How Diablo III’s Solo Experience Reveals A Hollow Game

By John Walker on May 18th, 2012 at 10:00 am.

The game starts satirising itself.
My companions have stopped following me. The map has suddenly blanked out. The dungeon doors aren’t opening. And despite my just having cleared out a two-storey dungeon for the second time, there hasn’t been a checkpoint in over a half an hour. If I quit out to fix it, the entire area map will be reset yet again (a previous quit to see if there was any way to raise the difficulty had already done this to me once, and is how I discovered the dungeon wasn’t checkpointing), so in total an hour’s play time lost, and, well, here’s the thing: Diablo III just isn’t brilliant enough to warrant this.

Diablo III is mostly very slick. It’s a very decent game. The first three hours are very gratifying, a sense of having everything done right. It’s an aRPG born of decades of experience, streamlined and minimalist to the point of diamond-like perfection. But much like a perfect diamond, it bears a lot in common with a bit of glass. That all-encompassing need to Just Keeping Clicking is there, the sense of continuous, satisfactory progress is in place. You’re never not improving your equipment, skills and crafting abilities. It’s the concept of Diablo, and of a decade’s Diablo clones, refined. But with absolutely nothing new.

As I explore Act II, I’m still bewildered as to how they could have taken so long to make a game that adds so little. The engine is pretty enough, lavishly detailed, it does the job, but remains extremely dated in concept – there’s no analogue zoom (you can uselessly zoom right in on your character, which is great for screenshots and not a lot else), you can’t rotate the camera, you can’t interact with the world while the map’s on screen, the inventory covers up the map, and the tool-tips for loot seem completely arbitrary as to whether they’ll show up or not. No, rotating cameras aren’t necessary. But it’s important to keep in mind how relatively primitive the game is, when then taking into account its failings.

And they all come in the form of the always-on DRM. Yes, people are sick of the topic. But that doesn’t make it something that can be ignored. It was because the connection dropped in the solo game I’m playing that all those events in the first paragraph took place. Eventually, about fifteen minutes later, it admitted the connection was gone, and restarting yet again put me back at the last checkpoint, one dungeon and an entire map ago. And nothing – absolutely nothing – interesting lies between me and where I’ve reached twice before.

These failings, the DRM-based brokenness of the game, breaks the spell. While you’re able to just endlessly progress, endlessly improve, endlessly move forward, the illusion is cast around you and there’s enormous fun to be had. But in repeatedly forcing you to pointlessly repeat swathes of the game, it reveals just how little there really is.

Right, but quickly, here are some things I am loving about the game. That seems fair. I love how loot bursts out of chests. It’s so rewarding. I adore how much of the scenery can be smashed, and how satisfactorily it crumbles apart – and especially that it then awards you a bonus for doing this. I love that you can, on occasion, use the environment in fights, albeit infrequently and mostly ineffectively. I love how much care has obviously gone into so much of this stuff – nothing crucial to how the game actually plays, but the set dressing, that belies a love for the sheer act of creation.

But what does Diablo III actually add to the franchise, and even to the genre it created? The skills are made more simple, but in doing so actually end up feeling restrictive. Switching off those limitations only seems to confuse things. The inventory is less of a Tetris-frustration, but in that regard just means you portal to your base, sell all, return, and it plays no meaningful factor. (And the Act II base is hopelessly poorly laid out, meaning running to the one merchant is a bore, and the nearby town a chore.)

Monsters don’t attack in interesting new ways. While what almost everyone wanted was a click-fest, it would have been nice for there to be a reason for having those extra skills. I forget they’re there until I reach the toughest bosses, and then just hammer randomly. I think I’ve died four times thus far, playing solo, and try as I might can find no way to increase the difficulty to anything halfway interesting. I mean, I’ve 87 health potions in my inventory – what are they even for? The game drops so much health in every fight that it’s mostly impossible to get hurt.

The only novel enemy attacks I’ve noticed are the waspy dragonfly things, who just fly away from you, meaning if you’re not playing a ranged character they’re just tedious to fight. And there’s the beasts that cast fear on you, constantly taking away your controls, which has been fun in this many games: none.

The other huge problem is loot and shops. I’ve bought almost nothing from a merchant, since their goods are always generations poorer than anything I’ve looted. And worse, weapon drops haven’t meant anything since the merchant I helped out in Act I sold me weapons literally twice as powerful as I’ve found since. The balancing here is utterly dreadful, and that’s perhaps the most crucial thing for an aRPG to get right.

Of course, people will argue that to solo Diablo is to miss the point. Two responses to that. Firstly, the game does offer a solo game, and is designed to be played that way, so it’s absolutely vital that it be balanced and worthwhile. And secondly, and perhaps more crucially, of all the points above the solo aspect really only affects the difficulty levels – the rest remains an issue no matter how it’s played. Oh, and if you’ve not had server issues, others have, and that doesn’t make server issues okay – kind of a crucial one to remember there.

And yet, all these gripes, all these issues, I’d likely have just clicked past were the game not so woefully and deliberately broken. It’s fascinating to realise just how important the spell is to Diablo, and quite how damaging it is to have it broken. What’s revealed is a hollow game, that in no way fills in the gaps with the frankly abysmal writing. Of the three companions so far, none is even tolerable, and my monk is a sanctimonious moron. My NPC accompaniment repeat their lacklustre lines of nothingness with the sadness of a dementia patient, half the time talking at the same time as a book I’m reading. And as I face repeating the same damned map for a third time, watching my characters stagger about trapped in lag despite my strong, steady internet connection, I just start thinking about Grim Dawn and Torchlight II, and how much I can’t wait to see what they add to the genre. Because as far as I can tell Diablo III, as fun as it is when the spell lasts, has added little more than wantonly stupid DRM.

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601 Comments »

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  1. KikiJiki says:

    Caved, bought a spare copy from a friend (moral victory yay!) last night and gave it a play until the end of the first quest.

    Path of Exile is better, Diablo 3 has niggly issues that really pissed me off. My opinion that the game is trading on the franchise name is undiminished.

    I do hope it gets better.

    • JToTheDog says:

      I did the same. Moral victories are even better than your usual victories, because you get to explain why you’re right.

    • Torn says:

      PoE seemed really lackluster and boring to me (I’ve been in since early beta). D3, for me, is infinitely better.

      I only had network/connection issues the first two nights, and it’s been smooth sailing since then.

      Of course a network/server-based thing is going to be a little unstable at launch, name one game supporting that amount of players (the most pre-ordered pc game in history) that wasn’t.

      I think reviewers should give it a week or so before judging network stability.

      • KikiJiki says:

        I had no problem with network connectivity. My problems were really niggly things that are a step back from D2 like being unable to interact with the world while viewing the full area map, and items not autoequipping when you pick them up and have nothing equipped in that slot.

        I’ve been in PoE since the first free weekend and the prepurchase after that and I found it to have far more engaging mechanics than D3. Everything from skill gems to passive tree via flasks feels like a lot more thought has been given to it than the almost arcadey feel of D3 so far. D3 feels more like Golden Axe than Diablo.

        • Moonshine Fox says:

          That you find it in yourself to make excuses for server issues in a single player game just kind of shows how deluded Blizzvision wants their players to be.

          • KikiJiki says:

            Wat.

            I didn’t say there aren’t server issues, I said I had no server issues. Please actually read before hitting reply as I’m in agreement with what seems to be your POV on the always online thing, I hate it.

          • Phantoon says:

            I think he was actually replying to Torn, but wanted his comment to be nested up higher- or he doesn’t understand how the strange comments system works.

        • Dowson says:

          They actually have an option to autoequip items in empty slots.
          But for some reason its not on be default.

        • wu wei says:

          I got into PoE with the most recent public weekend and bought into the beta immediately after, even knowing it goes open sometime in June. I’m really impressed by how well they’ve tweaked so many aspects of the gameplay, especially the prevalence of equipment modification items and their positions as currency. But it’s the materia-esque skill system that really stands out. I’m only midway through my first Cruel run and am still encountering new skills that would radically change play style.

          Amazingly deep for something written in five years by such a small development team.

        • Afrodisiac says:

          There’s an option to make items auto-equip if you don’t have something there when you equip it. I forget where in the options it is, exactly, but probably under “Gameplay.”

      • Salt says:

        > unstable at launch, name one game supporting that amount of players that wasn’t
        I played a couple of the CoD games’ solo campaigns on launch day, and didn’t seem to suffer any connectivity issues.
        Just sayin’.

        • Ringwraith says:

          “Oh, and if you’ve not had server issues, others have, and that doesn’t make server issues okay – kind of a crucial one to remember there.”
          This says it all really.

          • Phantoon says:

            Yes, exactly. That’s the point that needs to be made, over and over again until people get it. I’ve not had any issues with the internet connection, because I did not buy this game, because I knew exactly what Blizzard had in mind when they designed a game around a real money auction house, and wasn’t about to lie to myself otherwise.

            “And they all come in the form of the always-on DRM. Yes, people are sick of the topic.” John, other people may be, but I’m sick of Diablo 3 being a topic other than “how the fuck did they think they’d get away with this?” Ubisoft tried this before. It was not a good move, and they couldn’t beat piracy. In fact, it energized the community there to be the first to hack each of their new releases. So either they’re completely delusional about piracy, or it was all for the real money auction house.

        • skorpeyon says:

          “Of course a network/server-based thing is going to be a little unstable at launch, name one game supporting that amount of players (the most pre-ordered pc game in history) that wasn’t.”

          That is the full quote you truncated. CoD’s single player isn’t network/server-based. Their multiplayer, on launch days, is usually hellish. Same thing.

          I’m not defending Blizzard, but I am explaining that by stating you could play CoD’s single player mode, which isn’t network/server based, is to miss the statement that was actually made. Blizzard’s single player is network/server based, therefore you have to think of it like multiplayer. Again, doesn’t make it right. Frankly, if they would just make it more like an MMO in one way, where disconnecting saved where you were and what you were doing, or if they at least made checkpoints just before bosses and the like (though I understand it would take away some of the “Holy shit, a boss just smashed through that wall” aspect of the game) I think they’d be far better off.

          If they’re going to make it server-based, at least do it in a way that doesn’t punish someone for something beyond their control. Checkpoints at the beginning of each dungeon level and again just before bosses would make sure you only ever have to wind your way back through ONE level of ONE dungeon if you lose your connection.

          • Baines says:

            I believe the point Salt was making with the truncated quote was that Blizzard chose to add network/server issues to the single player game.

            Yes, you expect network/server issues in an online multiplayer game. Diablo, up until III, had an offline singleplayer option. Blizzard chose to remove that offline option, thus creating the network/server problems for everyone, not just those who wanted to play online. In comparison, Call of Duty keeps its single-player offline. It doesn’t matter if the servers explode on Day 1, you can still play the game.

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            jrodman says:

            The point of course is that Call of Duty made the *correct* choice.

          • SmittyBit says:

            Wow. You completely and totally missed the point of that quote. Read it again, then read your own statement immediately following the quote. That is the entire point man, single player does not have server issues because it is not multiplayer. Diablo 3 requires servers for single player.. To anyone who is fine with that arrangement, PM me, I have a bridge to sell you.

        • SmittyBit says:

          Exactly. Right on the mark.

      • doggod says:

        I have to disagree that reviewers should wait till servers stabilize.
        The reason why is that there will always be the possibility that this recurs,
        it may not be widespread but in a single player situation it doesn’t matter if it affects 1 person or a 1000.
        Lag will always be an issue, a sever malfunction can happen at any time.
        What about when your ISP cycles your IP address in the middle of gameplay.

      • Nallen says:

        Yes because a week is a reasonable amount of time to wait before enjoying a £40 single player game.

      • codename_bloodfist says:

        No, they shouldn’t. If you’re releasing an online game, you should make sure that your network architecture works in advance. This is why GW2 has stress tests, beta weekends, etc.

        This would be somewhat forgiveable if we were talking about an MMO. Diablo 3, however, is not an MMO. It’s a game with a tacked on DRM systems, very much like the one we see in Anno 2070 and other Ubisoft game, that now bites the customers in the ass. There’s absolutely no reason to excuse this kind of behaviour.

      • jalf says:

        But who cares that it’s a server/client-based game? It didn’t need to be! If my singleplayer experience gets ruined because Blizzard decided to run my singleplayer game on their servers, is it not fair to complain?

        By your logic, we shouldn’t blame them for outages either, if they decide to host the servers in hot air balloons either. Because imagine how difficult it is to ensure reliable internet connections to those!

        Well, yeah, that’s got to be tricky, but it’s not my problem. It’d be a self-inflicted problem, it’d be Blizzard making a conscious effort to *introduce* problems and unreliability where none needed to exist.

        They have, after 15 years of work, succeeded in creating a situation where my singleplayer experience depends on their servers being constantly online. And they are unable to keep their servers constantly online.

        There is no excuse. They introduced new, pointless, ways in which the game can fail. Even if it runs perfectly from tomorrow and until the end of time, it is still fair to blame them for every picosecond of lost connections and disrupted playtime.

      • Grygus says:

        I think you’re giving Blizzard way too much slack. “A little unstable” would not have garnered this reaction; Diablo III on launch day was much more than a little unstable. Lord of the Rings Online had almost no problems. The Old Republic had fewer problems, and there was at least a queue system in place on launch day. Hey, you want to know a really comparable game with fewer problems? The last day of Diablo III’s own open beta!

        Throw in Blizzard’s incredibly deep resources, extensive experience with highly popular online games and their own insistence that everyone be online, with the attendant implication that their network is completely reliable, and you have well-deserved backlash.

      • Hematite says:

        As a hardened PoE supporter (everyone should go play it right now!) I have to admit that I find the first two or three areas with a new character dreadfully boring – the opening game is rather like the opening of D2 where you’re left-clicking on zombies and archers with no interesting skills available. It’s better since the last patch now that the rhoas have charge attacks and the zombies crawl up out of the earth though.

        For maximum enjoyment your first skill choice should be an AoE to mix it up a bit, and once you get your first movement based ability it becomes a real delight to play. I have a habit of just playing on through level ups and new loot because I don’t want to take time out from killing stuff to identify some new items or assign some skill points.

      • Bhazor says:

        “Apart from the first two nights”

        Its only been out three days. That means its been unplayable for around 70% of the time you’ve owned it.

        Good thing Blizzard prevent people using lans and private servers isn’t it? Otherwise they’d would of been able to play for longer and you would’ve fallen behind. In a wholly non competitive co op game.

      • skittles says:

        Yes but the instability of launch is going to colour the game experience for so many people, including me. If this were a proper MMO, I would forget soon after, however it is a story based game, I have finished it now, and have no real urge to go back anytime soon.

        Also a note to those who say this is a solo game, you are hugely mistaken. The game allows the appearance of solo play, but is never truly solo. This is evidenced by the fact that anyone on your friends list can jump into your game at any time. The game does not even need to be set to ‘public’ and you don’t even have to invite them, they can come in uninvited.

    • Zanchito says:

      How can you buy it second hand when the game links itself to a Battle.net account? You’d need to buy the whole account.

      I’m interested in this.

    • innociv says:

      I agree. I found PoE a lot more fun.
      The problem with PoE, though, is lack of content from being a small team.

      They’re clearly smarter and better designers when it comes to giving the Diablo game that Diablo players want, but don’t have the man power to actually add enough to the game.

      PoE has a great 20 or so hours of content, the gameplay and mechanics are great, but after that it’s not very fun to repeat or keep grinding.

