March 'Tavern Talk' About Skills, Gear, and Seasons

A lively developer discussion regarding Patch 2.2.0, Season 3, and beyond

Diablo III Twitch Livestream - Tavern Talk March 2015
It's time to hear from the developers! With Season 2 nearly done, and Patch 2.2 and Season 3 on the horizon, there were a lot of Diablo III topics to discuss in the latest Tavern Talk Twitch chat. The livestream was moderated by Brandy "Nevalistis" Camel, who talked with Diablo III developers Wyatt Cheng, Travis Day, and John Yang. Areas of discussion included the new and updated Sets in patch 2.2, and tidbits about what the developers are already working on for patch 2.3 and Season 4.

Update March 25: The full YouTube VOD is now available, with the popular topics linked directly:

Here is a recap of the major areas delved into during the wide-ranging discussion, grouped by topic.

Future Patches
  • Weapon Updates in Patch 2.3 - John Yang did a lot of work on the revamped and updated Legendary items in 2.2. For patch 2.3 he will be updating more Legendary items. A special focus is on weapons, and some will get higher damage numbers while others will gain entirely new Legendary powers. Eventually all of the weapons will be reviewed and updated that way; if they aren't finished in patch 2.3 then that will continue into future patches.
  • Helltooth Set - The Helltooth set was the first thing John Yang started working on after he was done with 2.2.0; he compiled a list of ideas for that set and sent them around the office to figure out how to best revamp it.
  • Season Length - The length of Seasons is really dictated by the development schedule. Patch 2.2 includes a new set for the Barbarian, Demon Hunter, and Wizard. The next patch will have a new set each for the Witch Doctor, Crusader, and Monk. Season 4 will start when those sets and the rest of the content are ready to go in. Wyatt hopes Season 3 is longer than Season 2, and shorter than Season 1 - around 3-4 months seems good.
  • Permanent Crowd Control - Permanent crowd control should not be happening. It's on their radar, as perma-CC is currently possible and probably will be even more of a thing in 2.2 with the revamped Obsidian Ring of the Zodiac. It is on the list of things to address next, after patch 2.2.0.

Equipment and Gems
  • Could gambling be made easier to get a specific weapon? - Not currently, but maybe someday. They have talked about some sort of "super-Kadala" mechanism, where you could take a base Blue or Rare and make into a Legendary version of that item through some mechanism that's really expensive with a lot of materials. So you could focus on a specific weapon type, for example, to eventually get a Legendary weapon of that type.
  • Immortal King's Call set bonus in patch 2.2 - The new set bonus for Immortal King's is very solid. The philosophy of the Barbarian sets: prior to patch 2.2.0 the Raekor set had been the #1 set used, Leapquake was a solid build, and IK was an ok build. In patch 2.2 Wrath of the Wastes is the new star set, the new hotness. One set shouldn't always be the best. With the new IK set bonuses, you can can have Wrath of the Berserker up all the time. IK is now a very open-ended set, that can be combined with a huge number of skills; they expect the power of it to increase over time. It could get better with every patch that comes out, because of new Legendary items that will work with it
  • Could they make Aether Walker affix baseline for Teleport? - If you want that affect, you get that item. Doing that would increase the disparity in movement a lot between the classes.
  • Why are there helms in the Witch Doctor sets when everyone uses masks like Mask of Jeram, Quetzalcoatl, or Carnevil? - The problem is that there isn't enough competition for really compelling gear everywhere else. They want to make enough interesting options in other slots (such as the many rings being added in patch 2.2) that players consider using something else, instead of automatically defaulting to those Legendary masks and a Ring of Royal Grandeur every time.
  • Focus and Restraint - Focus and Restraint are some of the revamped rings in patch 2.2.0, to provide alternates to Unity, SoJ and RoRG. That ring set does more damage when you combine a generator and a spender. The rings are not for everyone, but they should be excellent for certain builds.
  • Converting Gems - No, they won't be adding gem conversion. It comes up a lot. Broken Crown helps getting certain gems. They are always looking at more ways to consume excess materials and resources.
  • Ancient Weapon Damage - Having Ancient weapons lets people upgrade weapons multiple times. So perhaps players will go from a standard Legendary weapon like The Furnace, to an Ancient non-BiS weapon, and then ultimately to the Ancient version of The Furnace. They want to see more interesting weapons in general; all Legendary weapons should have interesting effects. So that if you got an Ancient version of one you would immediately put it on, but perhaps change your playstyle to take advantage of that new Legendary power.
  • Could the Topaz gem be changed in helmet to Resource Cost Reduction? - The good solution is to just add Sapphire or some other gem someday. Changing what a current gem does is going to make someone mad. If they add a new gem, RCR is an excellent idea for it.
  • Set Power - Ideally there would be multiple sets for each class to choose from, that are close enough in power to compete within 3 Greater Rifts of each other at the high end. The sets will always have some variance. Narrow sets that are less likely to leverage future items tend to be slightly more powerful when they are added, compared to more general sets (like the revamped Immortal King's set) that can grow in power over time with supplementary items.
  • Add more craftable Legendary or Set items? - No plans currently; they'd rather put time into revamping old Legendary and Set items, like the Invoker set.
  • Rarity Equals Power - Rather than make the rarest weapons more common, they want to add really good Legendary properties on other weapons.
  • Can they make a Legendary Gem tab where they're shared, like Heirloom items in WoW? - The technology wasn't there when Legendary gems were implemented. Maybe in the future it could happen, if it's not unduly difficult.
  • On-Kill effects; doesn't the change to In-Geom show their uselessness again? - The new item In-Geom is a "win more" item; you can maintain 100% uptime with it when you overpower content.

