This week’s forum watch post hits on a single issue that’s animating threads in all five of the class forums; what should be done (if anything) to improve Diablo 3 Passive Skills? Which overly popular passives should be nerfed or changed or “baked in?” Which unloved passives should be improved? Can some be combined or merged to create new options? And how about more passives that are impactful and encourage/allow a whole new styles of play, rather than just adding slightly more damage or hit points or defense, etc.
The whole debate was begun in the Demon Hunter forum by Vanadin, who took a Blue comment about “baking in” the all-but-mandatory One With Everything Monk passive and extended the concept to the Demon Hunter. The question spurred some good replies, so I extended the concept to all five classes and made a post in each class forum for discussion. Each post has a table showing the most/least used passives for that class, for easy reference and skill hover tooltip info.
So what are the results? The conversations are still going on and you’re welcome to join in, and this is the Internet so opinions differ, but there are some interesting and insightful posts. Just to defy the conventional alphabetical order, let’s start off with the Wizard.
After Archery the 20% damage-adding Steady Aim has a 51% usage rate, with Perfectionist, Tactical Advantage, Sharpshooter, Vengeance, and Night Stalker also popular. After those the floor drops out, and the last 8 are all under a 6% usage rate. So what should be done? Aside from some sort of rebalance of Archery (ideally combined with an across-the-board buff to bows and one-handed xbows), there’s some support for combining or baking in some of the 3% used passives which grant cool bonuses… but aren’t quite good enough to spend a passive skill slot on. (I vote for Hot Pursuit.) Bonus points to Ivan E for theory-crafting entirely new functions for all of the passives.
So what to change/improve? The main request is to add some offensive passives. As is obvious by viewing the other classes, the best DPS-boosting passives are always the most popular. This can be overdone to the point of ruining variety, as we currently see with the Barbarian, but virtually all the Monk passives now are about defensive boosts or Spirit regen, and that’s boring. The class would enjoy some straight out +DPS passives like the Barb has, or at least something akin to Glass Cannon or Pierce the Veil — a DPS-booster that comes at a price.
We were joking about this issue on the podcast last week, when comparing the Monk’s passives to the Barb’s and noting that half a dozen of the Barb’s were better than *any* of the Monk’s, while not a single Monk passive would even fit into the Barb’s top 5. Even something like Brawler, used by a whopping 4% of Barbarians, would instantly become far and away the most powerful Monk passive skill.
The counter argument is that since Monks get a ton of AoE and multi-hit attacks they don’t need more DPS, and that Monks get a lot of great defensive boosts from their passives. That last part is certainly true, but 1) higher DPS cures all ills in Diablo 3, 2) defensive bonuses are much easier/cheaper to get from gear than offensive ones, and 3) the Barb has a bunch of great defensive passives too. (Which are ignored since when Diablo 3 is the question, higher DPS is always the answer.)
I wanted to quote a comment from Ivan E which I think goes to the heart of what sort of changes would be best made to Passives, aside from nerfing some of the OP and buffing some of the UP:
I don’t think it’s just the WD’s passives that need a rework, in case that wasn’t clear — I think the entire concept of a “passive” should shift less from a boring stat boost and more to a huge buff to something specific, or something that encourages you to play in a way that you wouldn’t without taking that passive.
An excellent point with which to end this post, and hopefully one that’ll spur some comments or theory crafting type ideas or examples from you guys, here or in the individual forum threads.