    • City Builder says:

      It all comes down to personal preference. Personally I’m enjoying Diablo 3 much more than I am Path of Exile. The only thing that I find interesting in Path of Exile is the skill tree (for lack of a better name for such an awesome design and function), other than that to me PoE is another lackluster clone of the Diablo franchise and not very inspiring to me. But since PoE is still in beta it may well change before it’s ready for market, I hope it does, it could be another fun Diablo’esque clone that could turn out to be a lot of fun if they polish it up across the entire game.

      It’s unfortunate that Blizzard decided to utilize this always on DRM, as it is annoying when the internet connection spikes and the player gets a rubber band effect or worse, dropped without the game saving. Fortunately I can say that both my wife and I combined have spent more than 40 hours into the game already (roughly from memory) and I’ve only been DC’d one time but was able to rejoin immediately and she hasn’t been DC’d at all. And the rubber band effect of LAG has only hit me possibly 10 times at most.

      Overall, I still think it was a failed launch, but the game is truly enjoyable and fun. I’d prefer it if I could assign stat points to my character but I don’t suspect that Blizzard is going to change that any time too soon unfortunately. By the time that I’m bored silly with playing D3, I think I’ll be able to honestly say that it was $60.00 well spent.

  2. Caddrel says:

    Merchants sell really good rings and amulets, which change every time you reload the game. Definitely check them out.

    You can change the item labels to be always on, which is a big improvement over the “maybe on” default option.

    Spot on with the other criticisms though. I was able to left-click all the bosses to death with a character focused on magic find.

    • John Walker says:

      Mine are set to always on, yet randomly turn themselves off.

      • caddyB says:

        They turn off when you ALT+tab. Yeah.

      • HexagonalBolts says:

        You might not have noticed this because it’s so stupid that you can’t even believe they did it – you have to press alt to compare a weapon/ring in your inventory with your offhand weapon/ring, which means loot labels have to be fiddled with again every single time you check (or, as the above person mentioned, alt+tabbed) which is just nuts.

        This and the poor launch seem like relatively minor problems in the grand scope of the game, but they are indicative of the other underlying issues – which are all the more strange given the extensive beta and blizzard’s polish-it-forever style of development. I think the core problem is that it needs a few controversial changes that Blizzard weren’t willing to make (for example: revolutionising the way loot works or what is done with unwanted loot).

        Having said all this, the way to play the game is definitely 4 player nightmare(+) difficulty – everything that is fun about normal mode is exaggerated and the sceen is like a constant explosion. Still fairly easy but at least not trivial. At one point we unleashed a herd of about 15 of those charging rhino creatures (including a yellow and 4 blues), took us so many hilarious deaths to finally take them all down. I think the game is designed to be played almost like a Left 4 Dead RPG – a range of difficulty options, drop in and drop out, choose the chapters you like, repeat areas and see if you can do them better, an AI director…

        • mouton says:

          One of my main issues is, you cannot set you difficulty. You have to first grind through the “casual” and “easy” difficulties to get to any meaningful challenge. And by then you are basically replaying the game for the nth time just to get to your desired difficulty level.

          Many people are totally cool about this. I am not.

          • Jeremy says:

            Didn’t you have to do that in Diablo 2 as well? I didn’t think you could move up to Nightmare until after you had completed the Normal campaign.

          • mouton says:

            It was, but it was in the nineties and the formula wasn’t as worn out then.

          • Illykai says:

            Another option is to play in hardcore mode. John said that he’d died 4 times already in the article, which would have been much worse for him with permadeath. Assuming that you’re willing to put up with the possibility of dying from network issues, HC is a way to ramp up the challenge without having to grind through to nightmare, albeit punishing.

          • royale says:

            @illykai The problem with hardcore is that you end up doing the same, overly easy and boring parts of the game–sinking 6-8 hours of time every character–just to get back to the challenging areas where you end up dying. Overall, it’s not so much adding real challenge, just time consuming repetition and frustration.

          • realityflaw says:

            I was a massive fan of HC in D2, it kept me playing for months after I had lost interest otherwise, however w/o choices to make at level up I don’t see it holding my interest in D3.

            Also server issues…

    • KDR_11k says:

      I think the default behavior is to fade them out when the game assumes that you have acknowledged them and decided not to pick the item up so that the labels don’t obscure your vision unnecessary. As in Diablo 2 you can just press alt to make them all reappear.

    • Lobotomist says:

      John , we still remember your Witcher 1 review.

      I thought you learned a lesson since then. Do not review genre you dont like.

      Its very unprofessional.

      As for D3
      When it comes to the genre Diablo itself spawned – it does exactly what Blizzard always does – Takes a long look at the predecessors , removes everything that was not fun and adds everything that proved fun in competition.

      Blizzard are masters of Gameplay. And they prove it again.
      If you dont like D3 you either didnt play it (at release- beta was not representative) or you simply dont really like the genre…

      But than no such game will satisfy you.

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        Big Murray says:

        I don’t remember his Witcher 1 review. What did he say and why should he have changed his mind?

      • Kestilla says:

        First, who is we?

        Second, from his own words he has played the previous Diablo titles and is looking forward to Torchlight II and similar games. I know, for games I really hate and can’t get into, I’m always looking for newer iterations in the same genre so I can hate them, too.

        I know you don’t like what he has to say and that criticisms against Diablo III are like a chunk of Kryptonite hitting you in the face, but that’s your problem.

      • CorruptBadger says:

        When you said, “Blizzard is the master of gameplay”, i instantly disregarded your arguement. Sure they’re relativly good when it comes to general balance and making a game fun for the most part, but I can name a myriad of games in the genres with better or onpar gameplay:

        aRPG – Path Of Exile has much better gameplay, every gameplay system is either deep or expansive and the game actually takes its aesthetic seriously.

        RTS – Definitely blizzards best area of expertise, but Dawn of War 2 and more strategic RTS like the total war serious have very good/on par levels of gameplay

        MMO – WoW may dominate the scene, but it is in no part thanks to its awful gameplay, Rift and SWTOR are honestly better MMO’s, sure both are clunky, but their only short-coming is that they haven’t been in the market long enough to build up a fan base like WoW has.

        Rift has much better talent systems, rifts are for the most part novelty but at least give you reason to get involved with your environment. SWTOR has very strong story-telling and plot archs, but its difficulty is all over the place, and it is very much start and stop, in some places you’ll be excited and yearning for the next part in the story, other places it gets stale and you just want to get it over with, but at every point its still more engrossing than WoW.

        If you wish to respond, I very much hope you can construct a good and supported answer, rather than just abuse or defending blizzard at the cost of even your limbs.

        • Lobotomist says:

          It was his first review , and he basically stated that Witcher 1 is a bad RPG… why ? Because you play predefined character. Good he didnt review Planescape.

          @Kestilla

          I have played many RTS games , but i dont really like the genre. So just saying I played Starcraft does not give me much of authority on the field.

          @CorruptBadger

          I am great fan of Diablolike games. And have been playing POE in beta for looong time.
          POE is slightly complex. But even without watching any pro tips, i managed to create build that is unstoppable even in hardcore mode. Under all POE is simplistic ARPG as it can only be comming from good but small team with limited resources.

          I will not even start on fun factor and gameplay. Play both for a week and you will find your argument laughable.

          As for Blizzard not being master of gameplay in RTS – I think that few hundred millions of Koreans would disagree.

          And WOW having awful gameplay ? – You think it is top played MMO because of its art style ?
          Anyone who ever played MMO might hate WOW for many reasons, but gameplay is not between them.

          Your arguments are totally faulty

          • Bhazor says:

            Both WoW and Starcraft have been long surpassed.

            Through the long sordid history of mankind there has been little evidence for any correlation between popularity and quality.

          • Nevard says:

            While there is indeed no correlation between popularity and quality, it’s still a better argument than just saying “they’ve been surpassed” and qualifying that statement with no evidence at all

          • Zaideros says:

            Just an attempt in vain to limit the amount of hyperbole in discussions regarding D3: “Few hundred millions of Koreans” is not a thing. “One hundred million of Koreans” is not even a thing. According to you South Korea is the 4th most populous nation on earth or what?

            But please, continue your hyperbolic notions of how millions upon millions of imaginary Koreans love the shit out of Blizzard and therefore they are God of gameplay. Despite having made WoW. Which has the gameplay of a half-eaten cow carcass. See, I can use hyperbole too.

        • Zyrxil says:

          Ironic, as “aRPG – Path Of Exile has much better gameplay, every gameplay system is either deep or expansive and the game actually takes its aesthetic seriously” instantly makes me disregard everything you have to say. Path of Exile is a perfect example for why the removal of skill trees and the changed skill setup in Diablo 3 is good. PoE’s giant passive skill tree -looks- interesting, but then you realize it’s all boring passives and the actual skill system is terrible and has you using 1 skill 99% of the time. I wasn’t a convert to D3’s system until I played the PoE beta for 5 hours. Blizz has absolutely done what is right in peeled back the skill tree and making the system more centered around freerer skill builds.

        • 153351 says:

          i stopped reading at “Dawn of War” which was a terribly reviewed terrible RTS. Not in the same ballpark as Starcraft 2, I’m afraid.

        • Felix says:

          I haven’t played PoE, but its skill tree reminds me way too much of Final Fantasy X, which had an awful skill system. I think “needlessly complex” is the best way to describe it. Maybe “complexity in presentation” is better.

          I don’t mind choice, I mind a false sense of choice. Also, it’s F2P, which, to me, means it’ll be a lot more like the myriad free Korean MMOs, which Diablo III (my first Diablo-type game) already feels like (but actually fun).

          • Hematite says:

            The PoE passive skill web is better than the FFX one, although it still might not be for everyone.

            As someone posted about recently, the FFX skill web was actually mostly linear, just arranged so it looked curvy and pretty. The PoE one has heaps of junctions so you can make frequent character development choices – the principle seems to be that you pick a moderately distant key skill you want to get, and then choose one of two or three different routes to get there before thinking about where you want to go next. There are online skill planners you can play with if you’re interested.

            Or, if you specifically don’t like the complexity you can just follow your nose around the web as you level up without breaking your character – the active skills are controlled by the separate loot+gem system so the passive skill web is mostly just for honing your character build.

      • zaphod42 says:

        I have to agree. Before I say I’m having a blast with the game, let me say that I am LIVID about the always-on DRM, I’m getting LAG when playing single player or playing with my roomate on a LAN, and that is just DUMB. Its so arrogant that Blizzard thinks they can force this on us, and then now other companies will think its okay and they can get away with it. Its hostile to their own customers! I never expected the issues would be as bad as they are though, Error37 will hopefully wake everybody up to how dumb DRM really can be. Diablo3, AAA game, completely unplayable on launch day? The launch day they hyped up so much? On May 15th, you can…. watch a login screen. Super fail, Blizzard. I knew the company’s quality was taking a hit with Activision over their shoulder, but wow, this is beyond bad.

        However, the game itself I find to be completely brilliant. I can’t disagree with the RPS article enough, (and I love you guys ^_^). My experiences are almost entirely the opposite.

        I would suggest that you play the game in a group. Yes, they do offer single player, and yes, they add companions and do things to try to make single player viable, so its too bad single player isn’t more fun. But it just isn’t that great, it gets old so fast. I felt the same way about Diablo 2, honestly.

        Diablo 3 is a co-op game. It really is. When you play it that way, rampaging around with a group, trading loot between you, its just so much fun. Its nonstop fun. Kill, kill, kill, level up, new ability, kill, kill, kill, new equipment, kill, kill, finish quest, kill, kill, back to town, kill kill, new equipment…

        Its almost dangerously addictive. This is an MMORPG, without all the MMO bs that gets old. There’s no running around, everything is within immediate walking distance. There’ s no grind, merely playing the game and having fun causes you to level up constantly. There’s no sitting around or collecting 5 bear claws for some dumb quest; the few quests that there are have story and are interesting, rather than being tons and tons and tons of boring quests.

        One of the biggest places I disagree: the mosters are boring? Really? In Diablo2, I felt like I got through everything just click,click,click,click spam your main attack.

        In Diablo3, pretty quick monsters start creating walls, leaving acid trails, shooting projectiles at you that move slow, there’s lots to react to! You have to dodge, position yourself, respond to monster animation tells, etc. The game is MUCH more responsive and involved, and only gets more complicated and harder as you go.

        I would say that perhaps Act I on Normal, especially solo, does not give you a good impression of the game at all.

        Try playing through Nightmare, and things get MUCH more interesting. And for heaven’s sake, find a friend to play with you.

        • nibbling_totoros says:

          A game shouldn’t be considered “good” if you have to grind through 10-12 hours first. If nightmare mode is the “correct” mode to play, they should have simply made that the default mode.

          • BluElement says:

            You don’t grind through 10-12 hours of the game first. You play the game for 10-12 hours and then you can play it again in nightmare where the monsters get changed up. Yes, the comments saying “the game doesn’t get good until nightmare” is just stupid. And it’s completely untrue. The game is good in Normal, and then it gets changed up for replayability in Nightmare.

          • OutSource says:

            Yeah, MMO’s suck. They should just let you have insta- high level since that’s where the real gameplay is.

          • copernicus_phoenix says:

            Well said – I don’t play MMO’s because I don’t want to grind. I want enjoyment – I wouldn’t watch a film which had a boring first twenty minutes, or a TV series with a crap pilot, so why should I wade through a low difficulty level in order to enjoy a game?

        • Milky1985 says:

          So why if nightmare mode is where the game kicks off and where the real game starts does the game say “Congratulations on defeating Diablo 3″ when you finish the game (on normal)?

        • Brise Bonbons says:

          I refuse to give a game a pass for hiding the “fun” stuff in unlocked difficulty modes. This is no better than MMORPGs sealing away the “real game” behind hundreds of hours of leveling and gearing up, and I stopped playing them for just that reason. Time is my most valuable commodity, and if a game doesn’t respect that, I will drop it to play the dozens of games in my backlog which do.

          I played the D3 stress test with 1 friend, and found it negligibly improved over the single player. Mostly we ignored each other and just ran around doing our own thing. Maybe that was because it was still low levels, or normal difficulty, but again, stop wasting my time and let me play the part that’s good if you want to hook me. As it was, I found the game slick enough, but entirely vapid, and not all that fun.

        • RandomGameR says:

          Aside from the anger of the online-only gameplay I agree with this pretty much entirely. The enemies are awesome in this game. Even though they are annoying for my barbarian, my favorite enemies are the little treasure trolls that run away from you and portal themselves out of existence. They always manage to drag me through three sets of champions and I get my butt kicked. I just can’t help but chase them.

          The b/f and I are playing on our cruddy DSL connection and we have had no disconnects aside from server shutdowns the first night. We’re probably just lucky. I’ve been downloading the mac client and soloing my barbarian on another computer and I do get tons of lag during that experience, but it hasn’t caused any deaths or resets. I saw the edge of the world once, but it fixed itself after a minute without disconnecting me.

        • derbefrier says:

          I agree with this the launch is over we all know blizz fucked it up. now lets move on the the important part, you know the actual game? Its fantastic, from level 1 on wards the game is a blast the combat is awesome and the new skill system is wonderful. Normal mode was a bit too easy but it was still just fun playing with my character. Even in nightmare i had to start adjusting my play style to keep from getting murdered in big packs of mobs at least in co-op. i agree diablo gets boring pretty quick by yourself(i never played single player diablo 2 for long always co-op) but man its probably one of the best co-op experiences i ever had (post launch issues of course) This is the main reason i don’t mind the always online, its a good fit for this type of game. I know saying thing like that will upset the hive mind that acts like always online murdered all our firstborn sons and all that crap but i enjoy it and i think blizz did a good job here.

