Wait, Since When Did Diablo Need An Endgame?

By Nathan Grayson on July 6th, 2012 at 4:00 pm.

I actually had my eyes replaced with rubies because I ran out of space for ALL OF THE LOOT.

Man cannot live on loot alone. Well, I’ve never actually tried, but I assume so, anyway. Blizzard, however, speaks with the experience of a developer that’s feasted on gold coins (that weren’t made of chocolate) and wiped the sweat from its brow with gleaming, mythril-infused hauberks (that, regrettably, also weren’t made of chocolate). It knows loot, is what I’m saying. So when it says that forcing Diablo III players to subsist solely on the stuff just isn’t doing the job, you know it means it. Once upon a time, though, this wasn’t even a concern. People hacked, slashed, and looted until they got their fill, and then they moved on to a different game. So why are players suddenly demanding that an entirely different sort of experience be duct-taped onto the end of Diablo’s?

The hack ‘n’ slash titan explained its plans in a forum post:

“We recognize that the item hunt is just not enough for a long-term sustainable end-game. There are still tons of people playing every day and week, and playing a lot, but eventually they’re going to run out of stuff to do (if they haven’t already). Killing enemies and finding items is a lot of fun, and we think we have a lot of the systems surrounding that right, or at least on the right path with a few corrections and tweaks. But honestly Diablo is not WoW. We aren’t going to be able to pump out tons of new systems and content every couple months. There needs to be something else that keeps people engaged, and we know it’s not there right now.”

“We’re working toward 1.0.4, which we’re really trying to pack with as many fixes and changes we can to help you guys out, and we’re of course working on 1.1 with PvP arenas. I think both those patches will do a lot to give people things to do, and get them excited about playing, but they’re not going to be a real end-game solution, at least not what we would expect out of a proper end-game. We have some ideas for progression systems, but honestly it’s a huge feature if we want to try to do it right, and not something we could envision being possible until well after 1.1 which it itself still a ways out.”

It’s a bit weird, though. For one, Diablo’s main claim to fame is the singular purity of its experience. Kill stuff, acquire loot, repeat. The pitch-perfect rhythm of that simple formula is, in large part, why people love it so much. Second, when I initially read Blizzard’s comment, I thought to myself “Well duh, Diablo lacks an endgame. It’s not an MMO. It actually has an ending.” But honestly, between the auction house, constant connection requirement, and now this, it’s quite obvious that Blizzard desperately wants it to be one.

And that’s kind of a shame, because, even if a lot of players don’t feel the same way, they seem to be tapping their watches impatiently and expecting it. This response from Blizzard, after all, arose from a thread full of player complaints about the fact that Diablo’s grind eventually grinds to a halt. I’m not even sure if they know exactly what they want, either. They just see a void where MMOs tell them some infinitely repeatable activity that’ll keep them occupied for another 400 hours should be, so they bang down Blizzard’s doors asking for one. So then, the implicit message? Leave things open. Make your game last until the sun gives out and the world explodes. Out with endings, in with endgames.

Moreover, endgames have always been something of a confusing proposition to me. MMOs have told players that they’re supposed to spend the entire game doing one thing (leveling, questing, experiencing a story) so that they can reach the end and do something else entirely (raid the same places over and over, PVP in battlegrounds, farm tedious daily quests, etc). But still, it’s a bit strange, isn’t it? Nowadays, we play games and get angry when – at the end – they don’t morph into completely different (and, depending on who you talk to, lesser) experiences.

So really, where does this leave us as players? Are we so unwilling to wait for another helping of “real,” probably expansion-based content that we’re willing to wolf whatever watered-down-but-long-lasting activities developers serve up? Do we hate the idea of moving onto a different game that badly? Is this endless content churn healthy for anyone – player or developer? And how much are MMO-style business models hurting game design? For the sake of their servers, these games need to keep a lifeline to your wallet, so delivering the most enjoyable experiences possible quickly and efficiently is no longer in their best interest.

Even so, this doesn’t have to be all-bad. Diablo’s “plight” could even be a solution to the problem of endgames in disguise. The Diablo team is, after all, actually incapable of producing a traditional MMO-style endgame. As Blizzard admitted, it lacks WoW’s granite-like content producing muscles. And hey, if I never do another raid or queue up for another PVP battleground again, skipping while humming an upbeat showtune will become my main mode of transportation for the rest of my life. So maybe this will force Blizzard to think of legitimately interesting alternatives. Maybe it’ll finally pioneer something again – instead of just polishing things to the point of sun-blinding perfection. I don’t know. But I can hope, right?

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158 Comments »

  1. deadly.by.design says:

    D3 needed an endgame once it was marketed at the MMO crowd, because it’s what they want mmore of.

    Call me an odd duck, but I’m the kind of guy who reinstalled D2 to play through it every year or two, rather than grinding out max characters, doing runs, getting top-tier loot, etc. So, a Diablo endgame has absolutely no appeal to me.

    • ScubaMonster says:

      Yeah I’m not even sure how this game should be marketed in the mmo category. I’ve heard several people call it an mmo and I have no idea why. How in any shape or form is this game an mmo? Just because it has a constant connection and an auction house in no way makes it a massively multiplayer game in a persistent world, which defines an mmo.

