Tuesday, June 5, 2012

D3 Inferno tuning

Blizzard has stated that they intend on addressing balance in Inferno difficulty.  In particular they talked about how damage in Inferno was supposed to be a drain on your health and how mitigating that drain was a really important point.  They want to reduce damage spikiness in Inferno in the coming patch.

What exactly do they mean by *spikiness*?

Everything in later Inferno 1 shots me on my Witch Doctor aside from weak aoe attacks like Electrified bolts, a tick or two of Desecration or junk mob melee attacks.  Generally those things that don't 1 shot me kill me in 2 hits instead though so there is virtually no forgiveness.  The thing is though that there is no spikiness anywhere.  *Everything* hits that hard.  I would describe damage as spiky if I was able to take lots of hits from monsters but occasionally be 1 shotted by a particular effect - that effect is probably out of line.  In this case though the damage isn't spiky, it is just really, really high.

Another issue is the way in which various classes deal with damage.  On my Witch Doctor I have 20% damage reduction and a ton of Int which means I take about 30% less damage than a similarly geared Demon Hunter.  The WD still gets 1 shotted regularly though and that is even with him stacking defensive stats really, really hard.  It isn't even possible for my DH to stack enough defenses to live through a hit because I would need to gear like the WD, overcome a 30%!!! deficit and then *still* get 1 shotted.  Given that I do what everyone else does which is gear purely for offense and accept that I die to any hit that lands.  It is no problem to progress through the game under the assumption that any hit kills me and gearing to survive multiple hits in a row is effectively impossible so everybody plays a pure glass cannon.  This is exacerbated by the fact that the DH gets a lot of Dodge from stacking Dex so I already avoid many attacks flat out.  My best strategy is to kill the enemies before I run out of room to kite or cooldowns to hit.

I am not complaining about Inferno being too hard.  In fact I think it is good that it is hard and it is entirely possible for everyone to progress through it with a lot of farming - you might well think that the amount of farming is too high but time is the only barrier.  Note that melee have it much worse than ranged in terms of gear requirements and I don't like that much but I don't see a good way around it either.  There has always been a huge problem balancing melee and ranged in twitch games and D3 is no exception.

There are some real problems in the game that I hope are addressed in the next patch.  I have not played a Monk or Wizard yet so I will mostly leave those alone but I have high level characters of the other three classes and there are some things that need looking at.

Witch Doctor:  Mana is a disaster.  If the WD had much better base regen they could actually use their spells in some way that made sense.  Zombie Bears would be horribly overpowered if they could be spammed without using Vision Quest though so they would likely need a nerf.  Pets aren't particularly functional either because they just die instantly to any monster.  Making them nearly invincible introduces all kinds of other problems but I have a potential solution:  Remove the cooldowns on the pets.  They would die constantly but they could be brought back if the WD is willing to spend the time and mana to do so.  This would mean that a summoner could maintain a packs of dorks but there would be a real cost to doing so - I would imagine that is a much better situation then now where they are a wasted slot on your bar.

Demon Hunter:  Nether Tentacles is absurdly overpowered.  It does outrageous damage in both AOE and single target settings, far more damage than anything any other class has available.  It needs a punishing nerf and the most likely way to do so is to give it the AOE damage penalty that other similar skills like Ball Lightning have.  At that point it would be comparable to other classes' abilities.  This single ability is mostly responsible for DH damage being so much higher than anyone else's.

Barbarian:  Rage is not working right.  The rage spenders are simply so underwhelming in comparison to the generators that it is far better to never spend rage aside from 2 minute cooldowns.  The passive that gives you 25% more damage when at max rage cements this in place.  To my mind using that passive should be a niche choice, something people do when they choose not to use rage for some strange reason - a way to make up for avoiding rage spenders.  When the standard and optimal build for the class is to completely ignore the resource the class uses something is wrong.

