May 24 2012

The Diablo 3 Journal: Day 9

Published by at 12:00 pm under Journals,Reviews,Video Games

It’s time for another piece of my Diablo 3 review, now that I’ve had more than a single day to take it all in. It’s a game that takes months, not days to really understand, and as such, you’ll probably be seeing these journal reviews for some time to come.

It’s been about ten days since the game was released, and in that time I’ve put in (oh god) about 55 hours across two characters. I have a level 51 Barbarian that I used only to quest with a very specific friend with a similarly powerful Wizard, and a level 27 Witch Doctor that I play whenever I feel like. Which is increasingly often.

If you can’t tell by my current play time, the game is addicting. Impossibly so. Even when I’m not playing, builds and item drops race through my head. I’ve been able to keep a balance in my life despite this fact (hooray gym and girlfriend), but yeah, it’s pretty bad.

I suppose since I’ve now beaten the game about three total times, it’s worth mentioning that yes, there is some vague semblance of a plot. Unfortunately, it’s about the worst excuse for a story I’ve ever seen in a game as it kills off major characters left and right without so much as a head nod in their direction, and the dialogue is some of the most inane I’ve heard since I was a bad enough dude to rescue the President.

It’s a little strange to play a game with such an absolutely horrific story. Over the past decade since Diablo 2, we’ve gotten used to games getting better and better at storytelling. Mass Effect, Red Dead, hell, even Prototype had a more well scripted plot than Diablo, where you’re constantly racing off to get betrayed by every new character you meet or fight the deadly “Evil Sin Lord of Ultimate Chaos and Devastation” or whatever other goofy name they’ve come up with for the bosses.

But whatever, plot isn’t what Diablo is about. Yes, it’s astonishingly bad, but if gameplay works, it shouldn’t matter. And it doesn’t.

The reason I’ve put so many hours in at this point is that it’s just plain fun. There’s nothing like finding that new item that makes you just a little more powerful, or unlocking a new rune to make your favorite skill even cooler.

It’s also the most fun co-operative game I’ve played in a long while. At first it seems like teamwork isn’t really necessary, as through Normal and Nightmare difficulties, spamming any decent move with good gear is enough to kill everything. But now that I’m in hell? Fighting off waller-molen-vortex minions requires a great deal more strategy.

Wizards: Sorceresses with lasers.

Hell seems to be about the right level of challenging, but I’m growing sort of bored of my Barbarian. In higher difficulty levels, the Barb serves only to be a tank, and nothing else. Switching to a damage per second build will get you killed in a hurry, and no one has really figured out a way to build the Barb effectively other than as a giant tank. As such, I take a ton of hits while my wizard friend smites enemies from afar, and we do alright.

The Witch Doctor is a blast so far. He seems a bit overpowered in Normal as he has a movie that quintuples his damage, and even without that his fiery bats practically one-shot everything. But as I’ve learned, the game gets much, much harder.

There’s a lot of debate right now but the hyped “Inferno Mode,” which is Blizzards ultimate test (though some would say f-u) to gamers. It’s a mode that’s so difficult, people are calling it broken. Even the regular monsters can kill you in one-hit if you’re not careful, and the only people who have been able to beat it have used Wizard or Demon Hunter rune exploits that Blizzard is scrambling to patch.

Why is it so hard? Well, the level cap is 60, and that happens about some time in Hell. After that, your character getting better is entirely reliant on items alone, either those that drop or ones purchased from the auction house. Many are saying that no one can beat Inferno because the game is so new, all the best items simply haven’t dropped yet. Others respond to that by saying it doesn’t matter, even sacrificing 100% of your damage to give yourself 30,000 more health would simply allow you to be killed in two hits, not one, and that seems like an idiotic system.

You’ll be seeing this every two minutes.

Some of the combinations of “elite” minions just seem downright silly. Encountering a mob that walls you in, shoots mortar fireballs at you, sets the ground on fire with unholy magic, and freezes you in place is quite simply not possible to beat. The right combination of attributes results in simply unkillable enemies. I read a good quote relating to this that said “making something difficult  is hard, making something impossible is easy.” It seems to jive with Blizzard’s creation of Inferno, as they’ve said “We made a mode that challenged our best players to the limits, and then we doubled the difficulty.” How was that a good idea?





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8 responses so far

  • polpot

    i guess it’s just me but i don’t really see what the whole hype was about. this was my first diablo game, wish I could have rented it or something first. I beat it with a witch doctor and i honestly don’t feel incline to play anymore. Maybe and this is a big maybe with a monk, but if i have the time.

  • Pijus

    While I’ve spent most of my Diablo time in patch 1.10+, I did go back and play a little bit in 1.07(the version that Lord of Destruction shipped with). It was horrible. Item drop rates were ridiculously bad, monster packs could spawn impossibly hard to defeat. Lord de Seis would spawn with a pack of Oblivion knights instead of Doom knights. The game was also riddles by bugs, even more so than now.

