Wizard Power – FOTM?

There can be no debate on the sheer power of the Wizard class in the current evolutionary stage of Diablo 3 Reaper of Souls.  She has finesse, survivability, power, tons of builds, awesome itemization, and can deal massive damage.  NERF!  NERF! I hear you cry, you look on bitterly from the shadows as the Wizard carries the party to yet another victory…

Is this true?  Well, stay a while and listen.

I was never “a Wizard” kind of guy when D3 launched, even in Diablo 2, I was a reluctant Wizard for farming bosses quickly.  As I sit now, I have 1.5M Damage and 7M toughness on my live softcore Wizard, not too shabby.  I discovered I love the D3 Wizard, primarily as the most effective vehicle for delivering massive damage, fairly good mobility, and mid-range survivability.  It was in essence, the whole package.  Streamers, forum goers, and YouTube creators alike are giving the Wizard lots of air time, and there is no doubt she is powerful, but how powerful?  After playing my Demon Hunter, my favorite class, on launch in D3 vanilla, I was led to frustration and boredom at her ineptness.  During the D3 beta phases, I found her fun, but still lacking, and finally, at D3 launch she was my first to 70, and was…lacking.  There is a strong sense that the Demon Hunter needs 3x the power to deliver the same room clearing ability as a comparably built Wizard, or even Witch Doctor.  While that is not entirely true, the feeling is there in the early levels.  Wizard, on the other hand, is an early game class, newbie friendly, advanced player friendly, and full of awesome.  Demon Hunter is really not so friendly to learn with, and is certainly and end game class, in my humble opinion.

The Wizard is helped along with no shortage of amazing set items, and game changing legendary items.  ”Cindercoat,” “Mage fist,” “frsotburn,” “Vyrs,” “Tal Rasha’s,” to name a few, offer insane build options when paired with the right passives, weapons, and skills.  Sure, other classes have awesome builds and gear too, but much less talked about.  The combination of a strong fire build, with 60%-70% bonus fire damage from said items is compelling for anyone.  The Wizard also has really fun elusive items, like the “Wand of Woh,” and super powered legendary item with a truly fun game changing effect (you should have seen what it did in F&F beta lol).

The Wizard is also designed really well from a passives and skills points of view.  With the ability to clearly design around key elements, players can easily manipulate the build for the desired effect, chill them, freeze them, stun them, burn them, more damage less crowd control, more control, less damage etc.  It is clear that there are lots of awesome builds.  So what is it that makes the Wizard Flavor of the Month, or the “most powerful class?”

A couple of other issues feed into the Wizard myth.  First, Crusaders are lack luster by comparison.  They just are.  Demon Hunters take much more effort and gear to get the same result, Barbarians are well, yea, and Shaman are arising in power but still behind, with Monks somewhere mid-pack.  A few power tweaks to the Crusader, and some builds options not nerfed into oblivion (thorns) would have de-focused the Wizard more.  As it stands the Wizard is a great showcase class, and loved by the community so much so, that she is talked about everyday.  Much of thew Wizard hype is based in self-fulfilling prophecy, meaning, hype feeds hype, until the new hype comes along.  This is the way of things in gaming.

Bottom line, is Wizard the most powerful class today?  Answer, no.  Is Wizard the most accessible, easy to gear, early game powerhouse, with clearly defined build variants?  Answer, yes.  For this and the reasons above, the Wizard myth is blowing up today.  Just watch though, in due time another myth will take her place, yes we are looking at you Witch Doctor.  Stay classy Nephalim.

Cheers 0/

Image Source: Diablo 3 Wallpapers Official

D3RoS Launch Roundup

Barely even two weeks ago, Diablo 3 Reaper of Souls launched to a world in waiting, with palpable anticipation, angst, and giggling like little girls a plenty, it finally arrived.  Never has Death been made to feel so welcome by the living, and so we ushered in the second age of Diablo 3, to much fanfare.  Was it worth all the hullabaloo?  Only you can really be the judge of that, but for me and mine, it rocked the world.

D3 has had its share of rocky starts, but more and more, the core of the criticism is based on the game’s alarming popularity.  We see it across many genres now, the more popular the game the stronger the trolls sent out to linger and wait for an innocent forum dweller to wander by, the more vocal the zealots and their cry of “the end is nigh.”  Even the hipster hacker kids get in on the act with DDOS attempts and general maliciousness.  All the while, the players, the ones in the game, saving the world from Malthael’s morbid intent, they are the Nephalim growing in real power, wading in treasures, and slaying hordes of demon scum.

To be fair, there are some criticisms to be levied at the game, and I expect the D3 team to take them fair and square on the chin.    There is no shame in imperfection in a modern game, there is only shame in hiding from the reality and not road mapping with that in mind.  The D3 team have indeed done what was seemingly impossible, they have taken a deeply flawed game, that was not fun, and have gutted it, rebuilt it, improved it, and delivered it to us in a beautiful package.  The team should be proud.  They even played with and on ladders, revealing the juicy goodness that yes, ladders are coming in the form of Diablo 3 Seasons.

