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Diablo 3 Impressions

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Or why I won’t give a shit about Metacritic ever.

I’ve been a huge fan of Diablo 2 back in the day. It had this addictive gameplay where you just couldn’t stop playing. Just until the next waypoint! Just until the next boss! Just a little bit more. I have a history of not finishing games, but not with Diablo 2. I completed Lord of Destruction with two characters, a mage and an assassin, played a bit of multiplayer, though not much, and was happy to just keep playing until WoW came along.

Since the days of Diablo 2, I played most of the Diablo-likes. I played Sacred, which I didn’t like, Titan Quest, which I liked a lot, and of course Torchlight, the best Diablo clone, down to the music and all. Naturally, I am and was interested in Diablo III, which has been in development for many years. The open beta was promising, though it also confused me. People were disappointed, for reasons I couldn’t understand. They expected more than a game that was pretty much like Diablo 2.

After the beta weekend, I was bored and re-installed Diablo 2. I played it for about 15 minutes before I quickly closed it again. It did not age well. At all. After playing the beta, everything that frustrated me about Diablo 2 was quite obvious. The inventory management. Stamina use for running. How quiet the world around me was outside of the quest givers. The endless, and confusing skill trees.

I didn’t pick up Diablo 3 right at release because money is tight at the moment, and I didn’t want to spend it on a computer game. I have amazing friends however, so if anyone ever tells you Internet friendships are lame and not real, tell them about my Internet friends. One of them is now my wife, and another gave me Diablo 3 yesterday. So yeah, totally awesome. I downloaded it over night and this morning sat down to play. And play I did from 9 am til 3 pm, having just as much fun as I had with Diablo 2 back then.

The game’s not a revolutionary change from Diablo 2. It’s still the same game! There are a lot of quality of life improvements, like no longer needing Identify or Town Portal scrolls. You get unlimited town portals early on in the game, and you can identify rare items by right-clicking on them yourself. Graphics are modern enough for me to be appealing but not as ‘comic-like’ as some people complain about. It’s still a dark world with mutilated corpses lying around everywhere and swinging from trees. You get a mercenary fairly early on, a templar, and you have a lot more control over their abilities. Also, they talk, or at least the two possible mercenaries I have run into so far, the templar and the scoundrel. They have personalities. I like that.

D'awww, a rainbow

Look at the pretty rainbow!

At the moment, the story does not feel as ‘epic’ as the one in Diablo 2 but it’s the same world, a deeper look at the lore, and I am having fun with that. The lore pieces that you find in the game are interesting, fully-voiced, a nice touch. As far as locales go, I am already very convinced about D3. Like Diablo 2, the game has an Act structure. So far, the Act I locations have been a lot more diverse than in Act I in Diablo 2. You explore the Cathedral, move on to the Fields of Misery, and I am just starting to explore the Highlands.

Kadomi the MonkAs first class, I went with a monk because I loved my assassin so. I am having a lot more fun with her style of mêlée than I had with the barbarian I played in the beta. Roundhouse kicks with fire? I’m down with that!

Of course I have complaints too. Gameplay on normal feels maybe…a touch too easy? I mean, I get that this is the normal difficulty, but in Diablo 2 you still had to pay attention, and use lots of health pots. In Diablo 3, not so much. There’s a mechanic that enemies you kill drop health globes, so as melee player it’s incredibly easy to stay topped off. In boss fights so far there have always been tons of adds, so lots of health globes. Maybe the end boss for Act I will be challenging, but I have vivid memories of how hard it was to kill Andariel. I don’t want to faceroll or rather faceclick my way through a game.

The second complaint you can find all over the Internet. In order to play Diablo 3, you have to be online, all the freaking time. Even if you just want to chill and play a single-player session, you are still connected to battle.net. Server maintenance? Too bad, can’t play. I find this irritating. I would have preferred that you can access single-player all the time, and just log on to play coop games with friends. It’s day 2 for the game today, and I had no issues playing whatsoever. I know this looked very differently yesterday. For Blizzard games, I think it still holds true: never play on patch or launch day. Much less frustrating if you don’t.

Of course, I was curious what others think about the game, and so I went and had a look at Metacritic. I wish I hadn’t looked. Metacritic is symptomatic for what’s wrong with gamers today. The user reviews of any mainstream title I have looked at in recent years, be it Dragon Age 2, SWTOR or now Diablo 3 have been scathing, destructive, more than harsh. I feel it’s obvious that a lot of those reviews are trolling, from people who haven’t actually played the game. Why? I do not know. I don’t know why it’s fun to bash games. I thought gaming was supposed to be about fun, yet looking at those reviews, all I see is entitlement, nerd rage and idiocy. I am not even sure where you would go to read decent reviews these days. Eurogamer maybe?

