Weapon switch hotkey

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There is no weapon switch hotkey in Diablo 3. Though that control was a popular feature in Diablo 2 and a button to enable quick weapon and/or gear switches is found in most modern ARPGs, the Diablo 3 developers felt it was not a necessary feature in Diablo 3. Much of Diablo 3's UI is based around a minimum of buttons and making things very easy for new players to control, sometimes at the expense of allowing the full control options that expert players desire.

The official reasons for not including the WSH in D3 were that the switch was mostly used for exploits in Diablo 2, and was confusing to new players who switched by accident and didn't realize where their weapon had gone. These excuses were met with hostile skepticism by many experienced Diablo 2 players, but

Blizzard Comments[edit | edit source]

The planned exclusion of this feature was confirmed by Jay Wilson in an October 2009 interview. [1]

Diii.net: Weapon switch hotkey?
Jay Wilson: No. We took that out.
Diii.net: Oh, I loved that feature in D2.
Jay Wilson: Mostly we took it out because the only examples we could come up with of how people used it were somewhat exploitive. Most frequently people used it by accident and wondered where the freak my weapons went. So it didn’t seem a useful feature for anyone but a very small portion of the audience that used it to swap items for magic find purposes, which seemed not a great super fun reason to swap weapons. There were probably some other uses, which I’m sure I’ll be reminded of in the forums.
Diii.net: There were a lot of specialized builds that found it essential to use two sets of weapons. Hybrid Amazons, chiefly. Used a bow and also a javelin/shield.
Jay Wilson: Yeah.

Jay's bland dismissal prompted that interviewer to launch into a (written) rant about the idiocy of removing that feature when the interview was posted, and the news thread had soon attracted more than 75 comments, most by fans weighing in on the issue.

Some months prior to Jay's interview denial, Bashiok had made a comment on this same issue in July, 2009. [2]

Will there be a quick weapon switch (‘W’ in D2) implemented in Diablo 3?
Bashiok: Just like Diablo II we’re saving secondary weapon/shield slot and hot key for the expansion.
Kidding! ... probably. We don’t have it now, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be one. I don’t think it’s an irrelevant question, maybe just not the most pressing one.
I don’t think it NEEDS to be there. It’s not really an iconic part of the game. The gameplay dictates its necessity, and if there’s no reason to hot swap weapons mid-fight, then having it there just clutters the UI.
Personally I just used it in Diablo II for extra item storage.

Bashiok posted another length defense of the feature removal in February, 2010. [3]

The confusion it creates for players is a good point really in my opinion. From my time in tech support it was a common enough issue that we had pre-written responses to send to people to help inform them of where their weapons went. BUT that said it’s not a problem that’s completely without a solution, so while it’s a decent argument it’s sort of weak because it could probably be addressed somehow.
One good reason why it’s not a feature we like the idea of is that it adds a new type of play complexity that we don’t want to layer on top of those that we already have. We’re creating the game, the skills, the movement speed, kill rates, skill runes, and all other combat related mechanics and features to fit as tightly together as possible. Throwing in weapon swapping forces that tightening/balancing to take it into account. Only thing is that it’s not a clear cut feature. You either know how to game it - or you don’t. So it creates a separation of players that isn’t based on use of the character and skills but doing this weird little trick and swapping back and forth between weapons at specific times. It becomes a necessity to remain effective or as a strong opponent, and we believe the combat has enough going for it that it doesn’t need difficult to explain and understand features like weapon swapping.
I know this is probably the wrong audience to try to make that argument to, because most of you are on the winning end. But trust us that there will be plenty of separation between you and the noobs to show how awesome you are without weapon swapping.
You also have the issues of it just being used for storage, which feels super cheesy. Or as a means to game MF by swapping in weapons to get 0mgz uber dropz.

Many Diablo 2 experts were angered by these comments, as they made clear that neither Jay or Bashiok (or anyone else on the D3 Team?) had played much high level Diablo 2. This aggravated existing tensions in the Diablo community, as it seemed another sign of the general Diablo or ARPG inexperience of the Diablo 3 team.

