Dredscythe’s Diablo Immortal Closed Alpha Feedback
by dredscythe - 2 years ago show comments
Hello all! Today I leave you with my feedback from many weeks and hours playing the Diablo Immortal Closed Alpha. Even though it is still going for most of us we have been able to do as much as we can and give our feedback. With that, I will leave you to it!
I am Dredscythe and I have been heavily involved in the Diablo franchise for the last 10 years doing primarily community building but also content creation. I actively play Diablo 3 while participating in all the recent and past Alphas/Betas/Demos for D3, D3:RoS, D:I, D2:R, and D4.
I am neither a Casual player nor a Hardcore player. I love to learn and understand the higher technical knowledge of the game, even if just to help pass it on. I have my sprints at playing like the big boys out there but mainly play with friends to enjoy what the game has to offer. That ability to play hard or not and relax I believe gives me a more unique perspective to share.
Whenever I do feedback for an Alpha/Beta/Demo I figure out a few easy keywords or concepts to come back to over the feedback. This helps you and me stay focused on what I want to stress and make sure the points I want to make get made. With that the focus of this feedback revolves around:
- Engagement of content
- Reward justified by effort – more exhausted or exhilarated?
- System Depth
Feedback on Updates from Technical Alpha to Closed Alpha:
The amount of progress from Technical Alpha to Closed Alpha is quite impressive. All the new additions feel like true systems and not tack ons. I remember having that same overwhelming feeling visiting Westmarch the first time in Technical Alpha with the Shadows and Immortals systems. It may sound bad, but it really is good. Just means there is a lot for us to do.
Also wanted to mention how great it was to see the feedback we had all given to get worked into the game from Technical Alpha. Character power changes, Paragon changes, UI and control changes, Dungeon updates, etc. All these plus many more have made Closed Alpha as good as it is.
My overall grade for the Closed Alpha is somewhere between a B+ and an A. For me, from my perspective, there are certain points of concern I find important, which I point out below. Whether the Diablo Immortal team finds validity in them or not is up to them. No matter what may be perceived to be said below, I genuinely appreciate the ability to continue testing Diablo Immortal. To do my small part to make it the best game it can be. That is not lost on me, thank you again!
Feedback on Stability:
The stability of Closed Alpha was not as good as Technical Alpha. I will also admit at the same time the sheer increase in systems and complexity of interactions going on most likely contributed to these issues. Every 30 to 40 minutes I would experience a hard freeze. It wouldn’t matter if it was going through menus, in certain areas of the world or doing certain Activities. I was playing on an iPhone X on the 14.3 iOS.
I will say despite the freezes, I always, and I do mean always, came back to where I was exactly when I reconnected. That tech made the freezes bearable when they would occur. Whoever got that working deserves a beer, who do I need to PayPal?
Feedback on Gameplay/UI:
- There were certain points, mainly when you hit the required level to go to zones further in the main story that the game would auto-teleport you upon reaching that level. This would also happen during some of the preliminary Cycle of Strife introduction. This shouldn’t happen as it can be very confusing at a sudden loss of control of one’s character.
- Bestiary needs a clear (X of X Daily Turn-ins) on the stat information page so we know for a certainty how many page attempts we have for the day.
- Fading Embers need an icon in our stash bag. You forget about them because you can only check how many you have when you are at the Elder Rift Shrine or the merchant itself.
- Move Refine Scoria from its separate menu to within the Blacksmith’s normal menu setup.
- Alter the menu where Normal along with Hell I thru Hell III are shown to clearly display all the difficulties at one glance. I thought Raxx was joking about a Hell III difficulty on day streaming because you had to scroll down to see it.
- The Begin Challenge (which should read Begin Elder Rift) needs to control when the timer starts so new and old players alike, if they want, can read the buffs/nerfs without the timer already going.
- The auto-navigation is still a great addition to the game. For most Contracts, at some point in the chain, the auto-navigation doesn’t teleport you to the closest possible Waypoint it could. A pass over the correct Waypoints each one should use during the Contract chain is recommended.
- The ordering of tracking information needs to be updated. This wasn’t a problem in the Technical Alpha, but we also didn’t have so much more to do. Having the ability to push tracking information for the Helliquary, Immortal Daily Goals, Shadow Contracts, etc. down the list would be great. Not needing to always scroll down the list when doing bounties would be a good QoL adjustment.
- Being able to turn off tutorial mode/hint tooltips.
- Adding the option to auto skip cinematics at a minimum would be well received.
- Making areas on the mini-map a little easier to press, or more accurately, making the area to trigger the teleport prompt bigger for us fat finger people when going to different towns and such.
- On the topic of teleporting, giving us an option to assign our in-bag Town Portal to any discovered Waypoint in the world would be amazing.
Leveling seems smoother from levels 1 to around 35. The revamped introduction with the first 10 levels is great at going over the basics of the game without it feeling like you’re slogging through mud. I managed to level two different classes this time around. My Wizard was the first and was essentially rushed as fast as I could to max level. I hit three level gates:
- Got to around level 35 after completing the main questline in the Library of Zoltun Kulle (need level 40 to get to Bilefen – 5 level difference).
- Got to around level 41 after completing the main questline in Bilefen (need level 46 to get to Mount Zavain – 5 level difference).
- Got to around level 47 after completing the main questline in Mount Zavai (need level 50 to get to The Frozen Tundra – 3 level difference).
My Demon Hunter was my second character. I made sure to at a minimum do all pop-up events and kill all monsters I saw, especially in later zones while traveling. I hit these three level gates:
- Got to around level 37 after completing the main questline in the Library of Zoltun Kulle (need level 40 to get to Bilefen – 3 level difference).
- Got to around level 42 after completing the main questline in Bilefen (need level 46 to get to Mount Zavain – 4 level difference).
