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Sunday, 11 March 2012

D3 end game loot farming

Degrinn was kind enough to comment a couple of days ago (it's always encouraging when one starts a new blog to see some sign of something in the way of reading activity happening!) and I replied that I'd look at boss runs shortly.

First let's clarify terms as the word boss is used for slightly different things and it gets confusing.

Common enemies or normal enemies are just the standard unenhanced footsoldiers of Hell, there for us to slay in great numbers.

Like these:

These Risen are a common enemy in Diablo 3.

Sometimes you run into upgraded versions of these monsters.

Champions generally come a few at a time and have a mauve name and on Normal one special ability. They have the same name as regular mobs. This is a Champion spawn of a Skeleton mob type:

This champion has the Frozen special ability.

Rares are also variations of regular spawns. They are more powerful than Champions and have individual names:

This Illusionist rare boss is a menace to adventurers in Normal difficulty.

And finally at certain points in the game there are placed Super-Unique bosses like Diablo which form part of the game's story:

The much farmed end boss of the D3 Beta.

This is how I expect loot generation to work.

Normal mobs: drop items based on their monster level and difficulty. Mostly white items even with magic find.

Champion mobs: drop the same type of items as regular mobs although in higher quantities. But drop higher quality. So many drops will be magic, legendary or rare.

Rare mobs: as Champion except it mostly comes from one big boss rather than a pack of beefed up Champion mobs.

Storyline bosses: drop well the first time you kill them, then slightly worse than Rares and Champions. They will also take longer to kill.

(It was Bashiok who revealed that rares and champions will drop the best loot). He recently added:

You will not be farming bosses. Bosses won't drop the best loot, they won't even drop really great loot. Part of Inferno and our intent with getting people out into the world and hunting and killing lots of different things is putting the best loot on rare and champion packs, and the great thing about rare and champion packs is they have random affixes. They're like a box of chocolates. Murderous,  snarling, blood-soaked chocolates. You're not going up against a boss where you know "Build A" is the best way to minmax against it because it has abilities and resistances X, Y, and Z. What is the best build vs. an "Arcane Enchanted, Teleporter, Frozen, Knockback" skeleton pack? Got that figured out? Cause it's not going to be the best against the next pack you come across, and you're going to want to kill that one just as much.

This is then the obvious way to farm in Inferno. People will scout areas they feel comfortable in like perhaps the Cemetery of the Fallen looking for rares and champions. They will check the boss mods and cherry-pick mods they feel comfortable fighting. They will then kill the packs they can handle and move to a new area or restart a new game.

Although Bashiok said they will try to design so it's harder for people to adjust their builds for each fight people inevitably will when boss fights are one hour wipefests. Also currently the cooldown on skill swapping does not apply while in town.

Now to complicate this Bashiok added:
The designers have been working on and testing a system that actually ties the rare/champion pack kills to boss kills quite nicely. It seems like it's solid enough for us to talk about the intent and goals even though it's still in testing, we can look into sharing more about it ... SOON.

We don't know how this system will work but here's my guess. They want you to play through the game. They don't want people jumping in and out of Leoric099 type runs or Cemetery099 runs. I think there will be an accumulating bonus to storyline boss loot if you kill the Champions and Rares that lead up to him. Say Leoric usually drops a couple of blues if you go straight to him. If you clear all the Champions and Rares in the same game and then head to him you might see better loot: rares and legendaries. That would eliminate both the cherry-picking I described and the skipping on the End boss. So instead of the system I described earlier where a team might spot 6 rare packs, cherry pick 2 and kill them then remake a new game, you get a system where the best loot comes from killing all 6 then moving on to the Skeleton King. Or if some are absolutely horrid, people might kill 5, skip the one no one wants to face, then do the Skeleton King with improved but not uber loot.

Have a close look at the action revealed in this video where Blizzard staff are fighting a Champion pack on Inferno. They are clearly wiping over and over and this may be because they chose to fight a pack with very nasty mods (Electrified Vortex Desecration Teleporter). In particular if it works like the D2 Teleporter ability then the mobs heal when they teleport and teleport when they are low on life. That makes them extremely difficult for underpowered players to kill. You're fighting a monster, it vanishes. A few moments later you find it again and it's almost healed back to full. This is because they Teleport out of sight and heal. This may be how this boss mod works in D3 and would explain why these guys found this pack so hard.

So if you are one of the first players to reach Inferno and you want to group you will probably be talking to other players about builds. People may expect you to get on voice comms, even random strangers. People will certainly expect you to be prepared to adjust your build and gear to suit the needs of the team.

