Gold in a game like Reaper of Souls should form a perfect circle; you find as much as you need; not too much, not too little. Few fans feel the game is balanced to that level at present. What’s the problem? How can it be fixed?
Gold is an essential material (it’s not really a currency) in Reaper of Souls, required in large quantities for gem upgrades and item enchants, as well as repairs, crafting costs, transmog, and other walking around expenses. Gold does not, however, drop in anything approaching the amounts that players can spend. Most people who entered Reaper of Souls with a small amount of gold (under 25 million) are now broke, and players who brought in more substantial fortunes and have been profligate with their gem upgrades and enchanting are down 50 million, 100 million, 200 million, or more, in just a month of playing time.
Does this mean that Gold is too scarce in the game, or are players 1) living beyond their means, and 2) mistaking the early gearing up phase for the long term gold-building farming stage? I’ve been talking to players in the clan chat and out of game, and there’s a good forum thread about gold farming and expenses in our Diablo 3 community forum that I found interesting reading in prep for this article.
Questions for debate: Should gold be much more common, or is balancing your gold costs with your income an essential aspect of the game’s strategy? Should there be more gold earning options, such as selling materials or legendaries, ala Diablo 2’s Auction House? Should the game balance the gold circle for right now, or include some epicycles to give players who brought in gold from D3 something extra to spend it on?
There are a lot of opinion on this issue, and what a player feels corresponds directly to their play time, depends on how many characters they’re gearing up, if they have geared up well enough to tackle higher Torment levels where gold drops are scaled up 1000% or more, etc. So everyone’s opinion will differ a bit by their location and the state of their gear battle, but we can get some basic terms for the debate.
Economic Experiences Differ
I’m yet not sure what my overall positions is, so this article is geared towards conversation and explanation than meant as an opinion piece. Personally, I’m rich and I’m broke.
On the Americas Realm, I’m rich.
I started off with around one billion gold in Hardcore, most of it accumulated during the month after the RoS beta ended and before the Auction House shut down. I still have no idea why people were paying top gold prices for lvl 60 uniques and materials/gems that were going to be obsolete the moment Reaper of Souls launched, but I’m glad they were, because RICHES. I feel zero guilt about taking profits either, because
regret is for the weak I said on the podcast and multiple times in articles that people should liquidate while they still could since only gold and exp were useful to take over to RoS.
I’m down over 100m since the game launched, and I’d be down 150-200m (as many other players are) if I’d played full time on that realm, had geared up more than two classes, had upgraded all my gems, etc.
On the European realm, I’m poor.
I know the pain of poverty also, since I’ve been playing Hardcore on Europe, and I’m broke there. (Insert tourist / undocumented worker / exchange rate joke here.) I created my first HC char on Europe a couple of months ago when clans went live in the D3v2 patch, and we needed someone to admin our IncGamers Hardcore European clan. I played a bit on EU before RoS went live, and I’ve got an almost-Torment ready lvl 70 Demon Hunter there now, but I had only a few million gold going into RoS, which has had me living hand-to-mouth ever since. (For example, on EU I’m using a sub-optimal Puzzle Ring since 1) it’s the best ring I’ve found and 2) I can’t afford the gem upgrades to enchant it.)
Aside from your initial state of gear and gold, the most obvious difference in gold earning and outlay comes from the quality of your gear. Going from 0-60 is fairly cheap since in Loot 2.0 you can mostly find what you need as you progress. Especially if you’ve got some other characters to twink down gems and gear.
Most of us were not starting from scratch in RoS, but were taking characters from 60 up to 70. That’s not too gold-expensive either, since 1) there’s no point in spending much on enchants with sub level 70 gear, and 2) enchants are very cheap below level 70 anyway. The main expense in those days, and for players newly-arrived at level 70, comes not from gold but from materials. Remember the great Death’s Breath famine of March 2014?
Please for the love of god increase the drop rate on these by 10. We need them in EVERYTHING and getting 1 every 2 full clears in adventure mode is horrible.
That’s a B.net forum post that got a Blue reply on the second day of Reaper of Souls, and it expressed an opinion most of us shared. Early DB costs were insane thanks to enchanting fees and Artisan training costs. Now? Most players have dozens or hundreds of DBs and can’t hardly remember when they were scarce. The same thing happens with gold… sort of.
Upgrades are Expensive
The gold costs are crushing when a character first hits 70 since you’re finding constant upgrades. “Upgrades are fun! Enchanting is awesome! In fact, I’ll get right back to you, just as soon as I turn this Life Per Hit into a socket no this new sword. Just a minute. Just one more roll. Okay, this time for sure…”
And then you’re looking at 453,782 for the next upgrade and you’ve spent 5m and all your Souls trying to change one affix on one single item, and you just got “+613 Vitality” or “+624 Vitality” as your enchant options for the 3rd straight time. BECAUSE JOSH HATES YOU.
Eventually though, most characters stabilize their gear at a sub-Torment quality (especially Hardcore, who have to advance a bit more cautiously), with mostly Rares that can’t be upgraded, and a scattering of legendaries. At this point you can actually earn gold, unless you spend it all on gem upgrades. Which you probably will since you’re still new to Reaper of Souls at that level of gear.
Things get expensive again when you move up into Torment full time, and start finding more common upgrades. The Torment-only legendaries can be much better, but it’s all about potential, and the enchanting costs can be crazy at that point, where it takes a perfect 4th primary affix to upgrade a Torment item over your very good pre-Torment gear.
Eventually players who put in a LOT of hours can pass that stage, and enter the true end game, where gold inflow can exceed gold spend. All of your gems are upgraded so you don’t need to keep doing those, you very seldom find an item upgrade you need to spend enchants on, and if you’ve gone up into the higher levels of Torment, your gold drops are hugely boosted.
Obviously it takes longer to kill stuff on T4 than T1, but characters who are geared enough to do it quickly, especially in a party, can rack up massive gold from pickups and bounty/event/rift rewards.
How Rare *Should* Gold Be?
This is the real question, since it’s all opinion. Everyone experiences roughly the same gold expenses and incomes, when their characters are equivalent. Some people brought a lot of gold into RoS and others have geared up further already. There’s a lot of difference of opinion on how gold *should* be, though. Some players think so much gold should drop that you can upgrade all your gems, enchant every item half a dozen times, and still have enough to bail out Lyndon’s brother, fix Eirena up with a new sparkle bikini top, and buy Kormac a tall mug of frosty cold milk.
Other players think gold should be a resource as scarce as Forgotten Souls or other legendary materials, where if you want to build up a surplus of it, you have to 1) farm specifically for it, and 2) refrain from spending it casually. And the other side of the coin is gold expenses. Perhaps you feel that gold find amount are great in regards to enchanting costs, but think that gems cost way too much to upgrade? (Or to unsocket, and on that Blizzard agrees.)
So, gold enough or too little? Prices too high or just right? And where are you on the economic sliding scale, have you changed your view over the past week(s), and do you think you’ll change it again in a month, when you’re geared well enough to start racking up gold in T4?