Upcoming Diablo 3 Patch To Add Alternate Leveling System, Overhauled Legendary Items, Balanced Classes
Updated Features, Fresh Design
Diablo III's attempt to balance MMO features with its classic gameplay created mixed expectations that the game has had trouble satisfying. The game wasn't designed for the sort of constant content updates that Blizzard sinks into World of Warcraft, but players were hitting Lvl 60, discovering that the game, at that point, is nothing but a Magic Find-driven loot hunt, and quitting. Blizzard hopes to lure such players back with a new, alternate leveling system. Once characters hit Lvl 60, they start over -- as Paragons. There are 100 Paragon levels in total.
Paragon characters get a custum border
Paragons will earn experience and core attribute bonuses, as well as 3% Magic/Gold Find per Paragon Level. This last is designed to dampen the prevalence of "gear-swapping." Currently, players will fight monsters in normal gear until they're all-but dead, than quickly switch to gear with a high Magic/Gold Find. This increases the chance of finding rare and powerful items. Now, MF/GF percentages will top out at 300% -- an additional bonus that Lvl 100 Paragons will earn 'naturally.' Blizzard states that this will "help us slowly and gently move Magic Find off of items in the future."
Legendary items in Diablo III are also receiving a much-needed overhaul. To date, Legendaries -- Uniques were the Diablo II equivalents -- offered too few core abilities and powers to be considered all that legendary. Scaling was also terrible; Legendary items were often far less powerful than common rares and AH purchases. Starting with 1.04, that's going to change. Legendaries will still have variable stats, but some core abilities will make them stand out. They're also getting a much-needed boost to core stats to help them stand toe-to-toe with regular mob drops.
Multiple character classes are also getting a balance overhaul. There's too much detail to go into the specifics here, but the bottom line is that Blizzard is pursuing the same sort of policy that it's used for years with World of Warcraft. Instead of nerfing abilities currently seen as "too good", the focus is on making other abilities better. This improves overall play balance by giving characters more freedom and opening the door to different playstyles rather than hammering mathematical standouts (and fun) into the ground.
Whether these changes will be enough to bring players back is an open question; Diablo III might benefit from the sort of semi-regular 'episodic' content that Valve once promised with Half Life 2. These changes, however, are a great step in the right direction -- and we're excited to see if they breath fresh life into a title that had tremendous potential.