Making Diablo 3 Act Bosses More Rewarding

A fan asked why the Act Bosses weren’t more rewarding in Diablo 3 and got Blued.

We agree with you that killing bosses could use a little more incentive, and it’s something we hope to address sometime in the future. Travis Day mentions (in this post) that in a perfect world players will ask themselves “What do I feel like doing tonight?” when they sit down to play Diablo III, and boss runs are one of those options we’d like them to consider. He also mentions this idea in this Developer Journal, under the “Farm Monsters, Not the Auction House” section.

Kill me
Kill me
Act bosses were extremely popular killing targets in Diablo 2 since they dropped more items than anything else, and had much higher odds to drop Rare/Set/Unique items. In Diablo 3 Act Bosses don’t really drop more items (more than random elites, but they can be outdone by things as common as Gobbies or Golden Chests), and they don’t have better odds to drop legendary items. Which is pretty well game, set, and match, eh?

Currently, unless you’ve got a fetish for watching your character run up or down loooooong flights of stairs, there’s not much reason to pay a visit to DiabloWikiAzmodan or DiabloWikiDiablo, and while DiabloWikiThe Butcher gets popped pretty often these days, that’s more about his location conveniently-close to a good farmable level in Act One, rather than any inherent value or joy in dispatching him. Also, while legend tells of a green-hued boss at the end of Act Two, like all sensible players I have not seen him since suffering multiple tearful one-shot deaths to his crustacean pounders my first play through, and thus the memory is vague.

So, how to make the Act Bosses more fun and farmable? Aside from shortening the damn staircases and removing the seventeen lecture-filled cut scenes from the Diablo battle? The obvious and easy answer is to buff their drops, in quality and/or quantity. A better chance to score legendaries from them would turn them into farming targets without making any other changes. After all, as ARPG players prove several million times a day, we’ll do whatever a video game requires us to do, if it leads to better rewards. It’s not like players were running DiabloWikiMephisto and DiabloWikiBaal 50x a day in D2 since it was a uniquely enjoyable and challenging endeavor.

Any clever ideas other than just “moar greens/oranges!” though? I’ve long thought that the random purple bosses you occasionally flatten, often before you even notice that their name is a different color should drop differently. More stacks of gold, larger stacks of gold, more crafting mats or gems, etc. Something along those lines, just to give them some stand out and make them fun to find. (And they need about 500% HPs buff so you’d have time to appreciate them before they popped.)

So maybe the Act Bosses could get some special drops; not necessarily super high quality, but different in some way. They could pop mats, like a small stack of Fiery Brimstones, or drop higher level gems than Flawless Squares, or have a higher chance to drop the ultra-rare crafting recipes?

Also, did you know that act bosses do *not* grant a Nephalem Valor stack? That seems fairly absurd, given that you can get one for opening a fricking golden chest. That should be fixed, and maybe it could even be leveraged; kill an act boss and get 2 or 3 stacks at once, making them fun things to start off a run with, for the quick stack up?

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27 thoughts on “Making Diablo 3 Act Bosses More Rewarding

  1. How about, after 5 stacks of Nephalem Valor, we get to skip all the Non-interactive sequences?! 🙂 🙂

    Seriously though, I wouldn’t mind them having a chance to drop a key warden key, at least. That would give us a double chance of a key per act, and help out that 50% (or so of us) who don’t have our Hellfire Ring yet. 😉

  2. It’s best if act bosses (and act 4) aren’t the best spots in my opinion. Why? Sometimes there should just be spots that you got to rarely. The bosses (and act 4) are more amazing if you hardly ever see them. Ideally you don’t want to be overly saturated with this content; otherwise it loses its specialness.

  3. Clever idea:

    NV now stacks to a high number, and provides smaller benefits for each individual stack. It also doesn’t expire.

