As of the time of writing this post, I have 888 hours logged in Grim Dawn. Not as many as some people, but not exactly what I’d call a casual amount of playtime. I’m probably in Crate’s targeted demographic, as someone who played Diablo 2, and believes that it did not have any proper official sequel. ARPGs are my go-to genre of videogame in general, as (when done well) nothing else scratches the itch of crunchy character building, monster slaying, and environmental storytelling all in one glorious, bloody package.
I am writing all of this because I think it’s important to understand that Grim Dawn is a game that I think has come closest to being that desperately-desired Diablo 2 sequel for me. I have a feeling a number of other players probably feel the same. It’s a game I have enjoyed for many, many hours, both by myself and with my friends. And though I’m very curious about what the Ashes of Malmouth expansion will bring to the table - as I’ve heard nothing but positive reviews of it - I cannot bring myself to play more Grim Dawn, when the basic process of stash management is so incredibly poor.
That’s right, this post is about stash tabs. I’ve used Grim Dawn Item Assistant, and other software, to allow me to collect as much loot as my heart desires, and cleverly index it all. And that’s the problem. In downloading a completely separate program, having to run it alongside the base game, and alt-tabbing between the game and the utility whenever I need to grab or search for an item, my sense of immersion within the game world is completely destroyed. Grim Dawn might not be trying to be The Witcher, or any other deeply story-driven fully fleshed out roleplaying game. But it IS a roleplaying game, with a lovingly crafted world that has drawn me in for many hours.
If I wanted to try a different set of items out, and merely needed to go dig through my stash to do so, then I would have no such immersion-breaking issue. But having to run a search in a separate window of a Java program? Suddenly I’m no longer an Aetherial-destroying powerhouse, but a fantasy accountant managing spreadsheets.
I think it’s important to understand that for a large number of people (as evidenced by the popularity of tools such as the aforementioned Item Assistant), the ability to actually keep all of the items that one finds is extremely important. Considering, you know, that this is a game about collecting loot, and all. This entire idea is basically a tautology. Grim Dawn is a game about killing monsters to get loot to kill more monsters. It’s hard to feel like you’re getting loot when every new item you acquire, requires you to destroy another one.
This is not a multiplayer game, where our items require space on a server someone is paying for. I think most players would also agree that inventory management is not what makes an ARPG fun, sexy, and exciting. It’s a necessary evil that in the past has been in many cases a result of technical limitations. That rationale is not relevant in 2018.
Here’s the thing: At this point, I’m not even asking Crate to provide unlimited stash space themselves, since they seem to be inexplicably averse to the idea. All I want is the ability to mod it in. Something along the lines of a “max_stash_tabs” variable. Since I know in Ashes of Malmouth another tab was added to the stash, it is indeed possible. And you could even use it as a way to introduce another iron bit-sink into the game. Crazy, I know.
Those 888 hours on record were all played within 6-8 months(ish) of Grim Dawn’s release. This doesn’t even include the dozens of hours spent theory crafting new characters in character building utilities, or playing with Devotion trees. At that point, I felt like I’d seen what the game had to offer and eagerly awaited Ashes of Malmouth to breathe new life into a game I already loved. Upon seeing that no changes to this fundamental, immersion-breaking issue were going to be implemented, I decided to wait and see if such a solution would be patched in at a later date. Clearly, this is not the case.
I think Crate needs to seriously consider why so many players feel obligated to use a third-party utility just to enjoy playing their game. As of the time of this post, the Grim Dawn Item Assistant thread in the Utilities and Resources section of this website has 1822 posts. It’s time for an alternative.