I am looking forward to playing with my friends, maybe this weekend. Multiplayer games seem to be very easy to set up, and are supposed to be a lot of fun. Looking forward to trying that. I know it’s a game that my SO isn’t interested in, but that’s fine. It will be nice to hang out with friends from my old WoW guild again, and with SWTOR folks. My battle tag is available per individual request, ask me on Twitter. 😉

How about you guys? Were you disappointed? Or is Diablo 3 meeting your expectations or actually exceeding them?

12 Comments

  1. I have been having fun in the game myself. I never played the earlier Diablos other than a demo of Diablo. I am playing through the story and enjoying the scenery. I posted something earlier today on my site about the reactions of people to actually get into the game but haven’t been following any of the reviews of the game itself. Have fun in the game. I know I will.

  2. I have only played 30 minutes so far, but it seems to be what I expected. Exactly like Diablo 2, with graphical and interface upgrades. My major disappointment was the fact that it couldn’t be played last night due to the launch-day crush and emergency maintenance.

    Right after Diablo 3 got a release date I reinstalled Diablo 2 and had a similar experience to you. Not only did the game look very poor to my older, jaded eyes, it had a random crash-to-desktop error that made the game unplayable for me. So to have a working, improved version of Diablo 2 in Diablo 3 is exactly what I want.

    • Diablo 2 didn’t crash for me at all, but playing it on my main 24″ monitor was a terrible sight. Lots of pixellated darkness all around. Just not a good experience after the D3 beta.

      Had a similar disappointment when the servers went down just as I was playing. That’s grating.

  3. It’s exactly what I hoped for and so far I’m loving it. I just wish I could play it offline. Having to logon to play a single-player offline game seems crazy to me.

    • Yeah, the lack of offline mode for single-player is starting to aggravate me a touch more now. I moved earlier this year, and our DSL tends to flake out quite a bit. Yesterday was one of those nights with no net, and thus, no Diablo 3 for me. I wish they hadn’t done that.

  4. omg, I forgot stamina to run. So happy that’s gone.

    • That was pretty dumb. I had forgotten about it as well, until I re-installed Diablo 2. No loss whatsoever!

  5. I’ve only two complaints: (1) no offline mode; and (2) where’s the skill tree filled with hundreds of skills? I want to build different kinds of Barbarian like I did in Diablo II. But, otherwise, can’t put the game down.

    • See, I don’t mind the new skill system. When I went back to Diablo 2, I was overwhelmed by the skill trees once again. Whereas in Diablo 3 I can skill my monk based on what I need right now. A boss? I might use my heal as defensive skill and focus on single target damage for my active skills. Or for normal mobs I am going all out AoE crazy. I think there’s some flexibility, but yeah, gone are the days of tons of different builds. I will be honest, in my D2 days, I usually had to look up a build that worked, because the system was too complex for me. *ashamed*

  6. You’ll probably still find Nightmare too easy, if you haven’t yet. Tell us about it when you arrive.

    You might want to not buy anything off the AH. I bought a weapon once, for the paltry sum of 3500g, and I’ve been rolling my head over the keyboard since (in Nightmare).

    You haven’t mentioned Diablo I at all! I guess that after those quality life improvements of D2 and D3, it’d be difficult to go back to the ancient dusty games, but if you want an epic feeling, head over there. (Or rejoin the TBC, we’ve got Karazhan and cookies).

  7. To a certain extent, my biggest problem with Diablo 3 is that I don’t want to complete it. I’m not a fan of harder difficulties being sold as more content, and I’m a bit of a lore nerd; I love stories. Unfortunately, that means that I’ll probably feel done with the game after my first full play through on normal and I won’t want to go back.

    The online requirement is also totally unacceptable. Yes, certain features require it, but not the whole game. That was a cynical decision.

    Gameplay wise, however, Diablo 3 is what I expected so it’s not disappointed me. Hack and slash your way through piles of mobs, randomly gear up in an endlessly replayable environment, mess about to your heart’s content with skills and runes, and fight huge, nasty bosses.

    It’s a laugh.

    Unfortunately, due to its limited replayability for people like me, it’s in no way worth the money I paid for it and I feel a bit shortchanged.

  8. I agree on the review here, the metacritic score was snowballing nerd rage that provoced harsher and harsher criticisms…the game review/score got lost due to opinions not related to actual gameplay. I think the graphics are pretty awesome as well, I have a high end system and run skyrim to the max with full mods, im not sure why folks quote those games as some kind of benchmark because D3 is not an fps style game engine like skyrim, the graphics of D3 stand on its own given the style. the game looks beautiful and the environments along with environmental affects I think look damn good. I miss the skill trees, as i quite liked distributing skill points, saving skill points and so on, but hardly game breaking. All in all a very enjoyable game experience that I find gets better the more you play.

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