Gotta say, I was not expecting a Diablo III dev blog this week, or really ever, what with Diablo IV and Diablo Immortal waiting in the wings, but here we are, as Blizzard dropped just such a piece from the D3 live team this week. The devs say the last couple of patches were “shattering to the endgame meta” in exactly the way they wanted, and now, they’re on to patch 2.6.8 and their plans for balance.
“We look at a ton of data when it comes to balancing Diablo III,” the devs write. “Data comes in many forms, including build guides, gameplay from your favorite streamers, and the leaderboards. Most importantly, we also track our own data internally, which allows us to see a lot more than just the top 1000 player clears for each category.” Specifically, that means taking into account paragon level, how class sets work in play, how seasonal buffs affect the meta, and class fantasy (yeah), all to determine ideal class and set performance for each season.
That said, Blizzard won’t be bumping the greater rift level cap over 150 because the studio believes it “hasn’t been the healthiest approach” for the game, especially in the later stages of its life; instead, the devs want to focus on more varied gameplay with new builds and build improvements instead of boosting the cap. Likewise, the studio isn’t balancing around only group play, and it is planning to discourage cheesing.
“There have been a handful of problematic gameplay styles that have emerged over time, largely due to creative use of snapshotting or taking advantage of the ability to cancel skill animations. This impedes our efforts at overall game balance, and it makes it very difficult for us to change skills or items without overly punishing the whole class when these tactics aren’t used. (We’re looking at you, Bazooka Wizard and Stutter Steppers.) We want to be able to address the balance issues these builds pose, but we also don’t want these classes to fall behind as a result of these changes. So how are we handling this? It’s admittedly going to be a game of whack-a-mole as we make fixes and other issues arise through player experimentation. Our first area of concern will be disabling animation cancellation on certain skills. The Crusader class is the most subject to this (though not alone) and we’ll ensure no class falls behind as a result of losing this ‘trick.'”
Testing for 2.6.8 begins next week.
The PTR for Patch 2.6.8 begins next Thursday, February 6! Get a heads-up on what to test (including THREE new class sets) by checking out our preliminary patch notes.
— Diablo (@Diablo) January 31, 2020