Is Diablo III an ARPG or just an AG?

An article on Gamespy argues a point we kicked around extensively during Diablo III’s development; if there isn’t any real character customization or permanence, can the game rightly be called an RPG?

Diablo 3, however, does none of this. As we play, we do earn experience points and level up to unlock new abilities, but we’re given no choice in the matter — reaching a new level simply opens up a new equippable option when we reach a predetermined point in the level progression, much like earning a new gun in a shooter. The result is that my level 55 Monk is identical to every other level 55 Monk on the planet. Sure, I can select which powers I want equipped, but that’s no different from a shooter that lets you pick what guns to put in your hands from an inventory. If your character can do everything my character can do, then they are by definition the same character. This Monk doesn’t belong to me.

That leaves only gear to distinguish a Diablo 3 character — gear that is either randomly doled out by drops or purchased on the Auction House, and everything that makes my character unique can be transferred to yours in a trade window. So the only real choice is which gear to keep and equip and which to sell or throw into the wood chipper for crafting materials. I’d argue that gear customization does not an RPG make; there needs to be more than that vestigial tail — and the sheer habit of referring to all things Diablo as action RPGs — to justify calling it such.

Remember variants?

It would be interesting to hear Jay Wilson’s response to this. I bet he’d redefine the question. He’d say that dictionary definitions of “RPG” are irrelevant to the fun of a game, and that it would be easy to tack some character customization features onto Diablo 3, which would force players to make permanent skill/stat choices for their characters. But that these would not necessarily make the game any more fun, and would probably make it less fun, which is why they removed them during development, and why WoW is following the same path.

So what do you guys think? We had endless debates about character customization via auto-assigned stat points, the removal of skill points, and the removal of rune levels during D3’s development, and opinions were all over the place. Now that you’ve played the game for 6 weeks and have some data to add to your conjecture, would you make changes?

Have the current game systems ruined the viability of variants? Do you miss having a reason to reroll characters? Would you like some more sense of character individuality and ownership? Or do you agree with D3’s current systems, prefer full skill freespecs, and like not having to worry about assigning your own stat points?

Hit comments to add your thoughts, or click through to see my quick suggestions on the issue. Thanks to Kris for the news tip.

I’m going to say yes on all points. I’m not ruby-lensed in my glasses enough to say D2’s system was perfect in every way, but I would not mind having some sort of skill and stat specialization in D3.

On skills it can be argued since the current D3 skill system works very well in terms of scaling up every skill and rune effect to remain viable into the end game. (Not that every skill/rune is viable, but plenty of the lowest level ones you get are.) That said, I think it would add depth to the game to have some way to improve my favorite skills, or to be rewarded for choosing a skill and sticking to it. And no, NV stacks do not really fill that void.

I have similar-mixed feelings about stat points. What if Bliz retained the auto-stats system, but also gave us 1 or 2 points per level to manually assign? (And some limited respec options long term.) Characters would still be mostly as the devs want them to be for balancing purposes, but players would feel a bit more control over their fates and could customize somewhat. (The fact that 1 or 2 socketed gems would almost equal the entire stat effect of this customization is a valid argument against bothering with it.)

Tagged As: | Categories: Attributes, Removed Features, Skillrunes


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  1. Know what else isn’t REALLY an action RPG? The castlevanias following the castlevoid change. I still think they are, though: because LEVEL UP. that’s really the criteria. If your character gets more powerful and gains measurable experience and has stats, it’s an RPG. Depending on how it plays defines what kind and how in-depth, but it still is, and so is D3.

    But I would like more custamizability, while the devs still care. It bothers me that gems have such static uses. Give us something unique for gems to do in rings, belts, pants. Or give us something unique to socket into them instead of gems.

    Give us skill runes! Add them into the current system: Each skill has it’s 6 runes, give us six more variants, or a rune per each skill rune that further modifies that skill: Like banner variants! Make nether tentacles lose it’s leach, but multi hit again. Make ww move slower, but tic twice as fast. Etc.

    • That is the most retarded thing I’ve read today.

      By that definition, games like StarCraft, the Sims, Call of Duty, Crysis, or Oblivion would be RPGs!

      Diablo isn’t a RPG because you don’t play a role in the plot: your character does, and you have no choice whatsoever in the matter.

      Diablo is and has always been a roguelike. Or a dungeon crawler. Or an action game. Not an RPG though.

      • By this; none of the Final Fantasy games are RPGs, either. You are given no choice at all. You are just following breadcrumbs.

        In fact, if this is the criteria; an RPG has never been created. All of your choices in RPG’s are illusions. They don’t really affect anything at all.

      • Oblivion IS an RPG…

    • Lol if you didn’t know your character does not get more powerful when you level up. Take off your gear and you will have 1.0 damage. 😕

  2. This is kind of a silly argument. RPG’s didn’t always embrace the “choice” in games that is stat or skill point distribution. In fact many classic RPGs have nothing of the sort. Look at games like Final Fantasy (all of them), Breath of Fire, Dragon Warrior, Ultima (most of the series anyway).

    Being able to distribute stat points and skill points was one of the innovations that Diablo brought to the genre. And skill trees weren’t even in games until Diablo 2. So to pretend like the absence of either makes a game “not” an RPG is patently ridiculous.

    The hallmark of RPG’s is character development and progression. And Diablo 3 has that in spades both via leveling up to make your character more powerful, and equipping your character to improve (customize) their stats.

    • I agree. Character customization doesn’t necessarily equate to RPG. Diablo 3 is an RPG game because you “pick your role(class) to play in an action game. The author of the article has too much MMO on his mind.

      The Final Fantasy series, Kingdom Hearts, Dragon Quest etc. are very good examples of this. Your Cloud hero can do all the things that the other player’s Cloud could do and that it can be said that there wasn’t any difference between them at all. But do you dare and call FF7 not an RPG? Absolutely not. As long as you have freedom to pick your class, your role your abilities and choices how to progress, it is an RPG game.