There are of course lots of other less pressing issues.  Every class has tons of abilities that are hopelessly bad but I don't know how pressing that is as long as two main things hold:  First, that every class feels right and people's intuitive ideas about how they should work are mechanically supported.  Barbarians should spend rage, WD should be able to cast their spells, and WD pets should be functional.  Second there should be a variety of ways to build a top tier character.  There are bad ways to build a character (Angry Chicken!) but as long as there are a number of good ways I will enjoy trying them all out and people will have fun arguing over which is best.


  1. I don't think it is possible to play just with farming. Unless by farming you mean earning cash and converting that cash into loot that drops in content you can't fight.

    Sure, it's probably theoretically possible for loot I could use to drop in hell. But the time investment needed to have it happen isn't something you can count on. It's a lot like if I were to claim I didn't need to go to work because I was just going to buy lottery tickets every week. I could win a million bucks! But that doesn't mean I will win a million bucks and it certainly doesn't mean I should build my life around winning a million bucks.

  2. Yeah, just farming up your own gear is brutal. They really built the game around playing with friends and sharing loot and/or using the AH regularly. Obviously if you really don't want to you can just salvage your drops and keep crafting whatever slot you need most over and over and eventually you will get good gear but it is by no means quick.

    I absolutely do think you can just slug it out without interacting with anyone in higher tier content if you want though. I get really nice drops all the time in a1 - yesterday I got an amulet worth maybe 2M gold off of warden. It had 4 good mods on it so it wasn't even remotely close to the maximum but I could sell it and buy a ton of loot that drops from a1 that was itemized well for me. Buying higher tier weapons is amazing for powering through fast but they aren't required and armor with good mod sets drops in a1.

  3. You can find reasonable stuff in A1, but you've bought/farmed gear from beyond A1 that allows you to kill at a high speed with a lot of MF. Someone who is a fresh level 60 wizard doesn't have those luxuries. I honestly can't imagine a fresh 60 wizard ever farming the gear to kill Butcher, let alone Belial, on their own.

  4. I think it's a question of how you see the game. Maybe they actually meant farming in Hell to play inferno to be something you do for a month or two.

    Of course this was part of the mistake of making inferno difficulty in general. They wanted to make endgame content but what they ended up doing was making just another difficulty. In the end it will be no different from Hell in D2.

    If they want endgame content then they need to add is an infinite level dungeon with huge random maps and scary random boss enemies, so something else that is distinctly different and that clearly isn't just winning the game.

    I find it really hard to understand how you could play getting oneshotted by everything. Ranged attacks hit you when you are a full body-length away from them, how do you avoid them? How do melee classes avoid getting hit? It doesn't really make sense to me.

    That being said with the current state of the game it's hard to imagine it being hard without monsters killing you in one or two hits. As a wizard I have defensive abilities that are so powerful that if I can survive for three seconds or so then the enemies have very little chance against me.

    Also, something I've been meaning to ask - does Mass Confusion work on Inferno? When my enchantress charms a guy he usually one shots other enemies.

  5. Mass confusion does work but it has very little effect on champs / uniques so it has limited use. It sure works against dorks but the ones that aren't charmed rush you so the charmed ones often have trouble landing attacks. I found it to be a reasonable spell but not at all overpowered since the thing that matters is fighting champs and it is ok but nothing special at that.

    Melee classes stack vitality and resistance, have 30% base resistance and take powerful defensive passives or use abilities that give substantial healing or damage reduction. Demon hunters have none of those so they die to every attack. I can live through a tick or two of desecration / plagued and a few electricity ticks but any direct attack outright kills me. It isn't so bad. I do die but I massacre the enemies so quickly and have so much speed and invincibility that I don't die that much.

    I completely agree that they should have left Hell difficulty as it is and simply had an endless dungeon or side zones with ludicrous mobs for the endgame. If it was something where players could 'finish' the story and then have bizarre goals to work towards people would have been a lot happier than they are with inferno as it is.

  6. Yeah, imagine instead of "I can't play in A2 inferno" the complain was "I can't play in level 10 of the endless dungeon."