Thursday, May 31, 2012

Diablo 3 is too easy

While making my way through the acts and difficulties of Diablo 3, all the way to Inferno, I kept getting these nagging thoughts that maybe the game is too easy. Easy compared to what, you might ask? To Diablo 2, of course, I would reply.

Let me elaborate. In Diablo 2, moving from Normal to Nightmare automatically lowered your resistances by 50. Going from Nightmare to Hell lowered them even further, by 100. Diablo 2's systems were different than Diablo 3's. Resistances were measured in percentages and the maximum you could have was 75%. In certain cases (with unique gear) you could even go over that. At 75 resistance you were a very happy camper. Monsters that dealt elemental damage barely scratched you.

But 75% resistance in Normal suddenly became only 25% resistance in Hell. While that was still better than nothing, it dramatically lowered your survivability. Equipment upgrades mitigated this to an extent but in most cases you never managed to find enough good gear to fill that gap.

And then you moved into Hell where resistances dropped by another 50%. Sometimes you found yourself with negative resistances. This actually meant that you took more damage than the monster dealt. For example, if a monster did 100 lightning damage and you didn't have any lightning resist gear on Hell, you actually took 200 damage from that attack. Ouch?

In Diablo 3, in contrast, I only started worrying about resistances after I finished Hell, when I stepped into Inferno. Up until then, I found Nightmare and Hell challenging enough, but not as much as I remembered from the days of Diablo 2.

There's a big difference between D3 and D2 though. D3 has an Auction House. The game can be made trivial to a large extent by purchasing upgrades from the AH. Gear leading up to Inferno can be had for very low amounts of gold and you'd be crazy (or a masochist) not to make use of this advantage.

If you look at the statistics released by Blizzard, very few people have unlocked Inferno. This means one of several things: either people have become bored after Normal and quit the game, or the game is difficult enough for most players, or most players are taking their sweet time leveling through it.

Personally I don't know what to think. On one hand I do believe that the AH can make the game easy but I wouldn't want to live in a world without it. On the other hand, each difficulty has steep slopes that can be a very solid barrier unless you have the right gear. Inferno is the hardest of all because good gear suddenly becomes very expensive, as in "millions of gold expensive".

In time I believe that even this final barrier of entry will drop lower thanks to more and more people unlocking and farming Inferno. It's inevitable. Will more people start complaining that Diablo 3 is too easy then? What about you? Do you think D3 is too easy?

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