Friday, 24 April 2015

Tis the Season

So as promised this I am going yammer on about seasons in Diablo. I am a massive fan of the how seasons work. While there has been a few teething problems especially around length of the season trying to find that sweet spot. They offer a fresh means of playing through the content available, while offering enough of incentive to get people interested. After the cut I will break down where I feel seasons work and also look at implications of seasons as a style of game content.

As a person who has two of each hero at max level in Diablo, one of biggest problems I have is focusing enough on one character to achieve high level greater rifts or farm Hellfire Amulets/Rings. Inherently I end up with one or two well geared heroes and the rest in partial states of set completion. Seasons grant me an opportunity to focus on individual heroes and thus achieve a lot more with them than I would normally. For example in season 2 I played an Explosive palm Monk and Rhaekors Barb. Ultimately the season ended a bit too soon so I was unable to completely finish the builds and get all the gear I needed.

But these characters were far more powerful, than the originals deleted to make them. (When I make a seasonal hero I choose one of my existing heroes and delete it and then remake it in the season.) In the current season I have three characters going, a Delseres Frost Orb build Wizard, A Wrath of Wastes Barb and an Unhallowed Essence Demon hunter. The Demon hunters gear is lagging I still haven't completed the full 6 piece set bonus. Though this is more to do with my struggles with the demon hunter class than anything else. 

I have also unlocked the special banner and portrait for the season as well. These are very nice additions as rewards they look really cool and it is a different type of reward to the season only legendaries. Hopefully going forward into future seasons Blizzard will continue to keep adding cosmetic rewards to the seasons, some more vanity pets would be really awesome I have the skeletal dog and he is very cool. It seems likely that the addition of the wardrobe will open the door to an increase in cosmetic rewards.

In the long term one of issues that may occur with the seasons is if they continue to add new legendaries each season. By the time we reach season 12, 13 etc, there is going to be a very large pool of gear available. This is good having a wide a varied pool of legendaries to choose from leads to good build diversity, however it also makes it far more difficult to focus on creating a specific hero with certain gear set. As I mentioned above I came into season three looking to gear those three characters with those three sets. As such as for the Wizard especially I managed to get a full Tal Rasha set and Firebirds before I got my six piece Delseres.

Which ok that very specific style of creating a character probably runs counter to the way the Devs want us to play. I always feel they want us to create builds around the gear we find not aim for specific builds. In the long term I feel that some tweaking to kadalas gambling will be needed to create a better way of getting specific pieces of gear. Linked to this as well is the legendary gems, by the time the season comes round and my stashes are merged I will have another load of low level gems to bin.

This coupled with the tedium of having to level multiples of same gems where many builds require the same gems. (Yes I know I could just move more high level gems from hero to hero, however this feels just as awkward to me as levelling duplicates.) The Devs have been talking about this issue in a lot of their interviews with fan sites. I hope they opt for a Wow style heirloom interface where I can make multiple copies of a gem I own. Though this could intern decrease the incentive and need to re-run greater rifts.

I often wonder if you could take the season system and add it to Wow, not the entire system but the ability to reroll a character yet keep all your end game gear.  I know a few people who enjoy levelling low level characters but then stop dead when they get to level cap. With no interest in grinding out yet more dungeon and raid gear. It would very cool to be able replay low level content on your main knowing that when you get to level 100. You could reequip all your old gear, however if the time walker tech works out in patch 6.2 then that may be a better and easier means to achieving the same goal.

Overall Seasons have been a fantastic addition to the game. They offer a solid platform in which new areas, maps and bounties can be tested. While the limited window of opportunity creates a legitimate reason to pick up the game and blast through the season for a few weeks, then allowing you to take break in-between seasons thus helping to prevent burnout. Obviously seasons are not the definitive solution to end game content for Diablo. While they do offer a lot of content currently as we go through more and more seasons the incentive to complete them will only decrease as move closer to perfectly geared characters. But then that goes for the game as a whole eventually we will require new games modes or a new expansion to continue the games life span. (I would love to see the D2 druid added)

For now though season provide a fun and repeatable means of enjoying the game content for large amounts of the player base. I would love to see them build upon this especially adding in some more cosmetic rewards. As well as a return to the quirky achievements and challenges that we had at launch like punch Diablo and Pinked. It adds a medal ground between having really easy season objectives and some of the far harder challenges. But would get us out in the game doing different things instead of running endless Rifts.

Ok up next week will be either Raiding or Hearthstone. 

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