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Diablo 3 Build Diversity Issues

Posted 2 Jul 2013 by

Diablo 3 Build Diversity and support for variants is a common issue of debate in the Diablo 3 community. Though recent patches have done quite a bit to buff up underused skills, most players would still like to see more variety and more “viable” styles of play.

Game punishes you for being different.

Sure not all the skills can be equal but if you don’t pick exactly the cookie cutter build of the moment you simply suffer in terms of performance. In what universe do you have a skill that does 1000% damage (Cloud of Bats) for 66 mana and not expect every single WD to jump on it?

I’m sick of trying to have a different kind of build, im sick of being punished for not wanting the same build as everyone else. Build diversity is joke in this game.
Grimiku: Thank you for your feedback! Build diversity is a big topic, and something we’re always interested in hearing about. I think there will always be a build that yields the highest performance, but the question is about the variance. Do you feel that there are no builds even close to the Cloud of Bats build(s)?

Before we address the larger issue, it’s instructive to consider those quaint things called um… facts. Through the beauty of stat sites such as our own Diablo3Ladders.com, you can quickly see exactly how popular each skill is. Thus do I learn that Firebats: Cloud of Bats is the 14th most popular WD skill, with a burn rate of 15.6% (Zombie Bears is #1, and 250% more popular.) That’s in softcore, though. For HC Witch Doctors, Cloud of Bats is only #22, with 5.7% usage. (Since it’s a short range attack, making it hazardous to deploy in HC.) In either event, it’s very far from “every single WD” as the OP’s hyperbole claimed, and WDs actually have about the most build diversity of any class. (Barbs have the least since the WW/Sprint/WotB build is so overpowered.)

That aside, the issue of viable build diversity and variety is a big one, and many of the questions you guys submitted last week touched on it. As I mentioned in Diablo 3 Fansite Summit article and spoke about at more length in the related podcast, I was able to bring this issue up during the conversation spurred by Josh Mosqueira’s one question.

There I voiced the the common complaint that there are only two viable Wizard builds in Diablo 3, and was surprised when one of the devs joked that they were happy there wasn’t just one. The conversation went from there, but in large part the Diablo 3 devs said that in this day and age, with fansites offering calculators and popular build rankings and such, there’s just no way that most fans won’t gravitate to the most efficient build, even if it’s boring.

Early Hydra Runestone effects.

Early Hydra Runestone effects.

The “always one best build” thing was true of Diablo 2 and every other ARPG as well, but it’s exacerbated today by the ease of research, quick respecs, and D3’s paragon system providing a huge incentive to gain higher levels. (There’s no law that states the only goal of Diablo 3 is to level up quickly, though many players act as though such legislation was indeed imposed upon them during the reign of Jay the Great and Terrible.)

Another big factor that I brought up at during the Town Hall is the lack of weirdly-varied Legendary items in Diablo 3. The devs agreed completely on that one, and reiterated that one of the main objectives of the ongoing Diablo 3 itemization changes is to introduce more legendaries that promote the use of individual skills or builds, such as a Wizard item that would enable double Hydra casting. That won’t cure everything of course, since that will either become THE best Wizard build, or else it will be 1% less efficient than another build and people like the above OP will still have the same complaint… but that’s the Diablo community for you.

The devs didn’t give any more/new examples of cool item bonuses for skill diversity during the Town Hall, but they’re eminently aware of the issue and are working to improve/address it. Alas, it’s just another cool future thing for which we can only wait.


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