      The problem is Blizzard’s gigantic WoW audience who hopped on board Diablo 3 then expect the same sort of content. I’m wondering how many of these people even played Diablo 2. I also wonder just how many people REALLY want an end game. The forums are always full of squeaky wheels, WoW included. They usually are actually in the minority. Most people who enjoy the game are playing it, not wasting their time posting.

      That being said, Diablo 2 was clearly the superior game.

      • Vorphalack says:

        D3 has quite a lot in common with WoW in terms of its number progression. There is a very linear correlation between player power and item level in D3 that wasn’t as strict in D2. It’s a system that leads players towards expecting a plateau on which to grind items, conveniently located at the end of the game.

        The strange thing is that is arguably already there. What I think is happening is the instant reward mentality isn’t being sated by very low item drop rates. To provide an endgame for a player base that expects a regular stream of rewards vs time investment, Blizzard need to break the mold a bit and provide what MMOs supposedly champion; regular content patches.

        Weather or not they manage to provide regular updates in a convincing manner remains to be seen. I can see one potential pit fall though. If regular updates obsolete the previous patches loot table, it will impact the sale value of item trading. People might be more reserved about paying real currency for anything that could be worthless in a few months.

        • ScubaMonster says:

          Yeah that is the only possible “end game” I can see them making… just constantly adding new content. I mean really, what else could there be if item drops isn’t considered enough? And making items obsolete will be like WoW, making the lower level content basically worthless, and beefing up stats to ridiculous proportions.

          I just hope they don’t take the end game in a route similar to WoW in which only the most dedicated ever really get to experience it, just like raiding. Since the game isn’t based on the holy trinity of mmo’s though, that doesn’t seem as likely.

          • Brun says:

            “Only the most dedicated get to experience it.”

            Really? That might have been true in Vanilla and to a lesser extent in Burning Crusade, but since Wrath raiding has become accessible to pretty much everyone, and since Raid Finder went in it takes almost no effort to at least see the content.

          • Namey says:

            Level 60+ gear already is very close to almost completely invalidating all the gearing you do between levels 1-59, and higher difficulty crafting components definitely make the lower levels ones useless as well. So basically the core experience of D3 already has gear expiration via overlevelling it, especially since how aggressive the numbers ramp is at 61-63 gear when compared to everything else.

      • Hypernetic says:

        The problem has nothing to do with “the WoW crowd”. It has everything to do with inferno. Due to inferno’s tuning there is really only one or two viable builds for each class, this severely impacts the fun of farming loot. The items themselves are boring and lack any kind of real depth. They all boil down to “Does it increase my effective health and DPS? Yes? It’s an upgrade. No? Vendor/AH it.” The constant nerfs and tweaking the game in such a way that makes it so you can only play the game in one way (i.e. farming elites) greatly contributes to the problem as well.

        Beyond that because of the AH and lack of a game browser there is almost no community whatsoever. There are no trade games or “noob games” where you help people kill bosses. There is nothing. The bulk of the game consists of simply running the same small section and then resetting the game over and over trying to find a piece of loot that doesn’t suck major ass to put up on the AH.

        • Edradour says:

          “The problem has nothing to do with “the WoW crowd”.”

          You may be right but the article is asking the question “So why are players suddenly demanding that an entirely different sort of experience be duct-taped onto the end of Diablo’s?”

          Well obviously its the 2million wow players from the year pass deal who demand it…

          • Hypernetic says:

            The article is asking an incorrect question. People aren’t demanding that at all. People simply want what already exists to be better.

          • Kablooie says:

            Yes, exactly. The article misses the point of Blizzard’s post entirely. Diablo3 players could care less about an ending – what we want is more *content*.

    • x1501 says:

      Exactly. Diablo III knew it needed endgame content from the moment it decided to take the MMO route. Every other MMO needs it. Why shouldn’t Diablo III?

      • fish99 says:

        ..because it’s not an MMO.

        • x1501 says:

          You’re missing my point. It strives to be one.

          • HothMonster says:

            Shy of the DRM it seems to strive to be diablo 3

          • x1501 says:

            Shy of the DRM, centralized processing, auction house, PvP Arenas, MMO-like balancing and loot drop rates, server-side character and save storage, draconian anti-cheat measures, the below quote by a former dev, and probably several other things I forgot to mention, it absolutely does.

            “When I was working at Blizzard a million years ago we were working on Diablo 3 and it was an MMO. We were going to do the Diablo version of World of Warcraft.”
            –Max Schaefer, Lead Designer of Diablo II

          • fish99 says:

            But is is by no means ‘massively’ multiplayer which is the defining feature of an MMO. 4 player co-op != massively multiplayer.

            Also quoting Max Schaefer is rather pointless because he left Blizzard a long long time ago (9 years!), and the Diablo 3 project has been completely reborn inside Blizzard at least once since then (google for screenshots of the other incarnation of Diablo 3). Blizzard North left en masse.

            And more importantly, in no way could you describe Diablo 3 as Wow in the Diablo universe, the game isn’t structured like an MMO at all. It has 10 hours of content and 4 difficulties, nothing there is designed to keep people playing for 10 years. The server side stuff was all for anti-piracy reasons, so the only feature the game has inherited from Wow is the AH.

          • sharkh20 says:

            Well, whatever it is, I wouldn’t call it an ARPG. Maybe just an AG.