        • Bonedwarf says:

          You say you’re “livid” about the DRM, yet you still bought it…

          YOU are the problem. All the time people with more money than sense accept these measures, it doesn’t matter how fucking livid you are, you’re the reason we’ll continue to see bullshit like this because you didn’t have the balls/brains to vote with your wallet and deny yourself something you wanted on principle. You could have taken a stand. Instead you were a pussy who said “I’m Livid! TAKE MY MONEY!”

          In short, people like you are why PC gaming is fucked. Thanks.

          • ineffablebob says:

            Amen. Quit buying stuff that you disagree with, instead of wailing about it and then throwing your money at the developers anyway.

          • Ragnar says:

            I like playing co-op with my friends more than I dislike that there’s no offline mode, thus I bought a copy. At the end of the day, you have to do what’s best for you. But I’ll continue bringing up the always-online problems, because that still sends a message: “Always online is a bad system for singleplayer games. Blizzard may get away with it, but they still get flack for it, and you’re not Blizzard so just forget about it.”

      • kristian says:

        I’m sorry but you’re wrong..

        1) A reviewer can review anything he/she likes. If we only get reviews by people that love the games they play.. why would we even have reviews?

        2) Blizzard used to be “masters of gameplay”, but sadly those times have faded. D3 has more eyecandy but it is not better than it’s predecessor. There’s alot of FUN elements removed from it and now it’s just a grind.

        D3 adds alot to the franchise but also removes alot of the complexity.

        • lordfrikk says:

          “There’s alot of FUN elements removed from it and now it’s just a grind.”

          This is a Diablo game, they are all grind, what are you even on about?

        • Ragnar says:

          What did you like better about D2? I like D3’s skill system much better, as I always though D2’s system of putting all your points into 1-2 skills and ignoring the rest was kind of stupid.

          I like how in D3 I am changing the skills I use every few levels, while in D2 or Titan’s Quest I used the same skills over and over again through the whole game. It keeps the gameplay in D3 feeling fresh.

          I like the unique events and other small changes that are different each time you play, such that playing through the same level may be different each time, and you don’t know what you’ll find.

          I like the mobs in D3 better, they appear more varied, more natural, and more fun.

          I even like that I can see which of my friends are playing, chat with them to see if they want to play together, and the ease with which we can join up.

          I was a little disappointed when I first played D3, in that it wasn’t the amazing magical thing I was expecting after all the development time and hype, and I found the voice acting to be slightly off-putting at first. But I also think it improves on D2 in most ways (I don’t remember finding Decard Cain’s voice grating in D2, but it was also 10 years ago, so maybe my expectations have changed since then).

      • nibbling_totoros says:

        “If you dont like D3 you either didnt play it”

        Yes, that is the ONLY possible reason why someone could not like Diablo III.

        Your arguments offer no actual defense for Blizzard’s actions; you simply cling onto the faint glory of Blizzard’s past and attempt to justify your own purchase and actions when other people offer legitimate criticisms.

        This is why I love Rock Paper Shotgun; tell me what you really think.

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        liceham says:

        I like the genre fine – or at least, I liked Torchlight, and that was just a compulsive loot-fest. He’s not wrong that Diablo 3 has poor writing, that replaying sections is boring, and that parts of the interface, while overall being streamlined, still don’t make sense and are counter-intuitive. I remember having a lot of fun in Torchlight. I have had no such similar fun in Diablo 3 so far. If we are the minority, that doesn’t make us wrong.

      • ichigo2862 says:

        I see your ploy, you’re trying to draw us into arguing against your opinion on a man giving his opinion on a game! I won’t have it!

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        drewski says:

        Umm…is this the second RPS article you’ve ever read?

        John *loves* ARPGs.

  3. BloodyLlama says:

    May I humbly suggest that you should wait until you’ve started playing Hell mode, and then revisit this? Your opinion may change. Hell is where the game really starts.

    • John Walker says:

      No, the game starts at the start of the game. That is from where it should be judged.

      • BloodyLlama says:

        Diablo 2 has been widely praised, but it has many of the same issues as Diablo 3 does before Nightmare and Hell. The game has uninteresting enemies, it’s too easy, the vendors sell garbage, it’s repetive and lackluster, most of the skills are meaningless, etc.

        This all seems to change when you get to Hell, both on Diablo 2 and Diablo 3.

        • Gnoupi says:

          I had fun in normal in D2.

          I don’t think I actually played a lot of nightmare and hell (mostly because Blizzard was expiring my characters between my several months of playing something else, but that’s another topic).

          Normal was the way to play, for me. The other modes felt artificial to me, with the painful decrease of elemental resistances. But that’s just me.

        • Thunderbeak says:

          This doesn’t change the fact that having to finish the game before you get to play the good part of the game is a terrible system.

          I myself would have stopped playing by then.

          • BloodyLlama says:

            Have you ever played Dead Rising? It does much the same thing and has ended up being one of my favorite games (I cannot say the same thing for its sequel however).

          • Galcius says:

            You’re still missing the point Llama – the game starts at the start of the game, and if the first 10 hours of the game are boring crap that only gets good after finishing it, then that is a serious design flaw.

            Also please spare a thought for those of us who don’t have all the time in the world to play games. I don’t want to waste 3-4 evenings worth of game time slogging through boring repetative dross with the promise of good gameplay after that.

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            Crimsoneer says:

            LLama has a point though, in that it doesn’t mean the game is BAD. EVE Online is also terribad for the first ten hours if you play alone. Hell, EVE is terribad most of the time. But the product as a whole is exceedingly good.

            Don’t get me wrong, I agree with John’s point that played single-player, Diablo III is only ever a “good” game. But I don’t see why you ever WOULD play it solo.

          • psyk says:

            Crimsoneer that sounds to much like sense be gone with you. We used to/still do like paying to play a meta game and look at spreadsheets ;p

          • malkav11 says:

            I’ve played every other Diablo-style game by myself. The only reason I’m not doing that with Diablo III is the DRM. As far as I can tell there’s nothing actually multiplayer about the design, so the only thing that adding more players would bring to the table is the generalized added fun that happens when you play games with a friend, which is in no way specific to any particular game.

          • pkt-zer0 says:

            “As far as I can tell there’s nothing actually multiplayer about the design”

            Well, you only get to control one class in singleplayer, and even then, only use 6 skills at time. Multiplayer opens up the possibilities there.

          • malkav11 says:

            Unless the class skills specifically interact in a way that they didn’t in previous Diablos (and there, really just the Paladin’s auras as far as I know), not really. I’m still limited to the same one class and six skills. The addition of more people means more damage, or healing, or whatever, but it doesn’t automatically lead to group synergies or a more complex, involving battlefield.

            Some examples (from the MMO space, since that’s the main place to find coop RPGing these days) would be Guild Wars, where skills frequently combo with various statuses and skill types that a solo adventurer can’t easily build together by themselves, if they even have them in their chosen classes at all. Or WoW/EQII/similar where adventuring together on regular quests merely leads to killing a bit faster, but soloing group content is only possible with extreme level/gear disparities and the tank/healer/DPS trinity is key to victory.

        • jalf says:

          So what you’ve discovered, my friend, is that in 2012, we expect our games to be better than their 15-year-old predecessors. Are you saying that’s unfair? Are you saying we shouldn’t criticize D3 for failing to be better than the game we bought, from the same company, 15 years ago?

          • Jeremy says:

            It’s not really very consistent though. Half the time people are complaining that it isn’t enough like Diablo 2.

          • Reefpirate says:

            Well, I happen to think that it IS better in a lot of ways. Nitpicky things here and there are annoying, and perhaps not as good as D2… But overall I think it’s a better game. The art is amazing, I prefer the new skill system, etc.

            It just makes me wonder what people remembered about Diablo 2 and how much was just romanticizing a long-ago time. I also wonder whether or not a lot of people actually LIKE ARPGs… I mean they are repetitive, they often don’t offer a lot of challenge, at least not right away… That’s what they are.

        • hbarsquared says:

          And yet, all these gripes, all these issues, I’d likely have just clicked past were the game not so woefully and deliberately broken.

          I think this is his point. All the same flaws from the preivous game are fine so long as the drip feed of loot and levels goes uninterrupted. I’ve been server-punted exactly 3 times, and each time I quit for the night. Once that spell is broken, it’s too easy to see the 15 year old flaws that sitll haven’t been fixed.

          • Jeremy says:

            It is very discouraging to get booted. The other night the servers went down to “grab an update” whatever that means. It ended the night for me as well as that introduced a separate issue where people were failing login or authentication was taking an overly long time. Granted, all these server issues will eventually be worked through, but there are always consequences to spotty launches.

          • bigblack says:

            “I’ve been server-punted exactly 3 times, and each time I quit for the night. Once that spell is broken, it’s too easy to see the 15 year old flaws that sitll haven’t been fixed.”

            Sir/Madam, you hit the nail on the head with this ^^^

            I have been having a reasonable amount of fun with the game (duo with a roommate), but each of the (incredibly aggravating, fun-arresting) 4 times I’ve been disconnected the experience just immediately evaporates, and there’s a massive deflation of desire to re-login to find out how much progress I’ve just lost. I am a big fan of the graphics, art design, and physics in D3, but there is so little of real substance separating it from something like TITAN QUEST that I’m having a bit of buyer’s remorse. If the game was a knock-out I might feel less guilty for supporting their awful DRM idea, but as it is, I’m feeling a tiny bit ashamed for biting.

            Also, I think TQ had a much better and far more varied skill system. In that game it felt as if I was making decisions which shaped my violent little avatar, whereas D3 is just a straight linear, no-choice path of progression. Perhaps I’m doing it wrong?

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          drewski says:

          Diablo 2 on Normal = fun.
          Diablo 2 on harder difficulties = LOL WRONG BUILD BAD LUCK DIE NOW

          Eugh.

          • Hematite says:

            I’m getting a bit off topic here, but the most successful approach I found to paying D2 was to pick a build which seemed fun to play and run with it as far as I could. It was fun, but completely the opposite of the popular min/max builds which are “required to be competitive” or whatever that is. Sure, sometimes it got really hard in the second act of Nightmare but in single player that’s not meaningfully different than it getting hard in the second act of Hell.

            Like I said, no use if you’re playing competitive multiplayer and only good co-op if your partner feels the same way. I find it a very useful philosophy which set me free from obsessing over build viability, and I mention it because I don’t often hear other players saying the same thing.

      • DickSocrates says:

        A funny thing about this always on DRM for single player is that when playing other online games like this (I’m thinking PSO on the Dremcast, my experience with PC titles in this genre is limited) and your connection dropped, you could still keep playing like it was single player. All that would happen is the previously human controlled players would stop responding. Now we can’t even play single player games without a connection and when it fails, it’s handled in the most cack-handed way imaginable.

        The tired meme ‘Remember when gaming used to be fun?’ couldn’t be more true. What Blizzard/Activision are doing is only THEIR visison of the future and it will only succeed if we let it. It’s only a game and it risks ruining every future game. So cause trouble.

        • KDR_11k says:

          PSO had serious item duping issues. Diablo 2 allowed you to choose whether you want closed Battle.net to prevent cheating or open Battle.net to not require constant online connections. Well, Diablo 3 decided that everybody should play closed Battle.net and dropped the alternative…

      • Enzo says:

        Reviewing D3 after only finishing Normal mode is kinda ridiculous, cause guess what – if you finished the game on Normal then you actually didn’t finish the game. Other difficulty modes (or new game+, whatever you want to call them) have a shitload of new monsters, new abilites for Elite monsters, tons of new loot, new crafting options. It’s really great.

        Also, RPS is really saying that Diablo 3 is a mediocre hack and slash that adds nothting to the genre? Well then you’re gonna be really disappointed by Torchlight 2 then, cause that game literally adds nothing to hack and slash games.

        • Orija says:

          Well guess what- this isn’t a review.

        • KDR_11k says:

          You do not have to finish a game to review it. Leaving aside that some games have no end you are trying to convey the experience a normal user would have. I doubt that the average Diablo 3 player is going to play a lot of Hell difficulty.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            You really do have to finish a game and exhaust every mind numbing corner to properly review a game, however:

            This is not a review and the points raised are very valid.

          • mouton says:

            Of course, you might argue that – for you – the only proper review is a gamer blog post made by some fellow who played the game for 100 hours. But in what we know as “review community” you do not have to finish the game. Its goal is not to thoroughly judge a game, but to give an impression.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            You want to send that statement to Edge or RPS or hell even IGN with your CV and see how far out of the building you get laughed.

            I know of 2 review scenes. The lazy kind to ignore, the aforementioned gamers blogs and you tube video’s who rush to be the first to produce a review and who’s opinion is not worth anything.

            The other scene is the serious journalistic scene who do not publish reviews until they have fully played the game.

            Why do you think RPS has not yet published their Diablo 3 Review?

          • rargphlam says:

            I hate to burst your self-righteous bubble, but this is a review, and you can review without having it be comprehensive. Any time any one examines something and attempts to analyze it for it’s strengths and weaknesses, it’s a review. The additional meaning of comprehensive you are adding to review is neither accurate or beneficial; yes there are a bunch of chucklefucks that rush out to discuss something with only a cursory glance, but don’t discount all non-comprehensive reviews because of them.

          • Premium User Badge

            jrodman says:

            Having spoken in person with a variety of professional reviewers, some of them from those very organizations, and having interacted on line in a game review community for many years — a place where people who are very into the idea of game critique woule hang out — I can say you are talking crap.

            Completing a game has basically no bearing on the ability to review it. It’s a nice perk to be able to talk about the entire arc, but for many game types it’s simply not needed, and for long games it simply is not plausible.

            Expecting reviewers to sink 100 hours into titles before being permitted to write reviews is simply going to result in worse reviews. That’ s long past the point where your views are fresh and nuanced.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            @jrodman – I guess you’re not going to name your sources then?

            I’ll name one kinda small name who is involved in this area of the industry who agrees whole heartedly with me,

            John Bain i.e the Cynical Brit i.e Totalbiscuit

            Also, to keep a track of those fresh and nuanced ideas, I have a little helping aid – A notebook, or if writing notes isn’t your cup of tea, how about a Dictaphone. You know, those journalistic stalwarts.

            Other higher tech solutions are also available.

            News just in! Keith Stewart agrees with me.

          • Premium User Badge

            jrodman says:

            Congrats on name dropping. I think putting other people’s names on my posts does both myself and them a disservice.

            Regardless, no matter how many names you quote, there still isn’t enough time to be completionist about every game you review. NOR IS THERE A NEED which is the main point.

            Reviewers do not need to talk about the game like historians or scientists. They need to present accurate and nuanced commentary based on play experience and background experience. That has nothing to do with having had the complete experience.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            @rargphlam – I hate to burst your self rigteous bubble, but this is not the review BECAUSE RPS SAYS THIS IS NOT THE REVIEW. It’s as simple as that.

            And guess why this isn’t the review

            BECAUSE THEY HAVEN’T PLAYED IT ENOUGH YET!

            Which is what I said.

            A game review means something very specific. This is an opinion piece.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            @jrodman – Well, the thing about my name dropping is that you can look up those people and hear from their own mouths what their opinion is. You can see what they do for a living. You can see how successful and respected they are.

            What you have done is said that some people agree with you, but I don’t know whose vaulted opinion you are quoting. If it’s joey, your brother who has 7 followers on youtube for his “review channel” then your support is not as strong as mine.

            Still if being associated with you is a disservice, I tend to feel that you should make a compelling enough argument without drawing on the support of others.