Gradually it will become easier to tag along with a less underpowered group and get a few kills. Although of course a lot of the early people into Inferno will solo rather than play with undergeared and inexperienced randoms. I certainly think that at first Inferno will be extremely hard to do the first time you finish Hell if you do not want to group. Even more so if you do not want to improve your gear from the Auction House.

Tomorrow I'll take a detailed look at boss mods (Teleporter etc).


  1. Good Article. I'd like to start off by saying that I don't like the idea of "scouting" champions and elites. I feel that doing this is just as bad as doing "baal runs" where someone teleports to baal and opens a TP. In D3 it becomes even easier since the scouter does not have to open a TP, players merely have to click on the scouter's banner to tele to his/her location. They kill the elite and clear the area, then they TP out while the Wizard teles around to find the next elite.

    The ideal way to farm items should be in line with playing the game as if it were your first time. Crawling the dungeons, exploring the nooks and crannies, kicking open ancient urns to find gold/treasure, etc...

    When posed the question "Whats the best way to farm items" In my ideal view of how I would like the game to play out, the answer to that question should be..."Just play the game". There should not be a specific ritual involved, otherwise the game becomes all about that ritual and is no longer a game.

    That said, I would be in favor a system where boss loot quality increases based on number of elites killed prior to boss kill. However, I would hate the game to turn into: "Tele, kill elite, tele, kill elite, tele, kill elite, tele, kill boss, remake game."

    Perhaps making it so that every monster killed increases MF by .005%, champion packs increase MF by .1%, elite mobs by .25% etc... This way...everything is worth killing and you arent encouraged to kill one area and then just leave the game. The buff would run errode slowly in case you decide to AFK for a few hours. Maybe as a penalty you will lose X percent of the bonus MF when you die.

  2. If you prefer to simply play through the game it looks like that will be close enough to optimal that there will be plenty of people around wanting to play that way. Especially if the hinted mechanism encourages zone clears.

    So long as you're not wiping.

    I think that at first, when each pull is quite possibly a one hour wipefest I'd prefer to cherrypick. Once we're up and running then I'll enjoy the more challenging packs too but I don't want to race ahead of the pack to be one of the first to get to the fat loots of Inferno then spend night after night killing nothing because we're not optimising.

    Quite how they decide to implement an incentive that would make us want to do a fight like the one shown in the You Will Die video I have no idea. It looks to me like we could kill 4-5 cherry-picked packs in the time they spent wiping on that pack. But if a full clear was 4-5 times as valuable when on farm then that would just encourage people to restart the game over and over until a set of bosses came up they could full clear. Plus it would be too generous for people who could handle it without wiping.

  3. I have a feeling that it will be much more profitable to stay in hell(even after reaching 60) for some time before going to inferno. This will get you to a point where your character could actually handle the initial zones of inferno without any single pack turning into a 1-hour marathon fight. My guess is that if you try to jump right into inferno at 60 you will be doing yourself a disservice since many of the items found in hell and crafted from hell level mats will be much better than the gear you have when you initially hit 60.

    Spending some time in hell could significantly increase your "killing power" and survivability, thus making your character strong enough to push through inferno at a much quicker rate, dying less and killing faster. To gear up to that status by jumping right into inferno, would likely take you much longer than gearing up in hell where the monsters killed per minute is much greater.

    It is hard to determine from 1 video, but going into inferno too early and wiping non-stop could bankrupt you. And now with the RMAH, gold is actually money, money that you don't want to lose.

    I suspect that most people will be entering inferno once they have high level hell gear, maybe not the best, but good enough. It is still very difficult to speculate since our data on inferno, hell, and even nightmare difficulties is very limited at the moment.

  4. That's a very good point and I think you may well be right.

    Still the flipside of that is that with the RMAH Inferno drops are potentially hugely lucrative. Imagine getting the first copy of some Blacksmith plan to drop in your Region.

  5. Good points from both stabs and degrin, guess we'll just have to call the hell/inferno crossover when that time comes.

    Hour wiping sessions on inferno for one lucrative item when you could be farming end hell for many seems like a no-brainer.

    My instinct also is that blacksmith plans will be the first big gold rush.

  6. The plans are potentially very big items, depending how rare they are. Imagine if you're the only one who can make the rare with 6 sockets. You can stand at the Blacksmith and craft all day, buying materials with the profits from your sales and EVERYONE will want a 6 affix rare with strong affixes on compared to the random junk from leveling up.

    I can certainly see a scenario where you spend thousands of pounds on a plan and come out ahead, if they're really rare drops.