        • RvLeshrac says:

          The only defence they had for the always-on requirement was that they started calling it an MMO. Then fans started calling it an MMO.

          Therefore, it is an MMO.

        • Anders Wrist says:

          To me, it’s not really all that different. After solo questing became the industry standard, the grouping and multiplayer aspects of the core mmo game experience slowly withered away.

      • Quarex says:

        This certainly does all make the fact that they so vehemently opposed the idea of “an actually enjoyable single-player experience” all the way to the bitter end. It is a MMORPG.

        • Ragnar says:

          I’ve enjoyed the parts I’ve playing in single-player more so than both Titan Quest and Torchlight. Yes, normal is pretty easy (easier than D2 and TQ), and you’ll rarely die unless you made a glass cannon, but I think that’s a good thing. You can experiment with all the different skills without worrying that a sub-optimal combination or poor gear will get you killed. And if you really hate it, just rush through, ignoring most of the mobs, and you’ll face an increased challenge and be into Nightmare within 7 hours or so.

          Nightmare is significantly harder (harder than D2 Nightmare), and I had to adopt different skills and strategies to be able to survive. The going is slower, and you’re more dependent on good gear and optimal skill choices to keep you alive.

          Though ARPGs are really best when played co-op. In that sense, D3 is great in that I can play it on Normal with my 8-year-old daughter and make up for her poor skill choices / gear choices / playing ability, and can play it on Nightmare+ with the wife and friends.

          My main complaint (aside from the usual lag, DRM, etc) is that it is too gear dependent (particularly Inferno, where each act is a gear check), but I guess that’s what they did to add “replay” since the specs aren’t locked. Given the choice between no-respecs and gear dependence, I’ll pick gear dependence every time.

    • FractalChaos says:

      THANK YOU!!! I am so bloody sick and tired of that term, “endgame”. It’s disgusting. It gives everyone a reason to shoot by, you know, THE GAME ITSELF- all of it, the whole game -in some stupid attempt to reach a point where the “real” stuff starts. I see people on gaming message boards who completely gloss over discussing a game’s storyline, ambiance, music, everything, with “…so how’s the endgame?”

      Seriously, who gives a shit? FPS don’t have endgames. Masterpieces like Planescape: Torment and Knights of the Old Republic didn’t have endgames. Diablo 1 and Diablo 2 didn’t have endgames. The game ends, and you either replay it, as is…or you move on to something else.

      • RaytraceRat says:

        yea, but games like KOTOR took a bit longer than 12 hours to finish it. I’m not in the “endgame” crowd, I’m not really sure what they mean by that, but I think that game that took so long to produce and cost quite a bit of money to buy have such small amount of content and expect I will just reply it over and over just with bigger numbers on my statsheet.

        btw, why someone would call D3 a MMO? O,o

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        Matt_W says:

        Agreed. I think the real problem with D3 is that the first play-through is tediously easy. You must play on Normal difficultly, which difficulty feels basically like a long tutorial. Subsequent play-throughs, on higher difficulty tiers, have more interesting combat, but no new content whatsoever. I get bored easily, I guess, couldn’t drag myself through Act II a second time and put the game back on the shelf so I could play Spelunky and Quantum Conundrum and the many many games on my Steam account that I have barely had time to touch. I feel like D3 is greedy for wanting to spend so much time with me, when its appeal is really only skin-deep.

        • ScubaMonster says:

          Then you get to Nightmare and it’s basically just whacking away on the same stuff only it takes forever. Not fun.

    • LintMan says:

      I totally agree. I’m a single player guy, and I want to play a game through, see all the content, and then have an ending. The whole replay the same old levels to get better loot so you can replay the same levels again but a bit harder so you can get better loot so you can replay… Argh. I tried it in Diablo 2 , it very quickly struck me as a pointless grind, and that was the end of my playing it.

      As far as Blizzard actually adding “endgame” content, that strikes me as Blizzard saying “Shit, a ton of people finished the game – and then stopped playing! It’s almost as if many of them wanted a single player game instead of an MMO! They can’t spend money on our RMAH if they aren’t playing! Quick – we need new content to pull them back in, but it’s too expensive to coninually make new content. So we’ll add some really hard stuff and call it “endgame”, and the hardcore types will promote it as “the real game”.

      • max_1111 says:

        ^^ This…
        This is exactly how i see it…
        These morons created a single player game but tacked MMO likenesses on to it AND a tried to scrape in extra money on the side with said likeness.
        Too bad that they didn’t clue in that players could actually finish the story in this game, which doesn’t really happen in an MMO.

    • Sic says:

      This is exactly the problem with D3.

      It plays like an MMO.

      It’s not even about the grind, it’s about the pacing being completely off. It’s about not being able to make new builds and try out new ideas. You’re supposed to forever grind for slightly better rare items for one single character until the end of times (using multiple characters is a waste, you’re competing against inflation here, remember).

      The reason Diablo 2 was so addictive over time was that making a near-perfect build was achievable on your own (sure, there were several tiers of items, but you could plan how to get to YOUR end-state from the get-go, because the best items were predictable). You knew what to do to get there. Diablo 3 is completely randomised, with the addition of a strict economy and a AH, it’s not about doing what you need to get to a end-state anymore, it’s about endlessly farming so that you can infinitely buy slightly better rare gear.

      In short, horrible, horrible design.