The absence of competitive PvE was the last bastion of the trolls and naysayers, and the Diablo team have trebuchets loaded and the walls of that debate squarely in their targets.  It is an exciting time to be a Diablo 3 player and a great time to be a Blizzard fan.  What about those criticisms we spoke of, hmm yes, let’s go there for a moment.  Crusader’s are well, slow to be loved by many.  Their design seems at odds with their playstyle, and the mid-range fighter with surprising mobility struggles to come into his or her own on the battlefield.  One of the curiosities and at the same time awesome aspects of the game design, is that with the same exact damage numbers on the paperdoll each class performs vastly differently.  This is as it should be, but it can be misleading for those who love complete conformity in character shared stats that relate to power.  The Crusader struggles with resource generation, and is hindered in a situation that without impressive gear, he is handicapped against the hordes of hell, and the pace is slow and plodding.  Surprisingly, he is left out of the “tanky” 30% damage reduction that the Barbarian and Monk get, which makes no sense, as the Crusader is most often found in the heart of the battle surrounded by enemies, and generally a bit worse for wear as a result.

The Crusader is not beyond saving, and his leveling experience once out of the lower 20 levels is beast mode and crazy fun.  When he gets up into Torment 1 and beyond, he falls to pieces as a competitive class.  Where the design team fall down, if we can say such a thing straight faced, is in the idea that players are looking for the most efficient route to acquire the most powerful items.  This is gamer nature.  All things being equal, a gamer will take the fastest path to loot, so what is a poor designer to do.   The goal is to generally muddy the water of class choice by making each class as consistently efficient as another class, therefore ensuring a player can choose any path and be sure of relative equality in efficient loot hunting.  Sadly, I believe this is somewhat flawed design.  The whole point of class choice is to create differences, to make each class unique and fun in it’s own way.  This core goal of class design is handicapped by the need for relative equality in power and pace.  The answer is to design some classes who rock at one set of things, and other classes with different core strengths.  This has to be supported by play modes and styles.  A classic example is the role of tank in a party.  Give a Crusader or Barbarian core power around group tanking and find ways to reward that play in the same pace as a damage focused glass cannon Wizard can attain power.  In essence, give classes a way to play that defines who they are and the fantasy they aim to fulfill, and then design game modes that reward that as a solo or group player.  Easier said that done no doubt, but the right approach.

Overall, anyone coming to Diablo 3 Reaper of Souls after a break from vanilla are going to be pleasantly surprised.  The game is still and ARPG, it will still get grindy in places and will still lose some of its initial fervor in the coming months.  That being said, the team will wisely release seasons and other much needed features just in time to abate the coming tide of aggravation from the playerbase.  Tie in to that a Blizzcon and an inevitable Diablo 3 third expansion that will no doubt silence the class naysayers, and well, I think you have something quite special.

See you in Sanctuary Nephalim.

Cheers 0/

Image source: Official Diablo 3

Heroes of the Storm goes into Technical Alpha

Hail and welcome everyone!  Great news today, the Heroes of the Storm team have announced that the game is now entering Technical Alpha.  What is a technical alpha you may ask, well the team have a solid answer to that and much more for you, consistent with their excellent community interaction so far.  Heroes is a much anticipated title that has MOBA fans excited, curious, skeptical, and irritated, depending on who you ask.  One thing is for certain, the game will garner a ton of attention, and you can be sure it will be a ton of fun.

Technical Alpha is largely about infrastructure and tech testing, as the name suggests, and as such, is limited in scope of those invited, and limited to the USA.  Over time, we can expect to see inboxes everywhere light up with invites to the expected upcoming alpha/beta stages.  It will be great to finally see some hands on and organic gameplay, and for the Heroes team to use that feedback to get the game into a state they are happy with.

As with all things alpha/beta, keep in mind the game will be in an unfinished state, it will have bugs, missing features, broken skills, placeholder artwork etc.  Take it all with a grain of salt, as it is certain, things will change before release.  Do enjoy the process and seeing the game grow, and share constructive feedback.  Overall, stay cool and classy.

Congratulations to the Heroes team, and we wish them every success in the months ahead.

Cheers 0/

Source: Heroes of the Storm Official

Why players hate. Diablo 3 Sells 15 Million Copies

Some people might be surprised to know that the original Diablo 3 title has now sold over 15 million copies across all of its platforms.  The game gets a heavy dose of criticism, some even dropped by your’s truly.  We know about 10 million copies went out over initial release, but we also know this 15 million does not include the Reaper of Souls pre-order numbers.  It seems entirely likely that the Diablo 3 title could have a massive lifetime sales number in the years ahead.