            So tell me again how you can provide a review of a game with journalistic integrity without experiencing the complete game properly.

            For example, how can you say review Bastion if you havent played all the levels? What if you get 2 levels in out of 7 and give it a glowing review, only to discover the last 5 levels are pure garbage.

          • rargphlam says:

            People review novels, films, music, and basically every other medium imaginable without ‘fully’ experiencing them.

            The claim you are making, that reviewers some how explore every nuance of a game before publishing a review is asinine. They experience enough of the game to get a clear perspective, then publish a review. ‘Enough’ is dependent on the individual. So yes, there is in that sense a gradation of experience, some have the more complete experience than others, but that does not preclude a less experienced individual to give an accurate review, it merely means they have a greater chance of faulty reasoning.

            And you can’t honestly expect anyone with a timetable to complete a game 100% before giving a review. RPGs, especially JRPGs with their multitudes of timesinks and sidequests, preclude an individual with a time table from getting the ‘full’ experience.

            And this article is a review. It does not matter what RPS or John Walker (bless his ruddy heart) claims it to be. It is a clear and precise critique of certain elements of a medium, talking about the intrinsic qualities of those elements and how they effect the work as a whole. If anything it’s a review that is attempting towards an actual comprehensive review; no single review can be truly comprehensive, and a multitude of reviews covering different topics of a work are still reviews, just reviews with a very particular focus.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            Asinine? I believe you are the ass as you have just stated that film reviewers write film reviews without viewing the entire film!

            Book reviewers don’t read the entire book? Come on, you are surely not that stupid.

            I’m also yet to find a music review from someone who leaves halfway through the performance. Usually music reviewers follow a band for weeks on tour over the release of an album.

            I have provided 2 very respected names in very different sectors of the industry who agree with me. Despite your outrageous claims otherwise, you can’t back up your statements with anything. I’m dying to find out which edge reviewer claims he doesn’t play the entire game, I really am.

            And no, this article is not a review of Diablo 3. You can argue semantics all you wish, but nearly every gamer who reads reviews understands that sometimes articles are written about games. Those articles may contain opinion or critiques but reviews they are not.

            So as you have decided to dredge up other industries, take a quick gander at Sean Reids site. He reviews cameras for a living and has some pretty strong, negative opinions of those who only use a camera for an hour or two before writing a review. He believes that to properly review a camera, one needs to use it for weeks and even then, update that review over months. He believes you need to shoot every style of photography, from studio to street and everything in between. You need to use every function exhaustively. Why? Otherwise you cannot portray a product accurately.

            I’m sorry you didn’t make it as a computer game reviewer. I think the problem was that you thought you were just going to be able to play games like you would do as a consumer, just what you enjoy – put together a couple of paragraphs and watch the royalties roll in. Let me tell you, reviewing games for a living is hard draining work. Change your attitude, put some elbow grease into it, take some writing classes and don’t expect it to be “playing games for a living” and you may get somewhere! — Edit – I wrote this last paragraph, in fact the entire post thinking you were jrodman again, this paragraph doesn’t apply to you, but I think you can extrapolate what you need from the post

          • rargphlam says:

            Full experience is different from watching the entire film or listening to an entire album or even especially reading an entire book just once. You can form arguments and thoughts based on a single viewing, but that in no way constitutes a full experience of the film. There are perspectives you may lack, technical details you aren’t aware of or miss the first viewing, things that you might outright miss. I never said they didn’t watch it all the way through at least once, I said they miss the full experience.

            You can play through a game just once to reach the end, see some mechanics, get the baseline, but you might lack thorough knowledge or meaning because of a singular play through. And sometimes a full play through is not exactly necessary to gain a complete understanding or even a decent critical opionion on a game; games constitute larger and different amounts of raw data, one can fairly easily begin to criticize gameplay elements and the engine only after a few hours of play. These elements usually don’t drastically change beyond the beginning, and as such can be fairly easily reviewed. Plot based elements of course require a fuller playthrough, but depending on the amount of content the amount of time required might again prevent a reviewer from a full plot perspective.

            Fullness of experience is equatable to 100% complete experience, and that is entirely impossible to do for all forms of media, unless the media is either extremely simple or extremely short (even shortness does not necessarily prevent such things). I was in no way suggesting there is a basic initial playthrough, what I was suggesting is that such first viewings do not give anyone but a savant anything close to a complete experience.

            edit: To put it simply, reviewers don’t have several months to obtain all the nuances of anything if they’re working for traditional media (or in the case of the game blogger, maintain relevance). Yes, low experience reviews may not encapsulate the fullness of an artifact, but the nature of reviews requires them often to circumvent fullness to present a clear and accurate view on the game. The presumption that is fallacious is that reviewers actually obtain full views in the short time they are often given, they do not. Rather they obtain enough information to make an educated extrapolation on the rest of whatever they are reviewing.

          • Premium User Badge

            drewski says:

            I’m genuinely surprised that someone exists who thinks video game reviewers actually finish games.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            That’s 4 people in this world who have literally no idea what they are talking about.

            I challenge any one of you to find a games reviewer who:

            1) Has a reader/viewer figure of greater than 100,000 per article or has worked in print media for a published industry magazine.

            2) Will openly admit to not completing the story mode of a game he is reviewing and still has a job/meets requirement 1&4

            3) Will openly admit to writing a review without trying some features of the game (for example not trying the flag collecting on assassins creed) and still has a job/meets requirement 1&4

            4) Describes their articles as reviews

            Guess what. You will not find one single professional or even an amateur who publishes under his real name who meets these requirements because you 4 are wrong. Very very wrong.

            You go on about the time needed, but when you work a full time job, guess what, you get 40 hours a week review time. That is far more than necessary for most games. You will have received your press pack at least a week before your review is due and if the game is likely to need more than 15 hours to get through (not many at all) then it will be the only game you are working on at the time. Mammoth games like Skyrim for example will have several reviewers covering it.

            You, as a professional writer will also have a few articles written in advance, to keep your output stable when you get these large projects.

            Jesus, it’s like teaching primary school kids the ABC of journalism. Though this is probably why people act like such shits towards reviewers, they don’t appreciate the actual level of work or professionalism needed to succeed.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            @rargphlam – So you are saying that you believe that it takes more than one viewing of a film to be able to form a valid critical opinion. Like I said, you are an ass.

            OK, you may miss some of the really poorly executed subtext i.e noticing that Bruce Willis only touches red things in Sixth Sense, which supposedly makes some kind of sense because of his “condition”. But that knowledge is not required to form a valid critical opinion. You will be able to accurately assess whether you liked it or not, what you liked and disliked and why – bearing in mind a review is not a dissertation on the film. It doesn’t exist to lecture the reader on what the film means. It exists to allow a consumer to make an informed choice.

          • rargphlam says:

            No, I’m saying that the situation is far more complex than that, and if you took the time to read what I wrote instead of turning to invective because someone on the internet is ~wrong~, that would become clear to you.

            I was merely trying to demarcate the difference between a ‘full’ experience and a not full. Valid opinions can come from both, a ‘full’ experience allows for the possibility of a more clear perspective, but a lesser experience can and will allow for an argumentative position, I never asserted it did not. Your initial claim that a “proper” review only comes from “exhausting” every possibility is what I was contending with. If anything, you ultimately came to agree with me in your own round about way, so I congratulate you on that.

          • Terraval says:

            @Sheng-Ji

            Congratulations, you’ve forced me to log in, re-find your comment and tell you that you’re an ass and an astounding idiot.

            And this is fucking why: http://www.oldmanmurray.com/longreviews/63.html

        • Premium User Badge

          Snidesworth says:

          Why possible reason could a game have for making you endure a full, 10 hour playthrough on a maddeningly easy difficulty setting before letting you play the “proper” game? This is as bad as being told to stick with FFXIII for the first 20 hours “until it really gets going.”

          • Ringwraith says:

            Having played FFXIII, I can say it’s definitely a slow-burn and this works against it, unless you’re easily distracted by the battles like I am. It’s telling a very specific story, about how each of the diverse characters is dealing with their situation, and that’s about all it does then. That story is all well and good, but if you’re going in expecting exploration or something you’re going to massively disappointed.
            The battle music never getting old doesn’t hurt either.

          • Lagwolf says:

            That is like those that say when it comes to MMOs. “It gets better after level X”. A game should be fun from the minute you start playing it not 10, 20, 30, 40 hours into the bloody thing. A game is after all entertainment and thus needs to entertain you.

            A review can be made at any time as long as the reviewer lets you know how long it has been played. I normally review after 2/3rds of the game it is a long one. Editors want copy and you have to deliver.

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            drewski says:

            Yup. If the game doesn’t get going until you’re 20 hours in, the devs need to go back and fix the first 20 hours.

        • Yargh says:

          I call complete and utter bullshit on that statement Enzo

        • Milky1985 says:

          Accordnig to the internet people were wrong in saying that Final Fantasy 13 got good about 15 hours in (imo i though ti was good from teh start but apparently i am even wronger). And that game got hated on.

          Why is it ok for Diablo 3 to get good 15 hours in but not FF13? Double standards due to location of developers?

          • byteCrunch says:

            Because people are looking for any reason to justify their opinion of the game, and apparently people having a different opinion is somehow wrong.

            So saying that Diablo 3 is nothing but a clicking grind fest is wrong, if you haven’t beaten it on Hell mode or wasted more that 15 hours playing, then somehow your opinion of what is “fun” is invalidated, because “you did not get to the good bit.”

            I am paying for my games, I want them to be fun from the start.

        • Cim says:

          Torchlight 2 might not add anything to the formula, but they have polished the mechanics to a perfect shine. Having played both Diablo 3 and the Torchlight 2 beta there’s no contest which one is more enjoyable to play.

          I’m all for innovation but there’s also something to be said for perfecting what you got.

          • abfinz says:

            I have to disagree with the idea that Torchlight II doesn’t add anything. I’m specifically thinking about pets that can cast spells, and carry your loot to town to sell it. The original added that, and T2 improved upon it by allowing pets to buy potions and scrolls, so you don’t have to break up the fun part of the game to go sell things and replenish your potion and scroll stores. You just send off your pet and continue smashing.

          • PopeJamal says:

            THIS!
            Plus the fact that they aren’t asking me to pay $60 USD. If I’m not mistaken, for $60, I can get three copies of Torchlight 2 and enjoy a nice LAN session.

        • kael13 says:

          Exactly. You wouldn’t review a book after only reading a few chapters. Finishing the story does not equal finishing the game with Diablo.

          I’ll admit the writing is generally shit. However, in the single-player, it’s really worth talking to the companions. And the Jeweller, definitely the Jeweller. They, at least, have a somewhat interesting story. It’s just told in a rather shallow way (right-click -> talk -> choose option) That’s from the perspective of my female wizard, who I ended up really liking. (but again, she’s a bit one/two dimensional)

          • Gnoupi says:

            If you want to go with the book metaphor, then normal is like finishing the book, nightmare is like reading it in darkness, with almost no light, and hell is reading it in darkness, with your hands tied in your back.

            When you finish in normal, you finish the story. It doesn’t renew, they only change the difficulty settings for another playthrough. Of course you can repeat that, and replay many times, that’s the point of the game. But it’s again the same “old” thing then.

          • fenrif says:

            By this logic you have to beat every game on all difficulties with 100% completion before you’re allowed to form an opinion. Or read a book cover to cover multiple times to fully understand the themes and subtexts.

            This isn’t some sandbox where each playthrough can be a drastically new experience, it’s a linear action game that has terrible pacing and asenine design decisions. It’s a step backwards from every game that lets you choose “easy, medium, hard, insane” before you create your character.

          • byteCrunch says:

            @fenrif:

            Well the more times Blizzard can get you to play through, the more times they can show you the RMAH, and the more times it can tempt people to buy better gear to get through the boring grind or some spike in difficulty.

            Diablo 3 is well designed just not for the purpose of fun.

          • Reefpirate says:

            I think there’s a lot of people on here who played Diablo 2 when it first came out for a couple of months and then moved on. That is not the Diablo 2 experience that has been happening for the last 12 years. There’s two different camps, obviously, and there’s no point in getting all snippy with eachother…

            The story and characters in the original games were just as ‘hollow’ as they are in D3. With the right skills, it was just as easy on normal mode too… The real depth and cult following for the game came from the higher difficulties and unlocking loot over repeated runs through the game. That’s what kept the game going for more than a decade.

            Ok, do we understand now?

          • Deltadisco says:

            I wouldn’t review the *plot*.. but if the writing in that book was terrible enough that I stopped reading, I’d sure as hell review that.

        • Reefpirate says:

          The good news, this is only John talking here and not RPS at large. I’m a big John fan, but I am having doubts about his judgement here. I’d be interested in hearing what the whole gang thought about it in the future *hint hint*!

          • PopeJamal says:

            Do you have doubts about the judgement of all the people in your life that disagree with you, or just the “internet people”?

        • Urthman says:

          Chet and Erik of Old Man Murray (who now work at a company that knows something about making fun games) called bullshit on this idea 12 years ago:

          “Either we enjoy ourselves, or we quit… We’d bought into the line of crap delivered by some of the more sanctimonious gaming pundits which states that a “real” reviewer always slogs through the whole thing, because it “might get better.” You know what? Hell with that…Here’s a note to developers regarding what we hope will become an industry-wide policy: if your game has some good parts, try to put them at the fucking beginning…

          With that in mind, here’s our new rule: if a game can’t manage to provide some thrills in the first hour, it gets a bad review. Welcome to the new era of common sense…

          Codename: Eagle, the first game we’re reviewing using our new system, fails. We played two shitty levels. Maybe it gets better later. Who knows. But neither you, nor I, nor even erik should have to find out. When you’re playing it, the important thing is that it’s not better now.”

          “People we trust have told us that Gunman Chronicles gets much better as it goes along. If you’re a fan of games that get better towards the end, check it out!”

          http://www.oldmanmurray.com/longreviews/63.html

        • zaphod42 says:

          I agree, you really need to get past “normal” aka easy difficulty.

          Sadly, I wish they hadn’t completely tied the difficulties to your level, so that somebody could start on nightmare difficulty if they wanted to, if they were an experienced player. But with the game as is, that would require letting you spawn a character at a higher level.

      • pkt-zer0 says:

        Rush past the “too easy” enemies, until you get to a point where that’s no longer the case. Seemed a viable option in the beta for my alt characters. I guess it’s a sort of player-moderated implicit difficulty setting. I’m not sure if you can do a lot more than that when difficulty is tied to item progression and whatnot.

        • mouton says:

          Players can also play with no equipment or screen turned off.

          Difficulty should be properly adjusted by the developer, not rely on players handicapping themselves.

          • pkt-zer0 says:

            I don’t think having a single difficulty curve (like here) is automatically a problem in itself, as long as you can speed along fast enough to the part where it gets interesting for you. I guess you could still argue whether that happens fast enough here. If you insist on killing every single trash mob as soon as you see them, probably not.

          • Ergates_Antius says:

            Look at it this way: Can you name a single *good* reason for not having Easy/Normal/Hard (or whatever you want to call them – makes no difference) options from the start? A single one?

          • Premium User Badge

            jrodman says:

            There’s a good reason, but not appealing to players. It takes more work.

            Now here we have multiple modes that you progress through. Could you offer those same modes from the start in a list? Maybe you could. I don’t really know as I haven’t and won’t play this game.

