Sunday, March 9, 2014

Diablo III - PC

Diablo III - PC




I have been hesitant to write this review for a long while, but after playing 3 out of 5 classes to 60 and 2 above 40 - I don't know how many times I have walked through the storyline and gone through enough classes to figure out the game at this point to make a fair judgement.

I did not want to believe it. I thought the online community was too quick to judge when D3 (short for Diablo III hereafter) was released as an online only game. I understand from Blizzard's perspective they needed to move on from all the hacking in D2 which ultimately ruined it for many. Even after all these years Diablo 1 and 2 both share extremely high praise for the originality, game design, and the meticulous attention to detail throughout the game design. They are what I would label as "gamer's game" because they're designed, tweaked, and balanced for the gamers' perspective. Simply put, they have been fun, and extremely memorable, which leads to such high anticipation and expectations in Diablo III with so many years in the making, by the gaming industry's gold standard - Blizzard.

But the sad reality is, something changed along the way of the design phase over all these years.

If you played through all acts many times, you would probably notice the same thing - Act1 is WAY more polished than 2, and then 3, and ultimately Act 4 simply is a piece of garbage. A very quick example would be how Act 1 has all these destroyable objects that you could interact and damage the enemies - the environmental factors are a part of the original game design. But by the time you get to Act 4 it's completely gone; Another example would be the storyline and non-linear quest style gameplay which was present in Act 1 turns into Act 4 where you basically go forward, hack and slash til you get to Diablo and suddenly you can't help but ask yourself, is this it? really? Something seems to be missing in the whole Act like a horrible movie where they spend the majority of the time crafting the plot, and by the time the plot is supposed to unravel, it comes to a quick and distasteful ending. Yes, that's Diablo III. The final boss fight came anticlimactic, boring, and childish - even comparing to Diablo *1* that came out some... 16 years ago. Yes I still remember building up fire resist, running around the map dodging Diablo's array of attacks and doing multiple portals with the other online gamers trying to take him down.

Both it's predecessors share the following traits - they're FUN, ADDICTIVE, and CHALLENGING.

Something changed along the way in the D3 design, where they dropped 2 of the 3 traits of the newest Diablo game - it's not fun, not challenging, and they simply made the attempt to make it addictive.

But why you ask?

The fun and challenging part goes hand in hand, because the real cream of the crop in this game is to get to level 60, the highest level in this game in Inferno mode where you cannot continue to advance in levels but you're greeted with supposedly extreme challenges to earn the best gears in the game and continue to tweak your character's gears. That's the design the Diablo franchise has always employed.


As of today, after 3 tweaks since early June 2012, the game is actually more broken than what it originally was.

First off the bet, the difficulty of Inferno is simply stupid. I chose my word here very carefully here, because I've been playing games all my live since the pocket games to Mario on NES to everything til now as a grown adult - yes Inferno is plain stupid. As an advanced casual gamer you will be stuck in Act 2 of Inferno because whatever gears that you can legitimately earn would stop you from advancing. The game isn't just hard - it's plain impossible. It's not only simply impossibly challenging, because if it's remotely challenging that would help separate the skilled and dedicated players from the rest, but nope - it is simply stupid impossible to a point it's just dumb.

How fun would it be if the elite mobs literally move at blinding teleporting kind of speed through your entire screen casting DOT damage all over the screen and putting up walls to avoid you from running (which you can't out run them anyway even if you tried) and there's not one but all 3 of them along with the other screen full of mobs. Sure, you can go back and try to work your way to improve your x-resist and defense and health and think okay you make some advancement and try again, but nope, you still die in an instant. You can teleport back with your group and try again, and nope you all die in an instant.

To solve your gaming frustration?


Auction House is there to the rescue

To level the playing field with the most advanced gamers who have farmed the game for the past month filling the online auction house with gears with amazing stats, there's the REAL CURRENCY auction house.