    • It’s not that Diablo 3 doesn’t have skill points. It’s that it has no features of an RPG at all. There is no commitment to any choice you make. You do not define how you uniquely interact with the world at all, at least not in terms the game cares about, and without that, it’s hard to argue you’re defining a role for yourself in that game’s world.

      • Commitment to choices being made isn’t necessary for an RPG. The games I mentioned, all classic RPGs, had no committed choices to be made (except for maybe FF1 where you could only get 3 spells per mage level). The hallmark of RPG’s is character power progression and (generally) class differentiation. In this game, characters DO get things as they level and they DO also play differently (A WD plays radically differently from a Monk).

        I’m not saying whether it’s a good or a bad thing that you can’t distribute stats or skill points. But to say it’s not an RPG is pure hyperbole.

        The first major game with distributable stats in character development was, I believe, Diablo. But even Diablo wasn’t that in depth as with elixirs everyone could simply max all their stats, which somewhat trivialized the stat distribution as a differentiation tool. The next was Fallout, I believe, which was the first that had characters both pick traits and distribute stats. To pretend like every game that came before these weren’t RPGs of one stripe or another is patently ridiculous.

        Was Dungeon Master and RPG? Ultima? Chrono Trigger? Dragon Warrior? None of these games have “decisions” to be made (other than character selection) or stats to be assigned in general. But back when I bought them they were marketed as RPGs and that’s what I thought I was playing. Was I wrong the whole time?

      • There is commitment. You have to commit to 6 skills and choose a play-style that fits within this. You could decide to switch skills every 5 minutes, but it would be impractical to do so. And if you compare the journey of two players throughout the game, they would no doubt be very different from each other in skill choices, gear choices and character control (this one more so in D3 than D2).

        But in my opinion to look at this from the lens of commitment is sorely missing the point of role-playing games, which is to take on a role. Nobody ever said that this role had to be static, or a life-time commitment. I would even argue that this is a fault of past RPGs rather than a trait, how many people do you know who have spent their entire life doing one single specific thing? Either way, it should be clear that this doesn’t change the main premise of the genre, whether the role is static or dynamic has no bearing on one’s ability to play it and therefore partake in a role-playing aspect of the game.

    • But Final Fantasy aren’t RPGs. They are only labeled that way because at it’s origin the jRPG genre was inspired by western RPGs like Ultima and Wizardry. In the early 90s with the release of Final Fantasy IV the genre stripped most of it’s RPG elements and went into a different directionsince then but people kept calling them jRPGs or console-style RPGs for convinience.

  3. there’s tons of console games (Final Fantasy series, Dragon Quest series, etc) that doesn’t give you the option of choosing stats when you level up, but yet they are still classified as RPG. Don’t see why D3 should be classified any differently. And really, why does it even matter?

    edit: RPG = role playing game. I see nowhere in those 3 words that say anything about needing to customize anything to qualify for that.

  4. The R = role, yes? My Demon Hunter has a sister in the Extended Universe, Halissa. This is both in the short story by Micky Neilson, and the in-game quest flavor text as I progress through the Acts. These characters hail from different parts of Sanctuary. Am I missing something here? How is that not an RPG?

    D3 may not follow some firmly established conventions in RPGs, but it’s still in the genre of ROLE-playing games.

    And YES we need more customization.

  5. An RPG does not equal stat points. I can think of many many games I have played that did not allow you to modify your character all that much but were still classified as an RPG. Unless someone wants to come up with some name for a made up pseudo genre then arpg is what d3 is and where it stands.

    • Genre conventions in video games don’t really mean anything. They’re categories of commonality that only really describe expectations without any set, logical criteria.

      So I’d have to agree.

  6. Very hypocritical article actually, the answer is simple:
    It’s an RPG from the player’s perspective. Saying that you get the same character as everyone else makes absolutely no sense.

    The same system was used in Final Fantasy VII. (stats automatic, you slot spells and items) Is that an action game as well? No; having automatically distributed stat points has nothing to do with a game being an RPG.

    *edit* I see lots of people are mentioning FF. I guess it’s pretty obvious..

    • Well FF7 has Sources. Unless you spend hundreds of hours farming enough Sources to max every stat on every character, you do get to make some permanent choices for your characters’ development.

      And now that you mention it, I find it interesting everyone’s talking about all the Final Fantasies except 6, which has the most centrally placed and obvious RPG element in any Final Fantasy game: A highly challenging and strictly limited way to direct the stat growth of your characters as they level up. Something D3 can’t claim even in its wildest dreams.

  7. RPG is a largely overused term. People refer to Zelda as an rpg for example. I think it’s fine to call the Diablo games ARPGs, but it’s far more accurate to call it a hack and slash. Either way, it doesn’t really matter how it’s labeled, it’s a pretty fun action game and very similar to its predecessors.

  8. So what makes its an RPG is the fact that you “progress” through “levels?”

    So Halo Reach would be an RPG, heck CoD MW 2-3 would be an RPG.. as you “level” you do get more stuff to unlock. And you are actively taking the role of the Spartan, or the Solider.

    That is the guy’s point. Which everyone above me has missed. What defines a RPG? “levels?” “progress?”

    To me: d3 is not an RPG. I’m sorry its not.

    • I’ve seen that argument made before, as FPS and other games add some RPG elements. How much of such features must be in a game before it crosses some RPG line? Seems to be a question that everyone will answer somewhat differently.

      I’m much more interested in the, “what sort of added customization would make D3 a better game” question, but no one seems to be diving into that one in comments just yet.

      • Also the dropped talisman system.

        All d3 needs is a few ways other than gear to customize stats.

      • You should have picked a less inflammatory title then!

        Honestly, D3 did drop the ball in many ways. That’s why I’m not playing it at this point. The character customization *expletive* sucks. But it doesn’t really have anything to do with stat points or skill points. The problem is the item system sucks in general.

