The Follower Blues

As we all know, the Followers System was released just yesterday. However, there has already been a lot of chatter amongst the community concerning the system being single player only and the fact that the Followers will really only be viable in the Normal difficulty. As you can see, those restrictions pose some problems. It almost discourages the social experience by forcing players to play alone in order to take advantage of the Followers System, and then leaves us out to dry once we complete Normal.

Official Blizzard Quote:

Followers were originally going to be available during co-op, and actually are right now because of a bug in the current build we're playing. And it's crazy. If you're unfortunate enough to also have a witch doctor, it's insanity. Eight characters running around plus all of the potential pets. It's complete chaos. That's the biggest reason they aren't going to be available outside of single player.

Not wanting the game to be chaotic is completely understandable and is likely one of the contributing factors behind why they initially decreased the maximum party size from eight players [in D2] to four this time around. Going back and doubling the party size would be the last thing they want to do if things truly do become chaotic. However, this begs the question, how will the game feel with a full party of Witch Doctors'? If adding four more potential "summons" turns the game into chaos, how apocalyptic will the game feel with a full set of summons from each of the four WD's? Regardless, if we do want to take advantage of these Followers, we won't be able to with a full party anyway.

Official Blizzard Quote:

It encourages co-op by giving people that are going to be playing the game alone from the start many of the thoughts and process that go into playing with another person. Seeing someone else on screen. Thinking about their items and skills. Hearing them talk. That all sounds silly from a lot of our perspectives, because, we all play co-op and who needs a primer? Well, a lot of people, and that's where this encourages co-op. More people playing co-op means more people in a mindset of an online community, and that has many far reaching benefits for all players.

It seems to me like we have to drop the Mercenary line of thinking from D2 in order to understand this decision. Essentially, Bashiok makes it sound like Followers aren't really supposed to be Mercenaries, but they are supposed to act as party members that replace other real players for those users who refuse to play multiplayer. When you look at the system in that perspective, it makes this functionality great, as it adds some form of cooperation for those who would rather play by themselves, and could even persuade said user to jump online and play with other users, for some real co-op play. This is simply because once you complete Normal by yourself, or rather with the [fake player] Follower, the Follower will become useless.

Official Blizzard Quote:

Followers will not stay alive easily past Normal, and if they're not alive you aren't going to be getting their bonuses. I'm sure people will try to game this, and ideally they will fail. If not we will ensure followers are not part of the end-game MF equation. They are not intended to be, and we will take whatever steps are necessary to ensure they cannot be.

Now you'll be yearning for that co-op play and your only choice will be to jump on and find some peers to game with. Blizzard is doing some real funky reverse psychology to promote the social experience, but in the end, they are still promoting the social experience.


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