So why does a game that has blown away the numbers so well, get such hate and criticism from the very players who earned it these accolades?   It often feels like some kind of Pandora’s Box to see the forums, the YouTube videos, the tweets, and more complaining about the nature of the design, the loot, monsters, graphics, sound, you name it, it is bashed pretty hard.  I can imagine it must be difficult for the development team to hear the useful feedback from the noise.  That all being said, there is much validity to the cry’s of the players.  A good example, Nephalem Rifts, are deeply underwhelming, and are as of today, the only form of “end game” available.  The development team seem fixated on lengthening the progression curve for legendary and set item gains, and are hiding much of that progress behind artificial currency grinds, such as Blood Shards and Rift Key Shards.  It would have been much more compelling and exciting for players to know that certain Rift bosses have a loot table for set items/legendary items, and that in farming random Rifts they can build up the gear they need to craft builds.  This kind of logic seems lost on the Diablo 3 team, who are forcing players to explore random game elements, in the hopes of finding random loot, with a random chance of building random sets.  Way too much random.  Players need a level of control.  When we cried foul that Kadala the Blood Shard merchant was giving out waaaay too many legendary items, the response was to nerf her into oblivion.  What of “measured responses?”

I laugh, because here we are bashing this game, again, in the thread about it selling 15 million copies – how does this happen?  I believe the Diablo 3 community are one of the most impassioned gaming communities around.  They represent a sub-section of gamers that played the original Diablo I and Diablo II, which defined a genre and changed gaming forever.  When you love something so fiercely you tend to expect greater things from it, you demand more, and you are disappointed more easily.  Players take a deeper ownership in games that have defined sections of their gaming life historically, such as growing up with late weekend gaming binges of mad Diablo II loot runs.  It defined some of our gaming experiences, and we look back longingly on the nostalgia.

Those times have come and gone, and we are presented with a new incarnation of the dream, and often we find that in the face of perfect nostalgia, that new incarnation will be blasphemous, it will rile us, and engender our cynicism and ire.  There is a thin line in allowing that passion to cross over into spite and hate, to become toxic and unproductive.  I hope we as players, with a deep passion for this game and the world it created, can step back and see the flowers among the weeds, and appreciate the new creation for all of it’s “badassery” and awesomeness.  The game is fun, there is no doubt, and the often touted chant among gamer’s today: “vote with your wallet,” does indeed reveal the reality that Diablo 3 is a raging success, and we can expect great things, and more of them, in the years ahead.  For the developers, we hope that the same success from the first 15 million copies does not close their mind to new ideas, to criticism, and to exploring the best ways to at least try and appease the nostalgia demons, for in Sanctuary, we are all Nephalem.

Cheers 0/

Source: IGN Report

Image Source: Diablo 3 Official

World of Warcraft Secrets Revealed

One of the most compelling and rumor generating aspects of almost any game comes from the “secrets” and “facts” that are shared between players about the statistics of the game.  You have not lived until you have spent some of your time in World of Warcraft “Vanilla Barrens” chat.  Likewise, the forums, Reddit, and guild chat run amok from “dev news heard on the grapevine” and “leaked information.”  Blizzard have finally stepped in to answer some of these burning questions and reveal their own “secrets,” in the form of an awesome Official infographic from the World of Warcraft team.  The funny thing is, I predict the infographic itself will spawn more rumors than ever before.  Check it out and see if your rumor is squashed or your secret revealed.

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Story and Image Source: Official World of Warcraft news

Diablo 3 Reaper of Souls – Changes to the Bounty Reward System

As development of Diablo 3 steams ahead towards the March 25th 2014 release date, changes have come pretty quickly to the game PTR and Closed Beta this past week.  After major changes to drop rates, and hotfixes to everything from monster difficulty to Rift rewards, CM Nevalistis updated the Official Forums with information about changes to the Bounty system.

The changes essentially accomplish the following:

  • Remove split farming
  • Decrease the multiplayer bonus range to 100 yards
  • No longer awards any bounty completion reward to players not in the vicinity of its completion

These are simple but far reaching changes to the game.  Split farming was the process of joining a full group, but having each player go to a different Act to begin finishing all the Bounty rewards.  In doing so, players maximized the number of blood shards, which were shared to each player, rift keys, and Horadric Cache rewards.  It essentially ruined the grouping system, as no groups wanted players who were not speed farming Bounty rewards.  It created a horrible and “un-fun,” grinding play experience that had to go.  Gladly, it has gone, and Bounty mode should be more enjoyable for everyone.

The Bounty system will likely see a few more changes as we head into release, but this change is certainly welcome, at least by those of us looking forward to enjoying the game, and not the grind.

Cheers 0/

Image Source: Official Beta Site

Blue Post: Official Blue Post

Diablo 3 Reaper of Souls – Double Drop Rates Live

Great News for Diablo 3 players!  The High heavens have handed down a great blessing to all Nephalim in the fight against the hordes of Hell and Malthael’s army.  The Legendary drop rates have been doubled -hooray!  With these new items of great power, Nephalim will once again feel the rush of progression in the endless battle – we hope.

Some of the new changes that went live via hotfix in addition to the drop rates change are:

  • Legendary drop rates from monsters have been doubled.
  • Legendary drop rates from Kadala have been decreased.
  • Rift Guardians now drop Blood Shards and have a chance to drop Forgotten Souls for level 61+ players.
  • Monster damage has been increased across all levels.

You can read all about the changes to the PTR and Beta Clients on the Official Diablo 3 Forums

Cheers 0/