        Jay Wilson, said they removed distributed stats because they weren’t interesting. They were extremely formulaic: Max vit, str for items, etc. etc. and that wasn’t customization. The problem was that when he introduced the new item system, it’s the EXACT same formulaic nature of the old stat system. On any piece of gear there are 3 stats that matter, with one “special” stat. All Resist, Primary Attribute, Vit (debatable). This is optimal for LITERALLY every build of every character. The only “interesting” part of stats comes AFTER those 3 have been met.

        That’s the fundamental problem with D3 customization. The only interesting choices in gearing left are whether to put Crit, Crit damage or IAS in a slot that can have it. And choosing between 3 stats is simply not that interesting.

        I would argue the actual failure of D3 wasn’t the removal of stats. It was changing the resistance / damage system to the current type where you have to stack all resist in every slot, rather than having it covered with a few items and charms in D2, and also making the primary stat such a powerhouse in both offense and defense that anyone would be dumb to not stack it.

        IMO they could have done a lot better. If I were hired to redesign the system I would do this: No more primary stats on gear. Players no get ~5x as many stats per level (auto distributed). All gear now comes with max sockets in each equip slot, and the number of sockets for helm / chest / legs is increased. This would shift the type of stats a player has to a dynamic customization via gems. It would remove the problem of an item HAVING to have a specific stat to be useful. And it would give the player more control over how the character was built and further emphasize / increase the value of gems.

        But that’s just a thought.

        The fact is, customization IS lacking. But not the type of customization a lot of people think is lacking. Char variants still exist. It’s 100% possible to play a melee weapon DH (I’ve done it quite a bit, but mostly in A2). The problem is that the customization was shifted to items, but items do not provide any meaningful customization because the choices for what we can viably use at endgame is so inflexible.

        • Diablo 3 really failed at two, and two areas only. Inferno difficulty and item variety. Both they hope to fix. I hope that would bring back an awesome game. Fingers crossed.

      • You’d called?

        For sake of keeping it “easy” to implement, I’ll take the current elements as given (e.g. the current runesystem) and just add on top of them.

        Skills: Bringing back the runecoloritems that were iterated out and use them as charge-ups to the current runed skills, with every runed skill beeing able to obtain up to 6 “charges”. This would result in baselvl 1 for “uncharged” skills up to level 7 for “fully charged” runes. (Maximum charges a character may use should imho be one per characterlevel earned, thus 59 at the moment.)

        The color (indigo/alabaster/…) defines which aspect of a runed skill will be strengthened, which could (, or rather should) differ from runed skill to runed skill. (For example: An obsidian charge-up could give armor to leeching beast zombie dogs, while strengthening final gifted ones with an innert life per second or rabid dogs with higher poison damage.)

        In addition to that every runecharge, independent of it’s color, should give a level to a coreaspect of the skill. (For zombiedogs i would suggest +life%) Each “core”level given is then shared across all runed skills of the same skill, perhaps with diminishing returns, sorted by position of the runed skills. (Going again with the zombiedogs example: If a user of burning dogs who would have charged up burning dogs by 5 levels also would have charged up leeching beasts and life link by 2 levels each, final gift by 4 levels and rabid dogs by 3, he could gain 5 corelevels from the used rune, 2 levels – (2+2)/2 – from life link and leeching beasts and another one – 4/4 – from final gift and none – 3/8 – from rabid dogs, resulting in a charged corelevel of 10 – baselevel 1 + 9 corelevelcharges. If he would swap to final gift as his active skill, this would change to a corelevel of 8 – baselvl 1 + (4+ (3+2)/2 + 5/4 + 2/8 = 7 corecharges. All rounded down…)

        Monsters: Give the elite/rare-bosspacks runed abilities (as we got runed skills) with the same chargeup system as described above (, thus organizable into builds.) This would get us of every arcane/vortex/desecrator/fast (to just pick one combination) beeing the same minigame in just a different disguise. Furthermore: If a bossgroup is in a level, let the unruned versions of the used abilities spread to normal monsters of the same type (with the exception of such things as “invulnerable minions”) to let us players have a mental preperation for what is to come and to lessen the gap between normal monsters and bossgroups a bit. (Contrary to the “skillcharges”, the actual effect of an abilitycharge may even spread completely to it’s “unruned” version here, thus even hinting at the concrete abilitybuild of the rare-/elitepack.) Would make for tougher areas all around, with – as mentioned – not such a wide gap between the white monsters and the bosspacks.

        Endgame: The possibility to respec charges could then be offered as a questreward in exchange for the loss of beeing able to gain experience anymore. This should be limited to hoard 5-15 respecs at a time so that you would have to plan a bit if you wanted to completely respec your skills. That would make quests at least a bit more interesting to finish.

        I hope you’ve understood all that, because bringing that concept/idea out of mind turned out to be a bit hard today… I’ve already gave it a try on the official forums (same nick) together with a bulk of other stuff. (Was a first getgo on the idea and is a bit to sort through, but perhaps it’ll do a better job explaining than I did here today: )

        Alexis of Silverfang

        edit: All in my humble opinion of cause 😉

  9. It isn’t any more of an RPG than “robotron”, which is its real design ancestor more than Rogue.

    It is, however, an mmo-lite, and a pretty thin and grindy one at that.

  10. I’ve always refused to call Diablo series (and it’s clones) an ARPG. They were always Hack and Slash games.
    12 years ago Icewind Dale was called ARPG. Now every game that has stats and gear is called ARPG.

  11. To me a true RPG is a game that offers a lot of customizations on how to build your character eg race, class, stats, skills, feats etc in addition to what gear to equip. It also often allows you to make “flawed” builds or quirky variants that are far from optimal but perhaps fun to play or roleplay when you invent a story to explain that characters “out of the norm” choice.
    In D2 you had more of this that I currently see in D3 where most classes cannot even equip weapons out of their archetype and “off-stats” can never lead to a viable build. If barbs could equip ranged weapons and they got added damage from dex instead of str, or DW wands with high int as a damage boosting stat etc this could be improved a lot in my opinion.

    The classification of ARPG is somewhat more flexible as I think of it as an action game with level progression and character customization. Many modern shooter games could probably be classified as shooter RPG’s.

    The classification I like best for Diablo is hack and slash or perhaps dungeon crawler.

    • You are forgetting about the most important part of creating your character in RPGs… “Who is it ?”. If your character uses Axes or Swords or casts fireballs doesn’t metter in RPG, those are mostly action choices.
      “What is character of your avatar ?”, “How does it interacts with NPC’s (or other players) ?”, “Is it smart / charming / terryfing / etc ?”, “Does he prefer money over fame ? Or does he loves both ?”, etc.
      If your stats affects ONLY your combat abilities then those are action stats, they have nothing to do with RPG. In Role-Playing Game your stats should affect also how you interact with others, they should allow you to have diffrent conversation options. With high intelect you should be able to outsmart other NPC, with high strenght you should be able to scare other NPC etc.

      • True, those are important choices, I was kind of thinking of that when I said that you invented a backstory for your character and why he has the skills he has etc. Many of the games considered to be true RPGs don’t have all that much support for this kind of thing anyway, at the most you get the normal conversation options Nice/Witty/Evil and in some cases the answer you give affects an alignment or reputation.

        I do not want Diablo to be a RPG, that was not my intention with the remarks, I would just like a bit more customization and build diversity. A barb may have thousands of different builds, but they are all still pretty much alike and all barb buils I can imagine is still very much an archetypical barbarian. In Diablo 3 there is not much (if any) room for the wacky build going against the archetype.

        As for replayability, there is a good answer to that, play hardcore! You will get to re-roll a lot of chars 🙂

        • Since you guys bring it up… does the differing dialogues and gossips and such in D3 add to the RPG flavor? The 5 classes x 2 genders = 10 personalities, and there are subtle differences in most of the NPC conversations, what the followers say, etc. Certainly more than there were in D2, where virtually all of the dialogues were identical to all of the classes.

          So does that aspect of D3 move the “is/not RPG” line a bit? Or is that purely a cosmetic irrelevance, since you all get the same plot and events?

          • good point. Usually I associate an RPG game with a deep and broad story and I think that all the things you mentioned do add to D3’s RPG’ness, even though I wouldn’t classify it as an RPG (but probably would as an ARPG).

          • The thing is, you have no control over your character lines of dialogue, they are all pre-set. So you can’t really Role-Play them, you can only choose what kind of class you play with already pre-set personality, not what kind of personality you want it to have.

            In RPG’s it’s important for you to decide who is your character, not be forced into pre-set personalities.

            Of course, in computer RPG’s you will always be limited to some number of options. Computers can’t (yet) make their adjusments to your choices outside the box they were programed.

            In Witcher 2 you have some kind of personality pre-set for Geralt (it’s because it’s based on novels), but at same time you have options how you interact with others. [SPOILER] On begging of the game soldiers want to burn down villagers alive. You have option to save those villagers or ignore it. And if save them you have a choice if you want to demand money for doing so or not. [/SPOILER]

            Those are RPG choices, and that’s what really define RPGs. Choosing your class can still be RPG choice, if it affects your gameplay in more ways then “how you can kill your enemies”. ARPG are RPGs that still have those options (more limited usually) and focus more on action, but still have those options.

            Online FPS Tribes: Ascend have classes, you can choose what weapons you want to use and you can even level them up. But it doesn’t make this game even sub-genre of RPG in any way, shape or form.

            Diablo series have only one thing from RPG. You level up your character, get better gear for it and make it more powerfull. But that’s it. Interaction with NPCs is limited to listening to their dialogue lines, picking up the quest (you can’t even refuse) and going to kill monsters. Sounds like any modern shooter campaing (obcviously way better then any modern shooter campaing).

            For some people it’s just: it has leveling, it is isometric, it use mouse to move = RPG (or ARPG).

            Wall of Text: The Rampage.

          • That’s really more a function of having more money and time than talent and vision.

            Every class gets the same hackneyed crap when dealing with a boss.

  12. They should add skills progression like so:

    -Each skill levels up as you use it.
    -Each skill level unlocks a rune.
    -Each rune levels up as you use it. 1-7 lvls.

    They already have rune levels (they just removed them for the current system)

  13. My opinion as an old school pen&paper roleplayer is that D3 is clearly not an RPG anymore. They took out almost every RPG element and added a bunch of shallow arcade-like elements. It’s almost like the developers didn’t know anything (or at least didn’t like) traditional RPG games. I mean games like Baldur’s Gate.

    It’s sad because the Diablo games started out as a pretty straight-forward computer implementation of pen&paper role playing games – the only distinct difference of the Diablo games in comparison to other RPG games being that the combat wasn’t turn-based but real time.

    What defines the core RPG experience for me is that you get to play a ‘role’, a character that you are free to shape and play in whatever way you want. What killed it in D3:

    1) no character customization/specialization (besides choosing active skills and equipping gear, which doesn’t count) -> your character isn’t distinct and you don’t feel attached to it
    2) the characters you chose from aren’t ‘classes’ anymore, they are distinct personalities who talk a lot, so you can’t identify with them
    3) characters are now ‘heros’ from the beginning, they are already awesome to begin with and there isn’t that feeling of progression from a nobody to a supreme hero that is such a fundamental part of role playing

    • This is a great summary of my feelings on the matter. Having been a fairly active player in pencil & paper RPGs I don’t think it is really possible to draw many comparisons between such games and Diablo 3. I imagine most people who would label it as any sort of RPG have not played much P&P and are stuck in the media’s somewhat erroneous view of what an RPG is as opposed to what it meant originally. I think the term has been overused and by some people’s own definitions in this thread could be applied to basically any game on the market as Dorfoumous highlighted.

      • If you go into the history of RPG, it started off as western RPG, the D&D kind. But then the Japanese had their take on the matter and started throwing out Zelda and Final Fantasy which was defined at the time as animated story telling to distinguish it from traditional D&D RPG.

