Paragon Levels: The Max Level Controversy Revisited

Since Blizzard announced the new DiabloWikiParagon Levels system and implemented it in v1.04, I’ve been 1) enjoying the feature, and 2) thinking back on the “max level 60” controversy from a couple of years ago. The whole issue is summarized pretty well in our DiabloWikiMax Level wiki article, but if you weren’t around back in September 2010, here’s a quote from the official statement here.

So, we’re working with a lower level cap for a myriad of reasons but really the main point that they’re more or less all linked to is that we came to the conclusion that a cap of 99 exists for the sake of itself. Meaning that it’s a really high number despite all sorts of good things like meaningful player/skill/power pacing, item distribution, balance, etc…

Of course it all comes down to an XP curve. We could, for instance, say the level cap in Diablo III is 60 and then pace that curve and gain out over what we estimate it took someone to reach 99 in Diablo II. Of course we wouldn’t do that but it should help illustrate that the time from 1-60 in Diablo II does not equal the amount of time it will take to reach 60 in Diablo III…

The leveling experience is always going to stop somewhere because the real game is the item hunt. So, instead of letting it drag out to a less meaningful 80 or so levels like most people saw in Diablo II we have 60 levels of awesome; at every level you’ll get a meaningful and noticeable increase in power. It has a ton of other benefits and fixes a lot of problems a higher cap causes, but I’ll take pause.

At the time this was a controversial decision, since they’d previously said D3’s max level would probably be 100, so cutting it by 40 seemed like a huge change. Especially since Diablo III still had points to spend in active and passive skills, and 40 fewer levels seemed to equal 40 fewer skill points. The initial debate revolved around that issue, and whether or not characters maxing at level 60 would feel as powerful as characters maxing at 100.

At that time Bashiok was the sole source of communication from the team to the community, and he argued (fairly effectively) that 60 vs 100 was just a number, and the developers could easily balance things so a level 60 character felt awesome. Also, having fewer levels meant a more impactful change with each level, and when fans thought back on the higher levels in D2, most of which meant 1 more skill point which was just going to some passive or synergy that added like .2% more cold damage, that seemed like a reasonable argument.

The more interesting arguments, ones that are directly relevant to the Paragon Levels, were those about D3’s end game. Would it be fun enough without any character improvement past 60? Would Inferno be enough end game when it was just grinding for items? Bashiok assured us that it would be fine, and that things like Achievements, Artisan leveling, and eventually PvP would be plenty of activity and would provide sufficient epeen growth to reward expert players.

As the last three months have demonstrated, that argument was bitterly incorrect, and the features of the Paragon system are clearly intended to address end game issues such as: lack of character progression, not enough fun with item finding, not enough reason to keep playing after reaching the lower max level, and problems with Magic Find.

Click through for multiple additional Blue quotes from 2010 and 2011 that attempted to answer fan complaints on those issues. It’s an interesting insight into the theories and plans of the developers, some of which were correct and some of which were very incorrect.

One note; Bashiok is the author of all of these posts, but realize that as the Diablo 3 Community Manager, he was giving the developers’ official arguments. His sarcasm and mannerisms are his own, but the game feature arguments he offered up served as the official opinions of the developers.

But a big part of Diablo2 – The fact you can still improve your character by leveling even when the content was cleared was just awesome and good for your motivation.
It was a bit of motivation. I wouldn’t say it was awesome. A level 80 something character is easily able to beat a level 90 character with some skillful play, so what does that say about the awesomeness of each level? Minimal, at best.

Will there be other ways for elite gamers to show the size of their e-peen?
I don’t think being 99 showed you were an elite gamer. Just that you had a lot of time on your hands … or that you loved killing cows.

Once it became clear that the D3 devs weren’t going to change their stance on level 60, and that they felt achievements and item grinding would be sufficient end game rewards, fans started to try to reason with them. If they wanted to cram all of the skills and stats into the first 60 levels, which were reached before the end game content began, couldn’t they allow additional levels but without rewards? Or with smaller rewards? Or even just let experience continue to count up, without any rewards at all?

I’m Clvl 60… Now What?