      • Ragnar says:

        Wait, D2 was an example of good design? “Oh, shit, I mis-clicked on my talent. Ok, this build is ruined. Time to scrap this toon and level up a brand new one.”

        I much prefer being able to respec on the fly to better match the situation (singleplayer vs coop, mobs vs boss) than having to pool all my talent points until I finally unlock the one skill I will use over and over again and having to run the same class through all the same content from the very beginning just to try out a different skill. D2 was the epitome of cookie-cutter.

        Grinding for gear in Inferno isn’t much fun, but it’s a lot better than running the same exact class through Normal without any talent points.

    • QSpec says:

      I disagree. It needs an endgame because you can now easily find your “perfect” item on the AH and eventually buy it with gold (which is not in short supply). Furthermore, it seems like they want to put it on rails instead of letting it be player run. That puts the onus of end game on them and no longer on us (PvP?).

      • Baines says:

        Yes, it needed an endgame when they removed a lot of the replayability (whether derived from good or bad), which left the game with just its boring center.

        You don’t waste days building a perfect character, then have to start over because they nerfed your main skill. You go to the auction house for your items because the grind to get them yourself is dull. Etc.

    • gummybearsliveonthemoon says:

      The MMO crowd doesn’t get that ‘endgame’ means ‘the end of the game’, not ‘the time when i maxed out my level and still want to grind because i am lame’.

      The endgame of a Diablo game is when you beat the final demon and the game ends.

  2. HexagonalBolts says:

    Once you’ve played for a certain amount of time it does begin to feel like you’re just playing the same small section over and over just with slightly different skins…

    The auction house also actually enforces this sense of repetition. You can almost never find an item in game that is better than one you can get for a meager amount of gold in the auction house. This essentially means that all you ever find when you’re playing are items that you will sell for gold, so there’s absolutely no thrill in the loot – and loot has been made to be core to the Diablo 3 experience, so when that’s taken away there’s very little left.

    • Grygus says:

      Exactly. The problem isn’t that people can’t live on loot alone – they certainly can – the problem is that the loot system in Diablo III is awful in order to funnel you to the Auction House. Killing bosses is anticlimactic, explicitly so that you can’t get loot that way. Random bosses are perhaps too random, with killing combinations of powers being routine, and even they drop loot five levels below you. Loot is definitely too random, so that in the rare event that you do get the item type you want, it’s almost certainly garbage you can’t use. It all adds up to a game in which you deal with thousands of drops but very very rarely see an upgrade for your efforts. It’s not fun and mysterious, it’s just a continual stream of disappointment. At level 57 I was wearing exactly two items I had found; the rest were purchased. That’s not a character I am going to care about. There was little investment there. Then Blizzard nerfed the items I had bought. Cord cut; haven’t logged in since.

      Blizzard doesn’t realize/won’t admit that they ruined their game in an attempt to monetize it; they pretend that their players want WoW, but the truth is that they players simply didn’t want a medieval shopping simulation. I stopped playing because the only stat you raise by adventuring in Diablo III is gold.

      • CrookedLittleVein says:

        “the only stat you raise by adventuring in Diablo III is gold.”

        This pretty much sums it up for me.

      • DD says:

        @ Grygus:

        I’ve been trying to figure out how to put my D3 experience into words and you have done it verbatim.

        I completely agree with you and haven’t played since the attack speed nerf.

      • Mortegro says:

        Thank you for helping me to figure out my own feelings. :)

    • djbriandamage says:

      That’s exactly why I refuse to use either of the auction houses in D3. The only purpose to the game is to find better loot, so why would I want to artificially fasttrack that? I played with character editors in Diablo 1 and quickly stopped when I learned that it sucked all the joy out of it.

      Diablo is not about the destination, it’s about the journey.

    • Euphoric says:

      “You can almost never find an item in game that is better than one you can get for a meager amount of gold in the auction house.”

      I always find these comments odd. I have a lvl 60 DH that I have 62 hours into – currently on Act II inferno, and over the course of my playing him I’ve bought ONE item on the AH. RIght now he’s sitting at 32k HP, 43K dps, and 225+ resists – and quite honestly with the exception of elite packs that I know I’m not going to fuck with…I’ve had no problems.
      This is mostly coming from people that didn’t get what they wanted with their first run through of an act, and won’t “farm” to get it. I’ve only redone maybe 1-2 acts – so it’s really not that difficult. And people that want things handed to them probably shouldn’t play D3 – and probably didn’t play D2.
      But again, this comes from catering to the MMO crowd. WoW was ridiculously easy to get geared – to the point of you’d have to be a total dolt not to be geared in the highest ilvl.

      • HexagonalBolts says:

        If you’re playing multiplayer and everybody else is doing huge amounts more damage than you because they’re completely kitted out with auction house items then the game is just dreadful. I didn’t use the auction house until level 35 and I was more than doubling plenty of stats, usually for just 2000 of my 100,000 it makes a huge difference.

        Oh, also, it makes the in game crafting system utterly pointless because the investment required massively outweighs the cost of buying something on the auction house.

      • KDR_11k says:

        It should feel like a glorious moment when you find a great piece of gear though, in Diablo 3 gear is so boring in terms of the effects it has you’ll barely notice you got a new piece. There are very few differences that you can actually feel in the gameplay.

