Toughness is Useless at Higher Greater Rifts?

A fan on the EU forums brought up the issue of Toughness meaning nothing in higher Greater Rifts, and after a few replies brought up Pylons as a massive difference maker in Grifts, a Blue jumped in and exacta-quoted another Blue post by Grimiku from last week. This one, about randomness in the game and how it can be too much sometimes, ala Conduit shrines making or breaking Grift record runs.

I’m not going to quote the whole Blue again, even with a different author, but I thought the OP’s initial point deserved some

discussion. The issue has come up recently on the podcast and in other conversations I’ve seen — the fact that Toughness becomes largely irrelevant past about Grift 40. The reason is that Monster damage is so high at that point that almost anything nasty, including common and all-but-undodgeable Elite Modifiers like Jailer or Thunderstorm, will one-shot most characters. This causes players to push all their gear bonuses to the offensive side of the scale, and strongly impacts which classes/builds are the most viable.

And the toughness scaling issue is part of the reason that melee characters are at such a big disadvantage on higher Grifts, and why Hardcore characters, the best of whom can clear GR 30 about as fast as Softcore characters, are almost unseen past GR35.

A few weeks ago we posted a video showing a 150k HPS Wizard with under 3 million Toughness beating GR38 (in softcore, obviously). That seemed crazy at the time, but in retrospect… he had the right strategy, he was just utilizing it 5 or 6 GRifts too soon. Playing with radically too little toughness is a novelty below GR40, but above that level it’s pretty much the law of the land.

So what do you guys think? Does the ever-scaling difficulty of GRifts mean they’ll always be dominated by ranged characters? How could the game, or toughness, be changed to even things out? Better passives or gear bonuses for the tank classe? Lowered monster melee damage? Boosting the 30% melee char damage reduction up to 50%… or higher? Or just introduce 2 new ranged chars in the next expansion and say to hell with balance past GR35?

Tagged As: | Categories: Blue Posts, Greater Rifts


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  1. The solution is pretty simple: stop making all Greater Rifts a time trial. So long as that's the case, toughness will generally be worthless.

    When you open a GR, maybe sometimes it's a time trial. Or maybe sometimes it's a thing where taking damage moves the "timer" bar, so your goal is to avoid damage taken while killing things. Or maybe other times it's some other challenge, like having to kill a specific monster on a floor before all the other monsters become killable. And so on. Just because the current system is stupid and about damage doesn't mean that you can't make Toughness relevant by just making the system about something else.

    • I think the solution is indeed simple, but it goes against what Greater Rifts stand for. The cause of the "problem" is infinite scaling. The solution is adding a max GR level, where defensive stats would still be meaningful.

      However, infinite scaling is the core principle behind GRs and while we have it eventually we'll always reach a point where Toughness will become meaningless. This is inevitaBULL. I'm sure the power creep in the following expansion will push us up the GR ladder, but that doesn't change the fact that any defensive stat that isn't a CC effect will become futile after a certain point.

      I think the current system is fine as it is, although maybe enemy scaling could be adjusted in a way, that offense and defense would become futile at about the same GR level.

    • The whole point of GRs is that they are time trails, though. That players have to combine killing power with survival to beat them. If they didn't have a timer they'd just be Torment 7+ (with LG upgrades). I think the game should have higher Torment levels to give players a way to earn more items/exp and find challenge outside of Grifts, but I like that GRs are a different style of faster paced play, at least in theory.

      As someone said further down, and as we talked about on the LGem podcast some weeks ago, a glaring issue is the lack of really powerful LGems for melee or defensive bonuses. All the best ones add damage, and work best for ranged chars or AoE attacks.

      If there were 2 or 3 gems that gave really great defensive bonuses, akin to the double Unity mitigation, but only procing when in melee combat (for instance), they could be big difference makers. (Except that if they only boosted survival and not killing power, they'd still not really help in GRs, due to the time trial nature.)

  2. Grifts are supposed to be an endless dungeon, so there’s naturally going to be a point where players hit a wall. Although I do think there should be other ways to increase difficulty rather than more hp and more damage endlessly. Introducing new elite affixes specific to Grifts, increasing movement and/or attack speed, start giving trash mobs an elite affix after a certain level. Just a few off the top of my head.

    • PoE sort of has that system with maps where the maps have affixes which will influence all monsters inside the map or even the geography of the map (like shocking ground for example). I like that concept and would not be averse to D3 having something similar.

  3. A few things that might help:

    1) Adjust the scaling curve for diamonds in armor slots so top-level ones give 100+ AllRes each. The ranged/damage-avoidance classes don't use them at high GRift levels, so this would be mainly a buff for melee.
    2) Add a new defensive LeGem or two that are worth using for melee classes. Or fix Moratorium so its mitigation % scales with level. Same reasoning as above.
    3) If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Give every class an invulnerability / cheat death skill that can be made permanent with the right gear and build(s).

  4. You plant an apple seed you get an apple tree. How surprising. This is the end result of a developers choice of what success is for a player in general and specifically rifts. Success is speed not survivabilty or toughness. The end game demands certain things and the players are forced to give it at in my opinion to the detriment of the game. But of course it is a game with no standard so fun is what the developer decides and then we find out if the public agrees.