I’m sure you’ve read this several times, Bashiok, but my stance is that gaining levels are great rewards, and extra levels would make great long-term goals for the end-game. Not to the extreme of 99, mind you. Maybe an extra 5 or so for players that like grinding out that extra bit of advantage.
There’s no such thing as extra levels for people who want to grind them out. Either they’re there and provide a necessary boost in power in which case it’s not a choice to get them or not, or they don’t exist. We’re not going to put in extra levels that provide no bonus simply so people have achievements to work toward. That’s what achievements are for.

The issue came up again in April 2011, and got more Bashiok replies. Highlights:

I’m concerned for D3 and the direction that it’s seems to be headed. Since they’ve made the level cap much lower and more obtainable, without a significant amount of motivation to continue playing a character past that point, many players will stop playing the game (especially once rerolling alts is boring). It comes down to how much return we’re getting for our efforts, and if we hit max level, we’re losing that portion of the benefit of continuing to play that specific character.

Good, progressive endgame features can replace the subconscious feeling of needing to “level up”. It’s just a matter of WHAT they decide to do for endgame in D3. Frankly though, I don’t see PvP and collecting items being the answer. I don’t know what sparked the decision to lower the level cap in D3. I would actually be very curious to find out.
Bashiok: So just to reiterate some things and maybe draw it back to more specific bullet points of why a lower level cap is (we believe) better for the game:

# We want each level to feel like a significant boost in power.

# We want level benefits to be as clear as possible. Some people have suggested “Well, let us hit level 60, but then keep giving us points after that.” which isn’t a solution, it’s the same problem except worse because there’s no actual tracking mechanism built in (ie levels). We also want to avoid providing level benefits at irregular intervals (although this may be unavoidable for trait points), as some people suggest “Let us level to 99 and just give us the rewards every few levels”. This goes back to the first point: We want each level to feel like a significant boost in power. Trait points may not come every level, but the sum of the other increases from leveling, we feel, are still very significant and maintain our intent.

# Because of the extreme leveling curve in Diablo II, balance really couldn’t be adjusted around level 99 characters.

# We can have long term status symbols people can go for that are extremely visual, show to others the effort you’ve put in, but not attach that to something like a character level. Along with artisans, achievements, gems, runestones, and all the other various character customization progressions, we still have some surprises left in store on this front.

The real bottom line is that we understand people like having those long term goals, and those feel good to chase and eventually achieve, but we do not feel one needs to be character level, and in fact making character levels a long term goal brings a great many negative effects with them (keeping in mind our goals for how important each level should feel).

In retrospect, I agree with all of their theoretical arguments about why Clvl 99 wasn’t essential, and why Clvl 60 could be just fine if it felt like a bigger reward with each level. The problem came with them removing skill points and customizable stats, and DiabloWikirunestones, and the DiabloWikiTalisman and charms, and then upon release DiabloWikiInferno was unbalanced and a gear check, and the item system wasn’t very fun, and the end game had only one play mode, and there wasn’t any PvP, and leveling up Artisans was simplified and crafting was useless in the end game anyway, and no one cared about the really long term DiabloWikiachievements.

But other than that, though… perfect!

In a way the devs were correct; if D3 had been released just as it was, but characters had been able to level up to 100 instead of 60, that wouldn’t have fixed anything. It would have been a little more fun seeing continued experience gain, and stat bonuses for level ups, but without skill points or customizable stat points it wouldn’t have made that much difference for your character, all the other problems would have remained. (Imagine the Paragon systme without the MF/GF component. Total yawner.)

Or imagine if the max level had been 100, with skills and runes spread out all the way to level 100. That would be lame too, since you’d have to grind Inferno for weeks (or months) just to unlock your highest level runes.

On the whole then, the Paragon System seems a pretty good solution, though I’m not a fan of it entirely removing Magic Find as a gear choice at the highest levels. (Much of D2’s end game fun was trying to perfect your gear with trade offs in survival for increases in MF, plus D2 was much too easy if you went with all survival gear.)

It’s a shame we needed 3 months of constant fan complaints about the end game for the devs to acknowledge and correct the problem, and you wonder what system they might have incorporated way back in 2010 or 2011 if they’d heeded the constant fan worries that the end game was going to be boring without more to do than item grind.

