On Monday, I questioned whether people might want Skyrim builds or not. I basically concluded that Skyrim lets you play how you want, so there isn’t a huge need for builds. Now, I am making the same question for Diablo3 builds, and I think Diablo 3 builds do have a place.
For Diablo 3, Blizzard has removed some of the build aspects. Players no longer distribute attribute points. The game does this automatically when they level up. Players can get items to increase their attributes, but attributes are not part of your build. So your build is simply the 9 (active + passive) skills you choose (out of ~30 total) and what items you equip. Items work the same way as Diablo 2, but the skills system has changed quite a bit with free skill respecs in Diablo 3.
When the beta started, you could actually switch skills on the fly anywhere. At this time it seemed like builds might not be that useful, because everyone can just switch skills to the ones they want at any time. Well, they recently changed this. Players can only switch skills in town, no longer in the field or a dungeon. There is some talk about maybe changing it so skills can be switched anywhere when your character is outside of combat, but according to Bashiok, Blizzard Community Manager, the game engine does not track a character’s “combat state” and they would rather not delay the game longer to program that into the game before release.
At launch day we will be restrictied to switching skills in towns only. Unlike Skyrim, where all characters have access to every skill, Diablo 3 characters will only have access to about one-third of their skills in a dungeon or out in the countryside. Diablo 3 also removes Town Portal scrolls. You can only get back to town with waypoints. I feel this makes switching skills enough of an inconvenience that most players will want to stick with their build for, say, 30 minutes, one hour or even several hours.
Because Diablo 3 gives players infinite skill respecs (in town only), I don’t see there being a traditional build for Diablo 3 classes. However, I do see a huge interest in, what I call, “skill sets”. A skill set would be the 6 active skills plus the 3 passive skills. A player could choose one that fits how they want to play at that moment or based on the monsters they are facing. One player might want maximum single target damage for boss killing and would choose an appropriate set of skills for that purpose. A dungeon might have mostly ranged monsters, so a player with a melee character would want a set of movement and defense skills.
The game doesn’t allow players to save skill sets they have previously created. Thus, it would be nice to have a place where a variety of skill sets are listed for convenience. Players can just look up a skill set that supports how they want to play or a skill set that works best in a particular dungeon. I imagine players will do this more often as they get further in the game and more comfortable with the skills. In Inferno difficulty, some dungeons might be impossible with a certain skill set but just barely possible with a different skill set.
So this is my plan for Diablo 3; I will make skill sets for various roles that characters can play. I will also note if any skill set is particularly powerful in a certain dungeon. Just like what I said when I first created this blog, this is primarily for myself. I want a place where I can log all the skill sets I like to use. If visitors to the site like my skill sets and use them then great, but I’m just as happy if no one does.