August 2nd, 2012
Author: Kyle Campbell
Blizzard's latest RPG, Diablo 3, has many persistent progression systems installed into the game, which drive replayability on multiple difficulties and classes. Tiers exist for different abilities, skills, armor & weapons crafting, gem crafting, legendary loot system that scales to your level, difficulty, randomly generated elite enemies, and the level, class, and difficulty.
But even with all of these systems that incentivize the player to grind on, many, including Blizzard themselves admit that end-game Diablo 3 (Inferno difficulty), is lacking. The basis of Diablo 3’s replayability is reduced to grinding gold to buy the best items on the Auction House to power through Inferno with a made-to-order set of armor, weapons, and enchantments rather than looting it.
Diablo 3's armor, weapon, and gem crafting systems are straightforward and convenient, considering they transfer from one character to another. So, you won't have to worry about spending all of your tomes and pages on upgrading the artisans for other characters and you can use leftover tomes and pages to craft the items for other characters. A recent patch made the game "easier" by reducing the costs of the crafting and increasing the frequency of better loot more a few percentage points, to ease the transition of a new player to the rather difficult series.
Without question, the leveling and skill tree progression are an integral part of any RPG but again, this is only a one-time run-through. Once you max out your character at level 60, you have your pickings of all of your character's skills, abilities, and runes. Additionally, there are four difficulties, culminating in Inferno, a formidable challenge for even the most competent RPG players. But, once again, you can only run through all of the difficulties once, usually maxing out your character somewhere near the end of Nightmare/start of Hell difficulty.
Without question, the crux of the replayability of Diablo 3 is all in the looting system. Legendary, Rare, Magical, and Normal weapons all have names that overlap, but an overlap in stats or enchantments is less likely since every item is randomly generated. The idea is that you keep playing the last Act of Inferno, where you have the best chances of getting the best equipment and items.
But the loot system isn't quite up to snuff and a lot of players struggle to find further replayability in a game where they can simply buy the best gear with cash or in-game gold. This is mainly due to the institution of the in-game auction house where players can exchange in-game items for in-game currency, gold, or actual, real-world currency. This new feature defeats the drive of replayability to a large extent.
Bashiok, Community Manager for Blizzard, divulged their plans to address the issue, including as of yet undisclosed patches that "get them [the players] excited about playing [again]." Bashiok admits that these band-aid patches won't fix the end-game design problem itself, but more robust progression systems are a ways away, considering they're working on patch 1.1 as well, which will add PvP arenas to the PvE RPG.
Diablo 3 is a fun game. Period. But if you're not a hardcore Diablo 3 player, it can be difficult to keep up with everybody else or find the time to get your loot yourself, especially since bargain prices on mid-tier max level gear aren't uncommon even in the gold (in-game) based auction house.