How About Some Character Customization?

Fans have been asking for some meaningful character customization for as long (or longer) than we were warning that the end game wasn’t going to be enough. And the D3 devs have been arguing against those complaints for just as long. Now that they’ve admitted their initial end game, item system, Inferno, and numerous other feature changes weren’t ideal and have addressed them with patches… might some character customization be next?

Why couldn’t they have done that with the Paragon system, and allowed the stat points earned after level 60 to be allocated manually? If you want to put every point into Vitality, it’s great for Hardcore. If you want to put every point into your main stat, that’s great for damage. It’s your choice to build your character how you want… you know like they allow you to do in RPGs.

Blizzard’s main argument against that in D3 was that it made character balancing very difficult early on, and that noobs would screw up their character builds. Well, character balancing is gone by level 60 with the wide variety of equipment, and a level 60 character is certainly not being run by a noob.

While I’m dreaming, how about some kind of skill points or skill customization as well? I understand that it was impossible to balance the benefit of skill points between, “one point wonders” and “every point adds to your damage” skills. That’s part of the reason they scrapped the runestone system. But how about simplifying skill points, but still making them matter?

Say you get 12 skill points to divide between your 6 skills, and each skill can have up to 3 points, each of which provides about a 10% improvement. (More points could offer shorter cooldowns or decreased resource costs for movement skills.) So you can go with 2 in everything to be balanced, or put 3 into your 3 favorite attack skills, or load up the points on defense skills to offset your equipment shortcomings, or whatever you like. It’s far from the depth of character customization traditionally offered in RPGs, but at least every single character of the same class and level wouldn’t be (instantly, with freespecs) identical to every other one, as we see today.

I can’t believe we’ll see anything like that in a patch, but perhaps in an expansion? After all, the D3 devs are stubborn and sometimes defensive when faced with criticism, but they have generally shown an admirable ability to admit their game design errors and to apply corrections and improvements.


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  1. Level 60, level 99, or 100, in the end it’s just the time it takes to get there. With the paragon system they effectively added a level 100 grind which should make the asian players quite happy at least.
    And, well, most others as character growth is always nice – plus it’s not required. It does allow for people to grow “beyond” the basic level 60 though, but it doesn’t unlock new or more gear. – which will be curious once the next expansion comes out. And the level cap gets raised to 70 or more. What will happen to the paragon raising….

  2. They say the real game is the item hunt but yet we have auction houses in D3. We have gold farmers farming items 24/7 so that people can just buy items off of the auction house. So much for the item hunt!

  3. I don’t understand how people can refer to level as just a number. The whole level system of Diablo 3 was a fundamental change. In Diablo 3 it is just a number because everything is scaled so you should only use the items you get around your own level. So setting it to max lvl 600 would make no difference at all because it would only revolve around lvl 597-600 for example. At all times you should only care about monsters, skills, items and environments tailored to your level.

    This was NOT the case in Diablo 2 where you had a level curve which basically made it impossible for normal people to reach max lvl. Having a max character lvl that most people would never see meant that everything else had to be scaled differently or else the game would not work at all. And it Diablo 2 they achieved this perfectly. Some of the best and most popular items were level 30-50 which meant you could find them in late normal, early nightmare and play the “entire” game using these items. It meant you could do runs in both normal and nightmare and still get viable items or in some cases some of the best items available. It meant you were free to do almost anything you wanted and still be rewarded with viable items.

    It meant you could have builds tailored around clearing screens of weaker enemies and do nightmare runs instead of staying in hell.

    Diablo 3 doesn’t have any of this. If you play nightmare at level 60 there isn’t a single reward in it for you. Inferno would have worked amazingly in Diablo 2, but in Diablo 3 it’s just the 4th difficulty and nothing more. Once you do well in Inferno you aren’t ever supposed to go back down.

    Diablo 3 should have expanded upon and polished the system Diablo 2 had. Not scrapped it and taken the level system from World of Warcraft. This is my biggest issue with Diablo 3 and the reason I stopped playing after merely a week.

