Guide:Why a Ladder Reset
This article serves as a synopsis of various issues with the Diablo II ladders in v1.09, as of late 2001. It's not suggesting that any specific course be taken, however I do wonder what the point in a ladder is if everyone on it is the max level in relatively short order.
High levels in Diablo II were more of an achievement, since the super fast exp gain of Act Five didn't exist. Especially for Hardcore characters, making it into the 80's was really admirable, and 90's were amazing. Now there are hundreds of HC 99's, and aside from a few dangerous spots in Acts 1-4, it's quite possible to just level indefinitely in the Bloody Hills in Act Five hell and get to lvl 99, eventually.
Related Articles, focused on the October 1, 2001 Diablo 2 ladder reset.
- Guide:Why a Ladder Reset
- Guide V1.09: Ladder Race: 7 hours
- Guide V1.09: Ladder Race: 23 hours
- Guide V1.09: Ladder Race: 39 hours -- The race ends with a 99, and numerous ladder runner reports.
- V1.09: Clvl 99 in Record Time -- First person account from the Clvl 99 winning team.
Why Ladder Reset?
As Blizzard announced a couple of weeks ago, they are going to be resetting all D2 and D2X Realm ladders later today. Note that this is just the ladders, there aren't any characters being deleted or anything like that, just the ladders will be reset and you'll have to create a new character after the reset to have them show up on the rankings. Also nothing stops new ladder characters from playing with older chars, so you can twink them up with all your best gear, party to pass quests or get waypoints from, etc.
Lots of people have been asking why bother, since the ladders were last reset just a couple of months ago. Also, it's so easy to gain a ton of experience, it seems likely there will be all level 99's again in just weeks. So why wipe them? A couple of reasons:
The ladders now, especially the standard ladders, are very compacted. All top 1000 listed characters are lvl 99 on Asia, Asia 2, Asia 3, and USWest, with the top 800 on Europe and top 700 on USEast Clvl 99 as well. Obviously it's not much fun to level up a new character now if your goal is to be on the ladder, when there are thousands of others already at the max character level.
The Hardcore ladders aren't nearly as packed with lvl 99's, but there are quite a few of them on all the realms other than Asia1 (and that's only because Asia is so laggy that death comes too often to play HC consistently), at least a few for every type of character, with lots more Sorcs than any other character, since she has such overpowered skills, especially into hell where the physical resistance slows down all the combat characters.
So wiping the ladders will open up space for new characters to level up, but the most obvious reason is that the seasons go by quarters of the year, and it's late September now. Expect another ladder wipe just before the end of the year. The Brood War, Starcraft, and Warcraft 2 ladders all reset quarterly, so why not Diablo II and D2X as well? D2 wasn't wiped that often, but it was much harder to gain experience there, so the ladder wasn't all 99's as it is now for D2X. Blizzard could just wipe the D2X ladders and not D2, especially since there are far fewer D2 players now than in the past (everyone is playing D2X) but it seems they want to clean slate them all at once.
Is a Wipe a Good Thing?
This is obviously open to debate, but I've not heard much complaining about it, other than people wondering why bother. Obviously if you have a 99 now and enjoy seeing yourself up on the ladder, especially if you did it Hardcore, you're proud of that and would like your name to stay up high. But this is a very small percentage of players. Most players look at the ladders being all 90+ or even all 99 in some cases, and see no reason to work at leveling up that high, if they'll just be one more of hundreds, or not even show up at all.
So clearing out space is good to add some competition to the highest level races, and also lots of players are planning new characters to start today or over the weekend, to zoom up the ladder with. It's fun to do a new character, maybe a new type, or a different build of the same character you have a big one of now, and a ladder wipe is a good excuse for that. Plus players who don't have time/inclination to get a character into the 80's to be on the ladder normally can play a long session and see themselves up there with a lvl 50 or 60, at least for a few weeks until others pass them up.
Any Game Changes Also?
This isn't known. There is speculation in the forums that Blizzard might pop in a patch suddenly. Activating the new Runewords for off-realm play, and making some changes/fixes to the game (insert your pet peeve feature/bug fix here). Blizzard hasn't said anything, but they can do server side patches, or could do a small v1.09b or even v1.10 whenever they wanted to. v1.09 was a huge patch with tons of changes and fixes, and we knew it was coming for months. v1.10 will be released at some point and make some fixes and changes. But it could be out today, or not for months.
Lots of comments have been heard along the lines of, "Why bother with a wipe when everyone will be lvl 80 again in a week?" This is not just speculation, there will surely be hundreds of characters up into the 80's and higher in just a few days, it's happened every other time there was a ladder reset, and players know by now the fastest possible ways to level up in D2X, and have tons of very good equipment stored up, so it'll happen even faster this time.
Exp Gain Changes?
Blizzard has given no indication at all that they're considering this sort of thing. It's not news to many people that Act Five is about the easiest act in the game, (other than a few areas of it) and worth enormous experience. The Bloody Foothills, especially, pervert the whole game by being just laughably easy, right next to town, and an exp farm. These would be major changes, and we don't expect any of these to happen, but just to speculate a bit....
More monster variety would be a big help. Now there is zero randomization in Act Five. You always know exactly which types of monsters will be in which areas, and they always have the same stats and resistances/immunities. A variety of monsters in an area would really add spice and difficulty. Picture Imps spawning in the Bloody at times, or Lashers in the Halls? The various types of Minotaur Demons are the nastiest monsters in Act Five, but they never ever appear on certain levels, and are always on others, generally in small numbers, so it's easy to plan where to go based on what your character can handle.