        Western RPG is usually defined by choices, character customization, freedom to roam the land, etc. Japanese version is very scripted with much less limited choices. Ultimately though both are fun in their own way and both have their own fans. They are also eventaully grouped as RPG to simplify things.

        Diablo 3 doesn’t have the choices of traditional D&D RPG but most cetainly is much more customizable than Japanese RPG.

  14. Hey, Thanks for this Topic.
    Thought [1] Skills
    Every DH I meet is 80% same, because Rune-Skills are garbage. With Skill-Points[!NO Skill-Tree] + here, or + there, we could see more different builds.
    Thought [2] Gear
    In my Experience gear is huge part of builds, to Play what I like to, I have to buy new items to experiment.
    With Skill-points I would pick *Dodge+ there, and then buy, maybe better gear for Dmg.
    Thought [3] Game
    Game itself is bad balanced, and force You to use Rune-Skills, and proper Gear, with You maybe don’t like. For Instance Barbarian need nearly every RS to survive. With Massive Wallet, You can avoid that, OutGearing particular content.
    Short Story
    Post 1.0.3 I made DH for Act3 she had everything for tank and some dex, plus shield. Friend of my, told me:
    “That’s stupid. You are range class, You shouldn’t stack everything for survive, and wear shield. You aren’t tank. Anyway I never played Diablo as You know, but from what I heard, This game shouldn’t need tanks, enrage times, wipes etc like Warcraft. […] Making Game Super Hard is easy. Suffer is not Entertaining ”
    Thought [5] Stats
    Stat-Points. When my Hero Is slacking in one way, I would like to bost Dps, Vita, or Res. Instead I have to spend Gold for new Armors.
    Resistance are a bit complicated, because they work same as Armor, and backward. They said that, they want to stick everything easy and clear, but instead, We have, a bit complex combinations.
    It would be simpler with res for Elements, but No. “D2 had that, we need to change it. If clock work proper, why repair it?
    Overall, I think Yes, game need changes in Healthy way.

    • Oh ,and other thing…
      Imagine BaldursGate 2 Without skill-points in Trees
      Without that system You could use everything You like. Now what?
      Morning Axe, Evening Mace? It could be fun, but even tho, people attach themselves to weapons, builds, armors, Heroes etc, sure without skills, You can change everything in one seconde, just equip other type of weapon.
      Okay If in D3, We don’t have skill-points, and we can swap it in any time, why they force us to pick only 4+2 skills, and cannot swap after killing elite?
      If this is fun we should do what we like.
      What You think?
      Back to Flux Question:
      No Skill-Points, No Stat-Points and No Skill-Tree = is bad? Or wrong Balanced?
      Skill-Points, Stat-Points and Skill-Tree = is bad? Or wrong Balanced?
      There are plenty ways of working it out:
      I say *Mix and Balance*, I don’t want to spam here, the wall of text.

  15. I really enjoy trying out different skills in ways I could have never done in D2.

    But I hate, hate, hate the level cap and dislike the fact that at no point do you really make any lasting decisions that customize your character.

    So I’d suggest the following two changes (crazy probably) :

    * Either remove the level cap or raise it much higher. On level gains past 60 player still gets automatic increases to stats, increasing life & damage.

    * At level 61 offer players the choice of mastering skills. A mastered skill has a bonus to its effectiveness, but it is a permanent skill selection within your group of 6. Some players might lock down an entire group of six to get the maximum benefit. Some players might master just a few to give themselves flexibility with their remaining slots.

    • I suggested your second point during the beta, and I still feel it would go a long way for player retention due to a sense of permanency and “ownership” (but Blizzard disagrees that ownership of a character has any sort of meaning).

      Your first suggestion would really throw off the balance of inferno and PVP in particular. Not because of small incremental stats being raised, but because of how stats are calculated by clvl.

      • Re: throwing off balance in Inferno … I think a level 99 character in D2 had an easier time in Hell difficulty than a level 75-80. Was that a balance problem? If people spend a lot of time playing their character, why shouldn’t they get some benefit from it other than a chance at better gear? I don’t really enjoy playing characters with no chance of leveling up and getting more powerful. It caused me to stop playing Guild Wars.

        Re: throwing off balance in PVP … the least of Blizzard’s problems in my opinion. PVP is not a major focus of Blizzard or of a lot of fans. If it is a big issue they can always say for PvP levels beyond 60 do not count. They should not have to hamstring PvM play to cater to PvP.

    • “I really enjoy trying out different skills in ways I could have never done in D2.”

      But I hate, hate, hate the level cap and dislike the fact that at no point do you really make any lasting decisions that customize your character.”

      Simple Solution: Enjoy trying out different skills, but from 50 You would gain SkillPoints to spend. Damn there are plenty compromises.
      I think Blizz Lock Them Self in Box, so they dont have fresh view at some point.

  16. The player is given NO choice on character customization so Diablo 3 can’t be call an action rpg by any stretch of the imagination. Yes, it is an action game. Player controlled character development is essential to a role playing game and is not present in Diablo 3.

  17. I think the skill/rune system is the best thing that D3 has brought to the table.

    The only thing I would change about the system is to enhance those skills that have interesting mechanics, but that practically no one uses because they are under-powered.

    • Yeah, being able to test build combinations at the click of a button has saved me a lifetime of rerolls. It’s great! For e.g., after 170hrs of trialing combinations, i’ve stabilized on my exact preferred summoner build. The same thing in D2 would take 100(?) leveled necromancers! Not in my lifetime.

  18. I don’t really care what it is called

    I preferred some sort of permanent choice though

    It may be fun to switch things around at first but in the long run I find permanent choices much more satisfying

  19. Two other things I’d suggest to make D3 feel more like an RPG to me is to somehow make weapon types and elemental damage types meaningful.