    I know a lot of people like Diablo 3, but there’s such a fundamental difference between the two games that they will never be able to get me or anyone who share my opinion of Diablo 2 back into the game.

    The only joy I get from all this is seeing them more or less acknowledge that they didn’t know what made Diablo 2 great for a large part of the player base. They attracted a new group of gamers and alienated the old.

    • “Having a max character lvl that most people would never see meant that everything else had to be scaled differently or else the game would not work at all.”

      There is good and bad points to this system. Class and skill balance was terrible.

      “They attracted a new group of gamers and alienated the old.”
      Some of us old players do like Diablo 3 so speak only for yourself.

    • This is one of the best posts I have ever seen from a self-described “former” player. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • Twiik… +100 if I could

    • Great post. This change has long bothered me as well. I don’t like their level/item progression at all. Every 15 levels or so the stats on items nearly double which is part of what leads to the obsolescence of the low level items and makes the earlier game completely worthless to high level players.

      On top of that it contributes to the problems with low level legendaries in that even if you manage to find a great one at the appropriate level it will be worthless within 5-10 levels.

      The system simply couldn’t support a high level cap because they would either need to end item progression arbitrarily or drastically buff the significance of those levels to be meaningful. They decided to throw them out.

      Character base attributes are meaningless since they are so pathetically insignificant at high levels that the game hardly needs a level up system at all. They could have just as well unlocked skills and runes from normal-hell quests instead because the attribute bonus at level 60 isn’t enough to even allow a character to fight naked in normal.

      The level curve in Diablo 2 complimented gearing in the progression of your character while Diablo 3’s leveling system really only appears to be an arbitrary gating system that serves to indicate how far you’ve progressed in the story.

      • I didn’t get into item system discussion in the post since that wasn’t what it was about, but I’ve come to see the D3 desire for a long term stable economy as one of the major flaws in the game design. The D3 devs (and most of us fans) thought the D2 system of ladder resets every 6-12 months was inelegant and could be improved upon.

        And perhaps it can be, but what that system allowed for was a very high amount of great item drops. This is why you always felt like you’d found something new and cool and useful for your character in D2, and why low/mid level uniques could be awesome.

        D3 is trying to create a long term stable economy without ladder seasons or wipes, and that means great item drops have to be much rarer and confined exclusively to the end game content.

        The irony is that people blame the RMAH for this, but there’s no real connection. After all, D2 had a thriving black market RMT economy, even though everyone knew the ladders would be reset in some months and those items would become much less valuable. There’s no reason D3 couldn’t have the current RMAH system, AND ladder resets to refresh the economy. If it did they could greatly increase the drop rate of quality items. Though that wouldn’t fix/change the situation of their very progression-based item system, where higher level items are almost guaranteed to be better than lower level ones.

        • “that means great item drops have to be much rarer and confined exclusively to the end game content.

          The irony is that people blame the RMAH for this, but there’s no real connection. After all, D2 had a thriving black market RMT economy”

          But didn’t Bli$$ard itself said they were monitoring the items in the AH to balance item drops ?

          I actually think the GAH is a good thing, but the developers should not even look at it once it was in the game, they shouldn’t mess with the market, players always traded items, the AH should only make trading easier, not be a statistical gatherer to see what drops were common or not and serve as basis to affect it.

          Maybe they just made it a bit too easy to trade items, idk, on the short time I owned the game, I gave the AH a try, it was somehow disappointing to see people selling weapons with 2x the dps of the ones I was using for something like 1000 gold, for my level, just for f**** sake I made some purchases, spent 5000 gold and nearly doubled my efficiency. In game vendors are just ignorable garbage.
          Maybe they should make items sell for more gold, so people would be less inclined to sell them in the AH ? Or maybe they should make items bought in the AH only available after X number of hours ?

          Ah well, how I miss my item collection in SP D2 with ATMA 🙁 Can’t wait for next friday, TL2 release date 🙂

        • I bet my hat that we will see a Diablo 3 ladder/seasons sooner or later. It just feels like a natural part of hack & slash, and there are lots of stats that can be ranking criteria.