Monster Immunity Variety
Variable monster resistances and immunities would be a huge change also, and one that would really lessen the Sorceress' massive advantage over other characters at this point. Now the same monsters are always in the same places, and they always have the same immunities. Everyone knows there are never any FI's in the Bloody or Halls, making those the spots for Firewall or Hydra Sasas to zoom in levels. If monsters were Cold Immune one game, Fire Immune the next, Physical Immune the next, it would add to the fun and also challenge. Or it might just cause the cheesy Bloody Runners to keep spawning games until they got one w/o any FI's in the Bloody.
Modify Experience Gain
An easier fix/change than redoing tons of monster stats would be to change the experience they award. Now just about every character goes into a massive level-o-matic once they get to Act Five, gaining multiple levels every game until the 70's, and still going fast into the upper 80's. Blizzard could cut the exp awarded per monster by 10 or 20 or 50% in Hell, especially the huge tallies Act Five monsters give out. Or they could add steeper experience penalties for high level characters, cutting exp to a trickle past Clvl 90, as it was in Diablo (though that was due to the monsters being much lower levels, and thus giving less as characters got up past lvl 80).
The other way to change it would be to mimic Diablo II, and top monster levels at 75 or 80, rather than the 90 or higher everything is past mid-Act Three in hell. This is will never happen since it would require rebalancing much of Nightmare and Normal, and would also screw up most item drop calculations, so items would need to be redone as well.
None of these three simpler solutions really addresses the main problem, that of Act Five being too easy. This contributes both to the very rapid level up abilities, and also makes the whole game more boring. Act Four is familiar, small, and much harder than Act Five, and since it also gives much lower experience, hardly anyone plays there other than to finish the quests and pass it to move on to Act Five.
Another issue with high levels is the huge party experience bonuses. These are a good thing in most situations, since it's more fun to play with others and Blizzard wanted to encourage this, so they programmed the game to give bonuses for it. However it's also quite exploitable, where a character can be in a big party and contribute absolutely nothing towards the group, but still share in the experience. It's not that uncommon to see players in Bloody Hills games just standing around near town, or off in some corner, leeching experience.
It would perhaps be better if exp sharing only worked in a smaller radius, say a screen or two, rather than a whole level, so it would only benefit actual party play, rather than making leeching or having 8 players all in different parts of a level sharing full experience, but it's very unlikely we'll see any sort of change to this feature.
Will Anything Major Change?
I doubt it. Changes are possible, but there aren't any huge broken things or bugged skills that vastly overpower one class (other than the same Sorc skill issues that have been around since the game was released). There are lots of smaller things, like the Buriza being so Uber, Pierce accidentally working on Guided Arrow (This is a confirmed bug, not a feature, so we do think it will be fixed at some point, in v1.10 if nothing else) and more, but none are show-stoppers.
The new issue of Computer Gaming Monthly lists three new Runewords. We posted these last week, but unfortunately they are still not activated yet. We were told weeks ago by a member of the D2X Team that new Runeword would be in magazines and comic books. These are at least some of the magazine Runewords, and the D2X Comic Book is due out November 14th, so bit of a wait there.
Blizzard went two months from release until v1.09, which enabled all of the existing Runewords for off-realm play, so don't expect them to fall all over themselves hustling along v1.09b or v1.10 to add these for anyone who wants to upgrade their version. There should be other new Runewords added, in addition to the few in the magazines/comic books, and we'll report those when/if word leaks.
Not exactly new realms, but how about splitting the existing capacity somewhat, making say USWest B, USEast B, etc. This would be done on every realm at the same time, starting with say 10% of existing realm capacity allotted for the new realm. More space could be added as needed. These realms would work like new ones, with all characters and accounts on them starting totally from scratch. No character conversion or item transfers at all, so everyone is making brand new lvl 1's w/o any twinks or help from higher level characters.
The point in partitioning existing realms is that it wouldn't require a ton of new hardware and expense for Blizzard, they'd just be splitting the realms somewhat, and people who are now playing on USEast would be playing on USEastB, for example. You can hope for a new USCentral Realm (or whatever) but that's not going to happen due to economic realities, and in any event, that wouldn't help people in Asia or Europe.
Would players be interested in a totally fresh start? Personally I think it would be cool to add it for players who wanted it, but I doubt I'd do it myself, I've just got too much good stuff and big HC characters now.
There is a lot of disgust and disappointment with the current realm play, especially with trading. What's the problem with trading?
- Many trades for the top items specific "SoJs only" and won't even consider other items.
- There is no way to find SoJs now other than very very rarely on a luck drop from a monster.
- So the only way to get/have SoJs to trade are:
- Trading huge items for them (which fuels the fire of this problem, if you consider it a problem).
- Or having some/lots/tons of them you saved up in D2, when they were relatively easy to gamble and tons were duped.
Asia 3 was created after it was no longer possible to gamble SoJs, and on that realm they are very rare and are used as items. There aren't enough of them to be any sort of currency, so other things are used, reportedly Shaels and some other runes in most cases, and items are traded for items much more frequently. Whether or not trading is easier there isn't known, if you are on Asia3 and want to let us know how trading goes, feel free to email. It might be just as annoying, with top items only going for 30 Shaels, or 6 Ists, or whatever, but at least with those you could hope to find some yourself. You know you'll never ever find enough SoJs to trade 4 or 6 of them for something you really want on the other realms.
There was a lot of debate pre-D2X about character conversion. As we know now there was full conversion offered, with all existing characters being transferred with all of their items unchanged. This helped people get started more quickly, and lots of old items are very useful now (mana leech rings) but it also allowed the huge SoJ horders to bring them in.
Blizzard has never made any sort of comment about realm wipes or splits or partitions, this is just an idea I thought was interesting, and who knows, if it becomes popular Blizzard might do it, or it might not even be possible due to hardware issues.