    In D2 I felt they made the weapon type choice seem very impactful and interesting. Fast one hand swords with OK damage vs. slow one hand battle hammer with good damage vs. massive two handed weapons with big damage. The unadjusted damage was the primary value displayed, making the slower weapons fun to look at with their gaudy numbers. Could you get enough IAS to hit breakpoints on a slower weapon for great damage? Or did you have crushing blow gear that called for uber fast, low damage weapons? How much damage did you have to do per hit to leech back enough mana to keep going?

    In D3 I feel like all the interest in weapon types is gone. It is all about DPS and APS. For monks at least, I don’t think the spenders do enough additional damage to favor a slower, high damage weapon. Everyone just gets fast weapons to generate spirit faster. In D2 I always knew what weapon type I was holding. In D3 I rarely remember the type or even picture. It is just a thing with a DPS and APS value – could be a spoon or rusty hammer for all I know/care.

    In D2 the elemental types were all interesting (to me at least). Cold = slow. Fire = max avg damage. Elec = max optimal damage. Pois = max damage over time.

    In D3 the elemental types are largely meaningless. Cold = slow, everything else = doesn’t matter. Why do this?

    To me the armor, gloves, etc. are all OK. But the weapons are extremely boring. Generic weapon type doing generic DPS & APS with an unimportant amount of generic elemental damage. Yawn.

  20. Diablo 3 = Gauntlet Legends …with more spells and items…

    To me an RPG is a game where i can play my way and end up with a charracter that is customized to the choices I have made. So in my definition of an RPG by end game your charracter should be different than another charracter of the same class because we have made different decisions along the way. Thats what “role” means in role play, its not leveling, its choices!

    Diablo is not like this, yes we level up and unlock abilities but those abilities belong to everyone and seem no different than unlocking a new gun in Call of Duty.

    I mean why should an ice wizard be able to instantly turn into a fire wizard? I didnt choose the role of fire wizard yet i could instantly be a fire wizard if i wanted to be. There was no role, no end goal of mastering ice, just choose whats effective and kill. Its not interesting enough and as a huge fan of the past Diablo games i feel sad to say i am growing bored of Diablo 3 after only a few months.

    • to counter your argument, why not?
      who says once you specialize in something you can’t go back and relearn something else?
      So if I major in Marketing in college I can never switch and major in Computer Science in the future?
      if anything, having more build options should be more fun, not less. If in your world, you think being locked into 1 set of skills is more fun, then in diablo 3 you can do the same. But you are given the option to not stay the same. Whether you choose to take up that option is up to you.
      Also, didn’t you make your build as you think you were more effective like that in the first place? The argument of choosing what’s effective and just kill is the same mentality you must have had in D2 when you made that build. But in D3, you can switch things up a little if you get bored of a certain playstyle.

      And show me ANY game that doesn’t unlock the same skills for everyone. In D2 everyone has access to the same skills too. Same for every other game in the world.

      If you really are into the game about making choices and sticking with that choice you made, I suppose you’re playing (played) hardcore mode in D2 and D3 only? Else otherwise that’s not really “choices” right?

      • @menting, that would require some basic learning. Building your knowledge again -the so called early levels of Diablo 2, when you are living your character since the very beginning to the end-.

        Now you have 5 characters max, that’s it. It’s all done for you!

        I can be a bishop and an astronaut IRL, sure, but they need time, and a totally different mindset.

        Same applies to some things in life.

        Imagine you are a woman, who likes makeup, but maybe you don’t want it to be over-done, while another person might prefer to look like a harlot. (I love women so much, with all my heart, just saying, it’s a metaphor to make myself understood)

        Maybe one of those women would rather prefer trendy clothes, the other could have a penchant for spike heel shoes, etc.

        Life is customizable, true RPGs try to imitate some of those things.

        Diablo 3 is very limited, you are guided since level 1, as an spectator of this Arcade unfolding in front of your eyes.

        This is truly sad for a Diablo game, which are historically rather limited RPGs but, unlike Diablo 3, you could certainly call them RPGs without losing all sense of shame.

        • sure, I can accept that stuff needs basic learning. But rerolling a character (which is same as going through basic learning, and what I’m guessing you would rather have) would only make sense if they make items bind on equip. Else you’re not really going through the time you need for “basic learning”, you’re actually blitzing through the whole thing. And that’s not even close to representing simulating real life.
          When I rerolled new characters in D2, I had godly gear waiting for me every few levels along the way..sort of defeats the purpose, no?

  21. Grumpy Old Wizard said it all.

    I’d like to add… Diablo 3 is an Arcade, rather than a Diablo game or RPG.

    Sir_Matas; Mephed Out, good post.

  22. RPG vs. not? I don’t really care about classifying it as one or the other. However, the longer I play the more I hate the stat system. I want customization back, and I want the stats to do more varied things.

    – Imagine if strength reduced the effect of physical stuns and knockbacks.
    – Imagine if dexterity increased the damage of skills that had an accuracy element to them (for any character! Like Barb’s Ancient Spear, for example).
    – Imagine if dexterity increased your run speed.
    – Imagine if vitality increased your resistances (which makes more sense than intelligence).
    – Imagine if intelligence lowered the cost of your skills.
    – Imagine if every skill had an extended tooltip that said how stat increases affected it. Now all of a sudden you have reason to commit to a build and start to synergize your skills with your stats and your equipment. The three systems need to work TOGETHER!

    I’m tired of finding items and saying “does it have vit and primary? Nope? ok, it’s useless.”

  23. Jay Wilson is the worst thing to ever happen to Diablo. Their decision to simplify every IP they have is disgusting and I pray it will lead to their downfall once gamers realize that they want more from a game.

    Also, cavemen painting deer on a cave wall with their own shit could produce a better story than Chris Metzen and the D3 story.

  24. It’s neither an AG nor an ARPG; it’s a POS

  25. B****, please. Final Fantasy 4 was an “RPG” and there was no customization of any kind. I’m constantly experimenting with builds in D3 and thinking critically about what’s more effective and the tradeoffs, refining my gear set, etc. It’s an ARPG.

