A friend of mine made me promise I wouldn’t review D3 until I at least reached Nightmare mode. I know it’s taken me a while, but I can tell you it’s not for lack of trying.
First things first: Diablo 3 is not a hard game. Quite the opposite, it’s fairly easy in the sense that there’s no challenge. The game mechanics might be a little difficult for those used to console games or PC games with more controls (such as The World of Warcraft, for instance), but that’s where the difficulty ends. The game is highly time-consuming, especially if you choose to log out before a checkpoint which are few and far between. Of course, even though the map clears, you at least get to keep your stuff and experience.
Now, I know how a lot of people who like the game are going to respond: but you’re only to Nightmare Mode! It gets harder! Well, first off, of course it does! That’s the point of the challenge modes on any game…the problem is, it’s the exact same game. There’s nothing really that new as far as gameplay goes…I can only do the same quests so many times.
There are various achievements I have to give some credit for, after all, I’m earning my stripes as an achievement whore on WoW. The problem is they’re more on the level of XBOX achieves versus WoW achieves, in my opinion. Of course, that’s not exactly a terrible thing, but I know that Blizzard was going more for the latter.
There are a few things I do enjoy for which I can give some credit…for instance, I love that you can kill stuff with the dungeons themselves (and get extra credit for doing so). It screams some old school D&D when you notice the big vat of burning oil to catch your enemies. Then again, actually noticing it sometimes is the harder part. I also have really enjoyed the cutscenes, the graphics are gorgeous (on a level it would kill the game if you had to run at that stage constantly) and the storyline is interesting enough (albeit predictable… SPOILER ALERT! Emperor Hakkan as Belial? Yeah…saw that coming). And, BONUS! I can talk to my friends on RealID whether they’re in D3 or in WoW, so yay!
Wait a minute…boo. One of the big things the Blizzard camp has been bragging about is the newer internet features (among which are the RealID chat, the public auction house, account wide gold and “stash,” and PvP). The benefits definitely do not outweigh the cost here. For every message I send to my friend Samantha and goofy comment made to my guild leader on WoW, I get about 5 gold farmer spam messages. For every minute the auction house is actually working, it’s down for another hour. The need for a good internet connection has pushed a lot of the people who’ve been following Diablo from the beginning to obscurity. I have several friends who live out in the country and the bandwidth they can push is severely limited, many of them cannot even think about playing Diablo if someone else is on another computer in the house (or, of course, if the wind blows and the connection slows a teensy bit). And don’t even get me started on the power this gives Blizzard!
I’m just glad my copy happened to be a digital copy earned from purchasing the WoW Annual Pass…I would hate to be one of the people that went out and spent any kind of real money on the game when Blizzard decides the D3 servers aren’t worth updating any longer. Poof! There goes that character you spent endless hours levelling up just to reach max level. Poof! There goes every item and the usefulness of this game. A friend of mine pointed out that is exactly what will happen to WoW one day…the thing is, we expect that in an MMO. Diablo 3 is not a “massively-multiplayer online” game. Players shouldn’t have to deal with the problems of the MMO player (namely, server lag spikes, patch day/”Delay Day,” or server crashes). Just last week, I had to suffer through a non-productive day off because Tuesday is apparently patch day for D3 now as well as WoW. Even at 9:00PM at night I got that lovely message… “The servers are busy at this time. Please try again later. (Error 37).”
Of course, this was only after having been able to log on and play for just shy of an hour (but not reaching a checkpoint). As a matter of fact, the server shut down was super unexpected…a friend of mine was actually in the middle of The Butcher on Hell mode. There were plenty of choice words coming out of that household, that’s for sure.
Now, I will also qualify this and again give credit where it’s due. The server lag isn’t something that’s as common as one might expect. The servers have been extremely busy (after all, the game has been smashing records since its release on May 15th) and there hasn’t been as many hardcore spikes like you see in games like WoW or Rift. The game hasn’t suddenly kicked me yet, and that’s an achievement by comparison to the time I spend cursing at WoW.
I know that, since there is opportunity for updates, there will be many improvements in years to come. My honest opinion, though? Blizzard should have spent less time making sure you knew exactly what it sounds and looks like to step on a scorpion in their world and more time working on kinks BEFORE release. I think I’m due for some Elder Scrolls now.