    However, you can cash NV in (will need to make oh-so-scary interface changes, Blizz!). When NV is cashed in, you get a boost for the next boss you kill. The boost should be huge – brutally massive – for being at max stacks, but it should be balanced such that cashing in 5 stacks every 15 minutes should be balanced with cashing in 20 stacks every hour. (Note that overall the runs won’t be balanced because getting to 20 stacks will give you bigger benefits from the trash/elites you kill, but the cash-in should be balanced to not promote longer sessions only.)

    That way, you get people to run both bosses and non-boss content. And if you want multiple cash-ins, just pick a set of quests where you can go between bosses quickly (A4, end of A2 [ugh], etc.).

    Of course, the real issue is that RNG is RNG and the drop rates are currently very unrewarding, but maybe the cash-in can give such a large boost as to make the drop rates more enjoyable.

  4. Give them all a chance to drop a piece of some sort of item, you combine all of those, you get +1-3 to your primary stat.

  5. How about Bosses do not give a NV stack, but instead, they give you a potential +1 NV stack. Example: First run, Zero NV, kill end boss, NV stack still at ZERO, but now you can have up to 6 NV stacks. Up to infinity. Okay, Okay… how about up to 10 or 12? (How many mid and end bosses do we have on all chpts?) Another Example: Start with Zero NV, kill Magda, at the end of chptr 2, kill end boss (The green guy with horrible acting voice) you you end up with 7 NV stacks – assuming you killed elites along the way.

  6. On the subject of kill incentives, I believe the best case is always adding more unique RNG flavor. Speaking of which, while I know Treasure Goblins already offer plenty of incentive, I would simply adore if they had to chance to drop a [Key of Greed]. Offering perhaps a way to take their own portal and kill the Lord of Greed,Kci’tok or-much more practically-serve as a consumable item for instantly gaining 5 NV stacks.

    • Also the most elegant solution for act bosses is the same one that worked in LoD. Really D3 devs should ask themselves ‘Why did players kill Baal so much?’

      And thus the simple fix is; make the act bosses give tremendously high amounts of exp!

      • You misspelled “because it was easy to sit in town while a paladin-bot spammed oskill teleport, take a TP to the throne room and spam multishot for loot.”

        • That was merely one way to play D2, and you then had to scramble to try and grab whatever loot dropped. That wasn’t much fun for me.

          I played primarily Single Player offline (though I did dabble in a few online games from the SPForum here, as it was with names i recognized and we established a rotation for drop ownership). Baal runs were a lot of fun, and were a great test for my intentionally weird builds. Different immunities on each pack made it a challenge for elemental specialized builds, and it was a great spot to hope for the TC87 drops, and Baal himself was mLvl99, so charms and jewels that dropped were the best to use for rerolling.

          I wish I had this in D3.

  7. …once again…the drop rates are not all that wrong…ITEMIZATION IS!
    ZERO news from the “next” patch, the HOLY GRAIL of a “diablo”, make items worth farming.
    I guess they are all working on the console version…and seriously…no always-online mode, NO AH…FTW…
    Work! You lazy ba….WORK and repair this mess you call DIABLO!

  8. I absolutely agree on the ideas about purple bosses and act bosses. Both should increase NV. Act bosses should give even more than 1, maybe 3. Drops should be better for act bosses but only marginally. Something around 25% more than elite drops.
    Itemization does suck and it’s gonna take a while to fix unfortunately. Or they’ll rush it and make in crap. I’d rather wait for 6 months (kinda burned out with the game anyway) and have useful skill buffs and other build synergies on all legendary items. And IMO rares need to be buffed too. If I’m running around (spinning, actually) only for legendaries, and they reduce the drop’s not gonna be fun. Well, it is gonna be fun since like all sane people I’m moving on to the hardcore realm, but still..

  9. Give Act bosses highly increased chance to drop Legendaries and Sets, depending on how much of the Act the player cleared, up to potentially multiple guaranteed Legendaries. If they were lazy, they could use the quest system to track how much of an Act you cleared. This would hopefully solve two issues at once: every area would become good targets for farming and bosses would become worthwhile to kill.