    • Generaly, I agree to your post. But!
      “Diablo 3 should have expanded upon and polished the system Diablo 2 had. Not scrapped it and taken the level system from World of Warcraft.”
      I would be very happy, if some of the WOW ideas would be used. But I dont see any of them! This is NOT something that has to do with WOW. It is just a try of Jay to make a new system. Sorry for this Jay, but obviously you failed.

    • I too played a lot of Diablo II back in the day, and what you seem to forget is that lower levels mattered even less than they do in D3, since you would basically create a character, get rushed and powerleveled to 80 in a couple hours. Yes, some very good items had low ilvl in D2 and could be found in nightmare, but they also could be found in hell as there wasn’t the same limitations on loot tables of bosses. You dropped much more very low level crap in D2 hell than you do in D3. All in all, there were good items and bad items to be found, but some of the very best items where only found in the highest ilvl zones, so once able to farm those, anyone would. Also you can very well farm hell in D3 if you choose to do so, an ilvl 57 items with a godly roll can still fetch a very nice price in the AH.

      On one side you have D2, which after a few playthroughs held interest only at high level, and on the other side you have D3 which after a few playthroughs holds interest only at lvl 60. The only difference is that in D2 max level is 99 but reaching 80+ is enough, most people never bothered to reach 9x, while in D3 you get to 60 and then you can’t go further. They now have implemented a system which allows further leveling for those of us who like grinding, without these levels being mandatory, so we are even closer to D2. So, in the end the only difference is that yeah, in D3 you can’t find an item at level 20 that you are going to keep all the way to 60 and beyond, but who cares really, it’s not like it really happened in D2 anyway (except for heavy luck shots, you had to farm a lot to find a soj in nightmare, and who would bother stopping their progress on the way to 80 to spend hours trying to find a soj you can very well find in hell once you are 80).
      D3 is still a very young game, probably still not on the level of D2 quite yet, but it’s headed in the right direction and IMHO will become way better than D2 ever was a little way down the road.

      • Please don’t apply how you played D2 to the everyone else. Yes, people rushed. Others didn’t. Besides, being able to play either way, however, you see fit is pretty darn cool.

    • 1000000000 T H I S !!!!!!!!!!

    • Scary thing is that Blizzard is perfectly fine with replacing that ‘old group’ of D/D2 players with a new one. They trashed the franchise for many of us.

  4. I still don’t see how stat points are useful in the slightest. 1 item has as many stat points as you would get from leveling.

    • because of the trade off

      your way you’re forced to find an item that has that stat

      but if I have the ability to put all my points into a single stat then I don’t have to find an item that has 200+ points in that stat

      my choice in items is not limited

      or maybe I want to dump all my points into my damage stat and find a weapon that also increases my damage stat so I can be an extreme glass cannon

      or maybe I want to tank, so I pump vitality and get items with vitality

      yeah, much more difficult for the devs to balance, but maybe more interesting to play
      maybe not, depends on the final game

    • This is one of the biggest problems with D3. Our characters never get more powerful, only the items do. And the fact that a single item can grant more stats points than all of 1 to 60, I’d like to know why we are NOT allowed to assign our stat points in the current system. The amount of points we get for leveling up is completely insignificant compared to the amount given out by items. We could literally not assign any of our stat points and not notice. There is no way for anyone to mess up.

  5. Spell Books.
    Level 60, Paragon lvel 1 Characters have mastered the ancient lore of Diablo 1. They have the ability to find Firewall, Blood Star, etc. spell books. Allow all classes to use them equally base the power of the spell books on the Paragon level. Balance it out by making Level 100 Paragon spells only 20% or so better than a regular skill by a level 60 character with average DPS weapon (say 1000DPS weapon). Make the spell books not tied to items in any way. Make the spell books really rare drops and you have to level them up just like D1 but your max ability is tied to Paragon level. If they can throw summoned Angels and Demons into legendary items as a patch they could easily do this as a patch as a well.

  6. I agree that it was highly unfortunate that they abandoned pretty much all of the higher, more complex concepts and just shipped with the bare minimum that wouldn’t overburden even the most casual of players (like skill and attribute customizations, the talisman system, a meaningful crafting/enchanting system, and so on).

