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Everyone Hates the Same Diablo 3 Bounties: How to Fix Them?

Posted 21 Apr 2014 by

Most players value Bounties entirely based on how quickly they can be completed. So while not literally Everyone hates the Same Diablo 3 Bounties, there’s pretty wide agreement on the problems. The question though, is how to fix them? More flavor? More variety? Reallocated rewards?

I’ve been asking players lately about their most/least favorite bounties, and found the answers very utilitarian. There’s some variety in favorites, though all tend towards “quickest to complete.” There’s less variety in least-favorites, with all of them ones that take a long time to complete atop the un-list.

Some least favorite quotes from a forum post I floated on this topic:

Kill the Spider Queen. It’s a huge map with lots of dead ends. And the trash mobs slow you down. Plus the boss runs away! Thanks for everything! This bounty could award a bag all for itself and I still wouldn’t do it.
–Catastrophe

How nature says, "Do not touch."

How nature says, “Do not touch.”

I only have one that’s stuck out, and that’s Blood Ties in Act 3. It’s probably one of the least efficient bounties (huge Barracks Level 1 map with lots of dead ends, plus a medium-sized Barracks Level 2 map where you have to find one specific room), but on top of that the maps are full of Fallen Lunatics and narrow hallways that make waller+groundspam become extra annoying.
–Ivan E

The two in Act III that require you to clear Level 2, one is Barracks iirc and the other is Fortified Bunker? Mainly just because it takes a while just to find the Level 2 door.
–ZappaFan

Anything involving the Act One Spider Caves is usually atop the list since it’s the slowest bounty in Act One, and that act is the most farmed, since it’s the easiest and since people want a Ring of Royal Grandeur, which only drops from Bounty bags. (Full list of Horadric Cache-only items in the wiki.) Other unpopular bounties include anything in the Dhalgur Oasis or Desolate Sands, most of the Act Five bounties because they are lost in huge levels or else require exploration of the spread-out and sparsely-populated Panda Fort.

The Act Three Barracks is hands-down the least favorite, from the people I’ve asked, simply because it’s huge and takes forever. The Barracks is the dungeon entrance to the left, just before you leave Bastion’s Keep and go out onto the frozen tundra. There are 2 bounties there, one requiring a Level Two clear (which is insane; there must be 200 monsters in that level and I always miss a couple in some side room and have to run back through the whole level to finish it) and the other Blood Ties, which requires to you help a guard rescue another guard on level two, but requires you to explore almost the entire level.

The part that people really dread is finding level two, since level one is basically the same map as Keep Level 2, which is about the largest dungeon in the entire game. (Except we used to love farming Keep 2 for exp, and Barracks level one is just as large but with about 1/3 the monster density.)

Typical Barracks Level 2 map.

Typical Barracks Level 2 map.

All the other unpopular bounties are more of the same; huge levels that require a lot of time chewing through trash mobs or just looking for the target (Blood Marsh in Act Five wins that unpopular battle, since it’s enormous and tangled in design. Desolate Sands in Act Two is also huge, but it doesn’t twist and turn so you can search through the whole thing pretty quickly.)

Personally, I like the bounties with a 150 counter, since those only appear in large areas with a lot of monster density. I’ve never had a 150 counter where I had to search for things to kill to finish it out. My worst times have come on 100 count areas when I find the Purple at 60ish, and then have to wander around to find enough more. The worst one I ever got was a 100 kill counter in Stonefort, and I had to clear the entire level with what felt like 81/100 the entire time, literally to the last 3 catapults where that annoying NPC curses at you (in Story Mode), where I finally hit a big nest of Fallen that took me way over the 100 required.

(Beta bounties had some funny ones. Aside from bugs where the bounty event didn’t even spawn, the monster counter was sometimes out of synch with the enemies available. Playing with Elly we got a Unique with a 50 kill requirement in one of the Act 3 spiral stairway levels, and after clearing the whole thing and the Purple, we were at… 41/50. We had to run back up the entire level, hugging the outside edge to trigger enough ghouls to clamber over the side to get us to 50.

Better was a 50 kill bounty in the Cemetery of the Forsaken when there were only about 30 enemies there. I got that in a multiplayer game and the three of us had to spend several minutes running out into the Weeping Hollow and leading zombies and scavengers through the Cemetery Gates so we could kill them inside and add them on the 50 counter.)


Adjust Bounty Rewards

Remember the plaid?

Remember the plaid?

The main issue I had with bounties during the Beta was the very uneven rewards. You’d get a bounty that took 1 minute and was worth 8m exp (on Torment 1) and others that took 5 minutes and were only worth 2.7m exp. The most valuable bounties then were worth 15.2m exp, were all the “clear level 2″ type, but those varied hugely as well, in how long it took to find the level and how large it was. And it wasn’t a random-variance; it was (almost) always much faster to find Den of Evil 2, or level 2 of some goat cave, than to find Vile Cavern 2, or *shudder* Barracks level 2.

