May 16 2012
If any game ever deserved a journal installment style of review, it’s Diablo 3. I’m not exactly sure how other outlets are running full reviews already, even with early access. It’s all about “the long game” with this title, and even though some crazies already have beaten the game in seven hours, you’ll have to get up to at least a hundred before you can fully make a judgment.
But this isn’t truly a “Day 1″ start. I did play the beta, and previously shared my thoughts about it here. But the truth is, the beta is only about eighty minutes long, and I’ve blown way past that mark already in day one.
I’m currently nearing the end of Act I. Or at least I think I am as I’ve already fought two sub bosses and have to be heading for some kind of dramatic conclusion. The acts are quite long, I’ll give them that, and I supposed they would have to be now that there are four instead of the usual five.
I broke my own rule and went with the Barbarian as my starting class. I know, I know, but I couldn’t resist those manly muscles I guess. Also, I just like smashing things.
And smash things he does. So far at level 14 I’ve learned to destroy things in a multitude of ways. His three main attacks end up being “hard hit,” multi hit” or “fast hit.” He’s not exactly the most complex character out there, but his beauty is in his simplicity for me.
He’s in there somewhere, hacking away.
I played the first few hours of the game with my friend’s wizard, and we had a hell of a time tearing up the countryside. One thing we did notice that was different from the beta was that the game is a decent amount harder, even on normal. The beta often felt like god mode, and you could just look at enemies and they’d disintegrate, but here we were getting hurt. We even died!
Thankfully, Diablo 3 has ditched the idiotic “spawn naked and run through all the impossibly hard enemies you just died to in order to get your items back” system and simply has you reset at the beginning of the area with a 10% penalty in your armor and weapon durability. Whether or not penalties get more steep as you progress through the different difficulties, I do not know, but I would definitely assume they do. But if there are no naked respawns, that’s OK with me.
The game just feels great. The new physics engine that has dead enemies bouncing off walls, and environments crumbling as you fight in them is simply top notch, and leagues beyond D2. The maps themselves, though randomly generated ,have more personality to them. You can often encounter random “events” that liven up your trek to the next objective, and they often actually feel like real places rather than randomly assembled bits of code.
Combat is fun, though obviously I can only comment about my own class. I’m not a high enough level to be doing any serious damage yet, but I have four or so equipped “gold” items I got from boss battles, and my character is growing up to be quite the badass. Again, while in combat, I’m still not sure how I feel about health orbs .Their appearance often can’t be predicted, and as such you don’t know whether to use a potion or just hope that one flops out in front of you in the next second before you’re gravely injured. Their appearance is too random to be strategic.
Who dies at this part? Seriously?
I do, however, like that there are no more mana potions, which is one less hotkey to worry about in combat. Similarly, the fact that they did away with the tomes of Town Portal and Identity is cutting some very obvious fat from your inventory. it’s also nice that no matter how big the items you pick up, they never take up more than two spaces in your storage, so there are less trips back to town.
So far, I think the smithing system is really cool. It gives you a reason to pick up magical items, even shitty ones, because they can be broken down for parts and forged into NEW rare items. I’ve made many pieces that have been vastly better than my own garb, and once you get to higher levels? You’ll be able to roll the dice to see if you get a truly great item that you might see dropped at a boss fight .In short, the whole system makes grinding more valuable. Gold and crap magic items both have actual value now, so you never feel like you’re wasting your time.
I’m still trying to see how I feel about the new skill and ability system. I understand that giving each ability a bunch of runes that modify its properties allows there to be infinitely more combinations of skills and different builds than there were before. I’m starting to get a feel for how different abilities work in tandem, and it’s a lot more intuitive than looking up max efficiency builds on the internet. But the BEST part about all this is that ANY skill you unlock can be changed at any time. It’s even free to do so! it’s a far cry from D2 where one misplaced point was a permanent mistake that would ruin 80 hours of a character, or other games which charge you an arm and a leg to reset your abilities. Perhaps it will result in less overall playtime, as I think one character type can be molded into any kind of “build” with the right equipment and skill combo, but it’s a far kinder system than expecting everyone to guess what the best possible combo is their first time through.
Well, that’s really all I’ve got to say right now. The launch was smooth, and only those across the ocean or the die hards up at 3AM actually had trouble logging on, and I haven’t had a single disconnect yet. I’ll play for a week or so and be back with another installment and more analysis for you. Let me know how your guys’ games are going!
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