I’m going to skip all the subjective antagonizing over the games potential difficulty that has gone on during the course of D3’s development. Likewise I’m not interested in attempting to explain why it’s important or present any other pithy and drab philosophical meta arguments on difficulty. Nope, today it’s just about the other creative speculations and wisps of daydreams in my head.
We’ll start with a small “explain what you’re talking about you platypus faced moose fucker”. For those not in the know, Inferno mode is the 4th and final difficulty setting for D3. Starting in Act 1 of Inferno, all monsters are lvl 61, keeping in mind that the player max level is 60. Each sequential Act increases the monster lvl by roughly 1 so that in Act 4 the lvl 60 player is fighting lvl 64 monsters (this isn’t entirely true, but it is the general gist, I believe the max lvl mentioned for mobs/bosses was 65). The point is that monster lvls are progressive and not linear in Inferno. As a result, Inferno is what interests us, and by us I mean me. It will be what defines D3 as either sufficiently difficult or another great cultural shame in the vein of Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Kim Kardashian, Twilight and teenage FPS console gamers.
It is important to note that Blizz WANTS D3 to be hard. We’re not talking some kind of casual and passé community pre-release hype. They actively want players to struggle with certain content. It is part of the core design of the game as far as they’re concerned. They’ve gone so far as to suggest that Inferno is impossible for HC characters because of the process required to clear it. Jay Wilson’s recent commentary on Inferno tuning amounted roughly to him saying that the internal testing team tweaked it until it was hard…and then doubled it. Here are a couple of quotes taken from Blue’s that further emphasize the potential difficulty of Inferno:
- I’m aware of internal bets on how many months it will take someone to beat Inferno.
- Honestly many people here find the later acts of Normal very challenging (like they can’t beat the last boss for weeks on end challenging)
- You’re going to die, a lot, and you’re going to have a horrible character for quite a while. You’re not going to hit 60 and finish the game on Inferno. You’re going to be smashing your face against Act 1 Inferno for weeks.
- We know people really want goals to work towards and challenges to overcome. We made Act III and Act IV really, really brutally hard, for the most elite players only.
Now I know what you’re thinking. Blizz didn’t make content in WoW very difficult and shoved a 24 inch, greased up, elephant phallus up content’s rear end on occasion so that everyone and their grandma could see the content. Sure, it partially ruined the game for the more devoted portion of their player base but that won’t be the case with D3! Why? Well because we’re not talking about exclusive content per difficulty, least not on any scale that would result in a situation like Naxxramas in retail WoW. In WoW they wanted people to see the content they had created. They had occasional difficult encounters for the masochists. But by in large they didn’t want to invest large numbers of man hours developing content that only a few would see. It just didn’t make business sense to them. In D3 everyone is going to see the vast majority of content, probably on their first Normal play through really. As a result Inferno doesn’t need to be dumbed down to allow everyone, or even most people, to find success. So again, Blizz wants D3 to be hard and there isn’t any reason it won’t be. Well, other than the chaos of human stupidity and error.
Longevity, and by extension difficulty, is a fundamental element of the Inferno design as well. Each Act provides an exclusive tier of gear that, at least in theory, is required to be able to make progress in the proceeding Act. Add in the “new” challenges inherent in the D3 design compared to the D2 design, aka no pot chugging, no safety TP, no quick exit to save yourself, etc and survival just might flat come down to skill. Unfortunately this is all speculation really, mixed in with a dash of hope and a touch of Blizzards legacy of generally doing a good job at what they intend to do. In the end we’re going to have to wait, impatiently, to find out the complete truth of the matter. Now fuck off and thanks for reading.
Watch out, its bonus maths!
Fair warning, this is pretty dry and pretty…useless really, there just isn’t a lot to do with the numbers that really provides solid information. There simply isn’t enough similarity between the monster types and this flat out isn’t a large enough sample size. There aren’t any thunderous conclusions to pull from the data other then the Act 4 monster hits like a truck. Regardless, here are an assortment of numbers from which one can only really speculate.
Thanks to some pre-release information from an ipad game guide app, we now know the base dmg output of 4 monsters found in the game. One from each Act interestingly enough. In normal difficulty, and in numerical order according to the Act the monster is encountered, the dmg output of the monsters is as follows:
38 | 50 | 21 | 443
Nothing really special there. The Act 3 number would indicate some kind of swarmer monster, powerful in large numbers but meager alone. The Act 4 monsters numbers suggest the opposite, some kind of substantially powerful, largely one at a time kind of monster (it’s actually a mount for another monster but…not entirely relevant). Now comes the Nightmare and Hell difficulty dmg numbers for the monsters with the expected increases:
496 | 542 | 218 | 3445
4097 | 3075 | 1394 | 14k.
Finally and briefly the Inferno dmg numbers for the four beasties with the Act 4 monsters dmg output sticking out as something that will hurt…alot:
18k | 26k | 13k | 170k
The increase in dmg output compared to the previous difficulty starting with Nightmare and followed by Hell and Inferno, ie (first row is the number by which dmg was multiplied for Nightmare difficulty compared to Normal difficulty, the second row Hell difficulty compared to Nightmare difficulty and the third row Inferno difficulty compared to Hell difficulty).
13x | 10x | 10x | 7x
8x | 5x | 6x | 4x
4x | 8x | 9x | 12x
The increases as a percentage within the same framework as above, each difficulty compared to the difficulty before it.
1205% | 984% | 938% | 677%
726% | 467% | 539% | 306%
339% | 745% | 832% | 1114%
The average increase in dmg output per incremental difficulty tier.
Finally the actual base numbers of the monsters listed in the preview screenshots.
38/496/4097/18k – Arachnid Horror – Act 1
50/542/3075/26k – Accursed – Act 2
21/218/1394/13k – Accursed Hellion – Act 3
443/3445/14k/170k – Armaddon – Act 4