- Got to around level 47 after completing the main questline in Mount Zavai (need level 50 to get to The Frozen Tundra – 3 level difference).
While the level difference did improve on my Demon Hunter, other variables could have influenced this as well to make it better than it seems. Also, having the Helliquary questline open up at level 41 and the Cycle of Strife system open up at level 43 help in a small way with the level difference.
From these numbers though it may be relatively safe to assume we’ll need level 55 or 56 to get to the last zone before hitting 60. The Frozen Tundra is a relatively short zone and didn’t get me close to level 51. So, a hypothetical fourth level gate of four to five levels to get to the aforementioned level 55 or 56 to do the last zone. We can also assume the entire main storyline of the last zone will barely, if at all, get you one level. This would mean you need to grind out the last three to four levels rather anticlimactically after the completion of the main storyline.
With the three personally level gates I experienced stated above along with the hypothetical fourth this is what my leveling game plan would be::
- Three friends along with myself start solo and get up to at least level 35+ completing the Library of Zoltun main questline.
- We whatever dungeon has a “x2” on the Activities menu then switch to either Countess or Mad king runs until all of us get enough experience, through Battle Pass levels, to hit level 40 for Bilefen
- We split up and solo the main questline until we complete it.
- We group up and do either Countess or Mad king runs until all of us get enough experience, through Battle Pass levels, to hit level 46 for Mount Zavain
- We split up and solo the main questline until we complete it.
- We group up and do either Countess or Mad king runs until all of us get enough experience, through Battle Pass levels, to hit level 50 for Mount Zavain.
- We split up and solo the main questline until we complete it.
- We group up and do either Countess or Mad king runs until all of us get enough experience, through Battle Pass levels, to hit hypothetical level 55 or 56 for the last zone we have yet to see.
- We split up and solo the main questline until we complete it.
- We group up and do either Countess or Mad king runs until all of us get max level. At this point, we have probably exhausted all experience through reaching the battle Pass Point cap and will be relying purely on Dungeon and group bonus experience.
The above, while based on current values, feels monotonous and exhausting. It’s not that the main story has to be able to carry you to max level, but it’s typically expected from players on both the ARPG side and MMO side too. Also, having players run that many Dungeons before they hit max level can sour their willingness to do Dungeons in the future, which are a big part of other systems.
I will say having level gates is not inherently bad. Especially that second one where you can do the Helliquary and Cycle of Strife introduction and take a short break from the story. However, four different level gates feel like the game is just punishing you for no reason. This along with the last grind of a hypothetical four to five levels to get to level 60 feels wrong from the gut. Just looking at that I would feel more exhausted than exhilarated whether I hit level 60 in a day, three days, or ten days.
Some simple things that could be done are to flatten the experience curve after level 30/35 as that feels good. Also, could adjust the experience gained from the later zones starting around The Library of Zoltun Kulle. Another point could be to increase the experience gained per bounty so players taking longer would have an ace up their sleeve if they did all 12 per day to help push them forward.
All of these suggestions are to target many ways with small adjustments to smooth out the leveling curve. With 1-2 level max level gates to give the player a break and explore the open world and learn other activities but not so much they get tired of just the grind to level 60 drop the game and never come back.
I do truly worry about this being a player retention issue. With how many players would love the game but due to bad taste of the successive level gates or after playing two weeks for 30 minutes a day they still aren’t level 60 and just write off the game completely.
Feedback on Classes (Limited):
My feedback on classes will be primarily limited to my playtime on the Wizard (second time over both Alphas) and the Demon Hunter (Closed Alpha only). In general, though, discounting the outlining situations of the Barbarian and Crusader, the classes are coming along well enough. Some overall improvements will be needed to get all to the same relative power level and making sure skill utility is good enough.
Monks seem solid but through observation and talking to players that have created Monks could use some buffing. Looking at Barbarians, they also seem to be on a good foot. In PvP though with their six-second immunity makes them rather hard to deal with. A lot of us have given feedback that it needs to change. I would only caution in making sure the class doesn’t fall flat (in PvP specifically) when altered. Similarly, the Crusader through a combination of skill choice and Legendary Powers can cast what seems like all its skills that travel with the stead is far too powerful. The stead alone needs to be toned down as it does way too much for a movement skill compared to the other classes. With that stated, again, careful looking at after the changes are made to make sure class viability is maintained.
The Wizard didn’t seem to be noticeably different from Technical Alpha. The leveling process was a little more taxing compared to the Demon Hunter in the beginning 30 to 35 levels. Afterwhich, the difference began to close. With the way I felt comfortable playing the class the options still seemed limited as far as skills combinations.
- I found that I was always playing with Scorch and Arcane Wind all of the time because the Firestorm bonus was too good to give up.
- Early game, I usually ran with Meteor and Lightning Nova due to just needing as much damage as possible to kill monsters.
- Late game, when the Legendaries would allow, I would swap out Meteor for Disintegrate and Lightning Nova for Teleport.
- Teleport as a movement skill is good with the Legendary support and three base charges. It can be frustrating when using the skill provides inconsistent results though. For instance clearing a fence, getting hung up on ground geometry, Teleporting through a wall with a clear landing point, or into a game asset itself (spawning gravestones were fun). It’s hard to judge when the skill will work for sure, which ultimately reduces its reliability and makes me wonder if it is worth using. I also ran into 4-5 instances of my character getting desynced in a location in the world on my phone v.s. the server. Most of the time I could do a Teleport or two to try and brute force a fix but sometimes it wouldn’t and I would have to restart to fix the game. It would usually happen during heavy game loads during moderate to high ping moments 300ms+.
- With the Closed Alpha, we knew we were getting two new skills – Slow Time and Arcane Torrent. I feel a bit let down as a Wizard player that there wasn’t a better attempt at diversifying our skills.