  26. QUOTE: “A bunch of pretentious old men
    playing at running the world.
    But the world left them behind
    long ago. We are the future.”
    [Bob Page, Deus Ex Intro (The 1st game, from 2000)]

    This quote just sprang to my mind with all this endless talk about how not permanently locking a player in a skill tree turns D3 into a bad game.

    I’ve been playing PC games since mid-90s, and, particulary, with D3 skills system, I’m thoroughly satisfied.

    • Not sure what’s more ironic – the fact that you used a quote from a game which didn’t allow for any kind of respec or that you seem to think that Diablo 3’s skill system is somehow the future of RPG’s (and judging by upcoming releases – that won’t be the case).

  27. Plus, if I really want to Play a Role, I will play a game where story matters and I can shape it to my decisions, at least to a degree. Á là The Witcher 2, Fallout New Vegas (to name some “recent” ones that are great at doing that)… These are truly Role Play Games. You not only choose how to kill a enemy, you choose paths in the story itself.

    Diablo 3, for me, is marvelous, but is just about having loads of fun while killing demons. 😉

  28. Along with simplifying everything Blizzard should have done away with leveling while they were making the game easy enough for 10 year old kids to master. You know, pick a class and start grinding until you find gear. It seems like leveling is just put into the game as a filler.

  29. It seems to me that there are two ways of seeing this.

    The Legend of Zelda games don’t really have levels or even skills, everything is item based and most items are gotten through the quests (with the exception of some optional ones, and some secret hearth containers). And yet, Zelda is kind of the definition of RPG to many fans. Simply because you take the role of Link, it becomes an RPG. On this perspective, Diablo 3 is an RPG.

    On the other hand, some prefer defining RPG based on DnD. There you define and customize lots of aspects from your character. So, you not only take a role, but rather create the role. So its not just assuming but rather transforming that which defines RPG for them. On this perspective, Diablo 3 isn’t an RPG.

    • No, people who call Zelda games RPGs are a bit confused, even if RPG is a nebulous term. They’re normal action/adventure. The only one that really qualifies as an RPG was Zelda 2.

  30. The problem here is permanence, or the lack thereof. Your (customized) character isn’t being defined since the game lacks any sort of real permanence. Whether the customization options themselves are lacking or superficial (and they are imo) is a less important point. Diablo was never an RPG, it merely borrowed some RPG aspects (and even less so then typical Dungeon Crawlers).

    And jezus christ, people that are suggesting Zelda and FF are RPG’s (let alone the epitome of RPG’s), wow, what is wrong with you? An RPG is when you are given the option to choose between atleast a few archetypical characters for you to roleplay and then the game needs to provide a way for it to be played adhering to the rules of that character. How in the hell does that even apply to Zelda and FF? It isn’t enough to just assume the role of a character. Else Mario and Sonic are RPG’s too, and Ridge Racer is too, and Fifa is too, and Call of Duty is too, and Flight Simulator is too.

  31. The game is a CRAP-G.

  32. I miss customization… Barbs could be more blocking than damage or have higher resistances for those who did not use shields. I do wish there was customization and not just gems to up the other stats.

    can they change it though? or add some sort of feature to give us a bit more say in what our character does?

  33. I agree with the OPs imaginary Jaw Wilson response.
    Who cares what classification the game has. It’s an amazing game, it’s a great sequel to Diablo 2, and it’s fun.

  34. I would have liked to see more customization in the game, but the way that the stat systems are organized it would not be easy to tack this on. In previous Diablo games every stat could be meaningfully useful to every class, not so in D3.

    In a sense people that argue everyone would choose the same stats even if given a choice are correct, but much of that is due to deliberate design choices which make only two stats relevant for any given class and intense “pidgeonhole” difficulty in the late game. They could tweak secondary stats to make them more useful for classes, but really that’s just one aspect of the problem.

    In diablo 1 and 2 there seemed to be two entirely different damage systems for physical and magic (Depending on what you count, maybe many more if you count different IAS breakpoints for each class for each weapon). Weapons also had a range attached to them, making weapon choices more unique. In diablo 3 these damage systems were simplified to weapon damage and a universal IAS. I think this simplification detracts from the richness of both the Diablo 3 item and character creation experience. And from a role-playing perspective, It feels strange that an axe’s damage would affect the damage of a blizzard spell.

    I thought that the problems with D3 itemization could be corrected at some point, but the more I ponder it, it seems like some of the problems with items are irrevocably embedded into the core game systems. I hope they come up with something because I’m bored at this point.

  35. I have a feeling rune skill levels will be back in the expansion, my feeling is that they felt like they didn’t have enough time to balance the skills with in a reasonable time frame based on different level of rune skills and what they’ll do is with the next expansion in Act 5 or maybe another difficulty level is where rune skill levels will be able to play a role. Finding rune gems with special properties that not only increase your skill damage but also adds other bonuses such magic find or crit would add more to itemization. They could easily add skill rune points as another system where you invest permanent points into a rune but not the base skill itsself, which then allows the player to experiment with the base spell before making a permanent decision

  36. They could have done a lot more with mastery in either spells or weapons instead they just slap on a passive for the barbarian for example that says oh 1 passive choice = all your masteries in 1 basket. They could have easily created a weapon mastery tree for swords, axes, polearms etc that the player chooses to master in which would add another layer of customization. They could have done the same for wizards with ice, lightning, arcane, fire poison etc.