        • zaphod42 says:

          This is a point some people miss: If you kill everything, if you explore the whole areas, you’re going to get over-leveled for the area you’re in, and its going to get easier and easier. This is how lots of RPGs work, including ARPGs. If you find the game is too easy, try blowing on ahead and skipping a few things. I assure you by the next Act, things will be much, much different.

          • Didero says:

            So the best way to play the game is to skip parts of the game?

          • Ergates_Antius says:

            So, the point most people are missing, is that to get the best of out the game they have to intentionally gimp their characters?

            Good design there…

          • pkt-zer0 says:

            @Didero: If you’re a seasoned gamer? Yeah, you probably do want to rush the early, easy parts that were designed to be beatable by your grandmother. You’ll have plenty of time to fully explore those areas on the latter 3 difficulties (and/or with the other 4 classes), anyway.

      • Blackcompany says:

        The biggest mystery of all, to me, us how Blizzard convinced so many people to Rent a game for $60. Buy it, then only play with lag, while servers are up, until we no longer offer them. Um…no, thanks.

        Waiting for TL2, PoE.

      • nrvsNRG says:

        Basically, if you dont like the idea of playing thru a lacklustre normal (easy) mode first, (which will then open up the game difficulty and 70% more weapons/armour become available) then Diablo 3 is not the game for you.

        However I totally agree about the writing. It really is just awful generic forgettable dross, i cant believe this is all they could come up with in all those years. Also the graphics are literally from 5 years ago.

        Despite this i’m enjoying the game.

      • 153351 says:

        The game starts, but the difficulty, especially for seasoned players, does not start. So your complaints about difficulty in Normal mode are just: complaints about difficulty in Normal mode. Come on now.

        • Premium User Badge

          jrodman says:

          And those complaints… are totally valid. Don’t be obtuse. The game requires you to slog through this stuff, and that’s an actual problem, regardless about where your focus on the game may have ended up.

          • PopeJamal says:

            Exactly. They could have just as easily allowed you to choose a more difficult setting from the beginning if they weren’t (and here’s the key):

            Purposely stretching things out.

            Whether it’s just bad design, their MMO mindset showing, or because they want to maximize exposure to the Auction House, we’ll never know. But what we CAN know for sure is that some people aren’t happy with having to slug through “the boring bits” to get to “the good bits” and they are absolutely allowed to feel that way.

        • Premium User Badge

          drewski says:

          Yes, his complaints about the game are complaints about the game.

          Glad you cleared that up.

    • moarage says:

      That’s imo a mmo mentality applied to a non mmo game(e.g. the real game starts at end-game/level cap) and is really an outdated mentality(even to mmo’s) that doesn’t justify that you need to endure hours of bore-fest first till the game gets fun.

      I’m not saying the game is boring, I’m saying that if someone finds a game boring initially, it’s ridiculous to demand him to play 10 hours first till the game might eventually get fun.

      • Gnoupi says:

        Reminds me of Serious Sam BFE in a way. Quite boring and unpleasant beginning for me, and people telling me that it gets better after you get there, or you get this weapon.

        • Baboonanza says:

          To be fair there is a difference between ‘finish the game and then we’ll let it get interesting’ and just poorly judged first act. Once the first bit is over you still have most of the game left to enjoy at least.

          • Gnoupi says:

            True. Finally it’s the same game, only with different tweaks and balancing.

        • Claidheamh says:

          Well, Serious Sam BFE only did that for about 2 hours, not 10. And it was brilliant after that.

        • PodX140 says:

          I’m STILL having issues getting the motivation to get past the first few levels in BFE. I just got to the sandworms, but even then… It hasn’t clicked like the first 2 games did. And BOY did those games click. They’re in my top 3 games of all time, I managed to find every secret in the first act without any internet help! You have any idea how impossible that actually is? Some of those require werebull hits!

          And yet, I stuck with that, but I’m having issues getting past BFE’s (not so) initial levels. The first boss so far has been incredible, but… I dunno, it’s just hit a stop :(

          I will say though, I fired up survival for a few minutes, and I felt like the first 2 games were condensed into two minutes. I literally had to stop playing for 10 minutes after my first good round for my mind to clear and my hands to stop shaking from the adrenaline. That mode is FUN.

      • Reefpirate says:

        Ok, last comment for me on this thread for a while… But people really need to figure out what game they’re playing here.

        I don’t understand how you can say the difficulty modes in this game are outdated or ‘not good’ somehow… The higher difficulties and ‘end game’ content is what kept Diablo 2 going for 12 years. That was the reason that it is still selling copies to this day. People LOVED that shit, and that’s probably what people will love about this game.

        It seems a lot of people are treating Diablo 3 like it’s a Dragon Age game or something. You want deep characters? A tactical role-playing progression? That’s not what this game is about.

        • moarage says:

          Well, what people should or should not expect from D3 is really subjective imo. I mean I never played D2 and was never really hyped for D3 but I enjoy it atm. Sure is not the best game I ever played but certainly keeps entertained till other big releases.

          But then there are people who waited 11 years for this game, while they loved D2 they are expecting D3 to be D2 AND SOMETHING MORE than that. From what I gathered, that “something more” that blizzard added is unjustified to wait 11 years for.

        • fenrif says:

          People say that D3 is outdated and less good because it has less features and options than D2, the decade old previous game in the series. Things like “selecting your difficulty” which has become kind of an industry standard for games.

          It’s great that you and others enjoyed grinding the same content for 12 years, seriously to each his own. But to say D2’s popularity came from that alone seems short sighted. I doubt the game would’ve been nearly as popular without, say, LAN mode. There are many reasons for it’s longevity beyond the fact that you can endlessly repeat the same content ad infinitum.

        • Didero says:

          The problem isn’t with the different difficulty levels themselves. The issue mister Walker takes with the game is that not all difficulty options are unlocked from the start.

        • Premium User Badge

          drewski says:

          Yes, that’s not what Diablo is about, which is great, because that’s not what John’s criticising.

          “It’s not good enough at being an ARPG that it pulls me back after the shitty onlineness boots me out” is essentially his criticism.

          Hence the hollow criticism. It’s an incredibly shiny veneer of a good ARPG over solid but not great gameplay. It’s wearing bling but there’s no meat.

          Now, you may say you have to play it on a harder difficulty to experience it fully, and that may be true, but you shouldn’t have to play 10-15 hours of a mediocre game (by Diablo’s standards) to get to a good one. At least, not unless you choose to.

    • MuscleHorse says:

      I see the further difficulties as a multi-player aspect. If I’m going to play the game again it’ll be with a new character.

    • psyk says:

      Indeed, normal is a joke. Can you bypass having to touch it by playing online?

      • BloodyLlama says:

        Sadly you cannot. They even put in absurd level restrictions. I beat Nightmare at level 46, and it wouldn’t even let me START Hell until I grinded up to level 50 (My OP monk could total have handled Hell at 46).

        The game has problems to be sure, but Hell really brings out the best of it. i cannot imaging what Inferno will be like.

        • KDR_11k says:

          That’s why I appreciate that Earth Defense Force games let you pick higher difficulties (that require late game gear from the lower difficulty to have a chance at) whenever you want so you can get slaughtered abysmally or win a really difficult fight for great rewards if you attack them early.

    • theleif says:

      I really do not get this. I this was actually true, why is there even lower difficulty options, and why on earth does the game force you to slog through them before the “game truly start”? It seams like a major design failure if true.

      • psyk says:

        Lower difficulty? where.

      • Spinks says:

        Because people who are not uber gaming gods quite enjoy the power trip of normal mode.

        • Premium User Badge

          Snidesworth says:

          Then why not provide standard difficulty options? Let people who want a relaxing cruise of a power trip pick Easy, have Normal there for a moderate challenge and Hard and beyond for people who want something tougher. As it is many people literally have to work for several hours to get to a difficulty level that they can actually enjoy.

          • PodX140 says:

            Exactly this. I enjoy playing my games on their hardest settings, but if I’m quickly playing a flash game or something? Easy all the way and just blitz right through. I can understand why other people might do that for their full games as well.

          • Archipelagos says:

            Agreed. Not providing players a choice of difficulty at the start of a game should be one of those DON’T DO THIS rules to developers, much like un-skippable cut-scenes and DLC only endings.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            Am I not right in thinking though, that the higher difficulties are designed for your characters after normal, so they continue at the level they finish on, trying to take a L1 character through would be impossible for even the godliest of gamers.

            Maybe have the modes as presented but an overall difficulty, easy normal and hard which is assigned to your character.

            If you team up with another character with a different difficulty set, it averages them all out or something.

            But anyway, none of this detracts from the point that in the first 2 diablo games, the harder difficulties were bonuses for those who completed the game. The games were balanced around normal and the extra modes were not necessarily well balanced but a nice bonus if you wanted to keep your character and didn’t mind playing through again.

            The normal mode should most definitely be the best balanced,

    • brat-sampson says:

      Then *obviously* you should be able to start at whatever difficulty you choose (or at least a level above normal/easy), if not actually change it mid-game. I thought enforced difficulty progression died out with Guitar Hero…

      • Reefpirate says:

        Well you’re wrong, because it stayed alive with Diablo 2 for 12 years.

    • Stevostin says:

      An even more sensible suggestions : just don’t buy and play Diablo III ; instead buy and play games that are just fun from the beginning and until the end. There are plenty, plenty of those – I personally don’t find the time to play them all. Did you ?

      So you see, you don’t have to be bored then to have fun : you can also just have fun. And for a cheaper price, too.

      • psyk says:

        Stay away from arma

        • malkav11 says:

          I’m not sure which ARMA you were playing, because I was definitely having fun with ARMA II from the offing.

          • mouton says:

            DayZ just as well. I had immense fun running around in darkness screaming for help :D Yes, seriously.

    • Premium User Badge

      Saul says:

      If the first page of a novel isn’t interesting enough, the publisher won’t even bother to keep reading, let alone publish it. Why should games get a free pass to give you hours of crap up-front? The Diablo games have never been to my taste anyway, but I will never in a million years play a game for hours before it gets good.

      • sinister agent says:

        Got ao agree with this. I’ll give a game or book or film a free pass for a chapter or hour (twenty minutes for a film) if I had high hope or was reliably informed it’s good enough. But neither should be front-loaded with crap.

  4. D3xter says:

    I stumbled over these screenshots of how the game would have looked like/been if it was developed and released in 2005 under Blizzard North: http://kotaku.com/5761172/this-is-what-diablo-iii-looked-like-a-long-time-ago/gallery/

    And I ponder what that would have been like with THAT being Diablo III.

    • Eich says:

      It looks awesome, but what’s up with that camera angle? It’s seems to be fixed like in a JRPG. This does not look like a 3d engine so I doubt it was a free moving camera? I think in 2005 this would have been an earthquake. This years Diii is just a weak aftershock…

    • PodX140 says:

      Bleh, I clicked the link before I noticed it was a Kotaku article. I really despise them since the entire spoilers in article titles and the absolute fawning they did over the razer blade (not to mention the reaction to the backlash)

      But it does look very FFish, not sure I’d play that over the current look, even scaling back the current look 5 years or however many.

    • Premium User Badge

      Screwie says:

      The camera angle may be fixed but at least it lets you look into the semi-far distance, which could be cool.

      I really like the decor too.

  5. wyrdyr says:

    I’m so glad they released a Starter Edition to this – I came away with exactly your conclusions and yet I have not had to part with my money to do so.

    I suspect co-op will be a significant improvement over my experience, but can’t imagine even that thrill will last all too long.

  6. Metonymy says:

    Interesting point about single player, my original interest in Diablo 3 was to have a good Blizzard game that did NOT require the enforced grouping of WoW. I tolerated the casual grouping of battlegrounds, disliked the forced grouping of raiding, and despised the aggressively enforced grouping of arena. It all made the game into even more of a job than it was intended to be, and I will never tolerate the sentiment that grouping improves competition. All competitive grouping does is include more opportunities for unpredictable events. Randomness is one of many adversaries of memorable battles between players that are learning and adapting.

    Some people are wired for grouping, I entertain the notion that they are not very smart. But either way, grouping is not a cure-all for anything, and for me specifically, it’s a major turnoff.

  7. groovychainsaw says:

    Interesting – I’ve already posted on the forum about this, but there’s obviously very different takes on Diablo. I’ll agree the online requirement for single player is stupid, and when it impacts the game like it has yours, John, it is obviously TERRIBLE. I haven’t encountered any issues myself, so maybe that improves my opinion of the game, I can’t be sure.

    As for the gameplay itself though, it polishes other ARPG ideas to a shine,and I think you are underrating the changes the skill systems have brought. Unlike yourself I feel freed rather than restricted by the new skills system, able to have many more skills available to me and many more builds for my character to approach different situations with (previously, I would tend to put all my points into one or two major skills, often backed up with passive buffs, to min/max my character). The criticism of the enemies seems fair, I haven’t hit more than 1 or 2 mobs who even need a different approach yet, but I’m hoping this changes as the game moves along (or I play on harder difficulty). I’d like to see more tactical variety to force me to think more about my skills. Although the criticism of the dragonflies seems a bit harsh, by level 10, all my characters have at least one ranged attack that can help with mobs that run away (Maybe the monk has no ranged option?).

    As for the shops not selling the best loot, isn’t this normal for every ARPG? You’re supposed to get loot by playing, and the best loot from the hardest monsters. Plus you get more for playing with others and on harder difficulties, so you’re not going to see much in the early stages of the game playing solo. Whether that’s a balance issue or a deliberate choice, I’m not sure, but its not unexpected. The only unexpected thing is being able to buy a set from shops that is that much better than drops – that certainly hasn’t happened for me (on the other hand, the blacksmith seems uber-powerful for my armour).

    • Terragot says:

      my feeling is that they could have chosen better things to polish; procedural generation on maps, items and monsters would have been really something unique. As it is right now, it’s really, really well polished and looks and feels fantastic, but it’s just terribly drab and not compelling me to play further.

      The detail they’ve put into character management shows promise though. And if Blizzard are anything to go by, this wont be the same game in 12 months time.

      • Gusdor says:

        Torchlight did procedural maps 2 years ago. Unique? Nope.

        • psyk says:

          Your point?

          http://www.diablowiki.net/Randomization

          Diablo released – December 31, 1996

          • byteCrunch says:

            Yes and roguelikes did it 15+ years before that so what is your point?

          • psyk says:

            Seeing as we are in a comment section for an article about diablo I thought I would stop at D1 as it’s the first of the diablo games, also because he is talking about tourchlight a game that was released many many years after diablo.

          • Hoaxfish says:

            I find the whole progression quite weird, D1 had almost everything randomised… D2 took out the randomised quests in favour of 100% fixed quests (and frankly I never understood why they removed them), D3 has a fixed overworld layout though seems to have brought back random “quests” in so far as little side-events. They seem intent on screwing down the randomisation, in favour of something (but apparently not plot)

            D3 “isn’t finished” until you’ve replayed it multiple times over… because of forced-difficulty setting limits (even though completing the game on normal says that you have in fact completed the game).

            Meanwhile indie games are chugging along inventing 100s of different ways to randomise a game and maximise replay for minimal cost.

          • Moraven says:

            The overworld layout is half fixed. Some areas will always have a couple of the same things, to progress quests and what not, but the game is very procedural in providing different World Events and caves. My 2nd time going through the Halls of Agony, spawned the Grand Inquisitor and his relative Lore books. Highlands was a completely different layout other than the start and end.

            I really enjoy the random events. Set ups for a battle vs rares/champion mobs along with a little Lore.