- Slow Time does no damage and is a pure area of denial skill. Slow Time seems fit for PvE until you realize Ray of Frost was improved. Also, a better analog to Slow Time would be Ice Crystal that slows, does DoT damage, explodes for more damage, has inherited synergy with Ray of Frost & Disintegrate, and has several supporting Legendaries. With other classes’ movement skills and range on their abilities, its effectiveness in PvP is questionable.
- Arcane Torrent doesn’t have support for Legendaries so testing wasn’t really good to report on. I’m more frustrated that we got a third channeling skill. The damage area is relatively small and with the speed of combat, the effectiveness of the skill is questionable in PvP. Its best case use would be for ranged AoE if you CCed the monster in place. For the same reason, it could be good in casting at max range to hit players in PvP. However, once again with movement speed and speed of combat in PvP the skill isn’t good enough.
- To be honest, I wish both skills would be replaced. I know better to ask for Archon, as that would be boring and probably a mandatory skill, but to have more diverse skills would be nice. It’s a shame we don’t have something like Fire Wall (imagine a cold version that’s an ice wall of denial), a re-interpretation of Mirror Images, a second shield option, or Hydra skill (miss those lovely dragons of doom).
- Demon Hunter
The Demon Hunter played better than the Wizard from the stance of its kit. Being able to roll around with Vengeance, Rain of Vengeance, Multishot (3 charges), and Sentries (2 charges) felt like you could always be doing damage with less time in cooldown hell. The leveling of the Demon Hunter also went smoother compared to the Wizard as weld primarily to the more even damage output.
- Daring Swing looks great but suffers in comparison to other movement skills a little bit. Mainly, if you are slowed in any way before you initiate the skill, the Daring Swing itself is slowed down. This occurred multiple times in Battlegrounds keeping me in danger, not out of it.
- On that note, Escape seems like it could be better for getting out of danger. The skill auto pushes you backward and moves faster than Daring Swing does. Regardless, it’s weird having two “disengagement” skills.
- Impale could be made a potential niche skill if it was a regular skill rather than channeled. It’s extremely weird to see the skill go from what it is in Diablo 3 to how it is in Immortal.
- Knife Trap should have some short (0.5s to 1.0s) stun or slow built into the skill. Having it just do damage but do nothing to actually…trap…a monster or player seems off. Shouldn’t need to use the specific Legendary pants to gain what should be a base part of the skill.
Feedback on Crafting:
The Blacksmith is the workhorse of Immortal. It may not be the shiniest system, however, Upgrade and Reforging are the solid core of your character’s progression.
To Upgrading specifically, I understand Upgrading your gear to Rank 20 is not supposed to happen in a min/maxed fashion, even though we players will certainly do the math to figure that out. The Upgrade system just comes off as a one-trick pony material sink, A.K.A. time sink. It’s not that I don’t like it, but rudimentary sinks like this are boring and often leave you feeling more exhausted than exhilarated when you reach those milestones.
To help combat this would be to introduce a Material Boon Cache that can give X-XXXX Scrap Material and X-XXX Enchanted essence that would drop from Heavy Ornate Chests. The amounts from the Boone Cache would always vary but would help in:
- Making the material costs more palatable at their current values.
- Giving a great reason to actually race and open Heavy Ornate Chests.
- By extension, make farming the open world the best way to get materials, getting us away from endless micro “Gregg” runs (love ya Gregg!)
- Lastly, with the feasibility of doing multiple top-of-the-hour events pretty much guaranteed not to happen on release, this would provide a makeup way of getting materials (even if RNG dictates the amount each time).
- Gem Crafter
- Legendary Gems
The adjustments to obtaining Legendary Gems from multiple sources (for the most part) are much welcomed. Giving a small chance with Rare Crests (in an Elder Rift) along with the Rune cost reduction in crafting specific Legendary Gems is great. Goes a long way to eroding any “P2W/P2P” argument.
With that, the Platinum cost was not reduced with some Legendary Gems requiring 750 to 3,000 Platinum to cost. With the 150 Platinum we get completing 12 out of 12 bounties a day this isn’t an issue of big concern. My only real note is that it would feel better, especially with the new rank up mechanism, if the top end 3,000 Platinum requirement to roughly 2,000 (15 days of bounties v.s. 20 days). If a player was able to depend on getting two crafted Legendary Gems a month this would go a long way to curving feelings of not getting them through Legendary or Rare Crests and maybe just enough to keep players engaged with the system, furthermore with the game.
Also, there appear to be Legendary Gems that only drop in Elder RIfts that are not craftable. This means those gems are inherently rarer and have proven to be much stronger in their base form. While Legendary Gems are not gear, the whole principle of not being able to “buy power” essentially dies on these specific gems. If there is no way to craft them, then they will be labeled as “P2W/ P2P” gems due to the acquisition method of only Rare and Legendary Crests. All Legendary Gems should be craftable.
Lastly, a potential note on a future issue on the value of Platinum vs. Legendary & Rare Crests in regards to Legendary Gems. Legendary & Rare Crests can be bought (through one conversion of real money to in-game currency) to get a Legendary Gem along with Fading Embers to buy Runes to craft other Legendary Gems (although some Legendary Gems are not craftable).
Platinum (through two conversions to get from real money to in-game currency) only helps in crafting Legendary Gems, which there are a few you can’t and only drop in Elder Rifts, by chance, with a Legendary or Rare Crest. When I think about where I would spend my hypothetical money here, Legendary Crests just seem out-and-out better bang for your buck. With this stated, I wouldn’t really actively engage in crafting Legendary Gems because I feel I would be getting a potential bad value for my money on just crafting a low to mid-level gem v.s. potentially getting a high-level gem crafting can’t give me. Crafting is more a bi-product of buying and using Legendary and Rare Crests.
