Diablo is a series about killing hordes of monsters to harvest them for XP and powerful loot, so Blizzard knew they had a problem when players in the Diablo Immortal beta were actively avoiding leveling up.
The strange behavior is a reaction to a system that Blizzard is trying to improve. He wants Immortal Diablo being a game that people play together, it is a MMO, In the end. In order for people to come together and take on challenges as a group, they need to be at approximately the same level as each other. However, how do you keep people at similar levels if you can only play for an hour a day while one of your friends can play for five?
What Blizzard created is the World Paragon system. “We want to ensure that friends who play different amounts of time each day can still play together as a team, rather than the strong players ‘carrying’ the weakest,” explains Diablo Immortal Senior Systems Designer Kris Zierhut, in a blog post.
Once you reach the maximum level in Immortal Diablo, you start earning Paragon Levels, each level gives you access to upgraded loot and allows you to progress along the Paragon Trees. To stop players with the longest running time to go, Blizzard has given each Diablo Immortal server a World Paragon Level that increases by two each day. If you are below this level, you will gain more experience, allowing you to level up faster. The opposite of this is that if you are at a higher level, you will have reduced experience, slowing your progress and preventing you from getting too far ahead of other players.
In fact, Blizzard is penalizing you for playing too much.
The system worked, though, by keeping players very close to each other’s levels, allowing them to have fun without one player carrying another.
The issue arose when Blizzard expanded the World Paragon system to also apply to loot. As Zierhut says, “players who play more hours collect more items”, and this can give them an advantage. Loot can be split into saves, and saves are used to upgrade gear, allowing players with more time to end up with significantly better gear than players who are short on time, even if they don’t end up with a significantly higher level of excellence.
When Blizzard applied the Paragon World System to loot, reducing the amount of saves they had access to based on what Paragon Tier they were “led to players in the Closed Beta [to avoid] experience” to keep your level low and your loot gains high. Zierhut tells how players stopped “taking XP orbs dropped by Elite monsters, or completing quests but not turning them in”. It’s not the behavior Blizzard wants to see.
Blizzard has responded by reversing the save modifiers so that players can now “collect items as much as they want, and the Parallel Levels gained will no longer penalize the amount of saves you receive”. But, Blizzard still has the problem of how it prevents players with more time to play from getting too far ahead of players without.
“Our current plan is to increase the rescue materials needed to advance items to very high levels,” says Zierhut. “This will allow all players to reach rank sixteen Legendaries, but only truly dedicated players will reach even higher ranks. Very active players will still be more powerful at higher item levels and have more legendary and set options, but they won’t get so far that they can’t play with their friends.”
Diablo Immortal is still on its way to release this year, but hopefully with issues like the above resolved.