Nearly every serious complaint about something in Diablo 3, when you think about it, seems to come originally from how gear-wise hard Inferno is compared to the rest of the game. Inferno difficulty itself was a massive design decision, and no one anticipated all the consequences. After reading this post, you should find that either the concept of Inferno was a mistake, or large changes need to make the game more fun in Inferno for many players. Let us take a look at a wide variety of complaints, some serious, some silly, and see how they all stem from the very existence of Inferno.
1. “Items Suck.”/”I Can’t Find Any Upgrades Without the Auction House.”
While this statement is technically false, as it is always possible for the very next item you find to be your best in slot, it is very improbable, and would be akin to drawing two royal flushes in a row, winning the lottery, and being struck by lightning, all in the same day. But as I covered in an earlier rant, the chance to find an upgrade on your own is actually pretty high when you start Inferno since all of your gear is relatively bad. When you buy even a few 100k items on the Auction House, however, you lower the chances of finding an upgrade on your own to near zero. Thus people become frustrated that they can’t find any gear on their own and thus can’t progress without spending gold or money.
The frustration for the average player basically boils down to the following steps:
- Inferno is super gear-wise hard.
- Yet, Inferno drops the best items, so in order to obtain the best items (the goal of the game), players must play Inferno.
- When they first step into Inferno, they are killed by zombies in the first quest.
- They play Hell Act 4 a bit more to hope to find some upgrades. Meanwhile, a select few had cheesed their way through Inferno (pre-nerf Serenity, Smoke Screen, Force Armor) and were obtaining some of the best items.
- The player sees that other people are in Inferno, and thinks that they should be in Inferno as well (i.e., entitlement), so they buy some gear on the Auction House.
- They clear Act 1 but then are obliterated in Act 2.
- With all they have left, they buy as much gear as they can to step into Act 2, as they feel entitled to clear it. At this point, the average player has run out of gold.
- Whether they can clear Act 2 or not, they just know that Acts 3 and 4 loom beyond the horizon, and they know they will not have enough gold to purchase items to clear Acts 3 and 4 without large amounts of farming.
- Frustration sets in.
Note that this is different than how Normal, Nightmare, and Hell worked. Since those difficulties did not require absurdly high gear levels to play through, the player never feels the need to go back and farm. For the first three difficulties, the steps looked more like this:
- Clear Act 1.
- Clear Act 2.
- Clear Act 3.
- Clear Act 4.
- Go to next difficulty.
Thus, if Inferno didn’t exist or were much easier, nobody would be complaining about not being able to find upgrades. They would not have been compelled to buy gear on the Auction House, and thus would not have spoiled their own chances of finding an upgrade.
Think about this. Imagine, for example, that Nightmare was so hard that you pretty much needed best in slot Normal mode gear to start it, and was only playable for the average player with Nightmare level gear. Of course, the best players will have used skill or exploits to get into Nightmare and start putting up Nightmare gear on the Auction House. When the average person gets into Nightmare, they get destroyed, so they can either farm Normal or buy powerful Nightmare gear. Then they would complain that they can’t find any upgrades in Nightmare just because mathematically, they already purchased items that are better than 99% of drops.
The above is exactly what happens in Inferno. The seeming inability to find upgrades only comes as a result of already possessing powerful gear, namely from the Auction House. In reality, you find plenty of upgrades in Nightmare, because you were never compelled to buy gear before entering it. So if Inferno were much easier, people wouldn’t buy gear from the Auction House in the first place, which means they have a much higher chance of finding upgrades for themselves. Thus, the frustration arising from this popular complaint is, at its roots, due to the difficulty of Inferno.
2. “Classes Are So Imbalanced.”
Class balance is only an issue because people get stuck at some point in Inferno. Since they know that people using other classes have gotten farther than they have, they accuse the other classes of being overpowered.
In the Beta, which had a level cap of 13 and only allowed up to the Skeleton King on Normal mode, nobody complained about class balance. Sure, there were many good threads containing concerns about scaling and viability later in the game, but as far as 1-13 was concerned, nobody cared about class balance because every class could easily clear it.
Even in Nightmare and Hell, class balance is a nonexistent issue. But when it comes to Inferno, every slight difference between the classes becomes exacerbated. Demon Hunters, with the ability to do a lot more damage than the other classes with equal levels of gear, allowed them to glass cannon their way through content that was otherwise impossible. This wouldn’t have been an issue if everyone could get through it with similar ease.
3. “Inferno Is Too Hard/Gear Dependent.”
Well I think this originates from the high gear-wise difficulty of Inferno.
4. “How Could Blizzard Nerf IAS?”
This is a delicate issue so bear with me. If Inferno did not exist or was much easier, nowhere near as many people would have complained. With a hard Inferno, the IAS stat felt like a necessity for many people. So it would be as if part of your house or car got downgraded. Of course people would complain in this case.
But if Inferno were super easy, IAS would merely have been a commodity stat, so it would be as if your favorite pillow is only half as fluffy. You still have a fluffy pillow.
5. “Enrage Timers Are Terrible.”
I think they are indeed terrible. But again, if Inferno did not exist or were much easier, literally nobody would run into an enrage timer, so this problem would already have been solved.
6. “Hitboxes Are Super Messed Up”
The problem is actually that standard melee attacks, once they have their animation started, will always land. This would not have been an issue if the game were easy. In the Beta, nobody raged about long-range melee attacks, because even if you got hit a couple times by such attacks, you were still at 90% health. But in current Inferno, if you don’t have enough Resist All, you can be outright one-shotted by most melee mobs in the later acts. This makes kiting on ranged characters very luck-based, for if an enemy even gets close to you and starts the swing animation, you’re dead. I am not saying that the hitbox system should stay as it is; I am simply saying that it is only a major complaint because of high damage in Inferno.
7. “Fix Magic Find Gear Swapping.”
This is really the only gameplay issue that I could come up with that is not based on Inferno, as swapping was existent in Diablo 2. Yet I do not consider it to be a major complaint.
8. “Why Do Potions Have Long Cooldowns.”
Again, would not be brought up if Inferno were nonexistent or easy.
9. “The Repair Costs Are Too High.”
Wouldn’t be an issue if Inferno were nonexistent or easy.
10. “Invulnerable Minions/[Insert Affix Here] Need To Go Away”
Only an issue because there is a hard Inferno.
So Was Inferno The Right Decision?
Since most of the issues I’ve listed are caused by and/or greatly exacerbated by the existence of Inferno, the question is whether Inferno is good for the game or not. Obviously it is too much of a commitment for Blizzard to actually remove, and too many people have spent long amounts of time on Inferno. So it would be pointless to try to actually get rid of Inferno. Instead, we have to focus our efforts on changing the high-level design of Inferno to soften or totally resolve the common complaints.
The way I see it, there is a large disconnect between the level of 99% of items that exist, and the level of Inferno. Even with gear in the 98th percentile, you will stand no chance in Acts 2/3/4 Inferno. You pretty much need gear in the top 1% of drops to even survive, and top 0.01% to be able to have fun with exotic builds.
So the solution is either:
- Buff item drops and/or quality, or
- Nerf difficulty of Inferno.
Implementing one of these changes will resolve 9 of the 10 complaints above.
It will even have some effect on the magic find swapping complaint, as melee would be able to the swap much more effectively than before, so there is less of a gap between melee and ranged in swapping.