Help, I’m in Single Player!

    My internet connection in the past has been so slow I could have typed the ones and zeros into the browser faster than they were coming through my connection. I am not exaggerating when I tell you my browser would show speeds like 24 bytes/sec and I would be happy about how fast I was flying along. Needless to say, playing any game online was an exercise in futility. So, my Diablo 2 playing has been primarily single player. Single player Diablo 2 is basically multiplayer Diablo 2 without the extra people on Battle.Net. That sounds obvious, but stop and think about what that means. The single player people have to be entirely self sufficient, not able to rely on allies. More importantly, we cannot trade.

    It is impossible to complete most sets in single player. I understand that it is supposed to be difficult and that accomplishing a complete set is something to brag about (provided, of course, it is legitimate). In single player, however, hard does not begin to describe it. There is no way anyone can reasonably be able to complete an exceptional set. Pick your favorite set, and calculate what the odds are of getting the most rare piece. On Battle.Net there are hundreds of thousands of players all getting items, and the odds of that one piece dropping any given night are pretty decent. Add in places like this web site where you can advertise that you are looking for items, and given some patience, you can eventually save up enough to trade for the missing pieces. The odds are steep that one will ever drop in the game you are in, but not that you will ever be able to acquire that particular item. Trading makes collection possible, in other words, despite the long odds.

    Now consider single player. To get any set item, it has to drop. Without the possibility of trading for set pieces, single player gamers are forced to give up and never try to complete sets, or to make endless runs at Pindleskin and Baal and all the other big drop bosses. Solo. In hell. Not hard if you have a well built character, but very monotonous. There is no conversation, no finding of new partners as you go, nothing but dodging Baal?s Breath of Death and collecting still more of those Tal Rasha masks. You sell your findings, gamble away the gold, resurrect your mercenary, and go down again. And again. And again.

    But is this a good thing? Has Blizzard, by setting the odds as steep as they are now, crippled the game for single player? Making something hard is one thing, making it hopeless is quite another. Can Blizzard really expect single player characters to ever acquire complete sets, or are those of us who play single player to be happy just completing the game? If we aren?t to complete the sets, then what are they there for? I grew somewhat fond of my sorceress as I took her through the three levels. I was rather proud that she, as a totally legitimate character, killed Baal in hell all by herself, and did this at level seventy one. I still pull her out from time to time for item runs, but we have never found much, other than some awesome rares. She is still wearing her collection of rune words and rares that got her past Baal last spring. Is there anything that Blizzard should do to make it possible for single player gamers who have beaten the game and have high level characters to find those treasured sets? I think so, and I hope one day this will be fixed.

    I even have an idea that might help fix it. First of all, split all set pieces into three class: low, middle, and high. After a character has beaten Baal (or Diablo in classic) allow that character to be able trade for set pieces off of Jamella. I see a system in which Gonzo, my fictional barbarian would smack down Baal in normal. After Baal is gone and he has his title, Gonzo could go to Jamella in normal and trade set pieces for random low class set pieces. This would work much like gambling. The set item Gonzo is giving up would be dropped in Jamella?s inventory and a random low class set piece would appear in Gonzo?s inventory. The chance that any particular set piece would be generated would be the same or similar to the chance of that item dropping in the game. When Gonzo has beaten Baal in nightmare, he can trade in middle class items for other middle or low class items. Upon beating Baal in hell, Jamella would make available all set items for random trade. Trade a high, get a high. Trade a low, get a low. Implement this in single player only.

    The result? The multiplayer trade-based economy is untouched and intact. Hackers will still be a problem there, but I am confident Blizzard will eventually work that out. In single player, though, the odds of getting the higher level set pieces would be vastly improved. Now, instead of having only a chance that a monster will drop an item that itself has only a chance to be set, the character would have a chance of getting that special item every time a set piece is dropped. It would also add a use to those endless piles of green breastplates. The odds can still be manipulated to make it rare and difficult to acquire all the sets, or even to finish one of them. That is not the point. This would make it possible to acquire the sets. It would give reason to the endless item runs, and give gamers another reason to battle through hell and reach the high levels. Rather than taking away from the life of the game, I think this would add to it.

    Maybe this, or something like it, can appear in 1.10? I hope so. My sorceress is getting bored.

    Disclaimer: Salem’s Fire was written by Luke Blaize and hosted by diabloii.net. The opinions expressed in these columns are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Diii.net.

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