In a long thread in our Diablo 3 community forum, talking about a fan’s big wish list of Loot 2.0 changes, the conversation moved to something not addressed in the OP; attributes. Most players complain about how attributes work in Diablo 3, and most players think that attributes need to be “fixed” in some way as part of the Loot 2.0 itemization overhaul, whether that’s a minor change in a patch or a huge change in the Diablo 3 Expansion.
So, what’s right and wrong about attributes now? Do they give too little, too much, or just right bonuses to the classes? Aside from damage boosts from the mainstat, Dexterity, Strength, and Intelligence provide additional bonuses as well, and that’s where much of the player debate and discontent comes in. What could be done to boost the use of non-mainstat attributes, so that Barbs would want (or at least not hate) getting items with Int and Dex, or to make a Wizard crave (or at least tolerate) Str and Dex? Can the system be fixed just by tweaking the numbers, such as giving Monks, DHs, and Barbs *more* +resistance benefit from INT than Wizards and WDs get from it?
Mainstat bonuses: No Goldilocks Here
Goldilocks refers not just to the golden-haired girl of lore, but to balance in a system to that’s “just right.” Like the Baby Bear’s bed and porridge. And in my opinion, the current class bonuses from attributes are all Mama Bear or Papa Bear. Rating the non-damage benefit each class gets from their mainstat from 1 to 5, with 1 being too weak and 5 being too strong (and 3 being Goldilocks!), I’d judge thus:
Click through for support for those opinions, plus suggestions and discussion about how to make all attributes more useful for all classes.
Strength‘s stat bonus is one of the main reasons the Barb is so OP, since high defense works fantastically with his tanking play style (and gets amplified by passives). It’s the main reason players can survive MP10 with a far-from-godly Barb while no other class can hack that difficulty level without fantastic gear, since high defense provides so much damage mitigation (and since Barbs get such huge DPS and free life leech from their passives.)
Intelligence provides a very nice bonus to resistance, but not enough to be game changing. 1000 points of Int provides 100 res all, which means that most well-geared Wizards and WDs have 250-350 res all from their mainstat. As that’s more res for “free” than a lot of DHs have from all their gear combined, and considering how much a big roll of Res All adds to the price of most items, that’s a pretty good stat benefit.
Dexterity is the real sticking point, since Dodge is much less appreciated than the other stat bonuses. I’m pretty sure it’s not very helpful to most DHs, as they die from so few hits in glass cannon builds, but for tanking style Monks Dodge might be fantastic and essential — it’s just really hard to tell since you can’t turn it off to compare performance with and without Dodge.
Those points are open to debate and I’d love to hear differing opinions, ideally from players who have played all of the classes and thus have some basis for objective comparison. Even if everyone agrees or disagrees on the relative merits of the various attributes, the related point is the one that generates the most fan complaint and discussion… how to make non-mainstats interesting or useful to the other classes. That’s something most fans and devs feel is lacking now; a compelling reason for a Barb/DH/Monk to value Int on gear, etc.
Increase the Current Attribute Bonuses
The easiest fix, since it just involves tweaking the current numbers, is to make the current attribute benefits bigger, especially for the non-mainstat classes. For instance, what if INT still provided exactly the same Res All benefit to Wizards and Witch Doctors, but the Res All bonus it granted to Monks/DH/Barbs was doubled? Or tripled?
Currently if your Barb/DH/WD has 500 INT from stats and gear, that’s worth 50 Res All. Not a terrible bonus, but it’s not impactful or awesome, and we know how important those adjectives are! So what if those bonuses were doubled or tripled? Then you’re getting 100 or 150 Res All for free, and if you found an item that had +100 to INT you’d still wish it had your mainstat instead, but hey, that’s 20 or 30 res all right there. Would DH/Monk/Barbs change their gear objectives to get up to 1000 INT in order to score 200 or 300 res all from it? Probably not, but it’s a step in the right direction.
I’m not sure that’s fair to the mainstat chars, though. If you had to get 3000 Int on your WD/Wiz to equal the benefit some DH got from 1000 Int… drama?
Another problem is that the increased bonus theory works pretty well for Int since all classes value it… but not so much for Strength or Dexterity.
No one dislikes having more Armor in Diablo 3, but it’s not as universally desired as Res All. Most Monks would love a bigger Armor benefit from their strength, but artillery-style DH/WD/Wiz would find it much less interesting since their goal is to be ranged attackers and not get hit at all.