    They probably would have loved to scrap the rune/skill system as a whole at some point as well but had already spent too much budget on its developement to remove it completely. That’s probably why it’s the one thing in D3 that roughly resembles a fleshed out, rich and impactful game mechanic amongst all the other systems that very much feel like ‘just a more polished version of a successful D2 idea’. And they probably needed at least that one ‘shiny’ system that could actually be advertized as progress beyond D2.

    Yes, it’s a pity to think of what D3 could have been after such a long developement cycle and infinite budget. In terms of small end-game additions that could have offered something fresh and exiting to encourage you to replay the game on higher difficulty settings: Imagine new mini-quests, monster-types, terrain sections or even sub-areas (like the easter egg levels) that only appear on nightmare/hell/inferno mode; or at least regular monsters gaining additional abilities/behavior patterns on higher difficulties. Something beyond just tweaking numbers for replaying the exact same game that would have made the whole experience a bit richer.

    I’m certain they will revisit some of these ideas when they are in a rush to sell an expansion, maybe just re-add them at the same state they were in previosly before they were cut from the main game. But that doesn’t quite help with lifting the stigma of the initial release.

    • I’d hardly say the rune system “resembles a fleshed out, rich and impactful game mechanic.” Even now the majority of rune effects for most skills are either underpowered or out of place for most builds. They stripped a lot from the system in the months prior to release and it shows. I think a lot was riding on the rune leveling system to balance some of the effects that simply wasn’t corrected before release.

  7. Where are all the people who claimed Blizzard’s logic was flawless?

    “Blizzard explained the change. It’s perfect!”

    I will give them credit for doing a 180 though. Now if they just do about 10 more 180s the game might be worth buying again.

    • I’ll admit, I was a bit of a blind follower based on their reputation and how epic the initial reveal was…but no longer.

  8. It baffles me that people are still pulling for D2-style skill trees. They were a fantastic idea, but, in practice, simply failed to be interesting in ways that outweighed the costs. Skill trees are obsolete game design and D3’s skill/rune system is a massively better idea.

    • Big fat LOL to you pal.

      Yea who wants to be able to make their character the way THEY want to? Instead of how a company tells you you should want to.

      Who wants level ups to mean something… OR TO MAKE YOUR CHAMP BETTER? PFFFT ABSURD!

      • O and lets not forget, that even with the recent skill improvements, that 9 out of 10 skill runes are still absolutely useless and do nothing more than change the color of your skill.

        *rolls eyes* Yes the rune system is just so much better.

    • I don’t know what you’re thinking but I thought the Torchlight skill trees worked fantastically.

    • Exactly. In D2 classic (before skill “synergies” band-aid solution came), most of the skills and skill progression were nothing but christmas trees of useless options which you couldn’t even reset.

    • Skill trees are fine in certain circumstances. I would say that D3’s skill idea would have worked, had they added some sort of customization that mattered to the system. Right now you pick a skill and a “modifying rune” that simply changes it to another, slightly different skill. And you can change them at any point and time. It’s a garbage system as it is implemented.

      What if you could use items (I’m going with gems as they are the only ones at the moment) that you find to alter the skills? Want to add life leech or increase fire damage? Throw in a Ruby. Want more crit chance? Add a Topaz. Want to add chilling effects? Add a Sapphire. That kind of thing. Each skill can use each gem in different ways. You allow people to earn sockets on their skills (maybe by not switching them or some such), but as soon as you switch your skill, it destroys the socket(s) and the gem inside, so you have to hunt more and re-customize your new skill.

      It allows Blizzard to add new items with which to customize later (re: in expansions) as well, like Jewels, Runes, and other such things. It allows players some sort of customization so they can play with the skills that they want to in order to play, rather than the skills they “need” to in order to progress. It gives more of a use to gems as well, and removes them from the economy to drive the hunt for them (which should have been done to items as well in some way).

      The problem was they added Inferno level and turned it into just another farming level, which was stupid on their part. It should have been the challenge level, where you couldn’t get past it with “better gear” that you had to farm from it. That was their mistake. Item levels should max at 60, and Inferno should be 61+. That would fix the idea that people need to “farm” Inferno to progress.

    • I disagree. They should bring back the skill trees.