      • ceriphim says:

        “I have a lvl 60 DH that I have 62 hours into – currently on Act II inferno, and over the course of my playing him I’ve bought ONE item on the AH. RIght now he’s sitting at 32k HP, 43K dps, and 225+ resists”

        I find your story a little fishy.

        Not that someone *couldn’t* do it, but I’ve spent considerably more time in both the game and AH, and I find it hard to believe you’ve gotten enough of the right drops to hit the hps/dps/resists you claim.

        Not calling you a liar, but I find it a little hard to believe you got to 45k dps AND 225+ resists on a DH solely from drops…

        (60 WD BTW, around 130 hrs in, daily AH trader & farmer)

        • Euphoric says:

          Well, I don’t know how to prove it you other than ss my gear and time played. That of course won’t prove the AH part of it. I’m totally on the fence about the game – don’t love it but don’t hate it – so I really have no motive to bullshit anyone. A few nights ago on my first run through of ActI with a 5 stack of NV and the most I saw drop on one elite pack was 4 rares and a few blues. Admittedly I was shocked myself to see 4 yellows on one kill.
          My biggest frustration are the stupid packs that are pretty much unkillable.

          And yes, I relaized Blacksmithing was crap wayyy back in Normal mode – so I havent leveled it at all.

  3. Teronfel says:

    Yep,playing the story over and over gets boring.

    Just give us an endless dungeon with increasing difficulty as we go deeper.

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      Malibu Stacey says:

      So Torchlight then?

      • Alevice says:

        More like path of exile. That new enchanted portals thing is sweet.

        • Euphoric says:

          Everything I’ve seen and read about PoE is that its no better, in fact worse than D3. The graphics are pretty bland and boring – the combat is totally non-responsive, and there is little to no storyline. It’s just the thing that all the whiners are latching onto – until they realize 20 lvls in that its boring as hell.

          • sharkh20 says:

            I lasted less than a week in Diablo 3 before getting bored. I’ve been played PoE beta for 11 months. That has to mean something.

          • Soulwave says:

            Compare it to Diablo 2, and you’ll see the appeal it has. In the end, none of the attributes you mentioned make Diablo 3 stand on it’s own, it is all centered around the loot.

    • RaytraceRat says:

      I will second that. How many times you want to her the same dialogue again. Just a nice random dungeon should do.

    • Leandro says:

      That would get boring really fast as well. Even if the numbers go up there can only be so many abilities, enemy types, etc. Maybe you won’t care about the story the second time through, fine, but you’ll have another character, maybe play with friends, try a different build. That’s how Diablo 2 worked, nothing wrong about it, plenty of gameplay time with real value.

      No need to put the game on life support, when it’s over you start again if you want to. Scary that this is not obvious anymore.

  4. Schaap says:

    Diablo 2 had an endgame, this isn’t demanded because of wow but because it’s 10 year old predecessor had it. In 2 you could keep yourself occupied pretty much forever with just leveling your character, let alone collecting things like runewords or playing pvp.
    In Diablo 3, once you beat Inferno Diablo, that’s it. There’s no more goal to work too, as meaningless as it might be. The only reward you get for farming is being able to farm faster.

    • mr.ioes says:

      True that. D2 had awesome endgame that lasted years. So much stuff to do. Everything cut out in D3, cause Jay Wilson said it’s no fun.

    • Ragnar says:

      So you like being challenged, and leveling up characters over and over again? I take it you’re playing hardcore characters in D3 then?

  5. Ion Cannon says:

    I think Torn hit the nail on the head, I’ve played 100′s of hours of D2 and still go back to it regularily, though the mods help that. D3 items are frankly just utterly boring and I’m amazed the developers got the most key part about the game so utterly wrong.

  6. Evernight says:

    Where is the LADDER?!

    1) A fresh economy every 3-6 months. Able to have more loot drops since there would be an end to the items.
    2) Something to compete for. D2 had it and WoW does to.

    Its not an “endgame” but at least it keeps people playing.

    • Alevice says:

      I’m quite surprised D3 didn’t have one. Havig ladder exclusive stuff could be a good incentive. So long as not all the xclusive stuff is endgame either.

      • ScubaMonster says:

        Well don’t forget, they have to cater to the casuals who don’t want to have to compete with ladder! (even though you didn’t have to in Diablo 2 either).

        I fully expect their Titan project to be so casual as to rival Free Realms.

        • Calabi says:

          Casuals? But they’ve hardly got anyone playing now.

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          jrodman says:

          “casuals” as a noun is so lazy that it rarely means anything.

          Anyone who’s going to be playing this game in some sort of ongoing fashion with a single character is likely not ‘casual’.

          As for players who have no interest in ladders, I’m certainly one. But I’m happy so long as i can go into the options and say “never tell me about anything competitive” and have the UI shut up forever. That isn’t very hard to implement.

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    Arathain says:

    This is rather a strange attitude. By the time you’ve gotten a character sufficiently geared out to survive comfortably in Inferno you’ll have racked up dozens working on hundreds of hours. The next character will be a little faster since they can be bankrolled by the first one, but it’ll still take nearly as long as the first one.

    By the end of that you really ought to feel like you got your money’s worth, and can move on to something else while you wait for the expansion.

  8. Captchist says:

    If you’re still playing and want to keep playing Diablo at this point, then you need an endgame.

