Not entirely dissimilar from how Diablo 2 evolved over time (remember how the skill trees were vastly changed to have pointless skills buff others?), Diablo 3 continues to go through a metamorphosis of sorts as Blizzard looks for more ways to keep players interested for the long haul.
The next step for Blizzard is the introduction of their new Paragon System for Diablo 3, which releases with patch 1.0.4 today (read the full patch notes here). The developers at Blizzard were faced with the dubious task of improving a game that, despite it’s tremendous popularity out of the gate, has reached a staleness factor rather quickly with many of the hardcore gamers who have maxed out the leveling process of all characters.
Essentially, Blizzard had to correct two major issues: Magic Find and level 60 rewards. For Magic Find, Blizzard needed to find a way to make this system feel less like work and generally more fun. Gear swapping is a laborious task for many of the gamers, Blizzard discovered, and they needed to find a better way to handle players seeking to maximize their damage while also providing decent Magic Find – which leads to the second issue of level 60 rewards, where progress invariably stopped, and it became a gold-sink to repair weapons and kill monsters without any relative compensation.
According to Blizzard, the new Paragon system fixes both issues. Upon reaching level 60 with a character, any further experience earned from killing monsters will now count towards Paragon levels – 100 levels in all. Each time players reach a new Paragon level, their core stats like Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence, and Vitality will increase similarly to what players would expect to find from a “normal” level increase. Also, players will receive a 3% bonus to both Magic and Gold Find.
Also, a new distinctive border will now surround the character’s portrait who has achieved additional levels of Paragon success, with a new frame for every ten levels. These aesthetic and vanity-based improvements to a player’s character will be visible to other players wherever the normal level is shown.
Some may be asking, “why the need for the change?” Blizzard ultimately wants to move away from having Magic Find bonuses on items themselves, but they didn’t want to get rid of the feature at once because it would imbalance the game.
“We wanted to find a solution that was not only very forgiving of gear swapping, but one that would ultimately help us slowly and gently move Magic Find off of items in the future. It’s such an intrinsically important stat to the core purpose of playing the game that tying it to gear — which is a customization system in many ways — is ultimately an approach that would continue to cause problems. We need to transition away from it, and do so in a way that doesn’t flip the entire game end-over-end.”
Ultimately, the question has to be asked: “will this make Diablo 3 more fun?” Players already know that Diablo 3 takes less skill than its predecessor, but let’s be honest: Diablo 2 survived for a decade because it was fun to play. Players don’t want to play a game where they feel like it’s a job rather than an escape. Will the Paragon system help that?
Call me a skeptic, but I still do not see how this system makes the game more fun to play. Of course, it addresses a major issue with gear-swapping and Magic Find (ultimately), but players will not burn through the paragon levels very quickly at all. Until quite a few levels are gained to make it worthwhile for players to abandon their Magic Find gear in favor of equipping damage-dealing gear 100% of the time, the problem will not go away.
I applaud Blizzard for continually looking at their project for ways to improve it, but at this point I believe Diablo 3 is what it is: a decent-but-flawed game that probably will never live up to is predecessor. The next update however, may address the game’s level of difficulty so we’ll see what happens.
Ranters, what do you think about the Paragon system?
Diablo 3 is currently available for PC and Mac.
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