  5. I think the penalty for dying is not enought. If you get -30% movement speed or -1 min from time remaining you will defenetly want to keep alive and here comes the defence.

    • I think it's penalty enough having to walk all the way back from where you were at point of death.

      I have 3 diamonds sockets currently but thinking to swap them out with emeralds. Probably using a Unity already would make those diamonds moot in higher GR levels.

  6. I think the scaling is fine the way it is and GR's should scale up infinitely, even for hardcore.

    The balance between ranged and melee needs to change I agree, but how, I'm not sure.

    I do love the idea of more varied difficulty however, with more modifiers/abilities, and trash abilities.

  7. The problem isn’t that toughness isn’t relevant; the problem is that some affixes can’t be countered with skill. One improvement they could make is give Jailer a warning period so there’s a way to avoid getting jailed by moving out of the way or whatever.

  8. cap the damage based on how much armor/allres you have. The ones that still go all out damage can still do so, as it will be the same as now. The ones that have more armor/allres will live longer, at the cost of dealing damage. This capping the damage will also make armor/allres still relevant at high GR levels, since it’s capped.

  9. The defensive stats are rather useless. I watched a group 40. Someone got one Frozen bomb cast under them. In the time they spent on it (not much) they lost around 90%. Get hit by auto damage, move immediately, still almost die.

    That player did actually die a few minutes later. He cast a spell, enemy turned on reflect damage, proc. Enemy cast frozen, proc from auto damage, firebird's lands on bomb, bomb instantly explodes, deeds. (the listed damage on the bomb? Just over 1 million)

    Yes, being a group, he lacked the one item mandatory for HC – Unity, as that at least prevents you from auto losing to the trivial attacks (such as reflect damage, and a bit of auto damage from frozen).

    Infinite damage scaling being what it is though that'd have only delayed the problem by a few levels.

    Fortunately those aren't actually meaningful content right now, so even though they're hopelessly broken they don't actually affect the metagame.

  10. At the beginning, I though death = GR failure was good. Reading the comments and having done some GR, I think that valuing toughness is better done with a death = loss of x time. Then, all primary affixes are useful for agar: speed for speed, toughness to avoid death and attack for killing speed. To find the amount of penalty is tricky but can be computed from the average toughness gain from defense affixes, average attack gain from offense affixes and the fact that monster damage scales less than monster health (which is to my mind a wrong design which makes offense more valuable than defense).

  11. I actually think you're right about rifts above 35 – that is screw it. You're kind of not supposed to be there? Level 25 is supposed to be T6. I think of level 35 as a bunch of lvl 70 characters taking down a swarm of lvl 85 mobs. Sure when you scale those lvl 85 mobs up to 93 then I guess there's a balance issue on the defensive end? But that's an edge case. That's kind of why we scale infinitely – so we can see that. But it's not bad. The system works up until that point.

  12. I am ok with death = rift failure. This would even out the melee characters a bit, as it will make the ranged characters gear a little more defensively to go high in rifts. The elite affixes need a rebalancing, too.

    Jailer, Frozen need to get rid of instant damage. There are a multitude of elite affixes that make you move (desecrator (which doesn't hurt at all), plagued, thunderstorm, lightning orbs) and none of them include a cc. Jailer and frozen are cc's that act exactly like all of those other affixes, you have to instantly move or you die. There is no difference between frozen and thunderstorm in terms of how the player approaches avoiding it. Frozen is harder just because there are quite a few more of them and they take longer to run out of. Plagued and desecrator do to little damage to be feared by the player.

    In addition, there should be a better way of leveling gems so you actually are striving to get to higher rifts. Upgrading gems should happen when you pass rifts. Right now you run a lvl 20-25 rift 15 straight times when you are leveling 3 new gems. That is really dumb. Striving to go high in rifts and passing should be the way gems level up, and they should level up from 1-easily complete the same rift, or to rift completed minus 5 or something.

    I guess I wanted to complain about the current system, lol.

    • Past Blue Posts about the instant damage from jailer/waller, and the danger from ranged attacks like thunderstorm and mortal is that they are meant to put range chars into danger, so they can't just stand back and ignore frozen, molten, arcane, plagued, etc, all of which chew up melee chars.

      So removing or nerfing the few that actually imperil ranged chars would just increase the ranged > melee imbalance?

      Maybe more divergence in effect to the benefit of melee chars: Reduce damage from arcane, poison explosion, etc, give more spread to frozen and poison, and make the ranged Elite Mods like jailer and tstorm not hit at all within 20 or 25 yards, kind of how Mortar is supposed to work.

      This would never happen since it seems like a nerf to ranged rather than a buff to melee, but I guess it depends on whether the devs think character power disparity is an issue to fix or not.

  13. My thoughts about it: Why is both monster damage and monster health scaled up? Whouldn’t it be enough for monster’s health to scale up after a certain point and NOT their damage? Wouldn’t that solve some of the problems with jailer one-shots?
    I could definitly see that the monster damage would scale up as it is today up to about GR35 but then almost stop scaling – only a small small increase in damage after each level…

    • Also some more 'Vortex' and lower timeout on 'Warp' would help against ranged characters without giving problems for the Melee ones.

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