Over the weekend it was my birthday, which usually I don’t care but this year it seemed liked I was meant to celebrate. First off, I went to my good friend Erics for a BBQ, which I invited only one other person to. Word gets out, and it seemed all my old friends from Anna showed up, almost all of them unaware it was even my Bday. Seems like fate really, it has been a few years since some of us have hung out. It was a great time and the food was good. Next I went to St. Louis and checked out Union Station, which I haven’t been to before, it was pretty epic. Then I ate at π, a cool pizza place with the best pizza I’ve had outside New York- and I’ve been to a couple pizza places in my time- I’m just sayin.’
On top of that Blizzard must have know it was my bday because they opened up Diablo III beta. This means anyone can download the game and play just for the weekend. I’m not a big gamer, but Diablo and I go back a bit. It was the first game I had for the Playstation in 1996 and I go Diablo II opening day. I tortured my poor wife with the stories of how PC games weren’t as big back then and you could actually go opening day and just buy a game, now you have to preorder it 3 months ahead. Anywho, Diablo II was fun, but got repetitive and boring awfully fast. Despite this Jon Holt and I played it to death over and over because there were just so many different ways to build a character. This is really what made it fun and this is exactly why I think Diablo III is not going to be fun.
The new game looks really nice and some of the character designs are cool, on par with previous games. But the character building is strange. For example, in I and II you have points to put into attributes every time you leveled up, in III you no longer do this. In II you got skill points to put into your skill tree, which had about 30 skills per character and greatly influenced your damage and hit percentage. In Diablo III you don’t get skill points, in fact you just get different skills when you level up. Now the game adds in runes, which attach to skills and power them up. I’m unclear on how to get these runes, but they aren’t very difficult in the beginning. In all the games equipment rules character customization. It becomes a game of greed where you seek better and better stuff. There are super rare items to be found. Interestingly enough in Diablo I when you got rare items they usually had a very unique look to them and even caused negative effects along with positive. In Diablo II equipment is more emphasized in variety but not in look or really uniqueness as much. Diablo III is even more equipment based because now skills don’t have core damage but they have effects and the damage is based on your weapons.
This newest game seems logically fine but somewhat boring. If we get far less skills to play with, and everyone who is the same character and is at the same level has the same skills and stats, the only difference being runes and equipment- there is obviously less variety. On top of this, you need to be online to play and there are online stores where players sell stuff and others buy it with real world money!!! Wait, so now this is an capitalist game completely. The only way to really get ahead is to play hard and get runes, but everyone gets these eventually- and the only real way to excel past others is to spend real money or rely on luck. I feel the joy of the old game’s replay value was trying new builds, which is now greatly watered down.
A lot of the arguments from Blizzard about these decisions are based on the way people played Diablo II (no one considers Diablo I because there were no skills, just a set of spells to learn and weapons that each character could use appropriately((but interesting enough any character could use any weapon, just sloppily))) To beat the game on the hardest difficulty one had to dump all their points into one skill or set of skills that worked together. You really couldn’t do it any other way. This meant attributes too were somewhat rigidly used in the sense that you would only get a minimal amount into each area that you needed, and then dump the rest into vitality. So really, skills and attributes were an allusion to customization. This point is valid, and now they have a new rhetoric which they call optimized build vs. useable??? something. Anyway, they made the game so that any build with the skill sets could work. I’m not sold on this because the video they showed made it look like the non-optimized build was getting chewed up by hardest difficulty, and the beta doesn’t let you get to any hard difficulty at all. In fact, the beta is so easy I never even used a health potion and made it to level 10. That’s just too easy, and this has always been an issue with Diablo II, too easy. Diablo I was actually the hardest in ways (disclaimer to Rouge players, you don’t need to see Diablo to shoot him, that’s op). Now they are making Diablo III easier, since when did age restricted games have to be so easy. And to even get to the harder difficulty you have to beat the game once- ugh!!! So boring. Do I really want to replay that again and again with different characters and what seems to be limited build for $60 bucks…. not really! They had 14 years to fix this character creation system, which fix is a strong word since Diablo II is still played and was super popular, and what they came up with was just to throw it out and dumb it down to be fair. Even so, people out there will find optimal builds for dueling, and the game might have to be dumbed down way more. This is kinda what happened to SC2, they kept cutting back to balance it, and now half the spells are ineffectual or sparsely used compared to beta. More balanced: maybe; funner: definitely not. After a long wait, I expecting more to be added to the game, even more customization such as character looks and custom looking armor, instead we seem to be getting less. We can build our own weapons now, which is great, but will it be enough? I don’t think so.