Diablo 3: Loot 2.0

Diablo 3 had a mixed reception on its arrival. For every bit of praise heaped on its horned head for its action-packed, artistically sharp romp of a game was counterbalanced with angry criticism. Long term fans deplored the low difficulty and the real money auction house, not to mention the obligatory online connection.

Two years later, it’s all about to change.

Loot 2.0, a re-vamp of the game ahead of the Reaper of Souls expansion coming out next month, has just launched.

Based partly on the way the loot system was rewritten for the console release and partly from listening carefully to fan feedback, Blizzard are determined to give the game a new shot of life. Their aim is to make it as long-lasting and well-loved as Diablo 2 was.

What’s New?

There, that thing in the middle - my first Legendary. Within five minutes of playing, too, which feels suspiciously fast. Coindence? Or something more sinister?

There, that thing in the middle – my first Legendary. Within five minutes of playing, too, which feels suspiciously fast. Coindence? Or something more sinister?

The auction houses are gone, first off. Diablo is a game about causing monsters to explode, then making off with the amazing weapons, gems, and gold that drop unexpectedly from them instead of entrails. The auction houses were generally thought to be reducing that primary joy of the game. You wanted a better sword? Well, you could probably buy something amazing in less time than it took to click on enough random bad guys to get one.

Not any more. The new loot system has more unique qualities for your armour and weapons, new recipies for the crafters, and more legendary items to try and find. And they’ll be more relevant to your character, with stat bonuses tied to the primary abilities of the character you’re playing with. And they drop thicker and faster than ever before.

Hard Enough For You?

A frequent criticism of the original release was that the difficulty ramped up very slowly. Long-time players rarely felt challenged until playing through on the hardest settings, and that took a fair grind to unlock.

Now, there’s a selection of four difficulties open from the get-go. You can scale it back whenever you want to, or scale it up simply by starting a fresh session of your campaign. If you want to get murdered quicker, harder and faster than ever before, well, why wait?

Monsters in the game are also scaled to your character’s level, so the tougher you are, the tougher your opponents get. Previously, monsters were set to a certain level of monstrousness based on which chapter and overall difficulty setting you played at. Now, even the early episodes of the Tristram campaign should prove an appropriate challenge for top-end characters.

At that top end, the Paragon system has been reworked. You’ll keep progressing after level 60 (70 in the expansion), gaining incremental new rewards to customise your abilities with.

Offline Off?

All welcome news so far. My biggest complaint about the game was the necessity to be always online to play it. Is that being taken out at long last?

No, the Devs are pretty clear about the fact that Diablo was always intended to require a constant online connection. There’s good intentions behind it, saying they wanted it to be an easily-shared potentially multiplayer experience. So much for those of us who aren’t interested in that style of gaming, I suppose, but equally it keeps the game cheat- and pirate-proof.

It does still leave the game open to stuttering and lag. It’s rarely a problem, but it still can hurt a game. Particularly if you play on Hardcore, where losing a level 60 character to a slow connection can sting. But I’m not bitter. *sobs*

A pre-level 60 shot. But she looked ridiculous by then, some kind of pink tiki mask and a live snake. Probably for the best she's dead, really.

A pre-level 60 shot. But she looked ridiculous by then, some kind of pink tiki mask and a live snake. Probably for the best she’s dead, really.

Incoming

All this is part of the buzz Blizzard want out there ahead of the expansion, of course. And there are new play styles and content coming, a new character class in the Crusader not least, which can only add to the longevity of the game.

When I reviewed it a while back, I enjoyed it very much despite the rocky launch and the necessity for online play. But it did get tired and repetitive much faster than the last iteration did.

Playing with the new Loot system, I certainly found myself having fun again. In the first hour, I found three Legendary items, three times the number I’d found in all my time playing the original game. And I could crank the difficulty to a place where it felt just challenging enough to be fun. New monster abilities, a few re-worked boss encounters – it all seemed to the good, and it bodes well for the expansion.

But I also felt the careful tugging of my attention towards that pricey item, with various adverts for pre-order bonuses and many excited news tags about new features.

Stop Hammer Time. Now, before it's too late.

Stop Hammer Time. Now, before it’s too late.

The big question can’t be answered yet, of course. Is the expansion worth the price? I’d expect it to be a great add-on; Blizzard’s work is always polished and entertaining. But you pay top dollar for that pedigree, of course. If you’re still playing Diablo 3, you’ll be glad of the new content. If you enjoyed it on release and got tired, well, might be worth a look or might be more of the same.

For now, Loot 2.0 certainly improved my game. For a full change log detailing every last little tweak, head over to Blizzard’s list here.

the author

Used to be a Doctor (Dr). Now is an actor (Ar), writer (Wr) and gamer (Gr), and would like to get all these abbreviations into general usage, because GrArWr is a much more interesting title to have on your bank card.

  • http://www.manapool.co.uk/ Evil Tactician

    I’ve never been overly impressed with the art style or the direction Diablo III took. With competitors on the market which offer a more accessible, bite-sized and much cheaper alternative – I’m not sure Diablo III ever lived up to its full potential. I think Blizzard missed a trick with the game and should have taken a lesson or two from some of the game mechanics that were implemented in say, Torchlight 2 or Path of Exile.

    • KrakenWakes

      Well, Path of Exile is free, which gives it a big value for money tick in my book. But it’s also slower and duller, and whilst the skill tree is huge, it’s also kind of confusing and drab. I liked the skill gems thing, though, that was good.

      Torchlight 2 – also much better value for money, but the same downside as far as I’m concerned. And I prefer Diablo’s cartoony graphics to Torchlight’s, they’re at once crisper and gloomier.

      Loot 2.0 has improved Diablo III a lot, you might find it worth a second go, but it is much more expensive for a game that isn’t enormously better than those other two.

      • http://www.manapool.co.uk/ Evil Tactician

        I think you hit the nail on the head there, the value proposition of Diablo III is just nowhere near where it should be.

        • KrakenWakes

          It’s on half price offer at the moment, until the release of the expansion, which helps the value rather!

          • Lachrymosity

            I have to say, I’ve never been very interested in Diablo, but that newest trailer for the expansion is sick. I love my cloaked, sickle-wielding characters.

          • KrakenWakes

            Aye, Blizzard never disappoint on a good cinematic! Nothing to do with the gameplay, of course. It actually is great fun now, I’d recommend it now despite the online and Battlenet stuff.

          • http://www.manapool.co.uk/ Evil Tactician

            Interesting. Pity about the whole battle.net thing though – I try to stick to Steam as much as possible as I tend to completely forget about games I have on other platforms :-/ I’m getting old, I think.