    It would also help, if bosses would drop much more items. Make it rain!

  10. Items, like legendaries, that ONLY drop from bosses.

    I’d also like to see legendaries that only drop from unique monsters. And, unique monsters tend to have less treasure ‘boosts’ than champions/rares do. Champions/rares tend to have like 1-2 magic items guaranteed, or rares when NV stacks are up, but unique monsters don’t?

    There’s some magic items in the game that have flavor text that only drop from certain objects/monsters. Make those legendary so they stand out. Every unique monster should have one legendary that can be gained only from that monster.

    • Oh, and the reason end-act bosses don’t give NV stacks is that NV used to reset on an act change, so there was no point. When they fixed that, they probably forgot to give an NV stack for a boss kill. Plus, they’re hoping you have 5 stacks before killing the boss anyway. (Supposedly there’s a boost to end act bosses if you have 5 stacks, but with all the boosts they’ve given to champions/rares they still outweigh bosses.)

  11. Some really good suggestion both in the news post and in the comments.
    Currently bosses are a waste of time unless you are testing dps.
    Purples are a joke (though I like the caption they have under their name like “just passing by” or something like that) and should definitely give something as a reward.
    I thing bosses (act bosses and mid bosses like Maghda or Ghom) should still grant large quantities of experience and loot and why not an NV stack or maybe +1 max stack.
    Increasing max NV stack should work best with an open game, where you can freely jump from an act to another: you hunt all the bosses first and then you kill everything else.

  12. Make it so, I’m not stuck in a little room where the boss can shot you, get rid of the sequence b.s, make it so I can cast a tp and escape, make a waypoint right in front of the boss or close too, The furthest would be for example the durance WP, make items worth getting..

  13. Things that would make me kill bosses more often (these all are meant to work together, so please read all the way through):

    1. A fixed chance to drop a set/legendary. This would need to be fairly low, so that we don’t end up stuck in the Meph/Pindleskin rut. I would suggest maybe 3% at MP0, increasing to 33% at MP10. This should also require 5 NV stacks (incentivizing random Elite kills is still a very good thing). Those numbers may actually be a bit high, now that I think about it. It would take some long term testing to see how players react.

    2. 50% chance to drop one brimstone. For self found players, as well as players just starting out (or just realizing that the game begins at 60), brimstones are still pretty hard to come by. Honestly, with a total magic find below about 275-300, you’re not finding many legendaries. That makes crafting certain items unrealistic without using the AH. Again, 5 stacks required. I want to say Inferno only, but it would be a very nice incentive for players killing Hell Diablo for the first time too.

    3. Higher Gem drops. You don’t want to go overboard here either. I would say probably perfect squares, maybe very rarely a radiant square. This one shouldn’t be dependent on 5 stacks (it just doesn’t really make sense). On average, maybe two to three gems per kill with one or two of those being higher quality.

    4. A very low increased chance for certain bosses to drop certain types of items. For example, let’s say that Diablo has a tendency to drop helms more often. Combined with my first idea, that would mean that Diablo was your best chance in the game to get a Mempo. The increased chance would not be huge (you would still have to kill him hundreds of times for a Mempo drop to be likely), but it would open up the door for focused farming. If it were up to me, I would give rings to Belial. He is definitely the biggest pain in the ass for most players, and certainly the most avoided of all Act bosses, meaning that he needs the biggest overall incentive. Maybe Rakanoth could get amulets. Anyway, you get the idea.

    5. More tomes. Four to six per kill. Possibly a Demonic Essence or two. Encourage crafting for those who cannot farm at light speed.

    6. More items per kill. Azmodan always seems to drop quite a few items for me. Sometimes up to ten or twelve. Most of them are are blue, with a couple of whites mixed in. Usually three or four are rare. This seems like about the right number and mix to me. All bosses (mid and end) should drop like this. More items means more chances at good items. And combined with my first suggestion… worth running. This would create a situation where there is a very slight chance that a boss could drop multiple set/legendary items.

