The Item System—Why Stat Ranges Need Number Tweaks

So the big question is why are 99% of the items you find after a certain point utterly useless except for vendoring or salvaging? The simple fact is that the chance for an “amazing” item to drop is numerically too low. This is reflected in the many steps there are on the way to the item roll:

  • High Item Level—If it has an ilvl (item level) of 54, you’re not going to be using it, period. You really need an ilvl 61, 62, or 63 to have a chance at rolling a decent item.
  • Correct Attributes—So now you’ve got a 61, 62, or 63, and say you’re a Wizard. It just rolled Strength, Dex, +Gold/Health Globe Pickup Radius, Thorns, Life on Kill, and +Health Globe Healing Bonus. Absolutely useless. You pretty much need it to spawn some combination of goody Wizard stats, such as Intelligence, Vitality, Critical Hit Chance, Critical Hit Damage, Resist All, Armor, Increased Attack Speed, and perhaps Sockets or whatnot. Okay, suppose you did get a roll with Intelligence, Vitality, Resist All, and Sockets. Sounds great, right?
  • The Numbers—This is by far the worst step. Even if you find a high level item with the perfect stats, it could come out to have 30 Intelligence, 32 Vitality, 21 Resist All, and 1 socket.

The third step is what makes hunting items feel so worthless. For example, take a look at this ilvl 61 Shoulder piece:

Clearly Command Refuge had decent RNG for the item level, and even rolled 6 properties, assuming the int and vit bonus are together, otherwise it looks like 7. And it rolled some decent stats, like Intelligence, Vitality, Resist All, Life %, and Gold Find. Yet it’s pretty awful, and I will probably salvage it after writing this post. The numbers rolled for some of the stats are just far too low. Compare the Intelligence and Vitality roll to those on the following level 23 item:

Yeah. The level 23 item has more Intelligence and Vitality than a level 61 item with those attributes.

Let’s think about this for a moment. Why on earth should a level 61 item be able to spawn lower stats than a level 23 item? This is clearly absurd. What does Blizzard have to say about these stat ranges?

Bashiok made a cute drawing in an official post that was supposed to illustrate the overlap of stat ranges, but this drawing is wildly inaccurate, even for just providing a gist. It seems to suggest that rolls on ilvl 63 items are outright superior to those on ilvl 61 items. The rolls in fact look more like this:

Current System

(----ilvl 23----)
    (-----------ilvl 61------------)
      (-------------ilvl 62---------------)
        (----------------ilvl 63-------------------)

The problem is that high level items have absurd ranges like Intelligence spawning from 20 to 100 (or whatever the max range is). This makes it so that even if you roll a high level item with the right stats and 6 properties, you can still end up with a worthless item due to the numbers that were rolled. A sensible solution is to massively increase the lower end of the range. So instead of randomly spawning between 20 and 100 int, maybe have the item spawn instead between 60 and 100 int. This way, even if you get a bad roll, at least you got something marginally useful. Perhaps the diagram above should look more like this:

Proposed System

(----ilvl 23----)
                    (---ilvl 61----)
                          (----ilvl 62----)
                               (-----ilvl 63------)

The high end of the range would stay the same, so this change would not suddenly create new items better than those already in the game. It would, however, increase the quality of the average high-level piece of gear and drastically reduce the frequency of worthless pieces of gear.

With this change, the chance of finding an upgrade for many people would improve quite a bit, with players actually getting pieces of gear that are not plain bad. Perhaps instead of 99% of items being useless, only 96% or 95% will, and this would be sure to make a lot of players very happy.

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