  8. MuscleHorse says:

    I’m soloing, having pretty much only soloed the first and second iterations. In no way am I advocating the always on DRM but I seem to be especially lucky – I’m yet to experience a single issue with it.
    The writing is poor, yes, but then this is Blizzard – were you expecting any more? I’m more infuriated with the return of Deckard Cain and his awful voice acting. Shurely they could have hired someone a little less irritating?
    I get the impression that your enjoyment of this sort of game can come down to which class you happen to be playing. The physical combat types are usually tiresome, maybe give the Demon Hunter a go? He’s a pile of fun, somersaulting, grenade throwing and machine-gun-crossbows as he is.

    • Lycan says:

      This. My enjoyment of the game increased manifold once I started playing as the Demon Hunter (or Huntress rather). I had also started with a monk. Two things I have learned:

      1. If you find a skill combo you like, stick with it until you find something you like better. This may seem trivial, but if you’re coming straight from D2 (like me, at least where aRPGs are concerned) then perhaps you play in a way that emphasises getting higher level skills as soon as possible. Since skill damage in D3 scales with your weapon damage (in a balanced way, i.e.) there is no reason not to stick with a particular skill combo, even if you have been using it from Level 5. For example, no skill so far has made me want to give up Rapid Fire for my demon huntress.

      2. Craft, dammit. The shop vendors sell crap, yes – they did in D2 too (as someone already pointed out). The thing to do in D3 is to craft with whatever spare cash you have. Just like in D2 the thing to do was “gamble” with whatever spare cash you had. And leveling up your artisans gives you access to higher level items – though leveling up artisans tends to get expensive quickly. However, since those higher level items require you to be a higher level too, you can take your time and “save up” cash, as it were.

      But yes, the connection problems. Oh God, the connection issues. I suffered many, many disconnects (at the rate of once every 5-10 mins if playing solo) until I discovered a voodoo solution that worked. Once I was able to settle into the game for more than an hour and become immersed, it really started getting fun. But being disconnected constantly – not fun. Made me think of Torchlight 2 lovingly and be thankful that I’ve pre-ordered it. I recommend everyone does the same – it’s US$20 and will be totally worth your money :P (sorry about the shameless plug)

      • Brun says:

        Crafting seems to be the replacement for Gambling in Diablo 2 – it’s how you get decent gear from vendors.

  9. frightlever says:

    “The only novel enemy attacks I’ve noticed are the waspy dragonfly things, who just fly away from you, meaning if you’re not playing a ranged character they’re just tedious to fight.”

    Monks can charge and root. Been using that a lot on my lvl 12 Monk, particularly on Treasure Goblins. I’m sure barbs have something similar.

    First game since Anarchy Online where I’ve had a serious issue with lag, but kinda getting into it anyway.

  10. Premium User Badge

    Crimsoneer says:

    A little needlessly harsh, but accurate. Then again, I haven’t had any connection issues whatsoever since launch, so that probably colours my view a little.

    It’s pretty much Diablo II, more polished and with a far better online component. I’m pretty damn happy with that :P

    Diablo III singleplayer reminds me of Quake III singleplayer. It’s pretty pointless, and I don’t know why anybody would play it that way, but i t’s so beautifully polished and singleminded it’s still fun.

    • Arglebargle says:

      I’ve seen the stats quoted that 60% of Diablo II players played solo. So is it wise to design a game ignoring that?

      The demo seemed nice but bland to me. However, I am apparantly immune to whatever magick Blizzard casts on other gamers.

      • mckertis says:

        “I’ve seen the stats quoted that 60% of Diablo II players played solo.”

        More like 90%.

        “Diablo III singleplayer reminds me of Quake III singleplayer. It’s pretty pointless, and I don’t know why anybody would play it that way”

        Indeed, Q3 singleplayer was crap, unlike the excellent single of Unreal Tournament. So its all in the execution. With good bots – there is no real need for multiplayer.

    • Stevostin says:

      I can’ti find any motivation to play DIII Multi – ah yes, here’s one, the arena, but that’s it. Diablo II Multi was just Diablo I solo but multi, more player and monster’s health multiplied. And that was it. Basically, and because, despite a lot of non sense I am reading, Diablo I & II were designed 90% for Solo and 10% for Multi (and I bet, played this way, just like way more buyers played Starcraft Solo rather than Multi).

      And here’s a good reason for that : the very core cam choices implied that very easily you’ll just be without any partner in sight. I WoW, you can heal someone by clicking his icon. You certainly couldn’t do that in DII. Can you in DIII ? My feeling is that Diablo just has none to little multi dynamic. You don’t buff people (or only via aura and shouts). You don’t heal them. You don’t shield them, etc. Actually, in DII Necromancer was avoided by other players because he could accenditally kill you by trapping you with walls. That’s how much Diablo II was designed for Multiplayer…

      IMO the real multi feature was trading stuff and comparing willies online. It was also mindless powerleveling. But it had nothing to do with tight group strategy that came with MMO and especially WoW. Which I despise, but still, Diablo never was even close to those team play basic, and IMHO, can’t really be, because of the fixed sky cam. You can’t, alone, decide to know what your partners are doing if they’re running away from you. This is kind of a hard limitation in the gamedesign that makes sure teamplay won’t reach any depth.

      I’ll buy DIII when it’s below the 12€ bar. I guess that means never, but that’s up to Blizzard to decide.

  11. Gnoupi says:

    This article seems to reflect my impressions from the beta. It is for sure very punchy and satisfying in its core mechanic, but the rest is a bit unsavory. My main gripe encountered with the beta (aside from the connection issues, obviously), was with the actual maps and things to do. They went the titan quest way, so each time you go through a place on the surface, it will look exactly the same (besides some micro dungeons placed differently). The only map generation happens in dungeons, and it was very underwhelming. It was less convoluted than Torchlight 1. They use the same idea, building from chunks of maps to avoid the crosswords from D2, but it’s not fully interesting yet. Most of the time, I felt like running through 4 corridors and their corners until finding the door to the next level. That’s unfortunate, because the actual chunks are interesting the first time you pass them. The walls disassembling, the skeletons coming from them… But after the hundredth wall like this, it does get a bit old, admittedly.

    People who like me had issues with that will be glad to see that in Torchlight 2, everything is generated from chunks, and feels coherent in the assembling. You will rarely feel like going through the same way twice, when playing different characters.

    Also about Torchlight 2, the pet. I don’t think I actually came back to town for other reasons than a quest return, or a new objective requiring me to get there, during the beta. The pet just takes my useless things, and brings me back potions if needed. It’s really nice to not have to run through the city to find your seller.

    (Note: For people who want to try Torchlight 2, there will be a bigger beta weekend, starting… well, tomorrow, so you might want to take your chances: http://www.torchlight2game.com/news/2012/05/17/beta-update-upcoming-weekend-stress-test/ )

    • PodX140 says:

      Bring back potions you say? That’s new. But no thanks for me, potions are gold, and gold can be gambled! And gambling leads to… Loss :( BUT! Occasional uniques and great loot! So, if I sell enough potions, that extra gold might be enough to get a unique, thereby making the potions pointless!

      Is what I tell myself. In reality, my digital OCD prevents me from using any healing items. EVER. Case in point: risen 2? never used a single provision or drink, nothing. Also an issue: never sold anything either, worrying that provisions would feed crew or something.

      But, at least it does allow me to absolutely power through games when they don’t anticipate the player being as insane as me. Another example: Dead space 2: managed to beat the game essentially using the grav mod only, sold all my ammo, everything. Managed to get every upgrade.

      • wu wei says:

        Path of Exile replaces potions with equippable flasks which fill as you kill things. Like you, I’d always save and sell potions, but these actually encourages me to use them, as there’s no point in not doing so. Flasks are first order items of equipment, come in all rarities, and can hold enchantments. It’s a neat twist on the idea.

        • PodX140 says:

          This comment alone has just flung PoE into my radar. Thank you!

      • Gnoupi says:

        Bring back potions, or scrolls, by the way.

        I see your point with potions, and in general with consumables. In most games I have to force myself to actually use a consumable, because it’s something which is potentially depleted. And even when I use, I try to optimize them.

        Case in point, I played DeathSpank recently. The game throws food at you (regen over time when not fighting) in almost every breakable object. And these items change with time, you drop better ones. But yet, I cannot use the newer ones. I have to finish the low ones before, by fear of wasting the “big ones”. It actually leads to stupid situations in which I actually “live” on a food, for which the successor is already not dropped anymore, because there is a new one already. And that’s stupid because the amount of dropped food, and money to buy more, is ludicrous anyway.

        Now imagine my pain when playing a game from the STALKER series, where items are actually rare.

  12. Premium User Badge

    The Sombrero Kid says:

    Agreed

  13. Terragot says:

    Thank you for having the clear sight to judge this non biasedly John.

    When I play this I keep finding new complaints that just don’t make sense, the most recent: GUI pop ups all over the god damn place. I try reading something or stat comparing when bam some quest shit pops up or audio book or dialogue or, god forbid, I hover my mouse over something and GUI starts raining from the heavens.

    My bro gifted me a free starter edition. “we’ll give it a go and see if I want to buy it.” We said. “we’ll try it together.” We said.

    “HELL BE NO” Said Blizzard. You may not play with the person who gifted you this code.

    There’s just so much obtrusive shit in this game that it feels like it’s there to hide a shallow experience. Tetris inventory is gone, my monk refuses to use any weapons and just out right punches shit (save on animations?). Potion, identify scroll and town portal scroll strategy has been completely removed. and all items look the same!

    I do love the enemy animations, there gorgeous. But I can’t help thinking Blizzard should have made an adventure game out of this with all the damn cutscene, dialogue and quests they forced into it.

    And Is it just the starter edition or has procedural generation disappeared? I’ve played it four times now and it’s been the exact same run, same towns and same enemies.

    • Gnoupi says:

      You can’t play with the person who gave you a guest pass? What do you mean exactly, I’m curious about it.

      About map, only dungeons are generated, the rest is static, besides the location of micro-dungeons.

      • Terragot says:

        It’s locked to other guest past players only. This I can understand, as they don’t want to give away too much of their hard work for free, but I’m sure they could have implemented a friend filter for the person who gifted you. Couldn’t play with a friend so I didn’t get the ‘true’ experience and as a result don’t feel compelled to buy it.

        • Gnoupi says:

          In fact it makes sense, in a way, if you think of it like a MMO, I guess, because of the auction house.

          But simply allowing new players to play with others, but preventing any gear or money exchange would have been a good solution (yes, I’m aware that it would require to prevent people from seeing what others are dropping intentionally, but that doesn’t seem too much of a problem).

        • Premium User Badge

          chubb says:

          So the only way to play with my Wife on a guest pass, is to set up a starter edition with another guest pass, even though I already have a full game account!?

      • Enzo says:

        No, the outdoor areas are also randomly generated. They have the same shape, but stuff that spawns on them is completely random.

    • SketchyGalore says:

      The starter edition stops at the Skeleton King, right? That was a really boneheaded idea on Blizzard’s part. Prior to the skeleton king, the story does nothing particularly interesting, the game is never challenging, the skills don’t show their true intricacy or power, the item drops are limited and uninteresting for the most part, the level design is more bland than anywhere else in the game, and the enemies have the least interesting characteristics.

      And yet, the very second after you beat the skeleton king, the story gets less cliche, the level design gets cooler, you start fleshing out your skill set, and the enemies become MUCH more unique. It seems to be a carried-forward WoW mentality on their part. “Let’s put the least interesting part at the BEGINNING of the game so no one will want to play anything but the end game”. Unfortunately, it’s that dreary beginning that they decided to market as a demo.

      • mouton says:

        Story gets less cliche? Meaning, it gets horribly cliche instead of infuriatingly cliche?

  14. BobJustBob says:

    Losing control of your character was fun in Agent USA.

    • Emeraude says:

      Or in Vampire Bloodlines. Frenzy in a crowd while attempting to escape a police raid could be quite satisfying, I find.

  15. postwar says:

    I heart you, John Walker.

  16. MeestaNob says:

    Never mind, answered above.

  17. Enzo says:

    Is RPS seriously saying that Diablo 3 is a mediocre hack and slash game? Ridiculous.

    • saturnine says:

      Shocking isn’t it, these things called opinions. Welcome. The shock you’re experiencing is that of hearing an opinion other than your own, and it should wear off given time if you stick around.

    • John Walker says:

      “It’s a very decent game.”

      • Enzo says:

        Rest of your post definitely doesn’t sound like it’s a “very decent game”. End of the review is very negative. Actually almost the whole post focuses on the elements of Diablo 3 that you didn’t like.

        edit: And like I said earlier – if you don’t like Diablo 3 and you think that it doesn’t add anything new then you’re going to hate Torchlight 2. D3 does almost everything better than T2 (I’m comparing beta versions of both games).

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          Mungrul says:

          So what if it does Enzo? John’s entitled to his opinion, and if that doesn’t sit well with yours, well that’s a shame, but it’s just the way things are.

          • Enzo says:

            It just seems like RPS is senselessly hating on Diablo 3 only because of DRM-Always-online thing – which seriously doesn’t matter to me. Whenever there’s a post on RPS about Diablo 3 there always has to be a snarky comment about the DRM. Seriously, it’s not that important.

          • Jim Rossignol says:

            I couldn’t play the game at all for the first two nights it was up. Still getting lag. Seems pretty significant to me.

          • Gnoupi says:

            Well, apparently whenever they try to play the game, they get unpleasantly reminded of the always-on DRM. That might be the reason why it comes up in most articles.

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            Mungrul says:

            I see no “Senselessly hating”, and that term strikes me as rather needless and passive-aggressive hyperbole in a misguided attempt to discredit John to be honest.

          • Toberoth says:

            Just because it doesn’t matter to you Enzo, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t matter to others. Try to understand that your experience with the game is only one in a wide spectrum, and if RPS writers are struggling to enjoy the game for whatever reasons, then of course they should warn their readers that they might run into the same problems.

          • Synesthesia says:

            also, seems a bit redundant, but you might want to read this, enzo.

            http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2012/05/17/opinion-why-the-problem-with-diablo-isnt-diablo/

          • Fincher says:

            I’m with Enzo on this one, RPS will be receiving some very harsh words from Blizzard’s CEOs soon. IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE AN 8+ REVIEW DAMNIT

        • Milky1985 says:

          I also don’t see the word review in the ARTICLE heading.

          Two different things

      • Nick says:

        phh, like anyone reads the words John.

    • Premium User Badge

      lhzr says:

      Nah, I think the shock comes from reading stuff like this on RPS instead of a random gamer’s blog.
      All the Diablo-is-shallow complaints are true, but they’re equally true for every hacknslash ever.

      The big revelation that the author had thanks to the lag and crappy drm is something that was pretty obvious since Diablo 1 and something that hasn’t changed since then. This is how the genre is.

      As far as I can see, what Enzo is asking is what’s the point of the article and why did the author play D3 if he doesn’t enjoy the genre, which are both valid questions.

      • Gnoupi says:

        The genre has changed, though, in other games than D3. It has evolved a bit.

        • Snakejuice says:

          Give us an example!

          • Gnoupi says:

            Hm, let’s see. Take the pet, for example, which is in Torchlight 2 (and previously Torchlight 1, and Fate).

            It serves as a mule, and also as an assistant which can defend you, and use spells (my feret currently summons zombies or skeletons, for example). But this we had already earlier, in a way (Dungeon siege for the mule, and mercenaries for the rest).