    Basically, I think bosses should be a pinata stuffed with solid, useful goodies, with a reasonable chance for great items.

    Look, I know that a lot of you will read this and go: meh, big deal. But the general idea is to make subtle shifts so that bosses once again become worthwhile as opposed to becoming the primary focus. Requiring 5 stacks at least guarantees that you don’t end up with 20 second Pindle-runs. If you over-incentivize, the game will become very boring, very quickly and high end items will plummet in value (both AH value and intrinsic value… if you could get a Mempo in 20 Diablo runs, how special would it be at that point?).

    • Sorry, I left an important one out: More Experience. Definitely more experience. Double sounds about right to me. And they seem to like that whole double thing, right? Good. Done.

    • This!

      With a good workaround and tested numbers (oh oh!) and in combination with collecting the NV stack before killing bosses, this would make the game more extensive and more fun by far!
      + the idea of higher Chance for legendaries = good

      They are BOSSES, and no Skeletons, Swarms etc (which dropped legs for me MUCH MORE often)


  14. Ugh, no more Baal/Meph/Pindle bot cheese. They simply need to cut the dialog and give a chance to drop keys/brimstones. Anything extra and we have everyone running Heart of Sin/Imprisoned Angel over and over and over and over again. Good, long term fixes are way too drastic mid-expansion. They’d need a full item overhaul to add more stuff that drops exclusively from specific targets.

  15. Yes yes, please NV stacks for end of act bosses and for at least the harder purples.

  16. Seemed like just yesterday they were talking about making neph valor stacks to make people clear a whole act instead of just boss runs like the butcher. Now they are talking about just doing boss runs instead of clearing the whole act. It would make no sense at all to alter things to benefit boss runs since the whole nephlem valor was introduced to dissuade such things

  17. What I’d like to see – provided you have 5 NV stacks – is that act bosses have a chance (depending on MP level) to drop another, mighty essence from which you can craft account-bound, rare weapons which have a fair chance to be very good (depending on how many essences are required).

    • I like this idea too. If only Bosses drop them, and it takes a fair amount to craft the weapon (and the weapon is potentially very good), it would get me killing them more often. Maybe have four different weapon types, with each Act Boss capable of dropping one of the plans (and then rarely). All Bosses could be capable of dropping the essences, based on NV stacks and MP, as you said.

      For those saying that things should stay as is: I don’t have a huge problem with that, but I would like to see bosses be SOMEWHAT more enticing. I think the trick is getting them to be interesting for their own reasons. Right now, they are pretty much pointless other than questing. Ideally, there would be a good reason to focus on random elites, and a different reason to focus on bosses. And, by requiring 5 stacks, you guarantee that elites cannot be simply ignored.

      But again, the ideal solution is to have both options enticing for unique reasons. And don’t forget that they tried this out to some degree with the Archon plans dropping more often from some of the more ignored bosses. The problem there was that they made the plans drop too often, so they didn’t remain as an enticement for very long.

      One more thing: Because I like the idea of there being different reasons to kill each, I’m not crazy about the idea of bosses giving NV. It just takes some of the appeal away from elites. It would be nice if they refreshed your NV though (i.e. reset the timer without rewarding a new stack). I think that would satisfy most folks, as most people would have five stacks when killing them anyway. By refreshing the timer you would get some extra time to go to town and clear & sort through your stash, and then work through the eighty million cutscenes you have to wade through before even seeing another elite (which is a whole other issue on its own).

  18. before any attempt on making act bosses worthwile killing itemization needs to be fixed.

  19. I don’t think you’re really missing out much in farm by killing Azmodan. Maybe it’s different after the scorpion nerf, but I believe people were running the zone before him (when doing act 3 of course). In the end, the game’s about fun, and I’ll kill Azmodan or the Butcher even if it’s not 100% efficient time usage. Sometimes I just want to run around random areas and kill stuff. Hell, I might do a full act clear now and then.

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