||20th February 2012 9:59 PM
The issue arising out of D2’s implementation of skill trees and systems was this: too many people burned their skills too early, and had to re-start, hoarding skills as long as they could before assigning them in a rush to match with (a) experience from the last play-through (b) items, (c) online guide or (d) all of the above. Thos who skipped straight to (c) might have been immune to this issue, of course.
The flip side was that the D2 skill system allowed for huge numbers of permutations - if you weren’t interested in what some person on the internet thought was the “optimal” build, you could create and recreate your character hundreds of ways. And even if you accepted some of the advice from those people who knew about “optimal” builds, you could still build a fire sorc one time, and a blizzard sorc the next.
D3 had two options: D2 with better graphics etc., or a new game that tried to keep some of the feel of D2. Leaving the skill system to one side, I think Blizzard have done a pretty good job at updating the game whilst keeping the D2 feel - hack and slash, gather items, sell what you don’t want, etc.
A flexible skill system is, IMHO, the best alternative to a fixed D2-style tree. Maybe unlimited resets, or resets for a gold cost, would have been a compromise. But the idea what you need to tweak your skill set on the fly seems to be a not-so-bad way of doing it.
The problem - and I’m new to the beta - is that I’m not sure Blizzard have found the right balance between a dynamic, think-about-how-to-approach-this-particular-battle system, and a dumbed-down, handed to you on a platter, system.
And, even when they might have got the balance right, the interface has to match so that it’s intuitive and workable.
Rune words were one of my favourite parts of D2, but I’m too early into the beta to have even come across a socketed weapon, let alone anything to put into those sockets. The idea of using runes to modify skills isn’t a bad one, but the management of that system needs to be tight, too. Again, gifting runes is probably not the answer, unless it’s done in such a way to keep it interesting somehow … but I suspect those “gifting” and “interesting” might be mutually exclusive.
I’ll hopefully get a chance to have a look at beta 13 soon, and see what this latest attempt looks and plays like.