- Normal Gems
Normal Gems are in a better state with not being a direct source of Offense or Defensive rating. If they still were, like in Tech Alpha, they would be auto buy and socket over all others. The new stats are good, but hopefully will be made better when stat balancing/improvement for PvP gets better.
With that, Normal Gems seem awfully one-notey. It’s not a bad thing. Not everything needs to have layers upon layers of depth or complexity. However, having a simple addition to give players choice and more unique options would be desirable if possible for longer term health and engagement of the system.
One simple addition could be to allow any gem to go in any socket, but if you match the Normal Gem color to the socket color you get a bonus i.e., like how World of Warcraft in The Burning Crusade does it. It would add another simple layer that would open up the socket options and help push you for an even better piece to truly max out your gear.
Additionally, you could add three more gem colors with non-stat based options. The colors would be orange, purple, and green. As you could probably guess you would form these gems by Fusing two Normal Gems to form these, so:
- Any Normal Red + Any Normal Yellow = Fused Orange
- Any Normal Red + Any Normal Blue = Fused Purple
- Any Normal Yellow + Any Normal Blue = Fused Green
The Fused Gems would count for socket bonus if placed in either of the base Normal Gem socket colors. The new Fused Gems don’t need to be themed after the base color gems. You would simply take two of the same rank Normal Color Gems, go to the Gem Crafter, and Fuse them.
One side effect of Fusing is that you could either combine three Fused Gems to rank it up or just wait until you get two higher Normal Gems to Fuse. This would need looking into to determine which method be preferred/allowed.
This is more like a Normal Gem “end game” system. Also, admittedly, it may only function at it’s best if Normal Gems had a rank cap so you wouldn’t feel you’re losing out by not waiting to rank up your Normal Gems before Fusing them.
- Charm Crafter
With the exception of potentially getting a +2 or +3 Skill Bonus it doesn’t appear that much, if anything, has changed since Tech Alpha. Even with the addition of being able to buy Charms in mass from the Honor Merchant, the system does not feel any better.
Seeing Rank 1 Charms with a skill you could use, but need to salvage for material is bad. Knowing you only ever have a ~15% chance to see a class skill of your character after the fact is bad. Additionally, with each new class added to the game, the probability of seeing your character’s skill goes down is bad. Taking nine days to make your first Skill Rune, go through the slot machine, and not get a skill bonus, losing nine days of effort feels really bad. Lastly, going through this process, to me, makes me feel more exhausted than excited when I do get a skill bonus I want. It’s the combination of honor needed, the risk/reward potential compared to the guaranteed better value from items such as Normal Gems, Legendary and Rare Crests, etc. at the Honor Merchant.
I have heard that it’s an end game system and that it’s supposed to be hard. Regardless of design intention, Charms really don’t supply enough power to really impact the end game to qualify to need to be this hard, which is a misnomer considering every step is the process is 100% RNG:
- Charm Skill Bonuses at acquisition are 100% RNG, no choice.
- Charm Skill Bonuses during Upgrading are 100% RNG, no choice.
- Charm Skill Bonuses during Imbuing are 100% RNG, no choice.
In order to give us some feeling of control, a suggestion could be the following. Give the player three roll chances while Imbuing instead of the one chance. This will be greatly appreciated by players when we start to pay for Platinum for Skill Runes on the marketplace.
Another option, in a similar vein, could be to have a material cost for rerolling during the Imbuing process. The first reroll could cost 20 Alchemic Powder, and go up by 20 each time (20, 40, 60, etc.) or double each time (20, 40, 80, etc.). It would allow for a certain amount of “realistic” rerolls before a player would have to judge, “Do I roll again or not?” choice.
If there is no real change to the Charm system there is no way I would spend Honor of Charms currently in good conscience and would recommend the same for anyone else come release. Other options from the Honor Merchant give guaranteed better sources of character progression to be wasted on Charms currently.
Feedback on Itemization:
Gear in general is in a good place with Immortal. While we as players may always want more there is a feasible limit to all the things that can be done while making sure they can be translated well on the mobile platform itself; can be a challenge.
With Offensive and Defensive rating being the king stats we are going for, in cases where a new item drops and it has 10+ total stats, it just gets equipped. Properties need to be given a little more impact one way or another so the decision in equipping an item isn’t always what has the most total stats.
The Essence Transfer is a good addition and glad it operates the way it does. There is a nagging feeling of over ease in assembling your build, however. While adding the Essence Transfer directly cuts down the loot hunt factor for finding specific gear pieces for specific builds, it ultimately gets us out of the boring loop of trying to find the same item but with better stats a la Diablo 3. I am in no way advocating to go back to that.
While triple-stat Legendaries being the hot stuff, bees-knees, there also may be quad-stat Legendaries coming. Regardless, the amount of stats shouldn’t be the only thing keeping us going. More stats is a boring reason to chase an item. With that in mind, I propose the following which incorporates many in-game systems already to give us true chase items for potential unique builds. The new item rarity would be Relics:
- Relics would only be for the Primary Gear slots.
- You could equip only one.
- Stat allocation would follow in line with Legendaries. A small percentage more, maybe, but not required.
- They would only come from Dungeons (utilizing the bonus drop tag system along with consistent unique item drops from bosses).
- Relics would interact with the Essence Transfer system.
These new Relic items would only be able to be obtainable when the unique Rare item that always drops off the final boss of each Dungeon matches the equipment tag on the Activities menu. This introduces elements of target farming. Also, gives you incentives to plan out groups, or make effective use of your Clans. This would give a big engagement boost to Clans as being a Shadow or Immortal has seemed to override the Clan social experience.
At this point, you just run the full dungeon till the Relic drops (obvious low drop chance). When it does, if you want to add a little flair, there could be a singular easy mini quest with Cain himself to unlock the item’s main special power.
Regardless of the mini quest or not, the main selling point is that instead of a defined Inscription Power, there are just simply two “ [+] “ boxes. You would be able to click on either one and assign a Legendary power (of the same slot as the relic – Helm for Helm, etc.) from your Essence Transfer.
