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Ex Diablo 3 dev explains why Blizzard’s ARPGs aren’t like Last Epoch

Diablo 3 designer Andrew Chambers talks about why the team at Blizzard didn't make an ARPG like Last Epoch, and it comes down to goals.

Diablo 3 designer last Epoch: a knight in white armor with a hood, but a black void where their head should be

With Path of Exile and Last Epoch, Diablo is no longer the only big ARPG game on the block. We’re honestly spoilt for choice at this point, and it’s only good for each game too, as they can iterate and improve upon each other after looking at what the competition is up to. With so many ARPGs on offer, former Blizzard developer and Diablo 3 senior game designer Andrew Chambers has taken to his YouTube channel to talk about why Blizzard couldn’t, or more accurately wouldn’t, make a game like Last Epoch back then, and it’s an interesting watch.

Chambers’ comments shouldn’t just be taken as a way of highlighting mistakes on Blizzard’s part when making Diablo 3, but instead, he’s addressing how the two RPG games have very different goals for their players. Chambers notes how Last Epoch approaches complexity with classes and sub-classes, passive and active skills, calling it “incredible, it basically allows you to tailor and build a specific class, and gives you this promise of endless opportunities.

“Even though Last Epoch’s [skill system] is wildly complicated, I actually think that’s what most action role-playing gamers want,” Chambers begins.

Chambers goes on to say this wasn’t something Blizzard was able to do on Diablo 3. “Fundamentally, overarching everything, we wanted to aim at a broader audience than just Diablo,” he says. This meant D3 had approachable systems that traded out the type of complexity you’d see in Last Epoch.

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“We just really didn’t have a deep enough stat system that allowed for that level of complexity. If the stat system at its core is quite simple, then the number of other methods, or tools, or ways that you can impact that and change those stats is limited.”

Chambers goes on to say that Last Epoch’s trading system, between the Circle of Fortune and Merchant’s Guild, is something that everyone else in the genre should be looking at. He notes that some people don’t want to deal with an auction house and just trade with friends, while in Diablo 3 Blizzard was looking to “create a safe environment for players to trade within” first and foremost.

On top of that, Chambers goes into how Diablo 3 was initially tuned around challenge, having players hit a wall and be forced to ‘get good’ at the game, with the Reaper of Souls expansion leaning more into efficiency because players should be rewarded for getting the best gear and builds, instead of predominantly via raw challenge.

When it comes to both Diablo 3 and Last Epoch’s endgame, Chambers says, “For the launch of Diablo 3 we just didn’t focus on the endgame enough, hardly at all,” with progression through acts one to four and the story taking precedence.

“Last Epoch’s endgame is really solid, it learns a lot from Path of Exile and it feels like it’s a natural extension of the game […] Our assumption was that people would play Diablo 3 in the same way they did Diablo 2 but the reality is there were a lot of years between D2 and D3.” Chambers then talks about how in those intervening years even more MMOs had come out, and the core audience for Diablo had changed drastically.

Before closing out the video, Chambers talks a bit about some of the things he feels Diablo 3 does better than Last Epoch, with the responsiveness of abilities at the top of his list. D3’s story also tops LE for Chambers, alongside the overall pacing of how you’re given skills and mechanics, and lastly the enemies.

Diablo 3 designer Last Epoch

I mentioned this up top, as does Chambers throughout his video (which I heartily recommend you watch in full), but this isn’t about punching down at Diablo. Instead, Chambers makes it clear that Diablo 3 had very different goals from Last Epoch, even launching in a very different environment with wildly divergent player expectations.

If you’re an avid ARPG player and have found yourself sinking all your free time into Last Epoch, the Diablo 4 Season 4 PTR is currently ongoing, and it actually reworks Helltide in such a way that the game’s fastest leveling method is entirely different now.

If you want to dive into Eleventh Hour Games’ ARPG, you should check the latest Last Epoch tier list and our look at the best Last Epoch builds, so you can create the perfect character for your adventure.

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