Monday, August 20, 2012

Patch 1.0.4 - a paragon of excellence?

With a little luck, patch 1.0.4 hits tomorrow. I have to say, I haven't been so excited since Diablo 3 launched. Yes, there are the naysayers and those who've quit the game for good (hey there Loque!) but I'm sure there will also be many who are returning to sample what 1.0.4 brings. To them I say "to each his own". I don't blame you for giving up on Diablo/Blizzard. I've raged against them on many occasions. But hear me out brothers: these improvements really appeal to me. I haven't stopped playing the game completely but my interest has piqued now. Here's what I like about this great (and long in the making) patch.

Class changes
While the changes themselves are rather meh, along the lines of "this skill is under-used, let's buff its damage", I'm really glad they didn't nerf the popular ones instead, such as Poison Hydra. They could have done that, in typical Blizzard nerf-bat style but they chose the correct path of buffing the unpopular ones. Good.

Auction House changes
This is everything I was hoping for, and more. If I were to nitpick, I would also ask for tabs for the various types of transactions: sales, buys, cancellations, outbids and so on. This would bring some order to the way transactions are listed but at least we're getting a lot more detailed item information.

The Paragon system
I can already hear the naysayers decrying Blizzard's approach to the "endgame". To me this new system is very appealing. It single-handedly increases Diablo 3's longevity by orders of magnitude. Granted, it's gonna be grind-grind-grind-grind on and on and on and on, the same zones for months and years on end. But if that turns you off, maybe the whole concept of Diablo isn't for you. After all, Diablo 2's endgame consisted of endless boss runs in the never-ending quest to level 99. At least Diablo 3 has brought variety by making it more lucrative to kill random elites, rather than the same boss over and over. In addition, 1.0.4 makes trash mobs more important and increases their chance to drop rares, so they will really be worth killing.

The Paragon system gives Diablo 2 fans what they have been asking for from the beginning: a virtual "level 99". But in a way it's even better. Each Paragon level (up to 100) gives +3% Magic and Gold Find to a cap of 300% (at Paragon level 100), in addition to base stats (Str, Dex, Int, Vit). I find this great because the more you advance, the less you will rely on MF/GF gear, because the MF/GF bonus will be inherent to your character.

Eventually, after a tremendous grind, you will reach Paragon level 100. At this point you won't need any MF/GF gear at all because you will have reached the 300% cap. I'm betting that some people will be upset at this point because they can't increase their MF/GF past 300%. Well, don't worry folks because you should be able to equip the most powerful items in the game and you should absolutely dominate Inferno Act 4 with full MF. But of course, by the time people reach Paragon level 100 I'm sure they'll be playing in Act 5 or 6 of the next expansion(s).

There's one thing that I would have liked: a way to swap gear at the touch of a hotkey. It's really annoying to click-click-click-click-click-click on the MF gear I keep in my inventory, just before killing an elite or boss. But this is something that I don't think Blizzard will ever implement because it's against their precious "principles".

In conclusion, I'm pretty much stoked about what patch 1.0.4 brings. If you quit Diablo, I understand. We don't all like the same games and different things make us happy. I'm sticking to it because it gives me enough satisfaction. Now bring on the Diablo 3-bashing! I'm ready to take it!

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