    If you’re not playing anymore, it’s because you found an ending.

    I’m not sure the issue is so much that people expect End Games as it is that we somehow aren’t allowed to just stop playing a game anymore without it being attributed to “getting tired of it”.
    A few years ago you’d play a game for a while and stop, or reach the end. More recently there is so much DLC that it’s like this persistent question – “Are you still playing? Why did you stop? Did you get bored? Will you pick it up again when the DLC comes out? Why not?”

    I don’t think people would have asked that so much about a Mario or a Sim City.

    • skorpeyon says:

      This is exactly how I feel. I play games to beat them and then I’m done with them. I don’t actually like DLC and never-ending games. I like that I could play through Diablo 3 and feel satisfied that I’d beaten it, then start on a harder difficulty and attempt to do it again. So many games are designed this way and people don’t have this kind of outcry over it, so I really don’t understand the problem. Personally, I felt I got my value out of what I paid for the game.

    • belgand says:

      This book sucks. I read the whole thing and then it just… ended. They should have included a choose-your-own adventure version in the epilogue so I could keep reading it until the next book in the series is released. I mean, what sort of loser would want to read more than one book?

      • Sheng-ji says:

        The Knightmare books did something like that, they were awesome!

  9. Arglebargle says:

    Whatever it is that makes this so special for some players does nothing for me. Blizzard really seems to have bolluxed this one up in a number of different ways.

    I was going to say something snide about Bliz fans, until I remembered that I bought both MOO3 and Civ5 on the first day….

    • mouton says:

      At least both MOO3 and Civ5 seriously innovated in their series, despite being failures.

  10. aliksy says:

    Problem is the game’s a bit dull. Loot’s boring when you find it, and good loot is painfully rare outside of the AH. I found ONE “legendary” item in 2.5 full playthroughs, and it wasn’t for my class, and it wasn’t very good. Compare to diablo2 where set items and uniques were relatively common.

    Also the difficulty is all out of whack. It goes from insultingly easy to “vortex arcane sentry jailer invulnerable”. Tip: The last sort of thing is never fun. Also, fuck this “raid boss” mentality with the locked doors and “enrage” timers. Fucking WoW got its shit all over diablo.

    I said from pretty much day 1 that an infinite dungeon would’ve been better than the awful, awful “story’ stuff they force players to do.

    • KDR_11k says:

      I suppose the low rate of legendaries is a counterbalance to how other games (e.g. Borderlands, Torchlight) threw around high “rarity” items, where you couldn’t take three steps without encountering an UBER RARE ULTRA ITEM that was kinda meh.

  11. Xocrates says:

    You know, thinking about it, this sounds amazingly bizarre to me because I have the impression that Blizzard killed pretty much all of the game’s re-playability.

    I mean, without skill trees there is no reason to re-roll a class, and with the auction house and the shared gold pool you’ll always have the gear you need.

    Why are they surprised people aren’t sticking around?

    • reggiep says:

      You fail to make a case why “re-rolling” a class is a good thing. That sounds incredibly tedious to me. Killing the skill tree is the best thing about Diablo 3.

      • Xocrates says:

        I didn’t say it was a good thing, I said it increased replayability.

        Which was my point, most of the changes they did to Diablo 3 made the game more accessible while decreasing replayability, which is why it baffles me they’re surprised people ran out of stuff to do. You can argue that no longer needing to reroll is a good thing, and in general I can agree, but it does mean you’ll have less reasons to create an alt character of the same class, and as such less reasons to keep playing.

        That said, I did enjoy playing with different builds on different characters of the same class.

        • mouton says:

          It was a horrible way of increasing replayability, grinding each build through all difficulties. I am glad they got rid of it, but sadly they didn’t offer nothing back.

  12. Truga says:

    What happened to the entire game being the “end-game”?

    Nowdays it seems that we’re supposed to grind some shit so we can then play some other shit. Looks like GW2 is intent on breaking this to some extent (I think a dev said that end-game there starts at level 1, which would be quite epic if done right).

    I really liked Diablo 2. I spent a lot of time in it. At any level, it was a fun game. Just walking around killing things was fun, the exp bar slowly filling up. I never reached 99 in D2 (My altitis would never let me), but I had some 20 (probably more) different kinds of sorcs and all were fun to play 1-80.

    So I don’t get why people now just want to hit cap as soon as possible and then go play something else (something called grind and farming gear), when the leveling part is just as fun, if not more fun, when done right. And I even less get the developers catering to this crowd.

    • belgand says:

      When I hit the level cap that should mean that the game is about to end soon. It’s the time when I get to have a brief moment of being ridiculously powerful, but not for so long that it gets boring. Then the game ends and I go play another one.

      I have some friends who play WoW and I just can’t understand it. Level cap? Why would you want to hit that or hit it quickly? Doesn’t that mean you’ve finished the game?

  13. Chris D says:

    I’ve never really like the idea of an endgame,even in MMO’s. When you’re done levelling one character I think it’s either time to start a new one or play another game, but then I am a notorious alt-oholic anyway.

    Generally I think if you’ve got levelling in a game it should be because that it should be fun in and of itself. If it’s only some kind of initiation before you’re allowed to join in the “real game” then really you should just skip it and start at that point anyway.

    Same goes for loot. Collecting loot ought to be engaging and entertaining in its own right. If players feel they have to shortcut that process by buying items with real money then something is wrong with the design.