Class Skills and Balance
  • Mobility for Witch Doctors and Demon Hunters is not equal with other classes; will you change it? - Demon Hunter is a higher mobility class, Witch Doctor is on the lower end. Not every class needs to be equal in every way. They wanted to make Spirit Walk go faster, but the skill is already used so much, so they want to look at other ways for that. Maybe Soul Harvest increasing movement would be good.
  • Trials are a pain; maybe give multiple Trial keys at once? They can go farther than that. They don't have anything to announce, but the Trials are seen as a sore point that they want to change in the future. They don't want to just give a drop-down where the player picks a Greater Rift difficulty to enter; they saw with the old Monster Power system, that players often get into difficulties that are really too hard for them to have fun playing.
  • Wizard Resource - why can't they spam spenders like other classes? - Ideally, every class's resource should matter. Even with switching between skills, Wizards should still be competitive and comparable, and should have an enjoyable play experience. The new Tal Rasha's set is trying to push Meteor as a really expensive spell that does a ton of damage, along with the new BlizzCon ring. They are interested in seeing how that plays out. There are items which let you spam specific spenders; they'll be making more of them for other skills. They want to make every spender usable, if not necessarily spammable.
  • Spirit Walk needs help - Spirit Walk was nerfed in the immunity changes for patch 2.2.0. If Jade Doctors log in and are a little bit weaker in survivability after patch 2.2.0, they'll work on and fix that. Immunity shouldn't be all of a character's survivability; other options like the defensive Legendary gems help with that.
  • Monks Played - Monks went from being one of the lesser played classes, to played the most by far in Season 2.
  • Wizard as a buff class - The new Wizard set is focused on Slow Time, and can be very helpful in supporting the group.
  • Unstable Anomaly for Wizards; unlike all the other cheat death passives, it doesn't have an immunity or heal - That's good feedback, they might change it in the future. They never wanted to have the cheat death passives all be the same, but maybe it's not worth keeping them different if the player experience is worse and they feel mandatory for high Greater Rifts or hardcore mode.
  • Sweep Attack - Holy Shock is not Holy element - They'll take a look at it.

Seasons, Leaderboards and Rifts
  • Replacing Trials - The developers are trying to emphasize personal progression, and personal advancement. One good example is the new change in patch 2.2 where players can increase their Blood Shard cap. When the developers think about replacing Trials, they think about that sort of thing.
  • Pylons in Greater Rifts - They're in a better place than they used to be, although the Speed pylon could still use some adjustments. From a strictly hyper-competitive environment Pylons wouldn't be there. Ultimately, in Diablo III PVE will always have precedence over any sort of PVP. Players don't only try a Greater Rift one or two times; devs want a highly replayable game where you run a lot of Rifts, and those differences even out. The difference is so small it's not a huge problem.
  • Why was Sever changed mid-Season? - Sever was nerfed with a hotfix mid-season because it was doing massive damage unconnected to the base power of the gear used. The developers don't tune around the leaderboards. In the future when something comes up, it'll be looked at on a case by case basis, hopefully they won't have to change mid-Season again like that. The resistance to change something mid-Season went up on the developer team after that issue; they now would likely not change that in the middle of the Season, but just accelerate the next patch to fix the issue after the Season is over.
  • Increase drop rates in Seasons? - How much do you incentivize Seasons? They are still experimenting in that. Over half of the players took part in Season 2. A new set is generally not Season-only, but very powerful Legendary items are often made Season-only. There are more cosmetic rewards in Season 3 to encourage playing there. The Season 3 pennant is kind of an anniversary pennant, for one year of Reaper of Souls and three years of Diablo III.
  • Leaderboard Rankings at the End of Season? - It would put a much stronger magnifying glass on the top of the Leaderboards, which they don't want to encourage.

  • Microtransactions - The previously discussed microtransactions are for new regions only: none are planned for the US, EU, Korea, or Taiwan. In those new regions, they will sell wings, pennants, pets, character slots, stash space, and three boosts. Diablo players in general have have asked for cosmetic options, like leaving firey footprints. They have no plans to sell boosts in any of the existing regions; Blizzard as a company does not want a pay to win situation. The stance against pay to win is for all regions. Even in the new region where the microtransactions will go in place, they're tuning the new Platinum currency so a player can earn enough of it to keep the experience and other boosts on all the time, by playing around 1 hour a day. Players who only play like 30 minutes a week and want all the boosts will need to pay for them, but in those regions the game is mainly free to play.
  • Cursed Realms - It was datamined, it's nothing that they're talking about. There are a lot of things dataminded that aren't actually put into the game.
  • Area Damage - On the backlog is to make Area Damage better; it might have to move from where it is in Paragon Points at that time.
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