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Slow Experience Gain in Reaper of Souls: A Real Problem?

Posted 14 Jan 2014 by

We talked about slow experience gain in Reaper of Souls on the new podcast, and it’s come up in a lot of fan feedback lately, so I did some testing tonight and wanted to write more on the issue. I’ll start off by quoting a thread with a big list of RoS issues from Battle.net, since it encapsulates a lot of the current issues with the game.

The whole thread is here on B.net — it got a Blue reply but only to ask for clarification on one of the bugs, so I won’t quote it here. All the OP’s comments are in the the quote boxes; comments by me are in normal formatting. Let’s start with the longest issue, regarding experience and level up speed:

1. Increase trash monster density outside of Rifts to be at least close to 1.0.8 levels or implement a density slider.
2. Increase the DiabloWikiexperience gain in RoS because it´s a fraction of patch 1.0.8.

I’ll agree with the OP’s point that exp gain is too slow once you hit lvl 70, but let’s start off positive — the 1-70 process is much improved in RoS! It’s faster, you can do it in DiabloWikiAdventure Mode if it’s not your first char, and thanks to dynamic mlvl scaling you don’t have to regrind the same content. If you’ve got any kind of decent gear with +exp you can easily hit lvl 45-50 by Act 5 on a single pass in Story Mode. And while the 60s are still lame due to the imminence of lvl 70 and the real game starting, they’re way better than the fearsone fifties of D3.

Paragon level up display is bugged.

Paragon level up display is bugged.

Once you hit 70 though… things get really slow. Slow in feel and slow in actuality, since exp gain is a lot slower in RoS than in D3. The feel is slow thanks mostly to Paragon 2.0, since individual chars change nothing but equipment once they hit 70 and there’s no regular level up or steady sense of progression. I worried about that right at the start of the beta and my feelings haven’t changed over a month+ more testing.

On the new podcast Rankil lamented that he’d only gained 5 Paragon levels since the Closed RoS beta began, going from 82 to 87. That made Xanth and me laugh, since neither of us had gained a single Paragon level since the closed beta began several weeks ago. That’s partly since we’re both in the 100s in our paragon levels and need more exp to increase, but exp gain per minute/hour is much slower in RoS than in D3… with some caveats.

It’s not that you need a billion exp to gain a level, either. Here’s a screenshot from last night of my softcore Monk sitting at the upper edge of Paragon 125. After I took this shot I played a pretty long game in Adventure Mode doing all the bounties in Acts 1, 3, 4, and 5, plus two Nephalem Rifts, and not until nearly the end of the second rift did I ding to 126. As you can see in the screen, I needed about 11m exp to get to that point, and it took me over an hour to get it. Decent EXP gain when farming in D3 is 1m per minute (with much higher rates possible on higher difficulty levels), which means that pulling 11m in an hour+ is a pretty big come down.

Paragon 125 to 126 = 214m exp. Equivalent to going from P86 to P87 in D3. The Passive MF/EXP display is an artifact/bug.

Paragon 125 to 126 = 214m exp. Equivalent to going from P86 to P87 in D3.

Click through for much more on EXP in RoS…


Monk Experience Testing

My Monk wasn’t geared for EXP and I wasn’t really hunting it. I was after items and variety of play and some fun, and I found the later two. Still, I was surprised at how slowly the EXP game came, once I was actually measuring it. Details:

  • I played on Hard, which is equivalent to MP1 and only grants a +75% exp boost over normal. (For contrast, Torment 1 is 375% exp boosted.) Hard difficulty is way below my Monk’s gear and I was pretty much facerolling and just playing for fun and item-hunting.
  • I was not wearing a Hellfire Ring (old or new), had no Ruby in my hat, had no +exp gear on my merc, etc. I did have on 3 items of the RoS version of Cain’s Set though, which grants +50% exp gain, which is about 50% more than most RoS players have. (Players are prioritizing item hunting, not EXP gain since it’s a short term beta.)
  • Bounties aren’t great for exp gain, past 70. The bounty rewards themselves are fine, with a boost to exp and gold, but the play style most of us adopt for bounties has us playing low-density areas and running right past monsters in search of the bounty target.
  • So I wasn’t really hunting EXP, but still, I was playing very quickly and wasting no time in town, hardly picking up anything to slow me down, etc. There’s no way I’d have pulled less than 30m exp in that amount of play time in the live version of D3. Even on MP1, even doing the same game instead of restarting new games to keep farming the juiciest areas…


    Experience Farming in Reaper of Souls?

    The above said… I’m not actually sure what I would do if I wanted to farm EXP in RoS. It’s pretty easy in D3 now; you just put on +exp gear, play the highest MP level you can kill quickly on, get your five stacks of Nephalem Valor up, and then head to some of the areas of highest monster density such as the Fields of Misery and the Decaying Crypt dungeon below it.

