In a post a couple of days ago, Bashiok talked about skill point hoarding and said he’d try it out when he had the time. Today he had the time, and has reported back at length. It’s practically a gameplay report, as he relates his experience playing a Barbarian and a Sorceress without any skill points invested.
Here’s a quote; click through to read the whole long thing.
If there’s a critique to make of this, it’s that he took “point hoarding” too literally. Seldom did even expert D2 players not spend a single point in the early going. After all, you had pre-reqs to fill out, and there were almost always some low level passive skills you wanted to pump up, long term. That’s not necessary in D3, since there are no skill requirements other than Clvl. To save up skill points in D3 you’d only spend one or two points early on, storing up the rest until you got to a skill you wanted to use long term, which you’d then max out ASAP.
However, as Bashiok quotes Jay Wilson saying, there’s no reason to do that, since respecs will be common and cheap enough that you’ll want to spend your points to kick ass, until you respec to something else that’s even more ass-kicking. Sound like fun?
Incidentally, Bashiok mentions a lot of Boss Modifiers in his report. You’ll want to check out that wiki page if you don’t know what Molten is, or why it’s nasty. Knowing what Barbarian skills, Barbarian traits, Wizard skills, and Wizard traits he’s passing up should be of interest as well.
The full post:
Keep in mind this play experience is based on ignoring skills and traits, and simply equipping items found or purchased. This is something that I argue is non-optimal, and so I’m testing it to prove a point, but hopefully in an objective way.
Ok, so with the barbarian. Start the game with sword and board, and this takes 1-2 hits (usually 1) for the softer zombies and 4-6 for the tougher ones. At level 2 I found another one hander (basic low dps club) and started dual wielding. This helped a bit. Finally found my first piece of armor halfway through level 3. Pants! At some point I was back in town and was able to (barely) afford a new broad axe to replace the mediocre club I had picked up. And then I realized I could have bought a better weapon, but now had almost no gold.
Dual wielding with some style now anyway, and hitting quite a bit faster as the APS of the club it replaced was pretty low. Venturing out I ran into my first champion (one strong guy with a couple affixes, and a pack of his friends that take on the same affixes), this time it was a Molten Teleporter. Grotesques. Tough because melee’ing molten means I’m standing in the fire trail and taking damage regardless of his actual attacks. I managed to take out two of the smaller guys, then died. First death at level 3. Almost died again trying to take out the remaining two (one of which was the actual champion), but prevailed.
Plodded along until level 5 where I died participating in a random quest event. Managed to use a potion, but it wasn’t enough. Died. Ran into another champion group, Carrion Bats, molten teleporter again!? No matter, they were fairly easy. Then I ran into a miniboss (?) and survived with only a few health. It was a close fight. Plodding along, then I ran into another champion pack which were clearly bugged as they one shot me every time. After throwing my corpse against their attacks five more times I decided to stop.
So, I wouldn’t say that it was a tough experience, the melee nature of the barbarian and built-in toughness made it not too terrible. But keep in mind that was only until level 6. I’m sure going to 14 would have been increasingly painful. Using skills I’m positive I could have avoided all of those deaths (barring the bugged champions at the end).
Ok, so I swapped to a wizard. So again, playing, just wanding everything to death (weee), until I found a sword. Started slicing things in the face, not much difference attacks-per-monster wise, I just prefer it to wands. I ran into a medium sized pack of zombies aaaaand, dead. Level 2, first death. After finally clearing that pack out I was lucky enough to have a rare spawn, an easy rare, and lo and behold he dropped a very nice wand for me. I’m one-shotting everything at this point and I’m going along fairly quickly. No real trouble until I hit level 5 and start running into more champion packs, and a few more random quest events. All of which either kill me at least once or take me within an inch of my life. Definitely not too fun and a real slowing effect in my attempts to rush levels.
So I think the takeaways here are sort of muddled due to a very limited (and potentially flawed) test. I talked to Jay Wilson briefly about point hoarding yesterday and he brought up a couple good points. First of all is that the balance of availability of respecs should be that there is no incentive to hoard points. Hoarding points isn’t fun, and if that means having respecs be more common, so be it. I think the better point he made though was that runes have a dramatic effect on skills, and one that likely can’t be fully realized by theoretical builds. An example he gave was Magic Missile is a tier 1 skill, but fully runed will rapid fire projectiles easily make it end game viable, and cheaper to cast than other higher tier skills. With skill points alone very few early skills can boast late game efficiency, but high level runes can sometimes (not always) change the rules.
-ed Also sort of on that point, there is always one rune for every skill that boosts flat damage or efficiency of the base skill. You’re never forced to keep the rune slot unused because you don’t want to change the base skill into something else. I had seen some confusion on that.
Of course the availability of respecs always brings up the question of rerolls and necessity of multiple characters. Personally I think you’re going to want to have a PvE and PvP character of each class anyway, but beyond that we have plans for players that like and want to re-roll, and to reward that in a tangible way.
Anyway, hope this was enlightening to some degree. The game is still a lot of fun to play, even in such sub-optimal circumstances. It’s been a while since I’ve just played from the start of the game and there’s some really awesome stuff going in.