Sunday, 19 August 2012

My Usual Spiel: Diablo 3, Nothing more or less expected


Release Date: May 15, 2012
Genre: Third-Person Action
Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment

Diablo, possibly the only one of Blizzard’s three greatest game franchises that I had yet to fully experience, I remember delving into a bit of Diablo 2 in the past but it really wasn’t much at all. I was far too busy with Warcraft 2 & 3 and also Starcraft when the Diablo games came out so I paid little attention to them as I was much more RTS focused in those days. That said though Diablo has a lot in common with those games so much so that it almost seems like an offshoot of some of the single player campaign missions, the ones where you have no building units for the entire period and you usually have one unit who is the “hero” or named unit which is usually a different colour to the rest and you play through a semi-linear tunnel or landscape triggering events. To be honest the style of gameplay I found it most likely to be akin was none other than the Warcraft 3: The Founding of Durotar campaign featuring the famous Rexxar which I managed to finish for the first time awhile ago and do a quick review. In this campaign you predominately played as Rexxar and a few other companions while both completing quests, levelling up, obtaining new abilities and collecting items in basically the same way as Diablo. Of course this style of gameplay was also said to be introducing players to the WoW style of gameplay which was to come out after it. 

Diablo 2, never played it, but apparently it's still better than this one
 I must admit I fell in to peer pressure to get Diablo 3, but now that I do have it, it is a great game to play with friends. So far in my singleplayer experience of the game I have had sufficient fun, yes sufficient fun I may sound like I'm going into this with a lot of negativity though I think I’m just trying to resist becoming a fan of how awesome Diablo is which is kind of hypocritical since I went from not fancying World of Warcraft then trying it and realising it was the best thing ever in the space of 48 hours. So of course I decided to get Diablo 3 and try it out in the end I had made the right decision to wait since during the initial launch the game went through quite a few problems with its long list of servers errors some of which getting famous by their own accord. But still I wouldn’t have tied to play it on launch night or even day for that matter, I think the rule of thumb is to just not play the game until at least a  couple of days after it came out, I personally wait a week or more cause frankly I can wait. I don’t think there is any game I’d be so excited to play that I’d stay up late into the night to play, maybe if it was with friends and we were drinking but we’d still be just adding more people to the number by all trying to log on at the same time with the same Internet connection.

Penny Arcade: Condensation
 I wasn’t expecting much personalisation in the character creation and there wasn’t, this isn’t a Bioware RPG after all, there’s not much in the way of character storyline as you just simply create your character, view the initial opening movie, then you view your very generic character classes opening movie I started out as a Monk as I thought they looked pretty cool and I liked the idea of using my fists and feet martial arts style. I soon found that Diablo 3 has a limited number of abilities that you can use at any one time, two abilities are bound to the left and right mouse buttons and 4 other abilities are on your action bar, which pale in comparison to MMORPG’s where sometimes you have enough abilities displaying to make an on-screen keyboard. For example for my right mouse button I started with “Fists of thunder” then got “Lashing tail kick” for my right mouse button, then a level after that I received “Deadly Reach” as an alternate ability for my left mouse button and in turn you acquire different ‘runes’ over time to make deadly reach more powerful this is how the mouse button abilities work basically one is straightforward hitting a single direction (most of the time) then the other is more AOE based. The action bar abilities like “Blinding Flash” and the Demon Hunter’s “Entangling Shot” are basically all round utilities to use at the right time. It’s not overly complicated to play but does require a bit of general rpg type common sense in choosing your items (which to keep and which to use) and which abilities to use at the correct time but of course that just comes with learning the game.

Character screen and my Monk
The auction house is one thing I myself could possibly do without, I’ve only dealt with auction houses in MMO’s where they are obviously needed, but with a mostly singleplayer game such as this, I don’t need the auction house whatsoever. I just think it’s an unnecessary feature for people to wheel and deal, especially the ‘real money’ auction house which is basically a post similar to this waiting to happen. I did feel a bit taken aback when my friends said that “you buy most of your stuff from the auction house especially in the higher levels as it’s so much better”  I’d digress on the higher levels but I really don’t think a primarily singleplayer game should have to rely on an auction house to have the best gear and/or to compete with other players.