This is simple but would follow the mantra of, “Making impossible builds possible,” due to being able to have seven Legendary Powers v.s.six. Since the overall design of Legendary Powers is more in line with Skill Runes from Diablo 3 than raw power, Relics would be a great build utility unlock in most cases.
These items would be a great addition to the game. There would be enough limiting factors to not drive up power creep. Relics would be a great additional level of player engagement with Dungeons, Guilds, Warbands, Tag system (for Dungeons in Activities Menu), and Essence Transfer system. Most of all, it gives us far more possible build opportunities, advances the gear loot hunt (which needs help), and gives us chase items most hardcore players want.
Feedback on Helliquarry:
The Helliquary is a good addition to the game. It’s a great source of extended content for us besides Bounties/Dungeons/etc. It’s a direct source of Offensive and Defensive rating is okay (from a baseline perspective) but there are a few concerns.
First, if there is not going to be a cap on the level of your Helliquary then there is going to be a pretty harsh disparity between players who started the game at release v.s. people that start even a month after release let alone more. This gap in power will never be able to be made up.
Second, on the Closed Alpha, we unlocked an additional item slot at Helliquary level 20 but the next boss was at Helliquary 30. This is a disconnect because a player would be led to assume, “Okay, I unlocked another slot, what can I put in it now?” and they have to wait until level 30 to get the item? Doesn’t make sense.
Third, Scoria from the Honor Merchant and from the Adventurer Bounty Bonus Chests, while could be considered a catch up mechanic, would force new players to forgo participating in the Cycle of Strife, not becoming a Shadow or Immortal. This is a huge ask of a player to give up on potential weeks of a rather large chunk of the game to catch up to other players with very little other benefits. Also, as stated in the first point, the longer the game is out, with no Helliquary level cap, you may never really be able to catch up in the first place.
Conversely to new players, veteran players may leave/never become an Immortal or never join the Shadows to ensure they can get their 10 bonus Scoria a day (per a standard seven day week daily average) and always have the highest Offensive and Defensive rating possible, which is king above all else in the game.
I would suggest the complete removal of Scoria from the Honor Merchant along with the Adventurer Bounty Bonus Chests. The game is about the life cycle of a player from Adventurer (during leveling) to becoming a Shadow to hopefully becoming an Immortal for as long as possible; repeat. Offensive and Defensive rating is king and having a way to basically obtain half a Helliquary level extra a day, as an Adventurer, defeats the purpose and incentive for becoming a Shadow or Immortal – crippling Cycle of Strife. There should not be an incentive to stand on the sidelines.
Lastly, the daily motions of the system feel a little meh, nothing really to look forward to. You’re just doing bounties every day to get Scoria to convert to Hellfire Scoria to get from one milestone level to another (1 to 10, 10 to 20, etc.). The boss fights are good fun but they will be a one-and-dones once you get the correct Offensive and Defensive rating.
During the introduction to the Helliquary we could place the Helliquary itself on the pedestal at Cain’s Workshop. It would be cool (if it were not already being alluded to already) to have different Helliquarys. Having one that allowed for two active items (where we get the selected item’s bonuses) but only two passive items in the base. Maybe another with just three actives and no passives. It would be fun to have another element to think about in the system with hopefully a bunch of unique items from hopefully dozen(s) of Helliquary boss items to mix and match. Most of all creates greater engagement with the system.
Feedback on Paragon:
Now for a person that’s had a rather long love/hate relationship with Paragon from Diablo 3, the team continues to do well in mitigating a lot of the issues we had in the past.
First, one suggestion I would make is when you first go into a new Paragon Tab it always started with an Active Ability then branched off from that point. It would be great to have a right-off-the-bat boost to your character, then you start pathing through the Paragone Tab.
Second, limit the maximum amount of talents required in the Passive Nodes to 20, preferably 15. When you have a 25 point Passive Node it’s a commitment, yes, but it’s also quite boring. You’re assigning points. You’re progressing. However, it feels like you’re running on a treadmill, not going anywhere. It disengages you from the system for a while till you hit the next Active Ability to just hit another 25 point Passive Node wall.
Third, right now respecting is not an option. It needs to be especially as soft caps are being discovered with certain stats you get from Paragon. If there was an option to respec once a Battle Pass cycle, at certain milestone Paragon levels, or through an earnable in-game currency, would help alleviate that all too familiar feeling of, “Am I doing this right?”. If not, it will foster the older style of thinking of hoarding points if you don’t need to spend them and only allocate them once you’ve (most likely out of the game on a website) figured out the optimal path forward.
Lastly, a topic much related to Paragon – experience. I don’t have a problem with how the experience per level currently is. It’s an effort but not dismal like Diablo 3. The issue I want to bring up is the Bonus Experience Pool Cap. There have been many conversations over the last month about is it a good thing? Should it be a thing? What should be the value assigned to the cap? Additionally, through others, there are even rumblings of floating the idea of not having Paragon shared between characters for a future testing phase.
With the last point made, I think we’ve reached a point of already heavily convoluting a simple thing. If there is going to be a Bonus Experience Pool Cap with the potential of making Paragon per character, not account, then we need to rethink it completely. We should flip it, make Paragon still account wide (as not to limit alt character play) but make it so you can get XX Paragon levels per Battle Pass reset.
This is a lot easier to explain from the game’s perspective and from a content creator’s point of view. Since the experience per Paragon level doesn’t change after 60 through other’s record keeping, the amount of Paragon levels allowed per month could be easily figured out from current rates to keep consistent with known values. It’s a lot more tangible for a new player that just hit max level to understand and relate to. It avoids the sheer marketing nightmare when players hear Bonus Experience Pool Cap and don’t even give the game a shot because they feel that it’s just another mobile game gacha mechanic Lastly, if the amount of Paragon levels you could get per Monthly Battle pass reset stacked starting from the release of the game, it would be its own catch up mechanic. This would give new players the option to grind and catch up to veteran players as they would ease to the new Paragon cap, that would be great.
