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On the Drawing Board #25: Paragon 2.0 = No Feeling of Character Progression?

Posted 25 Nov 2013 by

This is a very preliminary opinion, but based on nearly a week of fairly steady Reaper of Souls beta play, I’m worried that the transition to DiabloWikiParagon 2.0, the account wide Paragon Points system, plus the complete removal of any individual character growth or improvement post-level 70, is a mistake and is going to be un-fun long term.

The first look from Gamescom 2013.

The first look from Gamescom 2013.

To be fair I should say that I’ve been worried about this since the sharagon system was first announced many months ago, so maybe it’s just me. But playing so far in the RoS beta, once my characters hit 70 (I’ve done it so far with a softcore Demon Hunter and a hardcore Monk) it feels like my character advancement grinds to a a halt. Sure, my characters are progressing like mad in terms of gear, because hitting 70 in RoS is a lot like hitting 60 in D3V — in both cases you immediately quadruple your DPS/Toughness/etc, except in ROS you find the items instead of just buying them in the Auction House.

My Hardcore account is Paragon 150, and so far in my total play with my HC Monk at lvl 70, which is several games a night all week, plus the 3 hours last night during the live stream in a three player game, I’ve advanced in levels from about 150.1 to 150.35. That’s with a +33% EXP ruby in my hat and a Hellfire Ring on my finger for most of the trip, plus a HR and Leoric’s Signet on my merc when playing solo. Admittedly, I’ve been on not-very-high difficulty levels and I’ve been doing more exploring and experimenting than really trying to grind for exp, but the freshness of the beta has me playing a lot more than I usually do, and I’m still on pace to to level up once about every 4 weeks.

And here’s the best part; what would that monthly level up give me? One more Paragon Point to spend in the DiabloWikiAdventure Tab! Awesome! That’s 1 more point of maximum Resource! Or .2% more DiabloWikiPickup Radius! I can hardly wait!

Click through for less sarcasm, but more serious consideration of this (apparent) problem and some possible solutions.

Actually I can wait. I feel zero desire to grind for levels (just for equipment) at this point in Reaper of Souls, and not just because the Beta is on a sort of DiabloWikiPTR where none of the changes are permanent. The levels are going to take forever and grant me almost no benefit, so why bother trying to achieve them? It’s undoubtedly beneficial to have the levels, especially if you’ve already earned 100 or 150 or 200 from your leveling, but we earned them in D3V where level ups are frequent and the bonuses are impactful, adding considerable stats and MF/GF every time.

So, what’s the solution? I’m not sure.

I like the idea of account-wide Paragon bonus rewarding your total play time, and in D3V I don’t like the way all the MF going to one character makes me feel trapped into playing my main, since very high MF is mandatory for dependable item finds. But playing even just a week of RoS it feels like the devs have gone way too far, and that players are going to get bored with a lack of progression, and with the tiny bonuses per level, once they’ve gotten past the initial rush of constant exciting item upgrades.

I think I’d like to see some kind of hybrid system, where you accrue bonuses to your entire account, but where individual characters also get some sense of progression past 70 by scoring useful bonuses at least semi-regularly. But not bonuses that are so big or of the type (like MF/GF) that makes you feel locked into playing that one character forever.

Easy, right? Well, no, but as I often joke on the podcast, making video games is hard.


Update: I didn’t realize this until after I’d written this whole article, but the previous On the Drawing Board, from back in July, was also about Paragon 2.0. At that point we knew nothing about the system details and most fans (including me) thought it would be just some variation on the current D3V system with the passive MF/GF/EXP gains from leveling up spread across the entire account.

I like the overall account bonuses more than just some modified MF/GF/EXP bonus system, but now that I see it in action, I worry that the progression is too slow and the bonuses too minimal, and that the total focus on account bonuses at the expense of any individual character enhancement is yet another brick in the “lack of character customization” wall so many fans feel Diablo 3 has built between players and any feeling of attachment to or ownership of our characters.