  9. Regarding each level up from 1 to 60 feeling powerful, I would say the Devs failed. From level 20 onward, gaining a new level most certainly did not make me feel more powerful. For that matter, I did not feel I had achieved anything. There are no skill points or stat points to assign to make me stop and care about the level up. Also, all the damage output skills are based on weapon damage, so new skills that do not offer new mechanics, or greater damage numbers, or worse, have a mechanic/damage-number combination that just sucks compared to what we can already do, is completely lack luster. Furthermore, there is the presentation of it all. Explosions of color and popup messages fly by while in the midst of battle, and everything is auto-unlocked. In the midst of battle, who has chance to see and actually register/understand/comprehend what they just achieved? Most likely, you get out of combat as quickly as possible, and then proceed to open the skill screen. But instead of being presented with a summary screen of what was achieved, we are left with sifting through screens, and more screens, trying to summarize/figure out what we received for leveling up. And then all said and done, not only was there nothing “RPG” to do, but most likely, the cumbersome skill interface was closed without making a single change.

    It’s just disappointing.

  10. I wouldn’t mind seeing some kind of level/progression rewards which could be manually plugged into character base stats and/or skill stats -as each player prefers.
    I also think that there is A LOT of potential in the different crafting systems which haven’t been explored or developed. Personally, the only thing I really craft are gems because the result is guaranteed. Crafting things with the blacksmith is still too random and undependable (not to mention generally underpowered) to really be worthwhile. I honestly could do better selling my crafting materials through the auction house and then using that gold to just buy what I want.
    A much more robust and developed crafting system (or systems) would add to the level of character customization I desire. It would also broaden the play experience and bring greater variety to the things players can do with their builds.

  11. I will admit I argued in favor of the lvl cap, I guess you don’t realize what you have until it’s gone. I should of realized too because I was playing d2 hc ladder pretty consistently up until a year ago.

    The auto stats I was in favor of because there was the talisman, and mystic systems to make up for the customization in stats.

  12. D3’s skill system is great and make people use different builds. It’s awesome being able to change your skills when you want. However, I agree with Flux, people that have characters at the max level knows what they want to improve, so, paragon levels must have skill and attribute points. I don’t know how they are going to do, but it will be what’s necessary to customize the characters. Furthermore, the items must have attributes that buff any or some skills of a class since the normal mode. This was awesome in D2. Other things that I think to items are: we need a lot more of SET items (including low level SET items – it was awesome win set items, even the ones that weren’t so useful in D2), more low level (1-59) legendaries (I don’t know how many legendaries have in the game, this is just my feeling) and, mainly, we need gems, like the runes in D2, with special combinations and that gives different attributes comparing to the gems that already are in D3. I don’t know if they can implement this in a patch or a expansion, I just think that this is what D3 needs to be as good as its predecessors.

    PS: Sorry about any english mistake, it’s not my language and I know that I need to improve it.

  13. I’ve +1’ed so many good comments already… I agree that they tried to use the WoW style level/item system in D3 and it just didn’t translate.

    Even with the new upgraded Legendaries, I have not felt the same excitement in the item hunt with D3 as I did with D2. Rares are good, but finding tons of rares and only 1 Legendary/Set item after 200 hours of game play is not a fun experience for me.

    My hopes going forward:

    They increase the number of Legendary/Set items across all levels and greatly increase their drop rate. Keeping certain items super rare is fine, but there should be rarity tiers within Legendaries/Sets.

    Abandon the idea that farming champion packs is somehow better than farming bosses. They both should give better loot, but the best loot should have a chance to come from everywhere.

    Add much, much more crafting recipes and reduce the crafting costs to just money. The better the recipe the higher the cost each time. I’d rather have the talisman and/or the enchantress back in the game and those items than the meaningless crafting items we have now.

    More buffs/revisions to classes like the buffs to WD pets so they can actually play as the pet class. Now they need to make it so my wizard can survive without gearing like my barb.

    • And bring back the horadric cube. I’m sick of paying Shen a small fortune just to transmute gems. I saved his ass from certain death in the sewers and this is how he repays me?