            The main thing about the pet is that you can dump your junk items to him, and send him to sell them to town. You can even give him a shopping list so that he brings back potions, scrolls to you. I like this idea, because it’s simple, but coming from observing the main things you do during a Diablo game:

            1. Kill monsters
            2. Get loot
            3. Check what is good and equip it, keep the rest to sell in town
            4. Go to 1 until inventory is full, then go to 5
            5. Open a town portal, teleport to town
            6. Run to the merchant in the town
            7. Shift click your junk items
            8. Run back to the portal and go to 1.

            1, 2, 3 are what makes the game fun, the rest is usually a tedious loss of time. So the pet is a part of the solution.

            Some games go further, mostly because they don’t have to care about coherence, like Deathspank. In there, you walk with a grinder in your inventory, and can just change your unwanted items to gold.

          • Premium User Badge

            lhzr says:

            Yes, the pet is very nice, but you can’t say D3 didn’t bring anything new, when they changed the whole leveling/skills part (much improved compared to ye olde skill tree, imo).

            Also this doesn’t change the fact that this whole article reads like someone saying I don’t like flight simulators because they’re too complicated, and then goes to download and play the latest flight sim, only to go online and whine about how complicated it is, while also presenting said opinion as some sort of revelation.

        • mouton says:

          The way I see it, Diablo does keep its genre hostage and thus it has hardly evolved at all. Consequently, I don’t find hack n slashes to be much or long-lasting fun.

          There is much bigger contrast with another rehashed game from the nineties, Starcraft 2. It follows the same way Diablo 3 does – polishing an ancient formula. But, it feels much more jarring, as the RTSes in general have progressed far beyond the initial formula.

          • pkt-zer0 says:

            I don’t think any other game has done SC-style RTS better than SC2, actually. Care to give a few examples?

          • Lemming says:

            He’s saying the genre has moved on, and he’s right. Dawn of War 1 was the last standard base-building RTS in the old style, and even that IMO is better than SC2. But rather than list a whole bunch that have bettered the genre since SC’s days I’ll just throw out the big one: Company of Heroes.

          • mouton says:

            @pkt-zer0

            The point is, the RTS genre didn’t try to mindlessly copy SC, as opposed to ARPG sub-genre constantly cloning Diablo. RTS has evolved and branched in different directions. Off the top of my head, an incomplete and barely accurate list:

            Supreme Commander, Total Annihilation (gigantic improvements in UI, micromanagement, zoom)
            Dawn of War, Company of Heroes (control points, cover mechanics, cones of fire, squad-based combat, many more)
            Homeworld (fully three dimentional space RTS)
            Ground Control (no-base RTS)
            Metal Fatigue (different layers of combat – sky, ground, underground – cutting off enemy robot body parts and attaching to your own)
            Battlezone (RTS/simulator merge)
            Stronghold (complex siege mechanics)
            Majesty (indirect unit control)

            And then comes Starcraft 2 and feels like having a shiny landline telephone in the age when everyone else has smartphones.

          • pkt-zer0 says:

            @Lemming: “He’s saying the genre has moved on, and he’s right.”
            I suppose I can see that. But is that a good thing? People have similarly argued that turn-based RPGs have moved on, and became first-persion action games. I think that’s a load of bollocks, personally. Why would “old” mechanics not be worth exploring, if they’re still good?

            @mouton: You listed different games, not better ones, and that was the point. If you were looking for a game that advanced Starcraft’s formula, you didn’t have that many choices.

            “And then comes Starcraft 2 and feels like having a shiny landline telephone in the age when everyone else has smartphones.”
            See, this is the part I don’t get, the “old = bad”, “novelty over quality” thing. Ideas don’t have an expiration date. How do you get to the point where you say that every RTS would be improved by squads, no bases, cover systems, control points, multiple terrain layers, etc.?

  18. Jimbo says:

    So, that Diablo, huh.

    I No Oceaned GamersGate in the face and have been playing Game of Thrones instead. It’s ok – far from the disaster I was expecting. It reminds me a lot of The Witcher 1, except the good bits aren’t quite as good and the bad bits are every bit as bad.

  19. brat-sampson says:

    THE FUTURE (A prediction):
    Gamers/consumers will come to the resounding conclusion that Always On DRM etc etc is absolutely abhorrent and should be excluded from all future titles. Opinion pieces across the net will enforce this.

    Companies/publishers will look purely at the sales figures for D3, which will be astronomical, if they aren’t already, and come to the resounding conclusion that it’s a fantastic idea that should immediately be brought into as many Major Titles as possible.

    • Jimbo says:

      And when their own sales figures don’t support that conclusion? Continue to blame piracy?

      • Premium User Badge

        jrodman says:

        This reminds me of the thing about tying buttered bread to the backside of a cat.

  20. Raziel_Alex says:

    I’ve had the perfect solution for all this: not playing or giving a damn about this game. Well, I generally don’t care about HnS games, so… Anyway, I can’t wait until all this agitation goes away so we can get on with worthwhile stuff like Dishonored, Hitman and Bioshock.

    • mr.ioes says:

      This game is an unfinished mess and after SC2 the worst video game purchase (in terms of fun for the buck) I did. What a coincidence both are from the same company.

      I should have known better after some official from Blizzard said “we cut the singleplayer to 20 missions only because people said it was too long”.

      Those are the fruits of Activision and Blizzard fusion.

      But let’s celebrate. More people will throw their shiny paper with “$” on it towards Titan Quest 2 uhm… Grim Dawn and Torchlight 2. And potentially Sacred 3!

  21. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    Aw man. Now you popped my hype bubble. Until now, everything I’ve read was very positive, apart from the connection issues. Unfortunately, you and your colleagues tend to know what you are talking about, so there is probably something to it.

    I still want to play it, of course. But now that feeling of “This is going to be awesome!” is gone, and was replaced by a feeling of “It’s probably fun”.

    Oh well. Maybe the connection problems won’t be that bad over the weekend (yeah, yeah, I know) and bad writing has never been a problem for me, in an ARPG. Maybe it’ll still be awesome.

    • Premium User Badge

      Crimsoneer says:

      This. It’s bland in singleplayer, but still fun. It’s also AWESOME with a friend.

      • sneetch says:

        Erm… my friends and I played in the last beta weekend and we found it rather boring and far too similar to the first two. After a few hours where we were starting and restarting (because of network connection problems and the game resetting but also because we wanted to try out a few characters) we just kinda… stopped and went to play something else. It’s slick it’s very polished and you should love it but somehow it just didn’t grab us, the network issues might have something to do with dulling the enthusiasm but it just felt too familiar.

        One of the lads went back on the Sunday and told us that we’d stopped just before the end of the beta but it didn’t call the others back, we didn’t feel like we were missing out on anything. My point is co-op alone isn’t enough (and I love co-op) but YMMV.

  22. starclaws says:

    No skill path choice. No stat choice. No runes, no charms. Sooo many characters are the same as every other character… only customization you have is dyes.

  23. caddyB says:

    For all it’s shortcomings, it is a good game. And it really starts to pick up at nightmare, when you have to be careful around rares/uniques/champions. It can only get harder ( read:fun ) in hell and inferno.

  24. Saintsavier says:

    ‘constantly taking away your controls, which has been fun in this many games: none.’

    This in so many ways turns into that in one way or another.

  25. Neurotic says:

    Since I really missed out on the Diablos the first time around, I have no history with them, and so no great love. However, having played Torchlight to absolute death, and being a proud Path of Exile owner, and having also pre-ordered my Torchlight II from PWE (granting me Neverwinter Beta access to boot), I can honestly say I don’t give a fuck about Diablo III. Go me.

  26. mr.ioes says:

    Let’s celebrate. More people will throw their shiny paper with “$” on it towards Titan Quest 2 uhm… Grim Dawn and Torchlight 2. And potentially Sacred 3!

    Don’t get me wrong: This game is fun, somewhat. But if I had to choose between Grim Dawn, Torchlight 2 and Diablo 3, Tristram wouldn’t be saved.

  27. Kleppy says:

    God I so wish this game wasn’t a crazy 60 euro moneys. It looks good, and Diablo 2 owned my life for like a year back in 2000, but I was much younger back then and had way more time, and way less games.

    Knowing Blizzard, the game isn’t going to get any cheaper so I probably will get it sooner or later, more because of some weird sense of continuity than an actual desire to give them my money.

    As a side note, you people who are so anti-DRM. As of right now, Diablo 3 remains uncracked. Ask yourself how many people who would have otherwise just downloaded it went ahead and bought it. Way I see it, it’s a multiplayer focused game and the DRM works just fine.

    • Lord of the Fungi says:

      “How many people who would pirate it, did not (yet)” is a pointless metric. It doesn’t mean anything how many times your game has not been pirated, that’s virtual sales. There is hardly a proof that preventing piracy helps actual sales, as the problem is in both in mentality and wealth of the players. When implementing draconian DRM (as in D3) the proper question should be “is the number of people that bought it instead of just pirating it higher than the number of people who would bought it, but did not (because of dislike of DRM or the news about login issues)”. We’ll probably never know the answer to that, unfortunately, as it is in corporate interest to condition people to accept DRM and other crappy ideas.

    • Eich says:

      You do realise that Diablo 2s Multiplayer remains uncracked as well? Ongoing sales are ensured by a fun multiplayer. There is no downside to offline Singleplayer.

    • Eversor says:

      Yes, D3 certainly is uncracked. But that’s only because to crack it, you have to emulate the server software like you would for an MMO. To this day, I don’t know all that many Guild Wars private servers, all because the game was coded in a way that all game mechanics were handled server side and the client only had the assets.

      Sure, you can claim it’s the success of the DRM. Yes, the game still stays tightly locked to all evil pirates. Was it worth the cost of Error 37 popping out first when writing “err” in Google Search? Was it worth fucking over all those people who took days off work in hopes to play the long anticipated game? Is it still worth the myriad of issues people are having? I don’t think so. Like Ubi DRM, all Blizzard has done is punished their own loyal paying customers. Pirates remain with no fucks given.

      • PodX140 says:

        See, unlike consumers, pirates have literally no right to be entitled to anything. They did not pay, therefore, they don’t expect it. So they’re fine either way. But if it does get cracked, well, that’s a nice treat, but they aren’t going to scream at cracking teams for not cracking games or go out and buy a copy.

        So yeah, either way, no fucks given from them.

      • Kleppy says:

        So you had an error message for the first 5 hours. Boo-freakin-hoo. First of all, the internet echo chamber makes it seem like it was impossible to play at all, when I know for a fact that people managed to get in and play just fine. Also, multiplayer launches tend to be rocky, but it comes with the territory. If you were so anti-DRM you shouldn’t have bought the game anyway, let alone run out in the middle of the night to the store to make sure you got in first.

        • Eversor says:

          If you pay 60 funnymoney for a triple A title, you deserve a good service. Forgetting the fact that Diablo has always been a primarily single-player series that never had encountered such launch issues and ignoring all the yadda yadda of always on DRM shenanigans, Blizzard isn’t new kid on the block in this. They run the biggest MMO ever for eight years now, they launched Starcraft 2 not that long ago, there is absolutely no excuse whatsoever to have such a fallout, especially after having a freaking stress test beforehand (which, incidentally, was also a horrible, nigh-unplayable mess).

          Internet very well may be an echo chamber, but anecdotal evidence that claims everything is fine doesn’t outweigh it. For example, I had zero problems with Fallout New Vegas, guess I was lucky, as plenty of people were having major issues. So what, Fallout New Vegas is a flawless gem? No, not really. In such cases, it is rather self-centered and arrogant to ignore legitimate complaints just because they didn’t happen to you.

    • Premium User Badge

      jrodman says:

      If it had been cracked I would have downloaded the cracked version and tried it out, comfortable in the idea that my play can’t be turned off by a stupid corporation being jerks. That might have led to me enjoying it enough to pay for it.

      As it is, I am not going to pay for it.

  28. MordeaniisChaos says:

    Surprise, games get way less interesting after the first time you go through them, ten fold when you just die and lose a bunch of progress and redo it immediately. Kinda sounds like you’re blaming the game bits for something that is universally pretty much the case. I bet if you accidentally skipped back 20 minutes in a movie on OnDemand, the next 20 minutes of you watching the movie would be a lot less enjoyable than the first time you saw that content.
    I’m not claiming that the game is super deep or anything, just that it’s fun as hell and calling it hollow is silly.
    Also, fuck the DRM. I mean cops.

  29. Spinks says:

    The story and the companions genuinely do improve through the game, they’re still not very likeable but there is a bit more to them. And by the time you’re in Act 3 or 4 and [removed a spoiler], the story picks up a lot too. I still like that my barbarian is a chunky looking chick who looks as though she’s really capable of swinging that axe.

    What is harder to handle is that the auction house breaks the crafting/ merchant side of the game. You can go to the gold AH and buy an item which is pretty much perfectly itemised for you and it won’t be any more expensive than the random stuff the merchants are selling in game. (Dunno if you consider the AH to take you out of single player mode, I but it does highlight how pointless the in game stuff is.)

    It’s just odd to think that this will probably be the best selling PC game this year and it’s not that special.

    • Ysellian says:

      “It’s just odd to think that this will probably be the best selling PC game this year and it’s not that special.”

      That’s Blizzard for you. Wings of Liberty is nothing special either and it sold more than much better titles surrounding it. Many people (myself included) are expecting gold from Blizzard because of their track record, but most of the people who worked for Blizzard all those years ago have already gone. If it wasn’t for my disappointment in WoL, I would probably have gotten Diablo 3 as well.

      • mr.ioes says:

        I found the single player pretty impressive. They kept their word when they claimed each mission would be different in its mechanic.
        Then again, it didn’t feel worth the 44 bucks I paid for.

    • Premium User Badge

      Crimsoneer says:

      Spoilers…

    • Premium User Badge

      jrodman says:

      “What is harder to handle is that the auction house breaks the crafting/ merchant side of the game.”

      This kind of thing is why I prefer to play games without being able to even know that anyone else has ever played this game ever before.

      Okay not exactly, but I like to be able to not even think about it during play sessions.

  30. Oryon says:

    I’m playing Torchlight! Yay Torchlight! And Din’s Curse! Wooo!

    • PodX140 says:

      I’ve got to say, is din’s curse worth it? I played a bit of it (with a friends copy cough cough) and although it’s decently fun, it never really seems to properly pick up. I remember being really high level yet still not getting a single amulet or ring (one or the other, despite jewlers).

      And playing as a fire mage is just suicide, with the gas vents and all.

      Has it improved enough for a second look? Because if so, I may just get my own copy this time around if it impresses me further, it wasn’t missing much last time.

  31. woodsey says:

    ‘Oh, and if you’ve not had server issues, others have, and that doesn’t make server issues okay – kind of a crucial one to remember there.’

    Pucker up John, I’m going to kiss you. (Through the internet.)

  32. TheBigBookOfTerror says:

    When do I get to start feeling smug about pre-ordering Torchlight 2 this morning?

    Sorry, what’s that, only morons pre-order?

    Dammit.

  33. Captain Hijinx says:

    Thanks John, always appreciate your insight.

    Will be giving this a miss. Really looking forward to Torchlight 2 though!

  34. Dubbill says:

    Is this the official RPS verdict or is there a WIT yet to come?

  35. sfury says:

    Hallelujah!

  36. Tom Walker says:

    …this many games: none.
    I still kind of miss Digiworld.

  37. pkt-zer0 says:

    The game starts off with low difficulty, so try speedrunning those parts to make it more challenging. I don’t think the enemy variety is that terrible, either, it’s just that the initial parts are so easy that it doesn’t really matter what tactics you use.

