There’s been a bunch of talk recently about greater rift trials. Many people find them monotonous and boring. I personally like the idea behind the trials, where waves of monsters spawn quickly and you kill them to progress. What I don’t like is using them as a gating mechanism for Greater Rifts, as they are already heavily gated to begin with. The current process for starting a greater rift (from scratch) is:
Obtain rift key(s) from bounties in any difficulty
Complete rifts in T1+ until you get a greater rift trial key
Complete a trial to obtain a greater rift key
So they are gated by difficulty and by an already gated system (regular rifts), and then they are gated by a trail time sink.
My proposal is to remove the trials as a gating mechanism for Greater Rifts, and make them their own separate system. To do this, the entry system for Greater Rifts would need to be modified, so I’ll discuss that first. This fits with something Travis Day said on a live stream prior to ROS, where he discussed a player asking “what do I want to do today?” rather than “Let’s go do this one thing”.
Greater Rift Adjustments:
Since trials would no longer be a method for determining where you can start on a Greater Rift, a new method is needed.
My suggestion is to create a drop down in the obelisk menu for Greater Rifts. The drop down menu will start at 1 for a new character. After completing a level 1 rift, the drop down will contain 1 and 2. Thus, you can choose to open any rift up through your highest completed + 1.
This could possibly be exploitable, since you can always spam the highest level you’ve been able to complete, and thus upgrade gems at a very rapid pace. To combat that, requiring more Greater Rift tokens for higher levels may be necessary as a gating mechanism. Personally, I think the current system is pretty exploitable already, and if you spam your highest + 1, it will take you longer to complete, so you lose the ability to get items as fast, for the ability to upgrade gems. This seems like a reasonable tradeoff to me.
The reward from Urshi would also need to be changed. Instead of a n+1 key, you would have an option to have your greater rift token returned, but after tier 20, it isn’t 100% guaranteed. This way, there’s a chance you lose the token and can’t always just get it back.
Each player has a “solo” and “group” highest allowed tier. In solo, you can always just go to your highest + 1. For groups, some formula would need to be devised to take each members “group tier allowed”, and come up with a group tier to start with.
This allows Greater Rifts to stand on their own, and eliminates the “need” to have one of a few classes/builds explicitly for Trials.
Note that this is only a single suggestion. There are probably many better ways to handle Greater Rift entry with Trials removed.
Expanding Trials to their own system: Last Stand Mode
Now, onto taking trials and making them a separate stand-alone system. The purpose of this system is to create a different meta than greater rifts, and thus give players something different to do, and possibly make some different kinds of builds viable.
The basic premise is that there are waves of monsters that spawn and grow stronger, and the monsters are trying to destroy some object (or objects). To keep it in lore, the objects could be gates to a city, or defense turrets to a city. The number of gates/turrets would be dependent on the number of players defending. Some waves would just be randomly spawned white mobs (like trials now), others might be an elite pack and a few whites, others might be a random boss and some whites. The AI of the monsters would be to attack players first within a certain range, and to head toward turrets/gates otherwise (positioning will be important). In multiplayer games, the aggro range will be such that one player cannot have all of the monsters aggro’d. This way, everyone has to chip in to keep the monsters off of the turrets.
A wave ends when the player has killed all of the monsters from that wave. In later waves, more and more enemies will be spawned, with more life and damage (though the scaling of the damage will need to taper off at some point).
Safe Zone/Penalty Box
In order to be hardcore friendly, I decided that there would be a safe zone to fall back into (akin to the starting zone in LOL/DOTA). If you enter this area, you cannot attack monsters and they cannot attack you. The penalty though, is that if you enter this zone, you cannot leave for some amount of time. If you die, you are placed in this box. The drawback is that if you are not on the battlefield, enemies will attack your gates/turrets, and when they fall, you lose. Much like hockey, the monsters get a “power play” in group games when a player enters the safe zone, giving them a buff. This is to help keep people from abusing the safe zone, and to create a challenge. This buff can even increase during higher waves, to make things more interesting.
Part of the goal of the penalty box (and the “power play” buff) is to put an emphasis on balancing offense and defense. If dying (or having to retreat to the safe zone) has enough of a negative impact, players will be forced to sacrifice offense to stay alive longer, which should change gearing some, and also allow some of the lesser used skills/runes with utility or defense to used.
More on Wave progression
Using the penalty box (and power play concept) to help strike a balance of offense and defense, I also wanted to make things ramp up quickly for well geared players, so that the time sink for the “Last Stand Mode” isn’t too large. To accomplish this, wave skipping (like the current trials) will happen if you complete a wave quickly enough. This isn’t to punish defensive builds, but to help players get to the more “Challenging waves” more quickly. The idea is that if a player goes all offense to blast through the early waves, they will probably not make it very far once it gets challenging. A more defensive build may not ramp up as fast, but can sustain in the higher waves, allowing them to progress further, since they aren’t up against a timer.
My one major concern with a mode like this is that there are a few perma-CC type builds out there. My hope is that if the map layout and gate/turret placement is designed properly, those builds won’t be able to CC all of the enemies all the time. This way, they can be useful in holding off part of the oncoming horde, but won’t be able to just CC everything so DPS cannons can stay alive and do damage from afar. If this were to become a hurdle, some waves could spawn with a buff to the monsters (cannot be feared, cannot be frozen, etc) so that cheese mechanics aren’t allowed.
This is where I always struggle, as rewards are so hard to balance. My initial thoughts are that this could be a game mode that doesn’t drop items outright, but instead drops bloodshards, based on how far you get. This way, you could end up with a ton of shards to gamble at the end, and maybe they could either increase the shard cap, or give a temporary overage allowance, so you can run to Kadala (or have her like, appear after your done, like Urshi). That may be too good, or not good enough though.
The rewards would also need to justify the time sink, as this mode could potentially take a while. The idea though, is to make the rewards different than Rifts, bounties, and Greater rifts so that doing this game mode is better for something than those, and worse at other things.