Guest Article: Diablo PVP: The Past, Present, and Future


Thus far in their public comments, the D3 Team has hardly touched on the issue of PvP in D3: they’ve said it’s an important part of the game, and that it will not be non-consensual, and that they’re trying out a lot of different ideas, but they’ve given us no concrete details yet. I think it’s likely they don’t have concrete details to give, at this early stage of development

Into that void steps today’s guest article.

This piece, by Sepi, discusses some key elements of the D2 PvP experience, then moves on to discuss how PvP might be improved/evolved in D3.  It covers ladders, ranks, titles, rewards, PvP arenas, death penalties, and more. Click through to read on, and join the conversation in the comments, and/or by visiting our D3 PvP/PK Forum.

Diablo PVP: The Past, Present, and Future

If you?re anything like me, PVP (player versus player) was one of the allures of Diablo II; a major reason you kept playing for years, rolling and rerolling hundreds of characters to find the optimal PVP build. And if you?re anything like me, you expect Diablo III’s PVP to match its predecessor?s excellence and addictive nature. You expect, and hope and wish, and sometimes even pray.

Diablo II PVP was addictive for a multitude of reasons that have yet to be duplicated by another game. Many have tried, but most are not worth the free trial. 

Brief History (hopefully brief enough)

I started at Diablo II?s launch and promptly dueled with every character, so I still remember how overpowered I felt while playing a Bowazon, shooting guided arrows off screen, or a Sorceress teleporting with my Frozen Orb Thunderstorm combo—this was before the days of the Enigma Runeword, when not every character could not teleport.

I grew up with Diablo II, quitting and returning multiple times, and eventually playing a BVC (Barbarian versus caster) as my main dueler. After testing almost every PVP build, I chose this character due to its versatility and survivability. A BVC is a Barbarian that utilizes Enigma?s ability to teleport, so a decent faster cast rate is essential, as well as a lot of health and a high attack rating. A BVC is best against casters (hence the name). Basically, you teleport and run, dodging attacks such as Bone Spirit and Fireball, until you land on the enemy and Whirlwind, which is a one shot kill against most classes. Most BVCs used Beast/Grief berserker axes for the highest possible damage and attack speed, but I also had a Doom and two Wizard Spikes for extra long, teleporting duels. Unlike other builds, multiple sets of gear were essential for a good BVC. Against Smiters you want the Angelic jewelry set for the attack rating bonus, and Fort for better defense and damage. There are many other examples. I consider a BVC a jack of all trades, meaning you can confidently fight any other dueler so long as you have the gear to support your style. You chase your prey until they make a mistake, while your high hit points keep you alive. (I added enough to dexterity to use my weapons and left every other stat at base, pumping vitality. This was only possibly through an inventory full of stats and life small charms).

Death Difficulties

This might go against poplar opinion, but I enjoy(ed) the ?anti-carebear? nature of PVP. While I was not a griefer and did not zealously “camp” naked corpses, I respected that aspect of the game because it created higher risk in PvP. It added incentive to not die, or at least to play intelligently. Do I think fondly of griefers? No. I find them immature and annoying, but they are still an essential part of PvP and its brutality. PVP just isn?t PVP if everyone is nice.

Do I expect to see griefers in Diablo III, or even the ability to grief? Considering the standards of recent online games, and especially how Blizzard handles these matters in World of Warcraft, I think not. The hardcore nature of PVP is something of the past, except for rare throwback games like Darkfall Online. Along these lines, however, I do anticipate and hope for a more organized PVP system in Diablo III. In Diablo II I joined competitive PVP circuits organized by other players and enjoyed dueling much more with established house rules: no absorb, no griefing, and no third party programs. Even though they were improvements over the unregulated Battle.net dueling, these informal competitions were and still are nothing compared to what Diablo III could provide: PVP rankings, dedicated chat channels, and dueling arenas. (Even if they are just a field or desert tile set, the ability to call them an “arena” would make them fancier and thus better. You know, all those Spartans in tight leather and bloodied weapons). Perhaps best of all, PVP rewards. Rewards! Online gamers lust for rewards like zombies lust for brains.

PVP Rewards

I think we?re all expecting rewards and renown for PVP in Diablo III. Unlike in Diablo II, our characters will exist on rankings and charts, similar to the ladder but now for PVP. Rankings may include many things, such as Most Kills, Best Kill/Death ratio, Number of Deaths (perhaps even against each character class), Total Damage Given and Received, and there may even be titles: Emperor of Death, Grand Inquisitor of Blood Shedding, Supreme Ruler of Sword and Board, and so on. 

Other potential PVP rewards include experience gain. That’s been tried in games like Warhammer Online and I think it would add a nice element to Diablo III. Even better, how about earning items through PVP? Some of us have PVP?ed for two or five or ten straight hours and come away with nothing more than memories of fun gaming. This is a good thing, but it could be better. Experience and items would make do just that. A PVP item earned every 5,000 kills, for example, or kill one-hundred people without dying and earn a special ring. The possibilities are endless and exciting, as they would further the overall experience of PVP. Obviously, Blizzard would have to find a way to prevent cheating and exploits.

I personal do not like the idea of characters losing items in an item-centric game like Diablo, but that could be an alternate play style, similar to hardcore. Some people do like that risk versus reward factor.

There?s also the possibility of Blizzard hosted tournaments for various prizes. This would not only promote a sort of community, but also be a fun way to earn items and make a name for yourself.

Diablo III Expectations


Givien Blizzard?s history and their huge success with World of Warcraft, I think it’s safe to expect huge improvements from Diablo II to III PVP. All developers, Blizzard included, have realized that PVP players are a substantial part of the online market. Some of us want the healthy competition that monster AI cannot offer, while others just want to kill another player and trashtalk, perhaps including the spamming of intelligent rejoinders such as, “NOOB. SAVE N EXIT PLZ”  after a close-fought victory. Others just like to see their name at the top of rankings, and some, like myself, love stat crunching and reviewing how well or poorly I do in every situation: “Killed 3,700,200 Barbarians, died from 1,230,202 Witch Doctors.” For instance.

I probably desire too much from Blizzard, but I?m sure the bulk of us will be satisfied with Diablo III PVP. After all, they just have to improve on the best PVP system to date. Even though Diablo II’s not specially designed for PVP, I’ve tried enough games and wasted enough money to make me regret the ten or so times I ?quit? playing Diablo II.

—Sepi


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