And then you get to the Dodge benefit from Dexterity and the fecal matter really hits the oscillating air circulation device. As I admitted above, my main play time has been with Monks and I don’t really know how useful Dodge is. I guess it helps, but you’ll note that it’s not found as an item bonus, and that the Monk skills that boost it are widely unused. The two passives that boost Dodge are The Guardian’s Path or Sixth Sense, and if you check the most popular Monk skills you’ll see their unpopularity. Sixth Sense could be called “14th place” since it’s right at the bottom of use rates, and I’d bet most people using Guardian’s Path are doing it for the Spirit regen with a two-handed weapon; not the dodge bonus while dual wielding.
Furthermore, if anyone can find a quote of a Barb, WD, or Wizard ever saying, “Man I just wish I could get more Dexterity, or had a way to boost my Dodge up like those lucky DHs and Monks!” I’ll donate my next Fiery Brimstone to a charity of your choice.
So in conclusion of that point… boosting the benefit of attributes for classes that don’t want them for their mainstat might help make INT more desired, but it wouldn’t be fair to Wiz or WDs. Boosting STR’s benefit would only be desired by Monks, and boosting Dexterity would go unnoticed since no one can tell if Dodge does anything or not.
Okay, next idea then.
Add DPS From All Attributes
I’ve seen this suggested in forum posts and I guess it would work, and it might actually open up some interesting build variety, but it’s not very elegant or creative. The concept is to just make all the attributes boost DPS, the way that mainstats do now. Exactly the same amount of benefit, so 1000 Str or 1000 Dex or 1000 Int would give exactly the same damage bonus to all classes. (And if you had all three at 1000 that’s 3000 stat bonus, same as if you had that in your mainstat today.)
A thought exercise. If that was in the game right now, and Monks got the same damage bonus and Armor from Str that Barbs get… would we instantly see Monks trying to get +Str on all of their armor, since the damage mitigation from Str is so much more powerful than the Dodge bonus they get from Dexterity? Would we instantly see Demon Hunters trying to get Str and INT instead of Dex, since they’d rather have more resistance and damage mitigation than Dodge?
There’s no way to answer those questions with anything but speculation, but if you’re like me and you’re seriously thinking the answer to both might be “YES!” then that tells you all you need to know about the perceived value of Dodge as a bonus. More to the point, allowing all stats to boost DPS would certainly allow much more equipment diversity, since players wouldn’t value their mainstat so highly above others. (Except perhaps Barbs since Defense does so much?)
The downside is that it seems cheesy or weird, to give all classes the same bonus from all stats. I’m sure someone would try it in a mod (if we had Diablo 3 modding) and it would be fascinating to see how players adapted, but I don’t see Blizzard doing it.
What if the same concept went out with different numbers, though? What if non-mainstats added 50%, or 33% of DPS? Not as good as your mainstat, but something. Would that change behavior, or just make players less disappointed to see non-mainstats on items? It would definitely make changes to the weapon market; now you’ll see a Monk fist with +180 Str and it’s priced as if there’s no stat at all. But what if that Str gave you 50% the DPS benefit of Dex? Suddenly it’s a +90 Dex weapon, and that’s got a lot more value.
On the whole this seems sort of workable, but it’s kind of boring. After all, Diablo 3 is already much too much about, “moar DPS fixes everything!” and this would just exacerbate that condition. So I’m not opposed to adding some partial DPS bonus from non-mainstats, but I’d like them to do more than that as well. Because moar.
Adding New Bonus Properties to Attributes
This is often thrown around in player brainstorming, and it could be a great idea…. if the right properties and amount of bonuses were included. But that’s the hard part, now isn’t it?
Ideally this would come with D3X and an overhaul to all kinds of stuffs, so there would be new modifiers, new affixes, changes in the value and utility of current affixes, etc. That’s a whole ‘nother argument and article though, so let’s just consider some of the possibilities in the current game.
What if say… Dex added a bonus to Attack Speed, Str buffed your blocking and hit recovery, and Int boosted your Movement Speed? Obviously it would matter how the math worked and how big the bonuses were, etc. I’m not getting into all that now, but just on a more conceptual level… would those bonuses change play styles? Make non-stat attributes more enticing to the other classes? Go some distance towards balancing out the classes, given the imbalances inherent in the current attribute bonuses?
