What is the thinking behind changes to Legendary items? Will they be retroactively changed to fix problems with the item?

    Wyatt Cheng

    Wyatt posted in the Monk forum to explain the process they go through when deciding how to handle changes, but the idea is to try and make items “feel permanent” and not make changes unless it’s deemed absolutely necessary.

    Adding improved competing items without making changes to the problem Legendaries appears to be how the team want to handle any changes. Here’s Wyatt Cheng on Retroactive Diablo 3 Legendary Item Changes.

    Will the new changes to legendary affixes be retroactive? E.g. Madstone, Leoric’s Crown, Vigilante Belt. Would this apply retroactively to items that have had their affixes modified? (Thinking Flow of Eternity).

    We try to avoid retroactive changes on items as much as possible. First and foremost, there needs to be a compelling reason for us to make an item change retroactive, because in an ideal situation, items should have a sense of permanence. As part of that permanence, we want to avoid creating an environment where players feel they need to hold on to a Legendary forever in hopes it gets buffed or changed in your favor.

    There’s a lot of philosophy that goes into when we make these decisions. First, we try to determine if the issue we’re trying to solve can be done without changing the item. For example, say there’s a problem with a Legendary. There’s a few ways we can address that without messing with the item itself. Maybe the skill an item relies on is weak, maybe the skill merits a buff. We could also introduce a new Legendary item that offers a cool interaction or synergy with the “weak” one, and makes it better.

    Even in cases where an item is “too strong,” we first ask ourselves if it’s possible to introduce other, comparably strong items to compete with it and create choice. Stone of Jordan is a great example. It’s a very strong item, but rather than nerfing it, we’ve chosen to introduce other, equally powerful rings as alternatives.

    Ultimately there are 3 situations that have come up to date that warranted a retroactive item change:

    Situation 1. There might be a case where a mechanic is simply not something we want and no future Legendaries or skill adjustments will alleviate the problem. Those are the cases in which we make a retroactive decision. While we don’t like to nerf things, it was clear to the majority of the community that DiabloWikiThe Furnace and DiabloWikiRimeheart were causing problems and it is better for the overall health of the game.

    Situation 2. We have retroactively buffed set bonuses. The sets play a pivotal role in the overall power level of each class. If we introduce a new version of a single item such as DiabloWikiDepth Diggers, we can do so without many side effects. In the case of altering a set bonus, trying to maintain set items with different set bonuses is impossible. If we made a new version of the set it raises questions of how the items mix-and match, confusion over the names and if the set effect is the same but with larger numbers it becomes just plain confusing. Do not expect us to do this type of retroactive change much in the future, our focus as a development team will be on bringing new Legendary items and new Set items to the game.

    Situation 3. In the case of the 2-handed change we made the buff retroactive because we didn’t want an entire class (Crusaders) to log in and feel substantially weaker due to the corresponding adjustment to Heavenly Strength. If we hadn’t also been tweaking that passive, we probably wouldn’t have made the increase to 2-Handed weapons retroactive. We try our best to avoid situations where a class logs in after a patch and feels substantially less powerful. In this case we had to choose between trying to avoid retroactive changes and ensuring a class doesn’t feel substantially weaker and we upheld the latter.

    You shouldn’t expect retroactive changes from us frequently, if at all. We really want items to feel permanent, and for players to feel free to salvage/vendor items without fear of regret.

    The last is a good point, as retroactive item changes work both ways. If players are expecting current gear to get a buff, then we’ll be afraid to sell or salvage anything, just in case it’s improved. (And imagine the players complaining that item X needs a buff, just since they’ve got it in their stash.)

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