Blizzard continues to fundamentally not understand itemization


Diabloii.Net Member
Hey guys, Azzure here. Long time no see!

After a long hiatus, I decided to log in and play some D3 ROS. I just wanted to write a brief post about my opinion on how Diablo 3 itemization has landed, given my
previous write-ups on D3 and itemization from D3 vanilla release up until all items became account-bound and trading was eliminated.

In short - I am horrified at what the D3 team have done to itemization in a Diablo game.

There are 3 main areas where I think the D3 team have massacred itemization:

1) The 'all leg/set items are equal but different' approach:

This one is a doozy. Blizzard's approach to legendary and set items is basically this - legendary and set items are generally mathematically balanced (aside
from stat ranges) but items are generally much better than others for certain build types. While I understand this came from a desire to make itemization feel strategic and meaningful
dependent on your build,
it has translated to the destruction of fundamental fun Diablo itemization. Having an item that directly contributes to a build by a massive amount is neither creative nor strategic;
it's an oversimplification of what should be a complex and deep game system that requires the player to make interesting and permanant choices. It is lazy design and contributes to the lack of replayability that has cursed Diablo 3 from the beginning.
When this system is combined with non-permanancy in character skills in Diablo 3, it becomes a game of dress-up Barbie. Dress your Barbie with the right outfit for the social occassion (aka build), and go kill some monsters until you get bored (which is usually very quickly).

Gone is the desire of hunting for powerful items that will meaningfully and permanantly shape the way your character plays. Because you can always change your build and re-dress your barbie with
the wardrobe of items that directly benefit that build, and all items are virtually just as powerful as any others.

2) No trading or economy

This one is quite self explanatory. What's the point of playing the game if you can't build up wealth and use that wealth to better your character? It takes away one
of the most fundamental aspects of a Diablo item system - building and accomplishing things. There is a reason why Diablo 2 was so popular on and not
so popular in single player. And that is a feeling of purpose and building up your possessions. In Diablo 3, you are always accompanied by a sense that everything you are doing, from farming to gathering gold, is
ultimately pointless because you are in a closed system of just your own character. D2 had incredible popularity and long gaming tenures because people felt like they were achieving something by building
up their wealth and farming for powerful items. This is further demonstrated by people's willingness to do extremely monotonous activities like Meph runs, pindleskin, baal runs etc. Imagine how
incredible that feeling of accumulating wealth and items was that gave so many people the incentive of farming something as boring as mephisto for 8 hours a day for a year and still come out
having a load of fun. Diablo 3 has tried dressing up the gameplay with adventure modes, rifts etc where D2 didn't need to do anything because the item system alone was good enough to make players
want to play. So to Blizzard I say this: dress up D3 as much as you want, you're still going to see your player-base drop off incredibly quickly after you slap lipstick on the pig (via patches, expansions etc).

3) The slot machine effect and (lack of) enjoyment of possessing good items

This is related to the above points. Diablo 3 lacks that feeling of excitement that D2 had when it comes to items dropping. I put this down to a number of factors which
contribute to the overall nature of a poorly designed item system paired with no economy / closed system. It is also exacerbated by all legendary items basically
being equal in power and rarity. In D2, some items were clearly more powerful than others (and extremely rare) and this created a kind of lottery/slot machine feeling that felt extremely
exciting. D3 completely lacks this feeling due to the points above. I am incredulous of how Blizzard thought that mish-mashing every single level 70 legendary item to have
the same power budget was a good idea. This goes against basic principles of human phsyhcology and negates any desire to farm for more powerful items.

All in all, the Diablo 3 team continues to make enormous errors when dealing with itemization and fundamentally do not understand what made D2 successful. While some changes were a step in the right direction (legendary affixes can be fun),
it undoes itself by framing it around a series of terrible choices such as making itemization a closed system and removing the collective economy. This results in players
quite quickly getting that feeling of not accomplishing anything. You are in essence playing to make your character stronger, so you can get more items to make your character stronger, and so
goes the cycle. While most games end up in a cycle such as this, Diablo 2 was not one of them.


Clan Officer - US East Hardcore
Well Said and the S is going to hit the fan next week when they release the underwhelming Necro pack...