    .Three pieces of Cain's does help with EXP...

    .Three pieces of Cain’s does help with EXP…

    Those areas are found in RoS (and the D3 PTR) but they’re far lower on density, and most characters have a lot lower +exp bonus in RoS. In a way that makes the comparison invidious, since with +exp gear and +exp merc gear and MP and Nephalem Valor my character would have had something like +400% EXP in D3, while I had 125% (50% gear + 75% from Hard) in Reaper of Souls. Even allowing for that, there’s simply nothing like the D3 monster density to farm in RoS. Not anywhere in the five acts, and not even in Nephalem Rifts (once in a very long while you do get a level in a Rift that is just sardine can jammed with enemies.)

    This is obviously an intentional change by the devs. As we’ve discussed in the past, the v1.08 Monster density thing was a short term fix to tide players over while the devs toiled on large game changes for Reaper of Souls. RoS isn’t that much less monster crowded in most areas, and the overall balance feels good. It’s never as empty as some levels of D3 was pre-v1.08, and when there is an event (often from a Cursed Chest) or area with thicker crowds, it makes a noticeable difference which changes up the gameplay nicely.

    Which is fine, but if you do want to kill huge hordes of monsters, and you do want to concentrate on racking up EXP… what do you do in RoS? Complain in a forum post, I guess, since there’s nothing in the gameplay now that really gives you that option. Nothing that plays just like the super crowded EXP orgy players have grown used to in the 8 months since DiabloWikiPatch 1.0.8 was released.


    Solutions

    There are a lot of player suggestions about this. Some suggest that it’s not a problem and that higher density was unnatural and cheesy and made the game very one-note. That’s open to debate, but even players who feel that way will want some way to gain more EXP more quickly in RoS, and if it doesn’t come from killing more monsters more quickly, I’m not sure what it should be.

    Nothing to do with EXP. I just really enjoyed getting ponies and cuddlebears in this Rift.

    Nothing to do with EXP. I just really enjoyed getting ponies and cuddlebears in this Rift.

    A density slider is another common suggestion. A way for players to customize their play experience. Such an option would have to come with a trade off; lowered Magic Find or reduced total item drops, but that would be okay with me. I like variety in play styles, and if players want to hunt items they can do Bounties. If they want unpredictability they can do Nephalem Rifts. If they want EXP they can turn up the density slider and grind that progress bar.

    New +exp gear is another possibility. Lots of items get +exp per kill in the secondary stats, and though the bonuses to that stat are much higher in RoS, often around +150-180 per kill, they’re still irrelevant compared to the total exp required for leveling up. But what if those numbers were something like +3-10% exp? Get good rolls to that property on 4 or 6 items, stick on a HR as well, put a Ruby in your hat, and you’re controlling your own destiny.

    I’d still like to see some options for more monster density though, since it’s fun as well as rewarding. So how about enabling it through the otherwise-useless Story Mode? That old style of gameplay is almost entirely ignored by RoS beta testers, aside from playing through Act Five once after each realm wipe, since it’s required before you can start Adventure Mode. In Story Mode you’re giving up the open world and the ability to hop between acts, and you have to play in sequence and do all the quests and such. So why not make that the price you pay for super EXP gain potential? Once you’re level 70, why can’t Story Mode be as thick with monsters as the live game is now? There’s no other reason to play Story Mode, after all.


    I’d offer more suggestions and debate, but this is overlong already and besides, the RoS patch is looming. The devs must be aware of the EXP gain issues as fans have been raising them for weeks, and I’m curious to see what kind of fix they put in. They could add new game modes, add more exp items, boost density in Story Mode… or change nothing except boosting the exp value per monster, or adding a bigger multiplier on higher difficulty levels.

    There are lots of ways to deal with the problem, and it just remains to be seen how the devs choose to attack it. What do you guys think should be done, if anything? Will you miss EXP gain, or monster density, or both?


    Update: I did another trial the next day. Same Monk, but with better gear for killing. Played about the same time (maybe 75m) but on Master instead of Hard, with a Ruby in my helm, 3 items of Cain’s set, and a HR and Leoric’s Signet on my merc. Total +exp% rate was 304%. (The bonus is just x 1.0, since only NV and multiplayer multiply it, and no NV in RoS.)

    In that time I did all act 1 bounties plus a rift, plus full clears of a couple of the (formerly) best farming areas in Act 1, and my total exp take was… about 19m. Bit more than I got playing on Hard and just hopping bounties, but I think all the diff was just from more +exp gear, so the higher difficulty (+200% vs. +75% exp) made no difference compared to the slower clear speed it created.

    Achieving substantially faster exp gain in RoS would therefore require much better gear and multiplayer games. Which is largely true of D3 also, but the lesser exp gain rate is pretty obvious at this point.