    • I can understand the desire to have sets/legendaries for all levels, but with the current game design all items that are not iLvl 62/63 are completely worthless.

      – The game is designed to never have a reason to re-roll a character.
      – The items are designed to be obsolete a few levels after you find them.

      Without redesigning the game and the item system there is not really any point in creating non-max-level sets/legendaries as they will be just as useless as all the Rare iLvl 52-59 trash littering the ground in Inferno. (Yes, yes, I pick them up and vendor trash them for gold/crafting materials. But doesn’t everybody?)

      • Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t one of the ‘awesum’ achievements just waiting to be earned a “have two lvl 60 barb/WD/etc”??? Who are these people?

    • “Abandon the idea that farming champion packs is somehow better than farming bosses. They both should give better loot, but the best loot should have a chance to come from everywhere.”

      Totally agree, it’s made me so happy to see yellows start dropping from trash.

  14. Why is everyone here still playing Diablo 3 and complaining about it if they don’t enjoy playing? Go play Path of Exile or some other ARPG with game design elements you want.

    Personally, I find Diablo 3 hardcore to be a fun challenge and I still hope PvP will add to the enjoyment.

  15. It is amazing how *off* they were/are.

    Diablo 3 has no soul.

  16. What is funny to me is the paragon levels feel more impactful to my character’s power relative to levels 1-60. The prior levels allowed me to use new skills, but aside from unlocking the first rune on something, the new skills were not more powerful than what I already had. Gear has provided most of power increase since level 15 or so.

    Paragon levels give a direct boost to item finding, which is the only metric that really matters in pve – how fast you can get sweet items.

    I think I am like most rpg fans – I like seeing a progress bar go up every time I play, especially if tied to that progress bar is a good reward.

  17. Flux this article was fantastic. Absolutely loved it.

    Favorite part though….
    “In retrospect, I agree with all of their theoretical arguments about why Clvl 99 wasn’t essential, and why Clvl 60 could be just fine if it felt like a bigger reward with each level. The problem came with them removing skill points and customizable stats, and runestones, and the Talisman and charms, and then upon release Inferno was unbalanced and a gear check, and the item system wasn’t very fun, and the end game had only one play mode, and there wasn’t any PvP, and leveling up Artisans was simplified and crafting was useless in the end game anyway, and no one cared about the really long term achievements.”

    • “Clvl 99”, “runestones, and the Talisman and charms”, and some other features, I still have in my mind that those were removed in favor of expansions/dlcs.

  18. I also rationalized the level cap for myself because Diablo 1 had a lvl cap, and Stat caps. I figured as much as I enjoyed d1 it wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

  19. honestly, i don’t even bother to pick up blues lower than ilvl 61 and the only rares below 61 i pick up are rings and ammys for the most part.

    To me the time it takes to sort thru the lower ilvls to sell and the increased number of trips back to town isn’t worth the small amount of gold.

    I do miss rerolling from D2, i lost count of how many chars i remade over the years. Between ladder resets and taking over 90 day breaks from d2 i must have leveled so many chars, tho i never had anything higher than mid 80s. I think thats one of the biggest losses in D3. Sigons early on and your wearing it thru most of nightmare without running into problems. Since you gain most of your power thru stats instead of char lvls and skills/syngeries gear quickly becomes obsolete so even if they made rerolling fun/worthwhile the gearing still wouldn’t be as fun simply because you need to change out so often to remain powerful.

  20. Great article, damn I hate Blizzard…

  21. Great comments at the end of the article about character customization.

    Scary to think that there were countless threads on the forums discussing these same solutions about 6 months ago, yet blizzard hasn’t picked up on the concept

    Oh well, guess we’ll wait another 3 months and see if they realize 🙂

    • They seem really opposed to allowing any kind of character customization or specialization, for whatever reason. They’ve been willing to change their design goals on a lot of other issues, and there are other big changes planned for coming patches (stuff Jay hinted at in his recent apology post), but nowhere amongst the changes do we see character customization options.

      If they were going to do that short of an expansion, you’d think the Paragon system would have been the perfect time, since it only affects max level chars, comes too late to “ruin your build,” etc. And yet…. no.

  22. Very good article flux +1

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