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Diablo 3 designer weighs in on Anthem

Anthem is finally out and unfortunately, BioWare’s ‘live service’ title has not learned enough from its predecessors in the ‘looter’ genre. Fortunately, there are experts in the field willing to speak out, with Diablo 3’s former senior designer weighing in on how to fix the game.

Travis Day, former senior designer on Diablo 3, spoke a bit about Anthem over on Reddit, going over some of the game’s issues and how to resolve them. For starters, item drops can roll with stats that don’t actually affect the item, which causes confusion for players learning the game. In order to fix this, Day suggests that Bioware revisits the stat rolling system on drops, adjusting +/- stat benefits in a way that ensures compatibility with the item being rolled on.

Risk vs Reward is another area where Anthem needs some work. There are currently three ‘stronghold’ missions in the game, each with disproportionate levels of difficulty all while offering the same rewards. This has led to players taking the path of least resistance in order to farm Masterwork level gear. As a result, the hardest stronghold mission is currently the least popular to play. To fix this, difficulty scaling or reward scaling needs to be adjusted on all three Stronghold missions.

Player agency is another area where Anthem can be improved. Right now, Strongholds drop a Masterwork level skill and legendary contracts will drop a Masterwork level mod, so players can choose which content to play based on what loot they currently need. Unfortunately, legendary contracts can’t really be farmed at present as you only get a limited number of them each day. This makes it difficult for players to commit to chasing after specific items in order to create specific builds. Quickplay can be used to solve this issue but then you’ll run into a situation where high level players are jumping in and out of matchmaking until they land in the mission they really want to play.

Bioware can fix this by adding more options for players looking to jump into quickplay, allowing them to select a mission type they are ideally looking for. The final area that Day touches on is granularity in difficulty, as switching from Grand Master 1 to Grand Master 2 poses a massive uplift in challenge, where enemies can one-shot javelins and make the whole mission feel like it is more trouble than it is worth. Day suggests adding in intermediate difficult levels between GM1 and GM2, or re-tuning the content in a way that the risk/reward factor isn’t pushing them into attempting impossible missions repeatedly.

This doesn’t sum up all of Anthem’s issues but with Diablo being one of the better loot-based games currently on the market, it is nice to get input from one of the senior developers behind it.

KitGuru Says: I’m still playing through Anthem myself, I just wish that there was more unique armor and weapons. Destiny did a pretty good job of making exotic and even legendary loot feel different, so hopefully BioWare can pull from that in the future. Freeplay also needs work, as there is no way to track world missions aside from flying around in hopes that one will pop up. 

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