Play harder

Diablo III

Third episodes are somehow hard to release. Fans had to wait ten years for Fallout 3, and the case of Doom 3 was exactly the same. Diablo III beat them by an extra three years to sharpen the appetite.

01So we waited thirteen years, and at last the favorite clicking-monsterkiller game os a good many people arrived. Among the several reasons of lateness the most important is that the game was rewritten three times. No wonder, the development started in 2001, and there was a lot of advancement in the technology since then.

Not to mention the open secret that the character development system of the second Diablo was worth not heap of crap. The multi-way development opportunities were actually almost one-way at each character, because only the most effective characters could walk through the whole game. Only in the recent years the system was altered such way that skills started to strengthen each other.

In spite of this Diablo II was successful enough to make the bed for the third part. The enormousness of the fan base was perfectly indicated by the 6.3 million copies sold on the first week. A must add; it deserved.

Because the game was made excellently. From the graphix to the skill system lots of things were rethought and rewritten. It is not boring to replay it on different difficulty levels, because the monsters and the spells can bring new challenges and things to explore. On Normal difficulty you can watch the environment, read the story, but on Nightmare and Hell difficulties you have to be more and more tactical with the skills and the equipment.

03Relatively to the previous episode, character development was entirely reformed. There is no chance to purchase ability points, which – by the reason mentioned above – had no use anyway, but in exchange we get a level-dependent skill system with a heap of modification runes, and that makes hundreds of combinations to use what you want in the given situation. You can overwrite your choice anytime, so you can adopt to the various situation and will never “botch” your character.

Identify and Town Portal spells had vanished, as did the Horradric Cube, the opportunity for Gamble and essentially everything else we spent most of our playtime. But now we get a Blacksmith and a Jeweler, who follow you and can make better and better items from the collected materials… and, of course, from the mountain of coins that is a need for almost everything what you do in the game.

Multiplayer was altered too: Everything had changed starting from the lack of townportal and PvP, to the looting system, but these changes were advantageous. Although, only four player can enter a game, but the method was significantly simplified, and half a minute after login you can play together with your friends.

It is required to remark an error in the game code here. In public game mode (anyone can enter a so-called “open game”) your actual character can be robbed of everything it has. This is fairly unpleasant if you already got important items for your character – and, by all means, it is a problem that should be aimed by the developers soon.

04I don’t want to overaccent the description of the game, because it is very easy to learn the basics, and everything above that needs almost no effort to know. Essentially, by means of combat it is like Diablo II in a new wrapping, but out of the battles it is a very different game. In my opinion, they kept everything that was loveable in Diablo II, but they threw out or changed the things we were swearing about.

And the black soup is yet to come! Although the game needs constant internet access for Battle.net like WoW and Starcraft (even for single player mode), Blizzard were unsuccessful in making a similarly reliable software. It is one thing that after several months of closed beta, some days of open beta and stress testing the company was not able to start an entirely well-working game, and not to make people suck and browse through several dozens of error codes because of it. And another – unforgettable – thing is the big programmer error that makes the robbery of open game entrants possible, authenticator or not. Another nice boner is the fact that the EU srever is switched off regularly, practically almost every afternoon.

However, all of these are not count as much as a certain problem rooting much deeper. To understand it, we have to look back at Diablo II and remember why we spent so much time in front of the screen. The answer is: Challenge.

Remember what a work it was to build a javazon to use Ethereal Titan’s Revenge (with zod rune) on the Cow Level and clear the place by one shot. And in the Inventory only a 2×4 rectangle remained free from Gheed’s Fortunecharm.

This might sound Chinese to all who doesn’t know the game, but perhaps you still feel the effort of tens or hundreds of playtime hours behind the words. Well, in Diablo III this is redeemed by some minutes of clicking in the Auction House.

Because there IS an Auction House where you can buy and sell items for game money. Soon, there will be another version for real money buyers, if anyone feels the lack of it.

09But what is the use of improvements for the Jeweler, and what is the use of sparing no pain, money and inventory place in collecting jewels if you can buy what you want from the AH for pennies – or, to be correct, for the hundredth of the cost of the “legal way”? What is the point of improving the Blacksmith and disassemble magic items by no end of work, if you need a mountain of money and luck to get anything useful from him? What is about this, if you consider the opportunity of getting almost everything from the Auction House by no effort and in no time, for only some thousands of gold? What’s the point of building a character with magic find – who can find better and often magical items –, if the best droppings can be bought from the AH? Probably, Blizzard saw this problem, because there is an Inferno level of difficulty above Hell, and it really makes players sweat. When you goes there, your character should be around level 60, and he/she has access to items unavailable for lower level characters. On this level, the presence of AH has a better reason; items required for survival can digest astronomical amounts of money. (In my humble opinion it is a flaw in the economic system of the game – Garcius)

So, to really enjoy the game by facing real challenges you have to reach level 60 and Inferno difficulty. However, in this moment it is so hard to do that most player give up midway. Most people won’t replay it after a playthrough on Normal difficulty, because the game just repeats itself with harder opponents (as Diablo games do). And for others, who are intended to invest hundreds of hours into the game, everything before Inferno will be too easy, and Inferno itself will be too hard to give carefree entertainment. Only the same religious nuts remain who played Diablo II for long months and even longer years. For them, Diablo III gives exactly what they were waiting for thirteen years. Everyone else gets a good story badly told, fine animations, up-to-date but average visuals, and some hours of joyful clicking – considering the price, these may be not enough for everyone.

So, the game is good; it is perhaps the best in its category. However, some will think there are better entertainment opportunities for this price.

(Update: Problems sketched in the article were mostly solved since then.)

Zedas

diablo3_boxPublisher: Blizzard Entertainment
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Homepage: http://www.diablo3.com/
Style: Hack’n’slash, dungeon crawl

What I liked:
skill system
gameplay
almost everything

What I didn’t like:
open game problem
auction house
too expensive for what it gives

5_4

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