Pros and Cons[edit | edit source]

The weapon switch hotkey is just a convenience; after all, players can simply carry extra swords, shields, suits of armor, etc, in their inventory, and change into them as the situation demands. The whole point in having a special hotkey for this is to allow players to do it very quickly, as is required in a fast-paced action game like Diablo 2 or Diablo 3. Since the feature is optional to use, many players found it odd that the developers would remove it, rather than including it for those who wanted it.

Exploitative Uses[edit | edit source]

With some uses of the switch, the accusation of "exploit" is hard to argue against. None of these are "exploits" in terms of being cheats; they're just smart uses of a game feature. The most common trick with the weapon switch hotkey in Diablo 2 was to change to a Magic Find boosting weapon/shield an instant before killing a boss monster. This was a very useful technique, a fun technique to master, and added to the item game, putting a much higher value on +MF weapons (that weren't useful in other situations). That said, it was physically unrealistic, as well as favoring of some characters over others. (A spell-caster could easily finish off a monster with any type of equipment in his/her hands, while combat characters had much more trouble doing that last sliver of damage to a big enemy while using a low damage dagger or wand purely for the +MF.)

Other arguably exploitative uses of the weapon switch were to cast spells enabled by unique/runeword weapons, or to boost your character's skill levels before casting a buff.

Many players simply used the switch for extra inventory space, which was a convenience, but not an exploit.

Essential Uses[edit | edit source]

Other Diablo 2 characters or play styles quite required the weapon switch to function at all, or at least without the frustration of constantly opening the inventory window and clicking and dragging weapons around. Including that feature enabled numerous builds that would otherwise have been almost unheard of.

The popular hybrid Amazons are the most obvious examples, with a bow on one switch, and a javelin/shield on the other. Other characters in various patches, notably Paladins and Fury Druids, required a regular melee weapon, and a second one with high elemental damage on their switch, to deal with Physical Immune monsters.

Furthermore, many low level characters, especially those without quality twinked items, were wise to use the weapon switch to change between different weapons in the early going. A blunt weapon for fighting the undead, a sword for animals, a throwing weapon for fleeing enemies, etc. This sort of use will be just as necessary in Diablo 3, and numerous expert Diablo 2 players found themselves missing this option during playtime at the Blizzcon demos in 2008 and 2009.

Aftermath[edit | edit source]

As hinted at during development, the weapon switch hotkey was not included in Diablo 3. It might be added in an expansion, but nothing the developers have said since release gives any reason to expect that.

Ironically, weapon and armor switching to get a big Magic Find gain just before killing a boss or opening a chest, was hugely-prevalent in the early days of Diablo 3, when few players had the quality of gear to boost MF and DPS/EHP at the same time. This exploit was attacked by the team in several ways, and ultimately largely minimized with the inherent MF/GF/EXP bonuses from higher Paragon levels.

The main regret of players who miss the WSH is the lack of variety of play. Weapon switching would have been abused for the Magic Find bonus -- 41-45% MF from the Sun Keeper {db) and 20% MF from a shield would have provided an easy ~60% MF for last boss hits to every knowledgeable player -- but players would have found many other uses for the bonus. Some possible options:

  • Using faster weapons with lower damage for trash mobs and switching to bigger damage weapons, or weapons with life steal and vitality bonuses for boss battles.
    • Weapons that provided a bonus to Elite damage would have been very useful in the same situation.
  • More builds might have been enabled; imagine Demon Hunters using bows at a distance before switching to melee weapon + shield for close battles or in times of danger.
  • PvP would surely benefit from weapon switching, with players using items situationally to boost their defense, or movement speed, or resource regeneration, or to put CC effects onto enemies.

That said, many of the uses of a WSH from Diablo 2 didn't translate into Diablo 3. Without +skill bonuses on gear there's no reason to switch to get a bigger buff before casting an aura or warcry, and the lack of throwing weapons is another major factor.