A day worthy of celebration recently passed by that only a few thousand people recognized. This day was November 26, and the reason for it being exciting is because the Diablo II (D2) ladder system was reset…yes, that’s all. It seems insignificant, yet to people who used to (or still do) play D2, this hopefully instantly gave you a nice warm nostalgic feeling. For me, D2 ladder resets were like Christmas morning – but, why?
In D2 at the character creation screen you could choose to create a ‘non-ladder’ or a ‘ladder’ character. The difference is that every six months, every character and item on the ladder side of the game is pooled into the non-ladder section, and everyone starts back at level 1 with no items when they make a new ladder character after the reset. Every godly item was pushed over to non-ladder, and now starting fresh in a new ladder season caused items that were overlooked in the last 6 months to suddenly become valuable again. One exciting aspect was the complete reset of the economy as well; it was always fun to use trading forums such as D2jsp to liquidate your items into ‘forum gold’. That Tal’s Armour you found before the reset that is essentially worthless and you vendored it? Post-reset it’s worth a pile of forum gold, but you need to find it using your new ladder character who is level 10 compared to your old level 90+ character that is now on non-ladder. Overall it was just a good rush and offered a bright future in a game long past it’s time, but it kept the train rolling (and still does to this day).
Why should I mention this in such detail? Who cares about D2 when Diablo III (D3) has been out for almost two years already? Well, in this case it’s worth fully explaining the topic of ladder seasons because it happens to be an important aspect that Blizzard decided to not include at all in D3, and has not mentioned it since, regardless of being pestered by the community.
Certain features in D3 would have made a ladder system a bit stale, such as the Auction House, but that is soon to be removed from the game as it conflicted with their interests for the game. PVP was hyped up by the community and looked forward to, again because people had fond memories of PVP in D2 (even though it was a completely unsupported town-camping slaughterfest)…but Blizzard dropped the ball on PVP pretty hard for D3, considering it is a simple 100% uncompetitive dueling arena and that’s all. I shouldn’t completely bash D3 and raise its predecessor on such a high pedestal however – D3 has some exciting plans for the new Reaper of Souls expansion coming out soon (such as Adventure Mode), and D2 had one major flaw with its ladder seasons. The ‘ladder’/ranked competitive portion was nearly entirely absent. In the main menu you could click on the rankings, but it was simply polluted with hundreds of level 90-99 Paladins (H-dins) and Sorceresses that botted the game; there was also no incentive. That’s a thing that Blizzard has learned about since releasing D2 however, how to make ranked play fun and rewarding, such as the arena system found in World of Warcraft with its seasonal resets and massive rewards.
Blizzard needs to seriously consider ladder seasons for Diablo III. Why do they continue to do ladder resets for Diablo II 13 years after its release? Because they know people enjoy it and it’s EASY. There’s no balancing involved as they worried about having to do for PVP, you just slide all the items over to non-ladder and wipe the ladder data. It is probably the easiest way to keep the game fresh and appealing, something that has been missing in the game. Since release, I feel the game has just been a bunch of patches dedicated to shaping the game to how it should have been when shipped on May 15th, 2012. Reaper of Souls may prove to be the solution for my Diablo III melancholy and disappointment, but deep down I truly know that implementing a simple ladder season function would be easy, refreshing, and finally add a pseudo-competitive aspect to the game.
Do you have any fond Diablo II ladder memories, or Diablo II in general?
Do you think a ladder season belongs in Diablo III? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments!