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Diablo III Impressions – Has it Been Oversimplified?

Along with about a billion other hosers, I picked up Diablo III yesterday and have given it a few hours of play time, basically enough to face off against the game’s first “big” boss, the Skeleton King, and then a couple of extra quests besides. I’m not remotely ready to start talking in absolutes about this game and I haven’t tried any multiplayer yet, but I do have some initial impressions to share.

Back in February –good god, was it that long ago?– I posted some thoughts and concerns after having played through the beta. Much of what I wrote there remains true. At its heart, this is just more Diablo. You run around with pointy weapons (or clobber’n weapons, or missile weapons, or spells) and you kill things by clicking the left and right mouse buttons over and over again until your fingers cramp up, decay into blackened dried out husks, and then blow away like dust as soon as you encounter a stiff breeze. This is not your go-to game if you’re looking for a revolutionary leap forward in general gameplay. How much the smaller touches and nuances and changes to some general mechanics change the balance of play I’m not comfortable saying just yet…

Most of the character classes in this action RPG about slaying monsters are new –Monk, Witch Doctor, Demon Hunter– with the Wizard class standing in for Diablo 2’s Sorceress and the Barbarian the one holdover from the last game. This time around you can choose male or female for every class, which is inconsequential, but it’s better to have the option than not. The landscapes look terrific, though there’s a softness to them them that I can’t decide if I like or not. The action is chaotic as all get out. It’s to the point where you really don’t see what’s happening anymore. There’s just a whirlwind of movement on the screen and colorful fireworks exploding every which way and at some point you stop clicking and realize that everything that was trying to kill you is now dead. Hooray?

One aspect worth noting about the game is that you’re pretty much on autopilot through the Skeleton King. I’ll get into the skill stuff in a minute, but beyond that, the game is just plain easy up to that point. Until I reached that boss battle I had yet to use a healing potion. Now, I have played a lot of Diablo in my life and I was wondering if maybe I was just that good. (Long time readers know that’s not even a possibility.) But no, the game is just that easy for those initial two to four hours. It absolutely lulls you into a false sense of security because, after that, all indications are the going gets much tougher (I haven’t died yet, but I’ve been close on multiple occasions) and you’ll have to start playing smarter if you want to survive. Thank god.

As to the actual game systems in place this time around, back in the beta I said this:

If I had to draw a conclusion about the design philosophy at work here it’s that Diablo 3 is simplified for the sake of making it more accessible. There’s a considered effort here to remove overtly redundant or repetitive tasks that don’t add a lot of value to the core gameplay. It’s almost the opposite of what Blizzard did with Starcraft 2, which, by reputation, is every bit as fiddly as the original.

 

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I still think that, though as I’ll get to, I’m more open to the possibilities for the long term game. In the beta I noted the distinct lack of attribute points visible in the game. They are back now and you can see your numbers for Strength, Vitality, Dexterity, and Intelligence on your Inventory screen. You still don’t directly modify them, however. When you level up the game determines how they change.

Having character-building choices like this taken out of your hands is something I don’t like, and I don’t feel any different about it now than I wrote then. I get the reasoning for it. There is an argument to be made that assigning attribute points in Diablo 2 came down to some basic math in that maybe there was really just one ideal way to go about it. For every five points a Barb received, for example, two should go to Strength, two to Vitality, one to Dexterity, and none to Intelligence. (I’m pulling those numbers from the clear blue sky.) If you accept that as a reality then Diablo 3’s system of just assigning them for you makes a certain amount of sense, but only if you also grant the idea that a good attribute system is one in which there is only one ideal way to assign said points.

I would argue that if character building in Diablo is so rigid that your class automatically determines a best practice way to distribute attribute points you’ve done something wrong in your overall design. This is a problem in a lot of role playing games. It drives me nuts in the Dragon Age games. A system where Intelligence, for example, only applies to magic users isn’t making a credible use of the Intelligence attribute. Whether you’re a Monk or a Witch Doctor, every class skill path should have skills that benefit in some way from at least one of each available attribute as opposed to just deriving their benefits from one or two of them. It puts the player in the position of making decisions about how they’re going to develop their character’s physical traits and talents and gives more flexibility in terms of how many successful build variants are available. Here those decisions are made for you.

The whole game feels this way as you make your way to the Skeleton King. Gone are the familiar skill trees. In their place you simply reach a level and unlock a new skill across various categories. There are Active Skills that consist of the following classifications: Primary (left mouse button), Secondary (right mouse button), Defensive, Techniques, Focus, and Mantras (numbers 1-4 on your keyboard). There are also a bushel of Passive skills. I have to admit, how these all worked together was a bit confusing in the beta, but thanks to some UI clean-up the system is easier to understand here. (I’m not entirely clear on your configuration options with the Passive skills. Need to follow-up on that.)

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I’ve been playing as a Monk and, yeah, it’s all sorts of fun watching him use speed and melee attacks to rip up the beasties. However, in about three hours of play I have yet to make a real decision about his skills. I hit level 2, I get the Secondary skill Lashing Tail Kick. I immediately enable it and move forward. I hit level 3 and I unlock the Primary skill Deadly Reach. I immediately set that to being active and move forward. There’s no choice being made here. I simply use what the game gives me when it decides to give it to me. I don’t like that at all. Diablo 2’s sense of infinite possibility, when you got your first skill points and had to decide where to focus your efforts across three sets of completely open skill trees that were at your disposal, has entirely evaporated from the game. There’s no wonder or possibility here. Like killing monsters you just click your mouse and move forward.

But….

Yes, there is a but….

There is one big caveat to this – when you actually get to the point where you’ve unlocked a whole mess of skills, does that then begin to offer you endless variation to tailor how you play? I’m almost positive that it does. You see, each skill also has unlockable skill runes that go along with it. The aforementioned Lashing Tail can be tweaked with the Vulture Claw Kick rune (unlocked at level 7), which adds fire damage and knockback to nearby enemies. The Spinning Flame Kick rune (unlocked at level 28) hurls a column of fire at enemies to the tune of 240% of your overall weapon damage. I expect this use of the rune system ensures the viability of every skill in the game as you progress deeper into it. That would make it almost the opposite of the Diablo 2 system in that a built-out character has all sorts of choices rather than in Diablo 2 where, once you go down a path, you’re rather stuck on it. Here there will be no need to re-roll and start over if you want to change the way your Witch Doctor puts the smack down on little white rabbits with nasty, pointy teeth.

Personally, I liked the idea of re-rolling and having to start over in trying out new character builds, but then I’m a sadist and I don’t expect to be in the majority opinion on that front. This could ultimately be very effective design for the long run even though I can’t help but miss the aforementioned possibilities present at the beginning, as there were in Diablo 2.

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So, how good is Diablo 3? There’s much more to do, obviously, but I’d call it a very professional, probably well-balanced, piece of work. It’s also not particularly remarkable in any way. If you didn’t like the first two games, there’s no reason you should pay this one special attention. If you loved the first two games but became entirely bored with the gameplay, this probably isn’t going to have long legs for you. The rules have changed, but it’s the same game. It’s still full of thin RPG characters saying all the same things about impending doom and the coming darkness and yada, yada, yada. You still pick up and sell a metric ton of phat loot, and find gold hiding in tree stumps, and commit mass genocide of ugly, feral monsters. It’s also still entirely addicting if you do like the general concept and you’re not tired of the method.

That said, if you just want a few hours of hack and slash, I also can’t give you a good reason why you should play this and not at least wait and see on the release of Torchlight 2. I don’t know much about that game, but I know it’ll have similar gameplay, be cheaper and still competently put together, and it won’t force you to be online at all times, playing through corporate servers instead of just on your own machine.

I had about 20 minutes of play into Diablo 3 before Blizzard’s game servers went down and I got booted. I wasn’t playing with anyone else. I didn’t want to be playing with anyone else (at that moment). I just wanted to play and I couldn’t. Blizzard may want everyone to believe this is an MMO, but it’s not an MMO. And when I got dropped from my game, suddenly my $60 +tax investment in it didn’t seem particularly worth it. Sure, it was back up an hour later and I then played for a good three hours, but why I should have to concern myself with Blizzard server outtages to play this game single-player is utterly beyond my comprehension.

Yes, I know – DRM, piracy, bibbledy-bobbledy boo! The level this game takes it to is annoying and unnecessary and though I ponied up for Diablo 3 because it’s f’ing Diablo 3, that doesn’t mean I’m going to do the same the next time Blizzard puts out a new IP or a game in one of their other franchises that I couldn’t possibly care less about. I want to like this game –I’m predisposed to like this game– but Blizzard isn’t making it easy and even though Diablo 3 may have been built for the long term, this publishing strategy isn’t; at least, not where getting my business is concerned.

Todd Brakke

Todd was born in Ann Arbor with a Michigan helmet in one hand and a mouse in the other. (Never you mind the logistics of this.) He grew, vertically anyway, and proceeded to spend over 16 years as a development editor for Pearson Education, publishing books, videos, and digital learning products under the Que and Sams Publishing imprints. Because that wasn't enough of a challenge, Todd has also been a 20-year part-time snob about video games, writing reviews, features, and more for multiple outlets. Follow him on Twitter @ubrakto or check it out his website at ToddsFoolery.com.

63 thoughts to “Diablo III Impressions – Has it Been Oversimplified?”

  1. “So, how good is Diablo 3? There’s much more to do, obviously, but I’d call it a very professional, probably well-balanced, piece of work. It’s also not particularly remarkable in any way.”

    That’s damning. Though it won’t stop the game scooping 10’s from every major review site. It’s pretty much how I felt during the beta. It’s all very smooth and very well put together (for Diablo), but it felt as some people described Kingdoms of Amalur. It felt like it missed -soul-. Oddly I was one of those wierd people who enjoyed KoA and found my own reasons to care in the game, but in Diablo 3 beta all I felt like was a hamster obediently hoovering loot and watching XP bars go up.

    I’m sorry, but I can get that experience without the idiotic DRM and for a much better price point with Torchlight 2, and I can tell from the impressions I’ve got of TL2 that they -care- that the game is worth playing and *remains* playable.

  2. I know you don’t play these games for the writing but man– the dialogue and the forced backstory. Brutal

    “Let me tell you the history of the ancient sword…”

    “Oh, I really wish you wouldn’t.”

        1. That’s the quintessential RPG trope, isn’t it? Very few games succeed in avoiding that, but that doesn’t make any RPG game a bad one, necessarily.

          1. It doesn’t help that half the voice acting in Blizzard games sound like interns who honestly thought they were getting their big break. You can literally see ham coming out of your speakers.

            Not only are you the chosen one, you’re also the chosen one who’s voice is halfway between Mr. Bean and Brian Blessed.

    1. Yeah, the writing could be a lot better. And some of the voice acting too… it’s cringeworthy at times, but I guess no one plays Diablo for its story. At least I don’t.

      Speaking of writing… I’ve been playing a neat game called “Blades of Time”. It feels like a lighter, more approachable Devil May Cry, with some hints of Prince of Persia, and with a female protagonist whose name could be “Crara Loft” instead of “Ayumi”. But the writing is atrocious, and I think Ayumi is the first video game character since Aerie that I wish I could ask to shut up. Ayumi not only talks to herself all the time, but what she says is completely redundant and pointless 90% of the time. “Oh look, a door – I wonder if I should go there? Well, it’s open, so I don’t see why not” (not an exact quote, but an example of what you have to endure).

      Other than that, Blades of Time is a good game. I’m digging it, but I just had to mention that. 😉

  3. I actually love the way they did the ‘talents’ in D3 as opposed to D2. It’s just personal preference, but I much prefer being able to switch out talents on the fly , to cater to what you’re fighting, or just to better suit your preferred play style.

    There are plenty of other action RPG type games out there, and some of them are very good, but I was reminded again playing D3 how little ‘personality’ most of the others seem to have in comparison. In particular, Torchlight, which does what it is setting out to do nearly flawlessly, seems generic in comparison. I hope Torchlight 2 will possibly improve that aspect of the game.

    All that said, I wish I hadn’t bought D3 at launch. It was a nightmare to install (I had every issue in the book), and I’ve had very little playtime, due to server outages, or numerous other errors. After several hours of playing last night, I (along with everyone else) was booted when the servers went down, and I have been unable to even start the game since. I have been stuck at 0% on initializing, which I believe is caused by some system configuration of my machine, but I have been unable to solve the problem. Yet I have never had any issue with WoW, or any other online game. This last paragraph is merely me saying that, while I really like the game, it has been in no way worth the trouble to me to play it. If it was an offline game, with multilayer support, I’d have zero complaints, basically.

  4. I haven’t played much (about one hour yesterday, before Blizzard decided to drop the servers yet again for yet another emergency maintenance event), but it’s definitely Diablo. Other then the disconnect, it was pretty smooth.

    As for gameplay, I see a lot of promise. I think that the attributes being streamlined is a good thing, and I’m very excited about the skill system (in theory). I’ll have to wait until I have at least 20-something levels under my belt before I confirm that, though, as there are not many available skills in the first few levels, but it seems to open up quite significantly later.

    I like how the skills scale with your level and equipment. Din’s Curse is a brilliant action RPG for sure, but not all skills scale as they should, which effectively kills some builds there. I think Torchlight had some problems with that as well, though I’m not entirely sure. Anyway, it’s good to see that the skill tree in Diablo 3 seems to be well thought out, and built to scale correctly. If that’s the case, then Diablo 3 will be second to none in flexibility in its builds, specially at higher levels.

    As for Torchlight 2, I just made into the beta last night (thanks Runic Games!), and I’ve played for an hour or so. Unlike Diablo 3, it has attributes, and they have neat effects for all classes, which is very welcome. For example, if you’re an Embermage, you’ll dump most points on Focus, but a Berserker can benefit from Focus because it increases the chance of triggering executions, and so on.

    As for skills, Torchlight 2 doesn’t seem to have as many possible variations as Diablo 3, as Torchlight 2 is closer to Diablo 2 in terms of game mechanics. In fact, I’d say Torchlight 2 is much closer to Diablo 2 than Diablo 3 is, which may be a good or bad thing, depending on how you look at it. But in the end, that’s a good thing – despite the initial similarity, Diablo 3 and Torchlight 2 are different games, focusing on different things, and both have lots and lots of potential.

    In short, it’s a good time to be an action RPG fan, it seems. With Diablo 3 here (and hopefully more stable in the coming days), Torchlight 2 coming in a few weeks, and games like Grim Dawn and Drox Operative coming in the next months, 2012 is shaping to be a very interesting year. I’m looking forward to all of them.

    Until Darksiders 2 arrives, of course. Then I guess it will all be about Darksiders 2. 😉

      1. It’s the next game from Soldak Games, the company responsible for Depths of Peril and Din’s Curse. It’s an action RPG with a 4X space theme to it, and it seems quite intriguing. Considering how good Depths of Peril and Din’s Curse were, I’m looking forward to it.

        1. And it’s not Soldak Games, but Soldak Entertainment. I would never make that mistake with a bigger company like Blizzard Games, I suppose.

  5. “I immediately set that to being active and move forward. There’s no choice being made here. I simply use what the game gives me when it decides to give it to me.”

    I’ll argue this. I think you aren’t thinking about it enough. You’ve set your mental wheel on the rail, following the the “next-skill-unlocked-is-better” idea that most games/RPGs throw at you. D3 works off of a “next-skill-is-different” idea. From my time in the beta, and my small amount of time in retail, i definitely didn’t take the next unlock and carried on. I have an idea for how I want to play my guy, and how I want his abilities to synergise with other players and my other ablities. I’m still using the original shot on my DH with the slowing trap and the rapid fire ability. If I followed your method I would have the slowing shot as my main ability, but that’s redundant with my trap so I didn’t take the next unlock. I suspect this will become clearer to people as they get into higher levels. I did the same thing with my Monk – I hated playing with the teleporting punch thing, and it didn’t fit my idea of what my monk was, so I don’t use it (even though it was the next unlock)

    I think that the change to talents that Blizzard is making in D3 and WoW could very well evolve the genre in a significant way, and I can’t believe no one thought of it earlier. It’s that important.

    I don’t really understand why people are still stating that they miss the choice a number-assigning system gave them – there isn’t a choice unless you don’t give a shit about how good/fun your guy is to use (“But Mr R. Lazer, I can choose to be sub-par!!” “Really? You WANT that?”). And in your very article you state that any system that boils down to one best choice is a bad system. That’s why it got changed! It’s an inherently flawed system. So they created one were you actually have choice but it seems like no one really gets it – they’re stuck on the idea that making choices about your guy is only equal to hitting harder/lasting longer in a spreadsheet. The new system let’s you really and truly decide how you want to play without having to worry about assigning numbers that should ideally only be assigned one way anyway.

    TLDR? You’re doing it wrong

    1. Well the notion that the next skill isn’t necessarily the best one is covered when I get into the “long game” stuff. But when you’re first starting out and you don’t know what all the skills do, it’s logical to just take the one that just unlocked until you figure out if you like it. There is, ultimately, a decision to make, but it doesn’t scratch the “ooh, I just leveled and I want to do something to tweak my character” itch. Perhaps that’s just a lifetime of conditioning that must be overcome, but I do miss that. (And I did the same thing with my Monk. After about 5 minutes with the healing skill I went right back to the one that causes blindness.)

      As for attributes, I’d still argue if where you put the points doesn’t matter because there’s only one “right” way to go about it, then the whole notion of having attributes is pointless. If you’re going to have the numbers I think how you develop them should be based on your choice or how you play that character and it should then impact which skills you’ll be best at. But that’s purely a matter of opinion, of course.

      1. Would you rather not have any signifier of how powerful your guy is then? Just put all those numbers behind the scenes? I at least like being able to see them so I see how my dude is growing up.

        Sorry, I should have addressed your long game section, and I get what you were saying there. I was pushing back on the unequivocal way you stated the lack of choice. And posting quickly as I’m at work (plus giving you a little bit of a hard time.)

        I get the whole itch thing. I do have a conditioned “Oooohhh, fun!” everytime the screen explodes in a level up. And I do get a little sad when I look at what I got and realize that I don’t care about it or want it. I understand what you’re saying from that perspective for sure.

        I guess ultimately, I agree with Blizzard on the idea that putting points into things is really pretty boring and not choice-oriented gameplay. The loss of the dopamine fix from a level up is unfortunate, but I really think this could be a paradigm shift – and a short time from now we will have completely forgotten that the transition was hard because we will have adapted to the new places that dopamine is coming from.

  6. So, I’ve played through Act 1 at this point with the Demon Hunter (and got to play with a couple NHS comrades for awhile, so thanks for that battletag post, Bill). As someone who got completely addicted to Diablo 2, this can really sink its teeth in. When the servers went out again last night, I went to bed and woke up 5 hours later to get back to playing (at 4 am).

    I don’t think I mind the massive amount of simplification they did, but it does make leveling up a little, well, boring. Since you’re not really using that much stuff (eventually 3 passive skills and 6 active ones), you pretty much check to see if the typically 1 new thing fits with your play style (or is awesome enough to make you change your play style) and then you continue on. Pretty soon, you’re only checking every thing 2 or 3 or 5 levels so that it’s actually worth your time to stop slaughtering things for a minute and go into the menus.

    What does bother me, though, and this could be just because I’m an idiot, but I find it really hard to compare skills in any sort of meaningful way. I guess that’s what the internet is for, but it feels like you’re supposed to pick your skills based upon how much it feels like you’re wasting your enemies. Instead of with any sort of useful numbers that allow you to see how different skills affect damage dealing. But the fact that you know about a skill that uses a 240% of weapon damage modifier suggests to me that I’m looking in the wrong places.

    1. If a weapon does 10 damage, doesn’t that mean the 240% skill would do 24 damage? That seems like like something you could figure out by looking at your weapon for a few seconds, rather than hitting up the googles.
      Or am i doing it wrong?

      1. Todd got it. It’s because, in game, it doesn’t say “240% of weapon damage”. It just says something like: deals damage. This makes it harder to evaluate the merits of the skills within the game. But, Blizzard’s Diablo 3 site does have a “Skill Calculator” that fills in all the information with numbers for those who care. Like me.

    2. I got that 240% number from Blizzard’s Diablo 3 site. I think you’re right that for all the info the game gives you about weapon damage rates, armor protection, etc. it doesn’t tell you enough in-game about the skills (in terms of raw numbers).

      1. Oh arg, that’s on Blizzards site? That’s annoying and short sited given their whole “don’t alt-tab out” mantra they are building their current systems on. I always get yelled at in online games because I ask too many questions and don’t minimize to google. Hate it.

      1. Just for clarification on this, it’s the “show advanced tooltips” option in the gameplay menu. I was super happy to find that last night and I always wonder why that isnt the default option :/

    3. Why don’t you experiment with your skills and runes? I’ve been checking countless skill/rune combos by the end of Act I, and now, lvl 20, somewhere in the Act II, I’m still experimenting and drooling over some runes which will become available at lvl 50 and above (zombie bears… zombie bears!). Diablo 3 skill system is great, and I love everything about it.

      That said, story is ok (dare I say good, far from Witcher 2 awesomeness, but still good), writing is… ok, voice acting is good (but Enchanteress is just plain annoying), and monsters and areas are awesome. Also, piece of advice – don’t read achievement lists/descriptions, they’re full of spoilers.

  7. The game is fun.

    To me that’s my #1 criteria for a game. Is it fun?

    So far it is, although there is not a lot of time in that statement thanks to their server issues.

    I realize other people have different criteria. In my opinion if you went into Diablo 3 not looking for more of Diablo and a compelling story well then seems like you were expecting Diablo 3 not to be Diablo.

    That in no way doesn’t mean your points are accurate just I’m not sure what you were expecting.

    1. Well, aside from some mechanics changes, this *is* what I was expecting. I expected to not love the game, but still feel a compulsion to play. We’ll see how long that lasts. In the text conclusion (above), though, I’m just telling the people reading what they should expect to get for their money based on what they’re looking to get out of it.

      Can’t tell from your phrasing if you think Diablo should or should not have a compelling story. So far, I’d say this doesn’t, and I do think Diablo 2 did (have a compelling, if simple, story), but it’s early yet. I just know I’m already bored with listening to Deckard carry on and his niece isn’t interesting and the fallen man would have saved me some annoyance if he’d just been ground into a fine paste, as physics should have demanded. 😉

      1. I think that’s an excuse. And a bad one at that.

        Hey it’s Diablo you shouldn’t expect good story writing. It’s going to sound/read like a cliched 1981 D&D choose your own adventure book.

        Why not? Why can’t it be better than that?

        I’m getting my kicks out of the game just fine, but I don’t agree at all with the “hey it’s game X, lower your expectations” theory, especially when it comes to writing and voice acting.

        I was thrilled when that old dude finally died. I’d say that’s a spoiler but do you really care?

        1. Arg! Yes, yes I do. Because I am base and easily amused.

          But I gotta admit. The beats you put into that reply actually made me chuckle. You walked us right into that spoiler.

          “ah, shit! I completely fell for that spoiler!”

          Well played. Jerk.

        2. Todd,

          Do I want Diablo to have a compelling story? Good question I guess my answer is no not really. It’s a click action rpg who made it’s name by people playing together over and over grinding for more loot. Did torchlight have a compelling story to you?

          I think the fun of the game comes from playing with friends and just laying waste to everything and finding cool loot. That is not everyones cup of tea, hell most of the time it’s not my cup of tea, but Diablo does what it does well.

          I’m not saying it can’t be better and it shouldn’t I’m just saying I wasn’t going in with an expectation it would be. What exactly did they show that led you to believe it would have a great story with epic rpg choices Bill?

          I’m not making an excuse for the game I am just stating a fact I knew what I was getting with diablo 3 and I’m pretty sure you knew what you were getting when you decided to buy it.

          It’s kind of like taking the really hot, but dumb girl on a date. You know she puts out and you took her out because of how she looks but you’re disappointed that she can’t hold a conversation at dinner.

          1. … so you plan to leave D3 in bed the next morning and sneak out quietly, boasting to your friends how you “nailed it good” yet inside you can feel a little bit of your soul hollowing out after finding out she’s easy to everyone?

            *strolls on*

          2. That’s (mostly) fair; story isn’t everything in this game and I chose not to focus on it too much for that reason (and because it’s way too early to do that), but I think you can have a “simple” story and have it still be good. Again, see Diablo 2. I love the vignettes between the acts in that game. I also think if Blizzard is going to have this rep as being the best there is at what they do, and they’re going to throw gobs and gobs of money into a project, then I think it’s fair to point out, “Hey, your plotting here isn’t so good.” I thought the same thing with Starcraft II. It was ridiculous how much they put into animating the cut scenes in that story to have such cookie-cutter characters and dialog.

            The question I’d boil it down to is this, when all is said and done and it averages out to a 90+ metacritic score, it’s fair to ask did it review so well because it was *that* good or did it review so well because it’s from Blizzard and it’s name is Diablo? If this game were exactly the same, but was from some dev you’d never heard of, would some of the stuff it gets a pass on still get a pass? I think the game is polished to within an inch of its life, but I don’t think it’s a particularly remarkable game so far. I truly dunno one way or the other. I need to play more before I can form firm ideas about that.

            Also, yes, if I took a good looking woman out to dinner and the conversations sucked, I absolutely would be disappointed. Maybe I’m just getting old, but no amount of stellar looks will offset sitting at the table staring at the food (and my watch) because the person can’t put a complete thought together with a map, a flashlight, and a compass. 😉

        3. A good story can always make a game better. I guess the degree to which a bad story diminishes a game depends on two factors.

          First, can the game mechanics sustain the experience separately from the narrative? In a Civilization, Super Mario, or Ninja Gaiden game, I’d say yes. The Mass Effect games, on the other hand, would wear thin awfully quickly if all those shooty missions occurred without context.

          The other is how aggressively a bad story wants to infringe on the rest of the game. A boring dinner guest is easier to tune out than one who also smells. Is Diablo III constantly distracted by its droning NPCs, or are they just perfunctory pit stops that breeze by once every four hours?

          I played a lot of Diablo and Diablo II, and the only character I can name is the guy in the title. It isn’t that a better woven story wouldn’t have been a welcome improvement, but when the plot points are so infrequent and far removed from the action, they tend to fade away behind the game play experience.

  8. Hobbes!

    I’m enjoying how much you love to hate on D3, and the fun ways in which you let that be known.

        1. See, I can find a reason to enjoy just about anything (for at least a bit).

          If we met in the middle we would be Xanax.

          1. Xanax is nice and all, but I prefer opioid painkillers. They keep me functioning and make the world just about bearable, even Britain can be coped with!

            Also, the math problems are causing me to have to spend more than a tenth of a second. Seven times table actually requires me to think, briefly.

  9. Hobbes,

    I’d probably give her another shot in the morning for good measure.

    Honestly I’m just going to have fun playing it until I get bored and move on. Talk about it while I do and then pretty much find the next game to hold my interest.

    I know it’s an odd thing to have fun while playing a game. Just call me out there I guess…

    1. I know, I know. Having fun in a game, it’s witchcraft. I mean, perish the thought people enjoy games. I just choose games which don’t mandate I have a mandatory always on connection requirement, nor require me to log into a game I purchased because it’s being sold as a service (which means when the servers go down…).

      I don’t expect scintillating originality or a story comparable to the works of Banks or Asimov, but for the love of all that is holy, I do expect the game to be the product of a labour of love and passion. What makes me sad is Starcraft 2 -was- this very thing, and it showed with the wildly different SP and MP directions. I still PLAY Starcraft 2, and I can put up with the onerous login requirement there because it was so genuinely brilliant I could temporarily suspend caring about the fact.

      Ever since Blizz released Cataclysm, I have but three words : Jumped the shark.

      1. Well you won’t find me arguing any of those points. The whole things yesterday was the biggest cluster yuck for a “single player” game I can remember.

        I will also grant by the time I do have some hours put into it I may be thinking “this thing took a yucking decade to make?”

        Right now I am just enthralled with watching some fat demon explode and parasites come out of his belly and attack me. Then looking for pieces of text that are colored.

        Yes, I’m fascinated by simple things like the ball on a paddle as well.

        1. So really all Diablo 3 needed was a button that says “Press this to make monsters explode and fill up random bars”, which goes ding every so often. And it’d sell millions of copies? Don’t tell Activision, they’ll do that, we know they will!

          1. I already run three instances of PQ on my main PC, I’m seeing how easy/difficult it would be to port it to Android. It would make the IDEAL “game” for a mobile device.

    1. No doubt. Best readers on the planet, right here. Except for Rhamorim. Dude’s just crazy. (Rhamorim, I kid because I love.)

      1. Oh, don’t worry, you’re right. I’m crazy indeed, and well aware of that. Well, as much as a crazy person can be, that is.

        So, when will we play co-op? Let me know so I get my Witch Doctor ready. I have just the perfect build to play co-op with you. 😉

  10. Hmm. I don’t know why the reply button goes away after a point.

    Todd,

    I’m in agreement with you in everything you say, well most everything. This game will do well because of the name. Yes we should hope for more and frankly i haven’t played enough. Right now the game is incredibly easy, although was tougher with 3 players.

