I know we've already outlined some of the upcoming mechanical changes in the 1.0.4 patch to Diablo III, but today Blizzard announced the biggest change to the game in the form of new "Paragon Levels" that can only be attained after reaching the game's previous maximum level of 60 and provide several benefits to paragon-leveled characters.
To begin with, players will continue to gain basic stats (like strength and dexterity) with each paragon level, but they will also gain 3% of the game's magic find and gold find stats for each of the 100 paragon levels they gain. Once they attain maximum paragon levels players will innately have maxed-out magic and gold find stats (newly capped at 300 percent apiece), allowing them to equip gear that boosts more combat-friendly stats.
Players worried about these changes dropping the value of Magic and Gold Find stats on items will probably have a little while before they need to panic. Unlike the game's first 60 levels (which were relatively easy to gain) the experience required for Paragon levels is much closer to the long leveling grinds that many of us remember from Diablo II.
For my part, I'm not quite sure what to think of the system; while it solves problems with Diablo III's lack of end-game content, it also seems like a retreat from some of the more interesting systems Blizzard added to the latest Diablo. Diablo III seemed designed to let players hit max level relatively quickly and then concentrate on optimizing gear to create more powerful characters, and this retreat toward the endless grinding of Diablo II seems like the Diablo III developers are admitting defeat on their new model.
Judging by early reaction to the news, however, I'm in the minority. Comments on Blizzard's announcement of the new system feature an overwhelmingly positive response which is, at least for me, basically unheard of from Blizzard's large and opinionated fan base. What do you think?