Thursday, 5 May 2016

"Set Bonus"

I am continuing my trend of playing Diablo 3 for a few weeks when a new season starts. Just like with other similar games I like making a new character, leveling up, getting new stuff and playing to the point that I've accomplished the challenges the game has to offer, but I am not interested in grinding up the best possible gear and then hunting for better rolls on that gear. I'm looking for a six piece set bonus with accompanying legendaries, not a maximum intelligence roll on my ancient shoulders.

I've been critical of some of the design decisions in Diablo 3 in the past, and I've never been thrilled with the set-bonus-or-bust style they have decided to go with for the end game. It seems like they wanted to accomplish what could have been accomplished through some sort of character customization system but through other means. Instead of putting points into Arcane Orb you get a want that triples its damage.

Since the end game is focused entirely around six piece sets and they know it, for this season and the last they have given you one for free. That is, they give you one for completing three different tasks on the "Season's Journey". You get two pieces each from reaching level 70, killing Izual at level 70 on Torment II or higher, and reaching Greater Rift tier 20. Since tier 20 is between Torment III and IV, those have a clear order of difficulty. You get your two piece bonus as soon as you hit 70, have to play on Torment II to get your four piece, and have to be quite competent on Torment III to get that six piece.

This season the Witch Doctor set is Zunimassa's Haunt. So when you hit level 70 you have a fetish army that lasts forever. Given that Fetish Army is supposed to be a 20 out of every 120 second cooldown that probably helps a fair bit with your damage to make it fairly easy to get your four piece. The four piece is a survivability boost with no damage bonus so that's unfortunate, but Torment III isn't a huge hurdle, so the Fetish Army probably does the trick and you get can get your six piece.

The Demon Hunter set is the Embodiment of the Marauder. The two piece bonus allows you to have all five Demon Hunter pets out at once. That's a nice damage and survival boost that should make Torment II easy enough. The four piece bonus makes your sentries deal five times as much damage and use some of your hatred spending abilities. I imagine that two pets firing 1000%+ damage piercing bolts and tripling your spender abilities makes very short work of Torment III.

Wizards get Delsere's Magnum Opus. The two piece bonus lets you cast Slow Time more often. Hmm... well, Torment II isn't very hard anyway. The four piece bonus makes you take half damage while in your Slow Time bubble. So still no damage boost.

I had claw my way up to a tier 20 Greater Rift. I was hunting for legendaries that would give me a viable strategy. To be fair there are a large number of them. There's a belt, a couple of orbs and a few wands which each on their own is probably enough to get over that hump, but I ended up using my first 100 Death's Breaths converting rare wands to uniques just trying to find something that would let me do enough damage to win the rift. Sure, if I was frozen on a plague field in the middle of a horde of arcane enchanted minions I could live, but the rate at which I was killing things was abominably slow.

Well, I found one of the wands and cleared the rift with seven minutes to spare. What is the six piece set bonus for Delsere's? It's doing twenty times as much damage. So I went from farming on Torment II to farming on Torment VII just like that. My trickle of legendaries became a mighty river.

I can just imagine someone at Blizzard saying, "I guess there might be some way to split some of the damage bonus from this set up over the various tiers instead of putting it all as a giant multiplier at the end, but I can't see how."

Wizard isn't the only class with a problem. The difference between the interim bonuses of Witch Doctor and Demon Hunter looks staggering and the Monk set looks like an extremely mediocre damage increase at four pieces. It all fits with a philosophy entirely focused around the endiest of end games. It's not just that they don't care about levels one through 69, they don't even care about set bonuses in the two to four piece range.

Nearly all of the six piece sets provide some credible boost to damage in the two or four piece bonus. Wizards stand out as having two sets that don't. Delsere's used to make your Slow Time deal damage at the four piece, but they got rid of that in favour of absolute end-loading.

It frustrating to me because there is a reason why I only play the game when a new season comes out. It's because that's what I like to play. New characters doing new things. That's the part of the game that they don't seem to think is worth supporting at all, despite the fact that it is also part of the game that they want us to play over every few months, and, I'd wager heavily, the part of the game that most players play for most of their time with the game.

1 comment:

  1. I found playing my wizard so frustrating because the 2 and 4 piece of that set are so completely worthless.