If you haven't earned enough gold to buy what you need? You pay real money to buy the top tear 1% of the gears to help you beat it all the way, and unfortunately for the 99% of the gamers that's the only way to actually meet the challenge set by the game.

Which essentially explains everything that seemed off with all that we have looked at in the above.

Diablo III started off being designed as a gamer's game, but along the way the game design dragged on for way too long and eventually the end product became something that's out there to do what every other product is made to do - to generate profit.

Since D3 cannot adapt the same monthly subscription model like World of Warcraft (also made by Blizzard in case you didn't know), the only way to continue to make a profit from the gamers who have already paid the initial payment for the game is to lure them into spending additional money for in-game items. Although Blizzard claims that they do not post items in the game to sell, they still make a fixed transaction fee on every item sold. With 3.5 million copies sold within the first 24 hours, mathematically it is a sound business model to make money out of a successful game.

The plot is set - we now have a game that's not fun, not challenging, and stupid difficult game that can only be beat that you either spend an unacceptable amount of time which you do not enjoy to farm to earn gold to buy, or hope for a very lucky that would never come because thats how they designed the drop/loot table; OR you take out your wallet and conveniently pay real money for the game that you already paid for to continue to advance.

With the newest patch as of today, Blizzard nerfed one of the most significant stat of the game - IAS (increase attack speed by a whole 50%), drops were decreased, and repair cost is now sky high

It is a tactical move - they needed to first populate the game with godly items, then re-balance the items to make other items also desirable, and finally increase the significance of in game gold and eventually make it more even so you have to pay real money for auction items.

This is when I decided to stop playing this game and to participate in Blizzard's money generating scheme. It is very unfortunate that a game highly anticipated like the D3 made by the gold standard of gaming industry would crash so hard that it is absolutely unbelievable. Maybe it's about time that we all realize that the gaming industry, like all other industries out there, are out there to make money but not to serve gamers like you and I.

Diablo 3 has grown up from Diablo 1 and Diablo 2 - selling it's soul to Diablo (the devil) and becoming Blizzard's attempt to create a cash cow, rather than what we all hoped for. Try it at your own cost, but be prepared for a very sour taste in your mouth and an awful aftertaste that you would love to forget about.

*** edit ***

Since some of you are thinking "why would he spend so much time on a game that's not even good?", I decided include the following in the original review to help you understand better:

The Diablo franchise share many similarities with MMORPGs except it's more of an action game with tons of RPG elements. And like most MMORPG games, it requires the players to put in a lot of game time to get to the "cream of the crop" at max level, where you would have access to most, if not all, spells, equipments, skills, etc. The beginning of the game simply sets you with the pace of the game and familiar with the game mechanics, design, enemies, etc, and the addictive part comes in when you continue to get better equipment, skills, etc to tackle even the toughest challenge. Diablo 3 too shares this very design which require the player to spend enough time to even get to level 60 to finally understand each class design, its pros and cons, and eventually find how you want to tweak your character.

If you do a little research on the internet, you'll find initial reviews for D3 is all positive all across the board. The reason is that during the initial game progression (Act 1 to Act 3 for example in Normal difficulty), is at least a 4-star enjoyable game. But when it comes to the real "cream of the crop" part of the game where you achieve once you get to level 60 where you cannot progress further in level, and the only way left to improve your character is through equipment, it fails miserably as mentioned above in this very review. Like many MMORPGs on the market, level 1-59 simply doesn't quite matter once you get to the level cap.

Just to answer some of the doubts:

- I did not spend 100+ hours in this game; I simply made pretty good progress. I shared my equipment with my other characters to help make leveling much faster.

- That being said, I did spend more than enough time in every class to understand my complaint really isn't about class imbalance. Out of all the hours I spent in this game I ultimately declared 1-star, the experience simply declined from 4/5 stars at the very beginning and dropped all the way to 1-star near the very end of it where it's supposed to shine.