    Ultimately I suspect Blizzards desire for an endgame is less to do with what the game needs and more to do with justifiying the existence of the real-money auction house.

    • belgand says:

      Exactly. I’ve criticized games before for leveling me too quickly. If you level up too rapidly it causes it to feel insignificant and that it didn’t require any sort of struggle or challenge. I’ve even had this problem with GMs in pen-and-paper games where they gave out too much XP under the complaint that “only levels 7-12 are fun, everything else is just sort of tedious”. If your levels aren’t fun it’s a flawed game design (or flawed players).

      Games, like most fiction, are about the journey, not the destination.

      • Sheng-ji says:

        I couldn’t agree more! You want to charge through a few levels at the start so you can mold your character into what you want nice and quickly, then enjoy each level for a decent amount of time!

      • MattM says:

        In fallout new vegas I installed a mod that doubled the amount of xp required to level. Without it, I just blew through levels too fast.

    • InternetBatman says:

      I absolutely agree. I played Wow up through Lich King and leveled up several alts, but as soon as I got to raids it was time to quit. Running around is fun, sometimes you get to see the sun come up in Ashenvale or Desolace, or explore the relatively barren zone of Azshara

    • formivore says:

      This is a matter of personal preference though.

      There seems to be this idea floating around RPS that the MMO endgame is some kind of con; a stopgap the developer puts in to avoid having to make the real content, and then brainwashes players into thinking is fun. I think Nathan wrote an article a while ago where he flat out called the endgame a lie.

      I don’t know what makes y’all so sure about this. Maybe some people are just a lot more burnt out about MMOs, but you’re making the fundamental attribution error to project that on everyone else. I’ve gotten back into the WoW endgame recently and enjoy it mainly because there’s a mechanic there (playing a healer) that I find persistently rich and challenging. Conversly I’m quite bored with the grindy levelling, and have no desire to play Diablo III since it seems to me like the dull grind parts of MMOs without the fun endgame parts.

  14. JackShandy says:

    Personally I hope they’ll take a leaf from Gygax. You construct a stronghold and gather hirelings until the game turns into Warcraft 3.

  15. Shooop says:

    That’s Blizzard’s own fault for purposely aiming Diablo 3 at the MMO crowd. They even said, “You’re not really playing the game unless you’re playing it online.”

    Everything I read about this game confirms more and more how the game wasn’t what was being developed for over a decade – the marketing was.

  16. Yglorba says:

    I know what Diablo needs!

    It needs to present us with a choice of three colors, all of which lead to basically-identical results that ignore everything we’ve done in the game up until that point and instead attempt to cram the developer’s tediously juvenile freshman-philosophy thoughts about AI and transhumanism down our collective throats using an out-of-nowhere handwave that we have no choice but to follow. Then, when people object, they can release a fourth option that basically says “screw you for rejecting the artistic integrity of our tedious freshman philosophy.”

    This is the endgame Diablo needs!

  17. brat-sampson says:

    I genuinely don’t understand. I’ll just say the same thing here I did over at Eurogamer.

    “I don’t get it, it’s a game. You finish it, you move on. Or you 100% it and move on. What, like those guys who hardcore’d Inferno are emailing Blizzard asking what to do next?

    BUY ANOTHER ****ING GAME! (I suggest Spelunky.) ”

    I get it that Blizzard would *want* people to somehow continue indefinitely, giving them more and more cash through the RMAH etc, but what it seems they did here was *accidentally* make a… Single-player Campaign-based game. Not an MMO, not a campaign + engrossing multiplayer that keeps people playing but a sp campaign, albeit with constant drop-in drop-out co-op.

    Now they seem to want to ‘fix’ that, which yeah, will probably be hard. Also probably shouldn’t happen or make sense.

  18. V. Profane says:

    If you make your game seem like an MMO then people are going to expect it to be updated like an MMO. I imagine Blizzard haven’t just said “you’ve got to the end of the game, that’s it. Play again if you like” because they want to keep people (especially the hardcore who’ve already played hundreds of hours) around to use the auction house.

  19. str4 says:

    For me the problem stems from the leveling system. I beat the game for the story (I’m one of them types) and I’m only level 30. The level cap is 60 and there are tons of items and skills I will never see if I quit now… but I’ve beaten the game. So what do they want me to do? Play the exact game again! This time not for the story! Ugh… Endgame please!

    • LintMan says:

      @str4 – I had the same problem in D2 – the story and new content ran out long long before I got to see all my character’s abilities, and it wasn’t worth continually grinding that same content over and over just to see some new abilites.

      But the “endgame” Blizzard is talking about isn’t going to give you much story, either. Diablo 2′s “endgame” was basically “The Ladder” – people grinding the highest difficulty and cow level over and over for loot and experience levels. Even if there’s new content, it’d likely be story-light and difficulty-heavy and intended for players to grind over and over and over.

  20. Beelzebud says:

    I’m shocked that a Diablo game is mostly about a loot grind! Shocked, I tell you!

    I’m also shocked that there is gambling going on in this casino!

  21. MythArcana says:

    Diablo 3 needs a game first.

    • reggiep says:

      It wouldn’t be the internet without a No True Scotsman claim.

      • Brun says:

        Nah, Myth just doesn’t like any non-indie games made after 2000.