I dunno. Lots of questions, lots of possibilities. I think it’s an interesting topic to debate, though.
Is Blizzard Planning an Overhaul in Loot 2.0?
I’d been more or less assuming that yes, the D3 devs were working on a big overhaul to many of the core game systems for the Diablo expansion. How much of Loot 2.0 we get in a patch and how much comes in D3X remains to be seen, but most fans expect improvements in a patch and then bigger changes in the expansion. The system changes and loot changes need to work together, since they’re all interrelated and something like attributes is intrinsic to the entire itemization system.
For instance, if the devs decided that defense provided too much benefit in Diablo 3, they could tweak the base formula so that the damage mitigation provided by strength and +Armor was lessened. That would create a big trickle down effect; devaluing str and armor affixes,
balancing nerfing Barbarians, etc… and it would do that without actually changing anything about the items themselves. That’s why I say the changes to systems have to be paired with the itemization changes, since it’s all part of the same feedback loop.
However, after talking to Josh and Wyatt recently, I’m less confident that we’ll see big systemic changes coming in D3X / Loot 2.0. Both guys talked more in terms of tweaks and balances to the current system, and seemed reluctant to commit to the big changes many players think are necessary in an itemization overhaul. Here’s an excerpt from the relevant part of the interview:
So basically in the game now, every class wants the same mods. You guys have talked about that before, it’s all about Critical hit Damage, Critical hit Chance, Res All, Faster Attack, etc. So the question is, in “Loot 2.0” are you tinkering with the current stats, considering different values, hard caps, that sort of thing, or are you looking at much bigger, overall changes to whole systems and the ways attributes function and such.
In that case the little changes that fans are always suggesting, to tweak the affix values and such, aren’t really relevant.
Wyatt Cheng: Well, that’s pretty case by case… Okay, high level philosophy is.. we don’t like it when one affix is amazing, and another is absolutely terrible. So that I want the good thing and I’m really sad when I get the other one. Some amount of that is inevitable, but I think the gap between the best and the worst is extremely large. The exact mechanics by which we shrink that gap is TBD, but I do think that gap is too large.
Some of the properties aren’t good and should be better. One we mention regularly is Thorns. We’re going to scale if off your primary stat, and we’re going to do a bunch of testing, and if somebody wants to go out there and do a Thorns build, that should be good. That should be a thing. I’d love to see people some day in a ton of Thorns gear and have that be a thing that’s good. That actually works.
Flux: Some players have been speculating that you guys are going to totally rework some of the systems. Like for instance Attributes won’t still boost DPS the way they do now, and it won’t be useful to get 3000 dexterity on your Monk anymore. Or it’ll be pointless to get 60% Crit Chance since it’ll be capped or changed in function. But it doesn’t sound like you guys are looking at making huge changes, or at least you aren’t going to tell us about it yet if you are.
Wyatt Cheng: We do want to be careful with existing gear, that’s something we talk about a lot. I don’t want to log in one day and suddenly my character is completely broken. So that’s definitely a factor. On the other side… regardless of how people feel about existing stats, the idea that there is an item out there that I really want, that I aspire or dream about having one day, is a good thing for the game. So as much as trifecta or quadfecta items are bad in terms of being universal for all characters, it would be a different story if they were rare, hard to get, and I dreamed of getting one some day.
Wyatt Cheng: Yeah. I think the ideal, which we’ll strive towards but may never reach. But the ideal is that the definition of perfect gear is different for every class. And even within the same class since people have different builds.
One thing I think about a lot, is how do we make it so Attack Speed is good for a lot of people, but not for everybody. That’s a tough design problem and we have some ideas, but can we apply that to everyone? So that not every character wants crit, or crit damage?
It’s possible that they are planning big changes to attributes and other core systems and just don’t want to or can’t even hint about that yet. I hope so, anyway. As Wyatt says, they wouldn’t do something huge in a patch that rendered current gear worthless, but it’s universally expected that they will do that in the expansion. Perhaps not “worthless” but if D3X is anything like D2X or the WoW expansions, it will introduce new tiers of gear, new items systems, new legendaries, etc, which have the effect of devaluing all current gear since the new stuff is better.
So, what do you guys think about fixing attributes? Can it be done with minor changes, adding new bonuses, adding some DPS, etc? Or does the whole system need to be blown up and reworked, and damn the damage to current gear and economy?