Penny Arcade: Absolutely Not
I’m now up to the 3rd act and to be honest I can’t really be bothered anymore, I’m sorry to say the game was only really mildly fun, the story was the only thing that kept me going. The first two acts were good enough and pretty suspenseful but now it’s all action just defending some damn castle and it’s the same old mass killing of monsters and demons and I just can’t bring myself to play it again so I don’t know how this review is going to turn out. For the most part the controls were fine, I didn’t really mind having fewer buttons to press. the graphics were good, especially the effects, . I enjoyed the storyline for as far as I played it, the difficulty curve... well it was easy enough, I didn’t really get very far but to be honest I really wouldn’t have bothered trying it on the higher level, I enjoyed  having followers and decking them out with the best items I could and I enjoyed killing hordes enemies with super kicks and punches and special abilities. I’d hate to say this though but the whole thing just felt a bit too linear and repetitive, and I know your all going to scream at me “Well that’s what Diablo’s about and this is the first time I’ve played it and I haven’t even finished it on normal difficulty and how can I say that when I play MMO’s like WoW and SWTOR”.

Your followers are quite useful, not to mention good company
The fact that I haven’t finished it on normal is because I couldn’t be bothered and have gotten bored and it wouldn’t be any better at higher levels anyway cause it’d just be too hard and also I’m not bored because of the easy difficulty, just running from one area to the next killing demons getting loot, going back to drop off the loot etc. The loot was also kind of a problem too, there was SO much loot and not just white and grey crap there was heaps of magic blue stuff you had to sort through, true it just meant a quick portal trip back to home but still I was doing that about once every 20 minutes, maybe I just pick up too much I dunno. I’m really trying to see the difference in my experience with this game compared to The Old Republic, I mean they are MMO’s whereas Diablo is a Hack’n’Slash but you do really the same thing in both of them. In both of the games you have a large continuous storyline with multiple smaller storylines running through them, you fight and kill enemies and bosses, you do quests, you get new spells and abilities, you have followers/companions with you, you pick up new armor/weapons and upgrade and enchant them or sell them, you have seemingly similar crafting skills and interface’s and you level up throughout the game. Maybe what makes me prefer MMO’s to this is the linearity and freedom of character. In Diablo you get to choose what kind of fighting style/image your player is but you’re pretty much stuck to going through semi-linear landscapes and caverns which really not much choice of how you go about it, whereas in MMO’s you have a lot more freedom of where you go and how you get there, you have more of a feel of being your own character. 

Penny Arcade: Recycling
 I think the main reason is that Diablo as I said before isn’t an RPG it’s a Hack’n’Slash I mean it’s got nothing in immersiveness, large gaming world, character detail and AI compared to Skyrim, and it hasn’t got quite the multiplayer element of MMO’s, that’s probably why it doesn’t tick all the boxes in my list. It does somehow remind me of why I didn’t like Magicka except that was even smaller still and plus everyone was wizards, EVERYONE can’t all be wizards it’s just not right, agh it’s worse than those games where everyone’s a Sniper, actually that’s not too much different from the modern EA Battlefield games I guess ahah.. People tell me now that the game isn’t as good as the 2nd one and I don’t doubt them. Maybe I should have made the effort to play the second one more, I suppose I’ve never played Sacred, Titan quest or even something like Dark Souls, maybe If I did I would have known I didn’t like the genre, ah well I needed to find out some way.

Titan's Quest
All in all, despite my ranting and whining about why I can’t enjoy it, Diablo 3 is still a solid game, it has most of the things that good hack’n’slash game should for example:
  • Fast-paced combat, lots of enemies of varying difficulties to plough though.
  • Rapidly draining, rapidly regenerating stamina bar. Button mash and you get exhausted and leave yourself vulnerable, but pull out for even a few seconds and you can regain enough stamina to keep going. This further emphasises picking your spots well, planning your attacks, and backing up or dodging when things get rough.
  • High stakes. Attacks are extremely damaging relative to health, which means if you screw up it WILL hurt. But unfortunately death doesn’t exactly have that much punishment to it really you just spawn back at the last save point and most of the time you don’t even have to defeat the enemies again.
  • 3rd person view, with well defined hitboxes, so that different weapon ranges are important. This makes awareness of the battlefield, how close you are to your enemy and how rapidly you or they can close the distance, very important. 

Man did you feel that?
So for any fans of the genre I would heartily recommend it, but unfortunately even playing with friends it’s just not for me that’s all I can say.


Now I know for the future

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