When the beta ended, I figured Blizzard would redistribute the exp rewards on bounties. Why should you only get 2.7m exp for The Butcher or Diablo, when you have to explore a full large dungeon level to find them, while many of the “kill the Unique” or “clear the Red Chest” bounties were worth double or triple the exp and were much faster to complete? (And sometimes even spawned in the same dungeon you had to explore to get to the Butcher or Diablo.)

That didn’t happen. All the bounties we see in the live game are worth approximately the same exp they were worth during the Reaper of Souls beta, and as everyone knows, they vary greatly in time required to clear. The explanation for that (other than “lazy devs?”) could be that the devs like the RNG of it. If every bounty was priced appropriately for the time it took, that would be boring. Nothing would feel like it fell above or below the value curve, and while Queen Araneae is annoying and slow, it balances out those times when you get a sixty-second “Kill the Purple” or “Cleanse the Cursed Chest” bounties, which feel fun since they’re very quick and valuable.

That said, maybe not? Would you guys enjoy Queen Araneae or Barracks two or other longer bounties more if they were worth the same exp as “clear level 2″ bounties?

Or, if the whole goal is to get the Horadric Cache, what if the bounties were weighted in value? Instead of 5 all worth the same, what if bounties scaled in value a bit, and you only had 4 bounties in acts when you got Blood Ties or Queen Araneae type slogs?


Time = Value?

She looks almost scary in closeup.

She looks almost scary in closeup.

The point of all these complaints is that money = time, in Diablo 3 as elsewhere in life. And (almost?) everyone likes best the bounties that are quickest to do, and dislikes the ones that take longest to do. I’m surprised how uniform that opinion is; I figured there’s be more nuance with the time divided by the reward. The “clear level 2″ bounties are worth like 5x the exp of most “kill target X” bounties… but it seems like people are mostly farming Bounties to get Horadric Caches, thus the exp from individual bounties is an afterthought, compared to their main goal.

If that’s the case, perhaps we should be concentrating our fixes on the speed of clearing, rather than worrying about rewards matching the time spent?


Map Hack Return?

Something I’ve been wondering lately, in regards to this issue. (And which I always remember about 30 seconds into a bounty in the Dhalgur Oasis or the Desolate Sands.) What if we had maphack in Diablo 3? Some tool that pointed you right to the bounty target, no matter how far away it was? You get that after a few minutes in a bounty if you have terrible luck finding the dungeon or monster, as an arrow pops up to point your dumbass in the right direction, but what if you had it all the time? Would that make the bigger/slower/least popular bounties more palatable?

I’ve been asking people in-game lately, “Would you trade a passive skill slot for a maphack tool that immediately pointed you to the bounty in every zone?” I think I would, assuming I could turn it on and off.

Obviously it’s a hypothetical question… or is it? What if there was a maphack legendary item that granted that property? It could ever have RNG; it would always gave you the direction arrow, but sometimes it would roll higher quality and show the entire mini-map filled in, with the location of all shrines and/or Elites and Uniques?

That’s an item I’d hunt for. They could even put it as an Act Five Cache-only drop, just to force us to farm that act too!


Make Bounties More Fun

The last issue is the biggest one, and one I haven’t thought much about. So just to touch on it quickly… what would make Bounties more fun? We all know the few types of bounties now, and they’re just a race to finish as quickly as possible for the reward. How could that be changed up? Should we even try?

Moar Goblin bounties!

Moar Goblin bounties!

As the biggest issue for everyone seems to be time/reward, there should be ways to do Bounties more quickly, other than just movement speed. What if you had to kill a Purple without killing more than 50 other enemies? (If you went over 50 you had to kill over 150, or find another purple, so it’s a time penalty.) That would reward players for being precise and not just an AoE spamming machine? (Sorry, Wizards, but there has to be something in the entire game you’re not the best at now?)

What if there were levels with 2 Purples, but no counter, so it was all about how quickly you could find them?

What if sometimes a treasure goblin (other than Snitchley) was the bounty? Or there were several goblins in the area and the bounty was to kill 3 of them?

What if some bounties were just “map the whole area” without any killing required? Just for variety and movement speed rewards?

I’m sure you guys can think of lots of other interesting and varied types of bounties, going beyond what we see in the game today. Do you want more variety? Do you want bounty rewards normalized, so the slower ones are worth more and the easy ones are worth less? How about bonus Caches? One long time popular suggestion is a 6th or 7th bonus cache awarded for clearing all 5 acts of bounties in the same game, and I can’t see any real objection to that.