    I think what is happening here, is Blizzard is still developing the game. We, the first wave of players, are a beta test of sorts. We will play the game, complain, Blizzard will make notes, and then come out with patches that rebalance everything. Some time later there will be an expansion that adds the mystic NPC, and PVP.

    I find this quite frustrating, as the game could be so much better. They could have learned from the way Diablo 2 was played, and made all the adjustments BEFORE RELEASING THE GAME. Sure, they wouldn’t have done as good a job at tweaking everything before the release, but they could have done a hell of a lot more than they did, and tweak some more after release.

    Also, the item drops rates influence my enjoyment of the game. Blizzard make items drops horrible on purpose to make people use the auction house. So they can take a cut. Blizzard are making my gameplay experience worse so they can make money on the auction house. Gee, I feel valued as a customer.

    By contrast, I played abit of Torchlight 2 beta, and it was a blast. Uniques dropping left and right. Make playing the game by yourself so much fun. I suspect having high drop rates will hurt the games longevity, but it’s a lot more fun loot wise than Diablo3.

    Wow, bit of a wall of text there….

  • Bakakyo

    Wow, i loved the review! I was also thinking the game was rushed and I couldnt really tell where, but now its clear. The acts I and II are a lot better than the other two.
    About the AH, i really think they should make us choose servers and commit to that like WoW. The way it is now is an economy that has been flooded in a week… If people were divided by realms, WoW style, we would have a lot better economy. I play HC and soft, and I can say that in HC the economy is a lot more stable and interesting, just because there are not a lot of people playing and the AH is not flooded. Gems and crafting books and items are worth shit.
    Other thing that should change is the fact that u can salvage gems back. This way a gem will never leave market and in a month they will all have value near to the cost to selling to a vendor.
    About the bosses, that is sad… I love to fight yellows and blues, but the bosses, aside from Belial, they are all dumb… Why not make a boss spawn with a random skill like the elite monsters? Just imagine Belial with waller… omg that would be crazy!
    Anyways, I think the most problematic issue on the game is the AH. The other problems are things Blizz will prob work out the next patches.
    Right now Im having so much fun it hurts, and I cant really say how much time Im spending on the game, but all I can say is Im playing almost everytime Im not working, sleeping or eating (yeah, my wife is playing too so no much, well, u know :P)

  • Wermine

    I want you guys to compare vanilla Diablo 2 and LoD 1.10. Then think what we now have with Diablo 3 and what the expansions and patches will change. Also, D2 act4 was extremely short compared to previous acts, just like in D3. Even though there are lots of things to improve, I’m sure they will be taken care of.

    Inferno is another thing. I could compare it to D2 mod, medianxl. I couldn’t imagine to beat the uber bosses within a week of the release especially when I couldn’t know the best builds and couldn’t get the best gear (and don’t forget the tactics). When you are level 60 in D3, the progress focus moves to items. The longer we wait/play the cheaper the good items will get. Inferno is constantly shifting into easier mode because of this.

  • Jake Fortner

    I think Blizzard is ding the something similar to what they do with WoW. With WoW, they are constantly changing and upgrading it, now to the point that WoW now is completely different to Vanilla WoW. If this is true, then Diablo will be like what someone else said, a sort of Beta. I don’t think it’s necessarilly that bad of thing, either. I know a lot of peoplw will say they should have worked on making the game perfect or nearly so at release, but what we traded for that was a game that will continue evolving and get better and better based on our experiences.

    But if Blizzarad isn’t going to do this, then yeah, they dropped the ball.

  • shwiggles

    The story wasn’t that terrible, just slightly. At least the individual dialogue with all the characters/followers/artisans/npcs are neat. Let’s not forget that the AH was created so Blizzard would have a money stream to support this game in the future, so if the game progression mechanics aren’t what they used to be…it’s what we signed up for (maybe unwillingly). For those who have mentioned WoW, I agree that WoW 4.3(?) is a lot different from vanilla WoW, and I imagine it will be similar in D3. I completely agree that the AH has made leveling my own artisans pointless, which is kind of sad, but I’ll throw money their way once I get the stuff for Whimsyshire done. Stupidly addicting, but flawed, and Blizz will eventually get around to hopefully polishing everything, as is their tendency. It’s only been out 9 days, let them soak in the critique and then get to work.

  • Doombot

    Inferno is so broken that you can farm Bosses but get stomped by elite/champion packs/mobs. Inferno SK is nothing compared to Elites/Champions wit waller, illusionist, extra-hp & molten/plague. The only good thing bout em is that their hp stay the same the last time you engaged em. If blizz decided to troll and reset their hp everytime we die. Head will roll.

  • joe

    What are you jaks bitchin about now?

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