

  9. The biggest problem with the current system is that there’s hardly any room for creative character building (i know that the extremely poor itemization already doesn’t allow much creative character building anyways) since characters basically can’t survive without their main stat, and if not being completely glasscannon, without res, vit and possibly armor.
    In D2 i could play a character in Hell with 500 unspent stat points, just to say how flexible the system in D2 was. I could play a DexaBarb (with javelins), i could play a TitanSorc (with Grief), i could decide whether to go with max block and what shield, what vit/energy ration to use with energy shield and so on. I had 10 Barbs easy, the one invested more into strength to equip upgraded uniques, the other went full vit, yet another went full block with a poor blocking shield, and then another tried to maximize armor, etc,… Where is all this variety in D3?

    • Indeed! Creative character building is what made D2 so fun to me… (well, that and mods!)

  10. Look at Diablo III, If we could menage dex/str/vit/int like in D2.
    I could stack all armor with vit and spend str points, that would increse versatility of Heroes.

    If my gear lack of str I pompt it up, or int, or wathever.
    What You Think ?

  11. I still don’t get this “normal is too easy” thing. I thought it was kinda hard the first time through. After the first play-through it was easy, sure, because I knew what I was doing.

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