  37. lots of interesting comments here, and nice article btw Flux

    IMHO no Diablo 3 is NOT a RPG

    specifically by not having the character you choose to play be silent they have made the player a passive agent in the storytelling, this is not ALL bad, but it deviates from the Diablo formula (and it does NOT help to have the monk making the same childish wise-cracks at the templar that the wizard does, these kinds of things ruin the template characters they already have, this cut-and-paste dialogue homogenizes all the chars)

    I also agree that the items/skills/stats need to be re-worked, as it is right now D3 is a novel experiment, but one I feel has more flaws than successes

    the 4 stats need more going for them individually, ie certain levels of str/dex/int (and/or char lvls) are required to equip gear

    Path of Exile uses a system much more similar to old D2 (but different), this at least makes non-main stats more valuable to all classes, but D3 doesn’t have accuracy/attack rating (so either that could be added or re-worked somehow)

    SKILLS need some sort of specialization like what the earlier beta runes were going to be like (7 levels of improvement), maybe like 30 or so points distributed over 60 lvls that allowed you to upgrade a specific rune for an individual skill (more healing/dmg, lowered cooldown, extra effects, longer buffs/debuffs)

    KRIPPARIAN also made a great point that players need to be able to allocate stats manually and chars should gain MORE stats per lev and be given LESS stats on gear (give gear more mechanical affixes instead), right now the ratio is like 90/10 gear/char, it should be more like 60/40 (either way)

  38. Look,
    WoW (for example) has re-specs and just because it’s a little easier to re-spec in D3 doesn’t make it NOT an RPG.

    Hell, in WoW if you pay Bobby some $ you can change race and class…

  39. Man,

    I’ve been playing Diablo1/2 since the originals came out way back in the day. Personally, I think D3 went in the right direction. I don’t miss assigning my stat points at all and I REALLY don’t miss being locked into just one build and having to level another toon just to try out a different build.

    My main complaint is about how inferno is turning out not to be all that fun, but other than that the game is awesome. Maybe I’m in the minority but whatever, I like it.

  40. Has Jay Wilson actually said anything like what is reported in the post? Or is that the author’s imagining of what he might say? In any case, I don’t really care how much of a true RPG D3 is, what I do care is how little of a Diablo game it is. Assigning stat points and powering up skills (with books in D1 and skill points in D2) is a core facet of the Diablo series, and the fact they’ve jettisoned both is disappointing, to say the least.

    By the by, if making permanent choices is not fun, why did so many people play Diablo II for over a decade, to the point where it was still being developed last year (patch 1.13d)? I still play Diablo II more than Diablo III, simply because the of the wide variety of character builds I have yet to try (and I’ve tried a lot). I like D3, but I can’t see it holding my attention for the length of time D2 has. There’s just not enough variety in the game to encourage replayability.

  41. You’re all fighting a war over beeing a rpg or not a rpg here when the real issue is that the Diablo 1 & 2 were westernstyle arpgs of a rogue/D&D(! Not AD&D!)-origin where Diablo 3 is an arcadestyle arpg of asian-mmo-system origin, which means an already streamlined asistyle rpg-origin.

  42. I can answer these questions with certainty despite having played the game for less than three hours: Not an RPG, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, no.

    In the simplest terms, permanent character choices are fun, but not in the immediate, caffeinated ferret way that defines Blizzard’s design philosophy. It’s not simple. It requires players to go for more than five seconds straight without triggering their dopamine receptors. It will even cause an amount of not-fun on a large scale as when you lock in one option you close out other options and stop being able to do everything, which is a not 100% satisfying experience. And it’s something that only improves the long term playability of the game.

    It’s fundamentally against Blizzard’s stated mission. It’s not even good business: Why would they want people to keep playing D3 for ten years if they could get people to drop it just in time to pick up their next 60 dollar release instead?

    Now I just realized I never seriously tried the Assassin’s trap skills in D2, so I’m going to try it out real quick with the -act5 option.

  43. The question here comes down to what you use as your definition really.
    TBH I would class D3 as either a simplefied ARPG (SARPG) or the more generalized hack & Slash as it does have RPG elements still but very simple ones.

  44. So just because you can add much more variety in the skills (and fun) this is not an RPG ?

    Of course they succeeded in getting different skill combos for different situations.

    And let the player decide how he wants to play with his character.

    It is a dungeon crawler and you can adapt the playing style by changing skills.

    It is a gear chaser.

    It adds levels and skills while you level.

    It lets you control your character the way you want it.

    So whatever you are calling it: its purely a question of semantics.

  45. I really, honestly, just want to have rune levels back. It seemed like a good balance between not having any skill points and being entirely run by skill points. And there are some runes that I’d much prefer to use if the effect was just a bit more pronounced (like the multishot rune on magic missile. I don’t feel like it’s a magic missile spell without five shots)

  46. Damn, I’ve almost forgotten that time when people argued about Diablo 1 being RPG or not…
    Feels like old times already))))

  47. Personally, I think that the min-maxing stat points at level ups should’ve stayed in. While it’s nice to not have to worry about it, it’s only because I don’t have a choice that I accept it. There are valuable points wasted in every class when looking at a naked level 60’s stats. What if you want a tank WD / Wiz and want the majority of points in STR and INT, and nothing in DEX? Or a blocking, dodging Barb with high values of STR and DEX? Well, go buy the gear I guess. 🙁

    Also, the classes that share the same primary stat (DH/Monk and Wiz/WD) have absolutely no base stat variety to distinguish the two. What if they would have made it so a Monk could somehow utilize both STR and DEX? Or a WD with DEX and INT? For a Monk, they could’ve done something like DEX gives you 1 dmg and 1 dodge (or whatever it is right now), but when you put 3 points into STR, you get 2 dmg and 2 defense, making it slightly “better” to still focus on DEX, but giving the OPTION of letting players focus on STR for a higher price. With 4 primary stats, they could mix it up 6 different ways between the 5 classes.

    I could understand if they still decide to keep the stat points out of the game, but they could at least put something in to let us manipulate them, like “3 sliders” for the 3 primary stats in the skills or inventory area. You would drag it to one side or the other depending on what skill you want the most points in, and the other two sliders would adjust automatically based on the number of points available. Or a triangle with the 3-non VIT stats at each point, and you drag the point to wherever you want it to be. Just SOMETHING that gives us some amount of creativity back. Automatic stats might be nice for most casuals, but just like driving a car, there are still some of us who prefer a Manual.

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