Feedback on Cycle of Strife & Sub-systems:
Adventurers are fine for being a pool of players waiting to become Shadows or Immortals. I think it’s highly confusing to treat them as a credible third faction in the game as they don’t participate in the Rite of Exile being between Shadows and Immortals only.
Also, as mentioned in the Helliquary section since Adventurers do not participate in the overall Cycle of Strife PvP system. They shouldn’t have a way to gain power (possibly rivaling that of a Shadow or Immortal) that would disincentivize players from becoming Shadows or Immortals, to begin with. This would ultimately cripple the Cycle of Strife as a whole.
Lastly, even though some players may be turned off by the prospect of doing PvP, most of the subsystems that help get you buffs are actually PvE and largely solo. No Adventurer should be afraid to join with the Shadows or Immortals. Both factions need players that essentially lurk. What I mean is Shadows need Adventurers to join their Dark House or Immortals to join them with the intention of not fighting in PvP but help bolster their respective power. For the thousands of players that will be Shadows and hundreds that will be Immortals, only 80 players from either will ever be involved in the Rite of Exile itself. It’s not really a big deal in the end I feel.
The Shadow system feels well put together. Being a Shadow feels like a true underground group of people waiting for the right time to make a pivotal move on the Immortals. The introduction questline sets the mood while doing just enough to let you know what to do. It’s full of information but not overwhelming. The Court of Whispers is also a great place of gathering. The activities a Shadow can do are Path of Blood, Contracts, along with Raid the Vault, and give a more unique flair to things you can do daily.
- Path of Blood
This is probably the best rift system in Immortal. Being a solo test of power and skill with the fact you can’t use your health potion makes it a real challenge. Seeing where other Shadows had gotten to was a cool unofficial leaderboard that kept you motivated to get to the next Floor. The thing that disengaged me from the system in Closed Alpha was the Floor limit introduced tied to which stage the Shadows are at. This can be severely limiting and possibly overly structuring the system. After the first Cycle turnover (real players becoming Immortals) the change was introduced limiting us to Floor 20 initially. Most of us at that point had been playing daily, doing bounties, and ranking up gear could easily triple that doing Floor 60+. I can see if this was done in some way to balance the overall Cycle of Strife, however, it turns this otherwise great system into something boring, routine, and takes the excitement of testing oneself away. If there needs to be a balance in power, making the requirements to get more power on the Immortal side should probably be targeted instead. Looking at the contribution requirements, looking at their bonuses, seeing if they could get a buff rather than limiting a Shadow system would be the better play here potentially.
These are great advanced quests. They add a lot of world building for what they are and how they introduce underground Shadow v.s. Immortal elements. They can also send you into Dungeons to add an extra connection between the story and the world, which is always a plus. There’s a part of me that doesn’t mind this fact, yet there’s a part of me that does. If I want to do a quest, I want to do a quest, not a quest and Dungeon run. Some of the Contracts make you run 90% of the Dungeon to get the item. There are plenty of reasons to run Dungeons as it is, and I don’t feel we need a forced additional reason.I would feel alright if the item or person was found just before/after the first boss of any dungeon. That would be a good compromise (as some Contracts do). Other than that, the rewards are great and the opportunity to get bonus Marks to up your Shadow Rank is well worth running them.
- Raid theVault
Raiding the Vault from the Shadows end definitely became more challenging once players became Immortals. The concept itself is good enough. The Floors themselves are fine. It would be nice to have a little diversity in layouts. The alarm system with the Wardens, however, needs looking into.
It’s funny that prior to players becoming Immortals it seemed fine. Afterward, though, some flaws jump out more sharply. For instance, sometimes on Floor 3 but especially on Floor 4, Wardens will spawn almost as soon as you enter. They’ll spawn in the middle monster packs in the distance and you just have to YOLO it because if you don’t you know there is a Crusader waiting to steamroll you.
There have been many times when getting to Floor 4 a Warden spawning palooza would occur with five to eight Wardens in the first half of the Floor within the first 40-ish seconds. Even with a well coordinated group, on Discord, being careful of skill usage would still devolve into pure chaos trying to kill all the Wardens. Some groups have cleared the Vault with four players fine. There may have been a power difference in the players I was grouped with, but it doesn’t make the sheer silliness of having that many Wardens spawn in such a short amount of time fun or practical.
Now I am not sure what the ultimate reward is. I have talked to a few players that have cleared a Vault and they only got Gold and Honor. If that is intended i.e., not being able to steal actual Legendaries from the Immortals, that is a pretty big disincentive to wanting to do a full clears as a Shadow.
The Immortals come off, well, to be honest, a little snooty for their own good. It’s not a bad thing at all. The prestige and glory of being part of the few out of tens of thousands of players can give off that feeling. Really it’s not bad, if anything adds to the dynamic between the Shadows and Immortals. When it comes to stuff you can do and expect while being an Immortal falls a little short when compared to the Shadows. I’ll address the Daily Goals, Kion’s Ordeal, and Defend the Vault.
- Daily Goals
The Daily Goals are okay but lacking in comparison to Shadow Contracts. They may be for all we know simple placeholders to do for testing with the intent of switching out later. I would only suggest removing the ones that come off as tutorial level instructions such as: inspect the Immortal Statue, inspect the Wall of Honor, Salvage an item, Upgrade an armor item, etc. Also, inviting people to the Immortals should not count to one’s contribution limit for obvious exploitation by Immortal leadership. On top of this, add Contract like Missions that can focus on clearing out Demonic infested Immortal strongholds, rooting out powerful Demons from the world, forcibly removing traitors or Shadow spies from their ranks, etc. All the thematic elements are there, just need a bit more rounding off the rough edges.