    I haven’t played enough of it yet to say anything more then it is fun and it’s what I expected. That’s all I was trying to say I got exactly what I thought I was getting and because of that I am not disappointed yet. Possibly a little bored because of it being easy but again more time will tell.

    1. It’s because of the scale of the page. If you keep replying (indenting) it’ll screw up formatting.

      I think, anyway. Ask Brian. lol

      1. I always thought it was because you were replying to a thread that you already replied to. That’s the only time it ever happens to me at least.

        Not like I built your site or anything.

        1. There’s a limit on reply nesting, it seems. 5 levels (response + 4 replies). It makes sense, because it prevents formatting problems, and could potentially prevent database response time degradation due to a higher number of reply levels (if WordPress uses the standard “parenting” implementation, which I think it does.

          TL;DR: web developer talk. People limited reply level to 5 for many good reasons. You don’t need to know those reasons. These are not the droids you’re looking for.

          1. But inquiring minds must know! And yes, that sounds correct, when I fiddled with wordpress I didn’t even allow reply nesting because I wasn’t confident in the database’s ability to withstand things getting too complex.

            Also, math problem : 1+1=2 , if this site starts asking us to *prove* (as in math degree standard style proofs) these sums, we’re in big trouble.

  11. Hobbes, there is a way to implement a nesting model with virtually unlimited nesting levels in a way that’s still efficient to read/display in a database (in fact, one that has mostly linear cost), but with increased cost when adding/ordering comments (though it’s still pretty mild). However, it depends on a pretty good ACID implementation, which might not be the case with MySQL databases using the MyISAM format, which is what I suppose is being used here (I haven’t used MySQL on that level for a few years, so take that into consideration).

    That said, I don’t know which implementation WordPress uses, but with the usual implementation (a “parent” column, with NULL for top-level comments) a high number of nesting levels can have a huge influence in performance. If the maximum nesting level is known, you can retrieve it all with one single query, but if it’s not, you will need one query for each top-level comment, which might result in a massive performance hit.

    TL;DR: more web dev talk. Something about databases being evil and reply nesting being the spawn of Diablo, Baal and Mephisto. Databases are also expected to be always online, so you might want to avoid that.

    1. … funny, I thought this game that everyone keeps saying is brilliant yet has trouble logging into and lacks an actual singleplayer mode was the spawn of Diablo, Baal and Mephisto!

      And so, the conversation comes full circle and we’re back on topic!

      1. Sorry about that. You know what’s a perpetual source of fun and joy? Diablo 3. When you don’t get Error 37, that is. 😉

  12. I’m not sure if a lot of people know this yet, but there is an option called Elective Play in the “Game Play” Menu. This allows you to move spells and casting options to which ever button you choose, thus removing *auto-pilot*.

    I think knowing this will change a lot of things for players.

  13. It’s funny to see how much WoW has influenced Diablo as much as Diablo as influenced WoW. In this instance the talent system is almost what’s described for WoW’s upcoming changes with runes already being comparable to what inscriptions do, only taking it a step further by offering different runes to change the skills rather then just one. The lack of Stat pumping, an already WoW/many other MMORPG trope. Eh, I don’t care about the duping or the Diablo back market to really think it was necessarily to put the game in online only mode. People I normally play with with a game like this are friends, not random strangers on the internet.

  14. to expand on what ertimmer wrote, Elective Play lets you choose ANY skills for any slot. I thought from reading the tooltip that it was just to switch keybindings. You’re no longer stuck with one skill from each set of mantra, focus, etc.

    I played Monk myself, and I enjoyed it, but the 3 skill just wasn’t fitting me at all. I finally used it to summon a Mystic Ally just because I didn’t like any of the other stuff and he’d tank a little. Then I found out about elective mode, replaced my ally with Blind from the 1 skills (to go with Serenity also from the 1s) and my Monk fits my play style perfectly now.

    I think Blizzard just wants everyone no matter how incompetent to be able to finish normal, and if they overwhelm very casual players with too many skill choices they could easily pick some that don’t work well together and have difficulties. I finished normal this morning, and the entirety of normal to me almost seemed like a “faceroll-on-the-keyboard” to win difficulty but I have high hopes for the later difficulties; it looks like there’s more depth here than I thought there was going to be when I played in the beta. I was quite pessimistic during the beta.

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