Travis Day continued his forum visit day with a post about “build-changing” legendary items. This is a core issue we’ve had a lot of debate about — check out Azzure’s critical post on “build changing” items from Gamescom for a refresher — and Travis seizes the proverbial bull by the horns in this long forum post.

    Serpent Sparker from Gamescom.

    Serpent Sparker from Gamescom.

    So first I want to touch on the Serpent’s Sparker really quick. The item that people saw screen shots of at Gamescon was not a final version of the item, that item was changed to be “Allows you to have 1 additional Hydra active”.

    One of the most important things about expansion legendary effects is that, as much as possible, they are designed to change how players interact with the game. That could mean they make a skill you don’t currently use something you want to use, you interact with the environment in a different way, you interact with monsters in a different way etc. An example of this is one of the legendaries we added recently gives players a speed boost every time they destroy something (barrels, barriers, etc) suddenly you find yourself wanting to break random crates you may have ignored previously.

    Click through for the rest of his lengthy post, and commentary on the larger issue.

    Jawbreaker was another example people saw at Gamescon, it makes your Dashing Strike free when you hit a target more than 25 yards away. When people get their hands on the new and improved version of Dashing Strike I suspect they will appreciate how awesome that effect is 😉

    There will also be some items that exist just because they are cool. For example The Cow King’s Halberd is one that I made just because I wanted to make something that captured a really cool element from D2. It deal’s lightning damage (and yes elemental damage types have effects associated with them now) because it’s a nod to the Cow King himself and also has a chance to summon a herd of murderous cows to fight with you. That effect isn’t really changing any gameplay… but cmon it’s just awesome!

    There is still a tremendous amount of work from now til the expansion releases and we are still coming up with and implementing awesome ideas on a daily basis. Given the philosophy point I listed above I would love to hear what kind of cool things you guys would like to see. Things that change your gameplay, big or small, and class agnostic things are the best. For example “Knockback skills now deal more damage and knock targets back further”. That is an effect that opens up build possibilities for more than one class and gets people thinking about how a single item can change the way you interact with the game or what skills you want to use.

    You see the picture of Serpent Sparker from the Gamescom presentation above, and the line Travis refers to reads, “Chance to summon a hydra at the enemy’s feet.” So they changed that to “Allows you to have 1 additional Hydra active”. To be honest, I don’t see how that makes it any more build-changing.

    Okay, it (at best) doubles your damage from Hydra, and I guess it’s more controllable, but I actually liked the idea of Hydras springing up from corpses more than this. For one thing, you could have used the old version without having Hydra on your toolbar, and made it function a lot like the Barb’s whirlwinds; kill enemies with whatever you like and count on a few Hydras popping up at the end to clean up the trash mobs as your Wizard dashes off to the next pack.

    We debated single-skill items on the last podcast, and this one seems a good example of the pros and cons of the feature. So this wand is now mandatory if you want to use Hydras with your Wizard, and useless otherwise. What if instead of just double Hydra, this wand doubled the frequency of all Wizard spells? So you could cast double Meteors as well as Hydras, for instance. That would seem like a more viable and useful item to me.

    What say you?

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