The Lion’s Toes #9: Wall of Fire and Balls of Ice - Diabloii.Net

The Lion’s Toes #9: Wall of Fire and Balls of Ice


Wall of Fire and Balls of Ice

The Sorceress epitomizes everything that is wrong with Diablo II. That?s not to say she?s the only flawed character; they all are, to some extent.  It?s just that she?s the worst offender, and that her talents provide the best titular innuendo, if you get my drift.

Those of you who?ve experienced the satanic phenomenon known as Dungeons and Dragons may be aware of the power of the (not-so) humble mage. The game?s creators like to consistently give this class the most awe-inspiring, foe-crushing abilities because, and I quote, ?we r liek teh mage he is teh 00ber!!!1?. So naturally wizards tend to be the toughest buggers around.

They do, however, come with a few minor drawbacks (mostly so the role-playing fools who pick Bards and Gnomes don?t feel completely pathetic). Mages are usually rather weak early on, much like Diablo II?s Sorceress. And the wizard?s most powerful abilities generally can?t be cast with any great frequency.

It?s an imperfect system, and one rife with clich?d elves and perfect Paladins. But at least it gets this bit right. The spell system of Diablo II begins to look a joke once you start to compare.

Frozen Orb has a one-second cooldown and tends to cost around 25-35 mana (dependent on level). There?s no denying that it?s an ultimate spell.  But what justification for allowing such frequent castings?

Now look at Fire Wall. Funnily enough, it?s supposed to be a wall of fire. And it lasts for 3.6 seconds. The damn thing just about runs out of steam before it?s even finished spreading. Ooh, but the casting delay is only 1.4 seconds, so you can spam it! You know, just like EVERY OTHER BLOODY SPELL IN THE GAME SAVE TWO. And you don?t meet too many people who use Armageddon and Hurricane.

Of course some may take issue with me at this point (if they haven?t done so already). Namely by suggesting that spells with casting delays cannot be spammed. Well, the fact of the matter is that your definition of ?spammed? with regard to this topic is simply different from my own. As far as I?m concerned, if there?s more than one of them on the screen at once, you?re spamming it.

So what?s the gist of my argument? That Fire Wall should perhaps last for around 20 seconds, but with a similar (or longer) cooldown? Yep, that?s pretty much it. Give Frozen Orb a 30 second casting delay. Triple the mana cost. Stop people from relying on a single, ultimate ability.

Now come the right-clickers to declare that this would make the game too difficult. Yet all the buffing Blizzard gave enemies wouldn?t have been necessary if they?d just made certain skills a little weaker (not to mention certain unique items). As it stands people these days are complaining about the general ?overpoweredness? of mage-type characters.  Think there?s a lesson to be learned there?

This doesn?t just apply to the mages though. The fighters are equally dreadful, assuming as they do that they should be allowed to whirlwind non-stop and have Zeal constantly assigned to left-click, all the while never running dry of mana. The game shouldn?t work this way.

I do believe that much of the problem lies with the players themselves.  Who recalls the days of unique items actually being rare and unique? I seem to recall that Diablo I possessed a rule whereby it was impossible to find more than one of any particular unique item within a single game (session). A couple of months ago while journeying through Act 2 my brother and I found two copies of Hsaru?s Iron Stay (green belt) within a five-minute period. It?s hardly the most powerful item around, but the apathetic way in which the game threw these artifacts at us was a little disappointing nonetheless.

Of course the high-level super-elite godly items remain rather difficult to acquire. But, as always, there exists a small group of people who decide ?it?s in the game, therefore I should be allowed to have it?. So they fill themselves with caffeine and play non-stop until they?ve acquired absolutely everything they desire. And they feel pretty good about themselves. And everyone else sees them, and thinks, ?hey, his gear is fantastic, why isn?t mine?? You can guess the rest.

What of synergies? Well, I do admit I?m rather a fan of them. Being forced to choose between Generalization and Specialization can be cool (and the system does its best to shy away from the concept of so-called ultimate builds). But, at the same time, this addition has forced even stronger enemies onto the game, which in turn has resulted in the game demanding even more careful placement of skill and statistic points. Where?s the Druid who specializes in melee combat, encased by protective winds and accompanied by his loyal pack and flock? Still struggling through the Den of Evil, where we left him.

I don?t expect much agreement on this issue. Too many people appear to be far too fond of their one-skill-wonders (Whirlwind Barb, Orb Sorceress, Fury Druid, that strange man with the spinning hammers, etc). I also suspect that many lack the patience for such things as ?longer casting-timers? when playing an action game. But my beliefs, fragile and silly though they may be, will live on regardless.

Because I?m the writer here, and the one with the outspoken opinion.  Therefore I?m right and you?re wrong.

Disclaimer: The Lion’s Toes was written by Leon (Robert McGrath-Kerr) 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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