Howdy Freelancers! So Travis Day, one of the lead designers on Diablo 3, has posted his thoughts on what might ‘fix’ Anthem, at least in his opinion. Day was actually one of the lead designers on the most prolific expansion for Diablo 3, Reaper of Souls.
Since then Day has left Blizzard but he hasn’t stopped caring about games. He’s actually really been enjoying Anthem, but says he’s noticed some reward system traps that could do with being sorted out. In his post he offered his thoughts on what fixes he would implement. I’m going to go through these in this article, but you can check out the original post here.
Reward Trap 1
The first reward trap Day talks about is what are effectively dead inscriptions. These occur when items drop that contain inscriptions that can’t affect them, such as Venmous Blaze with item-specific Physical damage, adding a percentage of physical or cold damage.
Day suggests that this issue has been created out standard looter game practice, but the fact that items drop with Inscriptions that can’t actually have an effect is going to confuse players who are learning how the game works.
The fix Day suggests is to give Inscriptions a specific range, one that also takes into account the item they’re being attached to. This would not only make Inscriptions more effective and easier to understand, but it would avoid the frustration players feel as they earn loot that can’t be enhanced by the Inscriptions they drop with.
Reward Trap 2
The second reward trap that Day discusses is all about risk vs. reward. Specifically he’s talking about Strongholds, and how they differ from each other.
Day says that he’s played all three Strongholds multiple times, and it seems to him that Bioware originally designed them to have a tiered difficulty, going in order from Tyrant, to Temple of Scar, to Heart of Rage. According to Day it took his team 30 minutes to defeat the end boss in Heart of Rage, but far less time to kill the end boss in Tyrant.
The problem with this situation is that there’s no loot scaling between the Strongholds. The loot system, at least in Day’s perception of it, offers no differentiation between one Stronghold or the other, meaning that Freelancers may as well put all their effort into the easiest one if they want to earn the best loot in the fastest time. When it comes to risk vs reward, this really does sort of ruin the entire point of the game.
Day says that the only fix that can be applied for this issue is for each Stronghold to be brought to the same difficulty level. The problem here is that the different enemy factions are what make the Strongholds more or less difficult. Balance is what is required here, that or Bioware need to alter the rewards with Stronghold-specific loot.
Reward Trap 3
This reward trap is directly related to the one above, as well as the fix for the one above. The issue is that with there being no Stronghold-specific loot there’s no reason to try out every single Stronghold. Freelancers can just play the Stronghold that’s easiest over and over again at Grandmaster 3 and rake in the Masterworks. A side effect of doing this will be that Freelancers burn out on Strongholds before it was intended that they should.
Day offers a couple of fixes for this reward trap, but also mentions that he’s quite the fan of optimising his run through one Stronghold over and over again.
Day says that there should either be Stronghold-specific loot, which would offer incentive to run all three, or a random queue that also offers unique loot opportunities.
Reward Trap 4
It’s currently possible to play towards certain rewards, gaining Masterwork loot from Strongholds and Legendary Contracts for example. However to really work towards specific loot Freelancers are encouraged by Anthem’s design to chain Quickplay queues in the hope of jumping into more specific activities, such as Legendary Contracts.
The issue is that different types Masterworks are awarded for different types of activity. It makes it harder for Freelancers to Masterwork their Javelins, and that’s an issue.
Day suggests here that there be a better way for Freelancers to earn the Masterworks they want for their Javelins. Ultimately this should just make it clearer for everyone how to earn certain loot.
Reward Trap 5
The final reward trap Day talks about is the lack of granularity in difficulty. What he means by this is that once a player has ground their Javelin to the point where Grandmaster 1 feels easy, the jump to Grandmaster 2 is actually quite hard. The way he puts it is that once Grandmaster 1 feels trivial, Grandmaster 2 can still feel like you’re firing bullets into sponges, and the sponges kill you in one hit.
This spike in difficulty encourages Freelancers to continue playing the easy activities while slowly growing resentful that they can’t complete the harder ones.
All Day can suggest is that further tuning is required for Grandmaster difficulties. this will allow Freelancers to feel their progress more acutely, and better judge for themselves when they can jump into harder, more rewarding difficulties.
Day wanted this to be a positive conversation, and I really think that it is. This is some constructive feedback from someone who has played the end result of years of work, without the knowledge or background of having worked on the game.
I’m not saying that Day’s fixes are the definitive answer, but I think they’re a step in the right direction. Bioware have made and fixed games for their fans before, and with an MMO that’s ultimately all you’re ever doing.
Destiny 2 has been broken since it launched, if you listen to some people, and Bungie still haven’t gotten it fixed for them. Let me know what you think of this in the comments.
Image Source: DiabloWiki
I was so excited about Anthem I had to start a blog on it!