- Kion’s Ordeal
I will admit I have only watched others do this and did not have the opportunity to do one myself. So, I will offer broad general thoughts. For more accurate and detailed thoughts I would defer to EchoHack, Raxxanterax, Facefoot, or Rob2628.
First, a minor issue of scheduling. In order to maximize (in an ideal reward structure) you want all 48 Immortals on and able to do it. More importantly, the 48 most reliable Immortals that will always be there for defending the reign. Getting 48 people on at any time is a pain. This in combination that participating Immortals have to be Elite Rank makes for a lot of administrative headaches to just get people into the Raid.
Second, again through observation and discussions, there is a chance to get a Legendary from the bosses as a drop. There is also a chance during the reward phase too. The whole idea of the reward phase is unique and works for a system in this style of game. However, rewards on a whole begin to falter here. As I mentioned before in this feedback, I feel too few rewards are being asked to do too much in Diablo Immortal.
For something the entire Immortal faction has to gather 30,000 Essentia to do in the first place let alone the RNG of the rewards, there needs to be a structural look at what belongs here for rewards. The Immortals should never feel as a Faction they didn’t gain power to help further continue their reign.
Lastly, this is more a question than a comment. One would think Raid the Vault is the end all be all for content and rewards from a Shadows perspective. This can very well be true considering this is the only option they have for end game content for their activities.
The Immortals have the Defend the Vault but also Kion’s Ordeal, which is earned by being an Immortal, being chosen to do it, and requiring 30,000 Essentia to even open it. There are so many more steps than just Defending the Vault, so Kion’s Ordeal may just be the end game from an Immortal’s point of view.
With all that stated, there appear to be two seemingly different end games for the Immortals, which one is supposed to be the higher goal? Which should give the better rewards to help defend the Immortal’s reign? After all that, how does juggling what the Immortals now get affect what the Shadows can get and prevent big discrepancies between both factions’ reward structures?
- Defend the Vault
Defending the Vault seems okay with the one caveat that there needs to be a better way to get to the Vault for the Immortals. Having to camp the Vault entrance is not fun and severely hampers a player’s ability to do much else. Having some opt-in queue that lasts for 15-20 minutes before you need to renew it could be a start. The queue would go by the same rules as the Battleground queue, such as it will disappear if you do a Dungeon but allow you to do open world content. Once in the queue, every Immortal will get flagged when the Vault is under attack, and the first four to accept to go in.
- Rite of Exile
The Rite of Exile is cool as far as an ultimate test and possible end of an Immortal Reign. The way it forces Shadows to have ten good Dark houses with eight good player teams each makes it so one Dark house can’t concentrate all the powerful players. It also fosters healthy competition to be the top Dark House if in the event the Shadows win the Rite of Exile. There is always a chance of politics to get involved but that’s part of the system when player decisions are a factor in the overall outcome.
The only other thing I want to mention is the odd feeling of being part of the top ten Dark Houses (but not the top one), winning the Rite of Exile, but then not being a Shadow after. The game does give you a reward box for participating but overall it comes off as anticlimactic for your efforts of organizing, recruiting, ranking up yourself and your Dark House. Also, the week-long time event directly after the Cycle turning, admittedly to give the Immortals time to gather their strength, leaves you feeling anxious waiting for it to be over to start the process of getting the Shadows built back up.
Feedback on Activities:
The Arena itself is an exciting time, win or lose. The issue I have is there will be no real way to make sure the top players on a server don’t always bash the skulls of lower level players. There is no Offensive and Defensive rating locking of players to certain Difficulties, which there would be easy work arounds anyways.
I believe that there will need to be some sort of hidden matchmaking mechanic, specifically for the Arena at some point either now or when the true masses get into the game. This hidden matchmaking mechanic would also have to be able to cope with players trying to abuse it. So, simply taking the average of all four players (for a four player party) would be bad considering one player could be substantially lower to help artificially lower their average to essentially smurf the competition. You would have to do something like the following:
- Four Player Party – Drop the lowest Offensive and Defensive rated player and average the remaining three.
- Three Player Party – Drop the lowest Offensive and Defensive rated player and average the remaining two.
- Two Player Party – Base it on the higher rated of the two.
The matchmaking would then phase like ranked players & parties together. It’s not perfect, but with the game as it is, and Helliquary being an unending source of Offensive and Defensive rating, what’s to stop a 5k or 7k or 9k Offensive and Defensive rated player from going to Normal or Hell I? Those new players that may be only 1 to 1.5k Offensive and Defensive rating would just get stomped.
- Haunted Carriage
This event is really good. Its predictability is great. This allows us not to babysit it going back and forth between the zones to see if it is close to starting – looking at you Call of the Ancients!
The only thing that could help, as many other players have stated, is when the Tax Collector is coming out of the ground it’s temporarily immune to all damage. This would allow players to get a hit that would count for the chest. Honestly, there were times during the Closed Alpha where he was alive for mere fractions of a second. We took the time to be there and should be able to get the reward.
- Purify the Corruption
This event could be so much better but it needs work in both the encounter itself and more so the rewards. The premise of the zone, the tree, and what goes on are all solid concepts to jump off from. Maybe having waves of stronger corrupted entities come at you when the event starts, with a final Corrupted Amalgamation of many fallen people’s corrupted souls. Regardless, the event just needs work to be on equal footing with the other events.
- Kulle’s Hidden Chamber
The collection of the Lost Scrolls and making a portal to random events is probably the best execution of a zone event so far in Immortal. That’s before you consider both the rare chance of spawning the Sandstone Golem or the Hydra, which are great moments when they happen. It’s a race to get to them. It’s a race to get your friends there before other people show up to start attacking. All this said when the Sandstone Golem or Hydra spawn if there still was a portal for the player that spawned it to get to it quickly. At least they could get the materials even if they couldn’t get their friends there to share in time due to other players showing up and killing the monster. The player who spawned the monster shouldn’t have to worry about missing it.
