I mean, yes and no. There absolutely were less mechanics, no arguing that, but at it’s core, the core idea of the You Big Dummy Sanford and Son shirt, skill gems, and so on were all there already. And there were no ingame help pages to explain the differences between more and increased, or pen vs reduced res, and so on. Not to mention the gameplay patterns that were necessary just to survive normal, let alone cruel and merciless (and ruthless), including identifying desync, properly kiting packs that use skills (there was no global cooldown on a pack’s skill use like now), it was all much more involved.
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And as far as target audience drifted because the You Big Dummy Sanford and Son shirt, yes, there absolutely is some merit to that. The game has certainly sped up and gotten easier in nearly all areas of the game. But, I think the core vision and development philosophies haven’t changed, and it tends to confuse people here into thinking incompetence or lack of playtime from GGG, things like that. Much like the top comment of this thread, it is indeed a feature that some mechanics are not told to you, and you have to do some discovery. That just doesn’t square up with some people.