A new expansion is on the horizon for Diablo 3. I haven't played the game for a year but I logged on Wednesday night for 90 minutes or so to see how things have changed. The most obvious change is that gear costs absolutely nothing to buy. I was able to upgrade my damage by 10% by spending only 100,000 gold which is about 3% of my total. (My total net worth of 3,000,000 is pretty trivial even then.) If I wanted to I am sure I could blow all of my money and double my damage at least but because the level cap is going up to 70 and all current gear looks likely to be invalidated I certainly shouldn't do that. Blizzard has made it clear that they are doing a WOW style gear reset so optimizing current equipment is wasteful at best.
Of course they are adding a bunch of new abilities, buffing weak abilities to make them useful, including new content, adding in a new craftswoman, and bringing in tons of new gear. All of that is going to be hugely subject to change though so what I am focusing on is the changeover to Loot 2.0. The major focus seems to be on minimizing the effect of the Auction Hall on gearing. Many items will be bound to the account that found them and gear will actually choose stats that favour the class that it dropped for. Not only that but people can reroll gear to some extent to tailor it. Clearly they intend for people who never really wanted to master the AH to be able to gear up more effectively. Equally clearly an AH mogul will be able to gear out better than someone who is broke but hopefully the delta will be significantly smaller.
This is an excellent set of changes. I am never going to play Diablo 3 enough to be one of the folks with top end gear but I do like the idea that playing the game is actually a reasonable and competitive way to gear up instead of being a complete joke compared to just using the AH. There is another small tweak that should help this situation too - the first kill of a boss will drop a guaranteed legendary item at all times. New players will then be able to gather up a bunch of legendaries to get started which will give them a leg up on the hardcore veterans. They also claim that legendaries will all be unique and special to the extent that they define builds - I am skeptical but even if they try to make this happen it seems like a good thing.
I don't know that I will ever get past the wretched plot (The boss appears out of nowhere to mock you and then vanishes again. Could you break immersion more please?) of the original game but basically everything I have seen looks excellent. They even have a Random mode where you fight in a randomly generated dungeon against random monsters doing loot runs which seems awesome to me. If they manage to just implement everything they have talked about in a vaguely reasonable manner I think I will be convinced to buy and play this expansion an awful lot.