    • PodX140 says:

      Call me insane, but I would never pass by XP or gold in an RPG, despite how pointless. I would hate myself and the game for the fodder, but I wouldn’t stop. Unless it’s my fault for selecting an easy difficulty, why bother putting in pointless enemies? Unless we’re talking enemies that I’ve managed to out-level or game the game so badly that they’re stunlocked or whatever, but that also makes me think that I’ve managed to get past the “hump” so to say and there isn’t any more to the game.

      Moral of the story? ALLOW DIFFICULTY OPTIONS FROM LEVEL 0.

  38. SketchyGalore says:

    Man, people just love nitpicking this game to death. I wonder what people would be saying if it wasn’t released by someone as big as Blizzard. I mean, the position of the inventory window? That’s what gets you?

    I really didn’t expect to see RPS on the bandwagon, and this is one of those few times that I’d have to flat-out disagree with them. The game is a blast. It never set out to redefine the aRPG genre as this article seems to suggest it should, but rather brought the feel of the game we all knew and loved into a more modern light. The fixed camera, for example, is absolutely brilliant. Some of the tricks they do with that are stunningly beautiful and I wouldn’t dare change it for any rotating camera. I also don’t see how people keep on calling the skill system a “simplification”. There are 150 active skills in the game, plus the rune changes and passives, equaling over 750 things to choose from, often with drastically different results. The only thing that’s simplified about that is that the player isn’t locked into blind decisions and can succeed at the game without heading to gamefaqs for builds.

    I will admit there are some problems with the balancing, particularly when it comes to the economy of the game, but I’d have a hard time believing that that won’t be ironed out in time. As for the connection issues, yes, that had to be one of the greater fumbles in game-launch history. But we’ve hammered that issue into the ground. That “you have been disconnected” image has popped up on RPS like five times in the past three days. Diablo 3 wasn’t the first game to have problems and dumb DRM decisions, and it most certainly won’t be the last. But it’s like people put so much stock into the quality of this game that they can’t help but tear it to shreds now that it’s shown some flaws.

    We get it, David, Goliath is a jerk. Calm down and have fun.

    • Toberoth says:

      You’re implying that they’re purposefully trying not to have fun with the game, and I really don’t think that’s the case.

      • SketchyGalore says:

        Not quite the point, no. You must admit there’s an unusually large cloud of negativity surrounding this game, though. I feel like people are getting caught up in those frustrations (the frustrations of dealing with the online lunacy, for example) INSTEAD of having fun; not purposefully avoiding it.

        Admittedly, I think the barrage of internet hatred is something that gets under my skin with this one and I’ve been avoiding it so I can focus on the fact that I, myself, am greatly enjoying the game. I think RPS just threw me a curveball declaring something with such depth “hollow”.

        • Toberoth says:

          I can understand why you’re annoyed with the negativity surrounding a game that you’re personally enjoying; no doubt reading about the flaws other people have seen in the game has made you start to see those flaws as well, to an extent. But there are clearly big problems that need to be highlighted for the benefit of people (like me) who aren’t sure whether they want to invest €50 in a game that they may or may not enjoy. My recommendation would be: if you’re having fun with the game on your own terms, then that’s great. If you don’t want your experience to be spoiled by what you perceive as undue negativity, then maybe steer clear of forums, gaming blogs etc for a while.

          • PodX140 says:

            What Tob said. This cloud of negativity is helping people who haven’t purchased the game yet. A) It tells them about what flaws to expect, so as to not get blindsided, and B) It raises enough stink to maybe get patched in the future.

            But you also have to note that this game was HYPED. People are still in that mindset at release, and the best way to remove that and not get people with overly high expectations getting the game is to highlight the negatives. I find in my experience that it levels out the hype and I can make a decision rationally, looking at both the negative and positive, rather than thinking “BLIZZARD D3 GOGOGOGO” The more hype, the more negativity necessary to get people thinking.

            At least, that’s my view, and I’m thankful for it TBH.

    • Mordsung says:

      Just enjoy it man.

      See, most of us are perfectly willing to like music no one else likes, or to like movies that no one else likes, but in the gaming industry many of us feel this internal reason to justify our enjoyment of a game.

      It’s stupid.

      The input goes into our eyes and ears and our brain goes “pleasurable!” and releases the chemical goodness.

      Trying to justify one’s like or dislike of a game is pointless.

      Either the brain releases the good stuff, or it don’t, and anyone judging a game on anything beyond that factor is effectively as bad as a “hipster”.

    • Viserion says:

      I agree, I am no hardcore gamer in the sense that I rarely master games. I do buy a lot of them though. As a fan of D2, D3 is excellent (as was evident from playing the beta extensively), I am having a blast. Neither Titans Quest, nor Torchlight I (man, I hated that one) captured what made D2 so successful. So for me D3 is the first great game of the genre after…yeah,D2.
      On the other hand I remember a lot of reviews back in the day when D2 was released, similar to this one, (criticizing things that later became the norm, like the save system). They never stopped D2 from becoming an extremely successful game with a huge following. Same thing will happen with this one.

    • Lord of the Fungi says:

      You are joking, right? If it wasn’t Blizzard product, the game would be torn to shreds on most sites. The big portals have no balls to really criticize products for big corporations, and the fan response is quite calm, too. If any other corporation except for Blizzard (or Valve) tried to make such a crappy DRM scheme, and the mess it up so much, there would be stakes burning already.

    • flibble says:

      I have to agree. Although the DRM is a huge issue (and RPS is right in highlighting this until something is done), a lot of the flaws highlighted by this article seem like nitpicking. The difficulty issue is fairly annoying, I’ll admit (especially for those that don’t intend to replay nightmare and hell modes), and there should probably be a choice between normal/hard for the first run-through. However, complaining about the skill system seems bizarre. It offers you more choice, simple as. In Diablo II most characters used 3-4 skills, with many skill points being pumped into these to increase their power. DIII gives you more skills in total, combined with the numerous runes that drastically change how these skills are used. Basically most of the complaints in the article sound more like gripes with the genre as a whole, and I feel that the (hideous) DRM is affecting how people are judging the actual gameplay.

    • Lagwolf says:

      So not being able to connect to a game you paid for is nitpicking? Especially one in which you are playing solo not multiplayer?

  39. Sinkytown says:

    I agree that, at least historically, Diablo and World of Warcraft are fundamentally hollow games

    And you’re right that Blizzard have shot themselves in the foot by making the difficulty curve so slight. I imagine anyone with a handle on the mechanics will soon desire more resistance.

    That said, even from the beta it’s apparent that the encounters and mechanics are more tactically interesting than they ever were in Diablo II. There’s meaningful interplay between enemy behaviour, position, and the player’s abilities, which is more than can be said for the first act of Diablo II, which exclusively involved clicking on muppets to make them fall over. I’d say that this greater focus on the moment to moment Killing Of Things (i.e. core gameplay – those who say Diablo is about loot: it isn’t) is what Diablo III brings, and it’s sad that Blizzard have undermined the hard work of their level designers by not absolutely requiring that the player take advantage of a pretty interesting set of mechanics!

  40. Drake Sigar says:

    I remain utterly baffled as to why people love this. Call of Duty I can understand, hell even Twilight I understand, but Diablo 3? It adds nothing, and it appeals to an audience who should be most able to see that.

    • PodX140 says:

      It may not need to add something new. Hell, if someone said that there was a new kings bounty game, as large and well written as The Legend, new items and new skills and new troops, but added nothing new mechanically, I’d STILL buy it in a heartbeat.

      When you like a genre or series, you usually have to be quite blind to manage to get something you actually dislike. It’s the same reason why COD is so popular. Doesn’t matter if it’s the same old stuff, it’s new weapons, new unlocks, and new maps.

      • Drake Sigar says:

        I would buy a new King’s Bounty game too, but the comparison isn’t fair. Over the past ten years Diablo 2 has been copied to the point where it’s influence can be found in every facet of gaming all the way down to browser and Facebook games. We’ve played it in one form or another a hundred times over. Diablo 3 should have been aware of that and brought more to the table.

    • Mordsung says:

      The game’s visuals and sound enter the eyes and ears and the brain reacts by excreting chemicals that create the feeling of enjoyment and pleasure.

      You can’t understand it because your brain doesn’t feel that effect when these same stimuli enter your brain.

      Similarly, you likely enjoy things that do not produce this effect in my brain.

      Trying to pretend there is something more complicated in the factor of “taste” is pointless.

  41. undu says:

    [...] and restarting yet again put me back at the last checkpoint, one dungeon and an entire map ago. And nothing – absolutely nothing – interesting lies between me and where I’ve reached twice before.

    [...] I love how loot bursts out of chests. It’s so rewarding.[...]

    Tasks that are not particularly fun and are pretty repetitive but get rewarded by an occasional goodie? sounds like a Skinner box to me, in fact the illusion that the skinner box aka carrot on a stick is fun is what you’re calling “The Spell”. Watch these videos to know about this kind of game design: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RIqQOFXndJ4 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWtvrPTbQ_c
    Or take a read at this: Behavioral Game Design

    Following the terminology of the article there are many reinforcers of the behaviour wanted (keep playing): the bonus for destroying a lot of scenery at a time (like you said) or the massive killing of enemies and the ridiculous level-ups, that blast off enemies and corpses to make it feel more rewarding.

    And why would Blizzard want you to keep playing? This isn’t WoW, where they are very interested in that because of the monthly subscription. Well, the only think I can thing of is that the player is more likely to use the RMAH.

    Sad thing about this is that they focus a lot in this part of the game and don’t polish other aspects of the game, like the first difficulty being boring because it’s too easy, or the skill menu that makes switching skills or swapping them unnecessarily difficult (and only by selecting an option in the game-play option menu) which is a massive step-down from Diablo 2; or the complete lack of visual hints of you hero’s field of vision (enemies just pop-up), which is a staple in the arpg genre and it’s usually done by lightning; or the lack of groans from enemies that you cannot see, something that adds a lot to the atmosphere of the game of being able to be in danger at any time.

    These things were in Diablo 2, why they got totally mishandled in Diablo 3 and got worse is beyond me, to me Diablo 3 looks more like an evolution of WoW than Diablo 2, including the MMO treatment, which is ridiculous.

  42. aircool says:

    Sadly, it doesn’t matter how good the good bits are if the ‘always online’. Whilst this might seem a strange point of view from someone who plays MMO’s, a DC in an MMO isn’t a hassle. You’re back into the game in seconds with nothing lost. Even in PvP and Raids having someone DC is only of trivial concern.

    However, Diablo III isn’t an MMO. It’s the sort of game I’d play on a laptop when away from home, or not in this case.

  43. CJ says:

    It looks like my decision to wait for Torchlight 2 might be the correct one.

    Local play. Lan play. Mod kit available shortly after launch.

    And half the price (through steam).

    • Malk_Content says:

      They’ve already given out character models so that people can start work on making new looking armour easily, how awesome is that? They even held a competition and got two armour sets officially added to the game, one of them I don’t like but the other gives of sexy Witch Hunter vibes.

  44. Turbobutts says:

    So why did they throw the visual direction of D and D2 out of the window anyway? Is there any benefit to making D3 look like birds eye WoW?

    • Toberoth says:

      Mass-market appeal.

    • Premium User Badge

      Surlywombat says:

      It’s pretty obvious its using the mechanics of the WoW engine behind the scenes. It’s got more polish but I’m pretty sure that if you took away enough layers you would find the same codebase. This is probably also why its always online.

    • Snakejuice says:

      The benefit is that it’s BEAUTIFUL! :)

    • Eversor says:

      In my eyes, D3 armor design more resembles a korean MMO than WoW.

  45. pilouuuu says:

    I’m not playing Diablo Always-On-Line. I’ll be waiting for Torchlight 2 and hopefully it doesn’t have a stupid DRM system.

  46. NormanTimbers says:

    I’m not a fan of the genre, so I mostly sit back and laugh.

    But I think this article misses its point. I don’t see any critique of the aforementioned diablo clones, or torchlight 2 etc., but only that of Diablo 3. Did they add something new? Its certainly an old tired genre. But this critique is clearly singling out one game.

    The issue is that Blizzard is swimming in money and still played it safe, when they easily could have taken huge risks on something new and exciting. But like it or not, Diablo 3, old and busted, is selling like hot cakes.

    Anyways, thanks for buying it guys. /bitterness

    • Malk_Content says:

      The other games aren’t out yet, and haven’t even ha a public beta (or mass press invites) for the RPS team to have a go out. They have no more information than anyone else has access to on those titles. Diablo III however is out in the wild, they are playing it and therefore have opinions on it. When T2 comes out there will be articles about it and they may or may not be as critical. I’m guessing they won’t be as critical because T2 is one third of the price of D3 (not to mention you get T1 with that as well.)

  47. Hoaxfish says:

    Grim Dawn has… camera rotation.

    I’ve never really understood the lack of camera rotation in 3D games, especially top-down, isometric, rts, etc, especially ones where objects can actively obscure your view. Even a basic 4-angle (90 degrees between eachcamera-position) something could be done. A lot of the resources are already designed to be viewed from any angle, the game can exert control for cutscenes, even the basic “grammar” of camera control are widely known, etc.

    Personally, Path of Exile hits the a lot of the right notes.

    Rather than take away development of skill (D3’s skill-system isn’t bad, but it seems like they’re missing enough skills to really give it some meat), it turns skills into lootable gems, and support gems for tweaking said skills.

    An inventory full of potions is replace by a customisable choice of looted flasks with varying magic properties like other equipment, with spamming limited by both equipment slots and that they only refill through killing (D3 kept potions, but added health orbs).

    The passive skill-web, just adds so many paths from where to where, that it feels like you’re investing in something (even with respeccing allowed).

    The currency system that actually has a functional usage by itself (identify, town portal, re-roll item stats, upgrade item stats, etc)

    Possibly the only real let down, for the whole genre, is my complete inability to click the target instead of the ground right next to them, running into melee with something I don’t want to.

    • groovychainsaw says:

      Interestingly (and this will go down like a lead balloon on a PC site) I found torchlight to be much more playable as a ranged character on a joypad. One stick to move, one to lock on/shoot. A ‘soft’ lock on let you sweep your fire across targets whilst running away. It probably made it easier, but definitely overcame the classic misclick problem of an ARPG (albeit by turning it into a twin-stick shooter!) and let you select targets in a smarter manner (than I normally do with a mouse – I’m sure there’s super-human players out there working out percentages and selecting who to click on next based on percentage chance of kills, rather than holding left mouse down until the original target until it is dead).

    • Malk_Content says:

      Torchlight and thus presumably T2 had the ability to force a click to mean attack and not move even if you miss click. Although I think this was needed as the hit-boxes on T1 felt especially fiddly.

    • Hematite says:

      Shift-clicking will force an attack rather than a move in most games – it’s surprisingly rarely known given how annoying it is to play an archer without using it.

      • Hoaxfish says:

        I use shift+click a lot, but it still feels like only a “make do” solution (like Mac’s control+click is more clunky than Window’s single right-click)

        Other game genres seem to have lucked into controls that make it “simple” to perform common actions without overlap. The closest “thing” in another genre would be “move+attack” in RTSes (where you move until attack range, rather than moving through opponents).

        It just seems like there could be a better solution, something like twin-stick, or wasd+mouse… but I’m not really sure.

        • Hematite says:

          I agree actually, it’s pretty clunky for something whole classes are based around. I hope I didn’t sound condescending when I mentioned it.

  48. Sian says:

    “I’m still bewildered as to how they could have taken so long to make a game that adds so little.”

    That’s how I felt with Starcraft 2, but then I remembered that that was what the fans had wanted.

  49. bonjovi says:

    If it works, why change it?