- Ancient Nightmare
The Ancient Nightmare is a solid event. It’s interesting, requires coordination, sometimes to your dismay as a player. The only real issue was the lag you would encounter when doing the event. Other than that, perfect.
- Call of the Ancients
I must admit I only did this one or two times. As alluded to in the Haunted Carriage section, the predictability of this event makes it hard to do it, but not for the lack of wanting to. The escorting of the Ancient is decent enough but unless I am mistaken, there is no real finishing fight at the end, so no real payoff moment. The reward though can be quite fruitful if you farmed for relics in the zone. This is the other issue. You need to farm prior to the event for items to use at the end of an unpredictable event. It’s got a good foundation, may not need any adjustments, and we players just need to care a little more. I’ll leave it at that for now.
- Challenge Rifts
Challenge Rifts in Technical Alpha were good at measuring how far you have come, while also measuring against your fellow players. The addition of rewards for multiplayer groups on the leaderboards fosters more engagement. Likewise, the solo leaderboard change to the top 1,000 players getting rewards is a good step. Challenge Rifts are now a well rounded system in Immortal.
The nagging feeling I have is that the rewards for the multiplayer group leaderboards are good to have. Also, having them reset every month as compared to weekly is a good rich get richer preventative. Regardless, at minimum, I feel it would be best (as some others have stated) to only allow players to get rewards from your highest multiplayer group leaderboard placement rather than all of them.
- Elder Rifts
Elder Rifts are comparably better than in Technical Alpha. However, this is primarily due to the new daily reward put in place which normally gives us one Rare Crest. At the end of the day, Elder Rifts just suffer from a lack of offerings that is actually more highlighted than ever by the daily reward. If a F2P player gets that Rare Crest, it’s worth doing. No Rare Crest, skip it and do anything else.
Feedback on Social Systems:
- World Chat
World chat along with subsequent channels (World, Zone, Clan, etc.) really do a good job to allow players to talk to each other and set up groups. The World chat, at least for us on the content creator server, really gave a sense of community that you usually get from an MMO.
The only thing I would make sure of in the game is an Officer channel for the leadership of any Dark House and the Immortals so they can talk in private about matters if desired.
- Clans (Formerly Guilds)
All my time in Immortal during the Closed Alpha I used the Clan chat (as there is little else Clans offer right now) almost never. It’s nice to gather all your friends in a singular social group. However, even if you have a mild interest in becoming a Shadow or Immortal, even just to get the personal buffs, the Shadow and Immortal system with respective chat channels supersede your Clan most of the time in activities, planning, etc.
To make Clans a little more impactful maybe having a basic, non-power based system for leveling up your Clan. Could be some good positives (along with a few drawbacks) to keep players endangered with Clans on a whole while collectively working towards something.
Lastly, a simple note. Please increase Clans from 150 to at least 300+. There have been issues with Content Creators, Influencers, and Streamers not being able to get everyone they want into their Clan in Diablo 3 for years now. Having a relatively low max amount of players means stickier Clan policies will need to be made and enforced to ensure the most active players stay in. No one likes wasted time in-game doing simple administrative tasks every day to see who’s on to kick them to invite the next person on the peeking list.
The concept and layout of Warbands is polished. The system I feel suffers though in two ways:
- Just how when you become a Shadow or an Immortal you’re more inclined to focus more on those systems and chats, the same thing could be said with Warbands to Clans. Clans are a big pool of players with a dedicated chat you can attempt to get a group on the spot. Warbands being a bulletin board essentially may not be good enough in comparison.
- In a similar vein, between World and Zone chats along with the Immortal, Shadow, and Clan (systems and chats) Warbands feel like they’re the sixth social system and its effectiveness is watered down by this fact.
I love how simple and clear the system is. I wouldn’t want it to go away. It may be a good thing to incorporate into Clans though to help members organize themselves for activities, essentially becoming a specialized tool. This would encourage people to join Clans and engage more with the Clan system via Warbands along with other possible improvements mentioned previously.
Feedback on Battle Pass:
The Battle Pass does its job. The free track is helpful with what it gives along with the 20 Promote Ranks above the Rank 40 reward. Knowing that the paid track will not have gear, A.K.A. bought power, it’s nice to hear reiterated over the last months of various discussions.
The only point I would bring up is making sure the end of month Battle Pass reset doesn’t reset the Battle Pass Weekly Points as well. It’s not a big deal but people that know and plan for it can jump ahead in experience through ranking up. Yes, I know the monthly limit of 60 rank ups solves this, but only if everyone maxes it out, which will not be the case for all. Also, it’s weird to have this special case happen for an event that happens at a specified time otherwise.
Feedback on the Topic of “P2W”:
This will actually be a short section. As compared to Technical Alpha where there were only a few systems, Legendary Gems and the Family Reforge Stones carried more weight on the power of your character as a whole.
With the introduction of the Cycle of Strife and subsequent Shadow and Immortal systems. The Helliquary is a great source of power (even with issues). The reworking of the crafting of Legendary Gems and the reduced cost to make goes a long way as well. All these changes reduce the impact from the rather limited amount of known shop items that target only specific areas of your character.
With some more iterations, the game is not “P2W”, nor do I feel “P2P”. I feel the correct phrase is pay to be better with that better meaning just that. It’s not a major or moderate amount more than others. Unless you’re lucky on your Legendary Crests usage (to get Legendary Gems), being a “F2P” player will be just fine and not be so bad compared to the bulk of other mobile games. However, things can change between now and release.
That’s it (ha) hope you got something from it and see you next time around! God help it’s not another thesis paper – lol?