Thursday, September 26, 2013

The devil for the common man

I have managed to avoid talking about Diablo 3 long enough for me to finish it, as much as a Diablo game can be 'finished.' Games designed to be played through multiple times, to the point that it is impossible to unlock all the abilities in a single playthrough, never sit well with me. Diablo makes the first time through feel like a thirty hour training mission and I lack the patience to play through the real game because it would just be a slog through the same levels against monsters with more hit points and that do more damage all the while accumulating better loot.

Which is the whole game the first time through as well but at least the scenery changes.

There were a few changes that I really hated early on that finally made sense come the second half of the game. Putting a cool down timer of potions was, at first blush, asinine. At the end of the game I had a stock of sixty and hadn't used any in hours because my monk no longer needed them. He started off slow. Correction: he got his ask kicked all over the place for the first third of the game. Then I unlocked the skill that healed me whenever I used big attacks and he became a rush down machine. Watching his health drain and fill, over and over, as the bodies piled up around him never really got old.

The lack of death penalty outside of degraded armor and weapons seemed a little too kind but it makes more sense in a multiplayer context and there is always hardcore mode for those who are so inclined. I find the idea of irrevocable death terrifying so it was never even an option. I am a filthy console gamer after all.

I do not think that these changes are concessions to the console market but are just different ideas on how the game should work. Making the bottom end of the game more accessible is not a bad thing as long as the crazy difficult stuff stays, and it did. Removing the upgrade tree in favor of skills unlocking in a predetermined order is more difficult to defend, but again, I do not think it was done to make this into baby's first Diablo, it is just a different team's take on the genre.

If you force me to pass judgement then I will stand Diablo 3 up against the game that is the gold standard for all top down action RPGs (in my opinion) - Titan Quest. It doesn't measure up but it is closer than anything else has gotten recently. The fact that it is playable from my couch certainly doesn't hurt.

I do wish that I had put this off until the PS4 version arrived. It would have been a good way to dump a bunch of hours into the new hardware.

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