  22. JackAsterson says:

    The problem isn’t the item hunt per-se. D2 did just fine in that regard.

    The problem is in the specific way they implemented it. Legendary and Set pieces generally suck, and the non-stat/resist modifiers are boring and/or useless (extra health from orb pickup, increased gold pickup, etc.), and there aren’t as many of them either (where are things like “Chance to Proc Level X Skill on Hit” or the like?), meaning that the only thing you have to look forward to finding is a yellow item with a couple more Vit/Primary Stat/Resist than the one you already have. Talk about boring.

    Then there’s the AH which largely makes item hunting for better gear pointless anyway.

    There’s also the fact that getting to max level is a cake-walk, whereas in D2 getting to 99 took a lot longer.

    Also, no PVP. Of course that’s coming in 1.1, but Blizzard has made it no known that they have no intention of balancing skills around PVP, so it remains to be seen how well that will turn out. Not that it would really matter if they DID balance skills around PVP, because the D3 developers suck at balancing skills in general.

    Also also, you don’t have to make new characters to try out different builds. Not really an end-game issue, but one reason for why the game has less staying power.

    If the developers want a good idea of what a quality end-game looks like for an ARPG, they need to look at the D2 mod MedianXL. Excellent end-game stuff there.

  23. Novack says:

    What a great post, very good reflection.

  24. Odoakar says:

    D3 doesn’t need any special MMO end-game. Item grind would be just enough, only if it didn’t suck like the D3 one currently does.

    D2 had grind towards lvl 99 and fun and interesting uniques that actually meant something. In my 250h gametime in D3, I got 3 lousy legendaries and one really good rare that was actually an upgrade for my character. Everything else was vendor trash. Never saw a set item, expect on AH, going for few million coins.

    So once you hit lvl 60, there is really nothing to keep you going on. Hence why I don’t play the game anymore, which is quite sad considering I played D2 for 8 years,

  25. Beelzebud says:

    One that that cracks me up when I see people complain about Diablo 3′s endgame, and Diablo 3 in general, are the statements that go like this: “After playing for 100+ hours I’ve decided there is nothing to do and this game sucks.”

    If only every $60.00 game “sucked so bad” that you’d play it for over 100 hours…

    I played Diablo 2 when it came out. I got bored of it in about a month, and waited for the expansion, then played it off and on for hundreds of ours over the years. I have a feeling Diablo 3 is going to be the same way.

    • aliksy says:

      About half of my diablo3 time was spent thinking “It’s going to get better, right?”

      • Hoaxfish says:

        Reinforced by Blizzard and blizzard-defense-force telling everyone that the “real game” started after the 3rd playthrough and you’d finally reached Inferno.

      • mr.ioes says:

        Same here.

        Act 4 nightmare was the point were I just gave up. It’s not about endgame. All things that this game needs are things that improve the game before lvl 60/inferno act 4. PVP, games with titles, uniques that are worth to be called uniques, runes, charms, crafting, etc.

        Also, where’s my friggin sander’s riprap ???

    • deke913 says:

      I 100% agree. When Baldurs Gate 2 came out the huge claim to fame for it was the fact it had 200 plus hours of game time. Which was about 5 times more game time than every other game out at the time.

      We old schoolers were conditioned to endings by the games we grew up with. Heck I mostly play games today just to beat them. Just for the experience, the world, the emotion. I really am not prepared to commit myself to a product indefinitely so a company can monopolize on marketing.

      Because then just as with music and art and other things, once it becomes mainstream and every one is doing it…most of us rebels want to move on anyway.

  26. skorpeyon says:

    I find this very amusing. I posited the same thing on Joystiq and received several insulting and degrading comments. This is why I like RPS more than any other gaming site, even though I game on both consoles and PCs. They’re just that much better.

  27. dE says:

    In a way, the comfort options of Diablo 3 killed the Endgame Demon. Previously, if you made a mistake with your character attributes, you ended up re-rolling the character. Spending that much more time to replay again and again. With D3 not so much. Same with the item treadmill, previously you had to keep farming for that item, re-inforced with the shiny sounds and bling bling of items hitting the ground. You had to do something for it. Now it’s a case of looking it up on the Auction House.
    Both decisions make for a much more streamlined and in my opinion improved first playthrough but really bites the arse of those that want to keep playing after that.

  28. caddyB says:

    The endgame for me was when I killed Diablo on normal mode. There is just no joy of killing things and getting loot because they want you to use the AH so the stuff that drop are always lower level than you are. The idea of “If I kill Diablo again maybe he’ll drop a better weapon” becomes ” If I kill Diablo 10 times maybe something I can sell will drop so I can afford a better weapon”.

    I don’t understand why people are still playing this.

    • Bfox says:

      Agreed, the story in the game was made impossible to care about, so what’s my motive for trying?
      It would be a Nightmare even trying to play it a second time.

  29. afarrell says:

    As doesn’t seem to be exactly mentioned yet, one of the reasons why Blizzard (and everyone else) might expect that people would play Diablo III for a long time is that people played Diablo II for a long time – the last patch came out in October last year.

  30. pupsikaso says:

    Blizzard? Pioneer anything? You do realize that it’s Activision-Blizzard now, right? That means no pioneering anything.

  31. Lemming says:

    What Diablo 3 needs, is to fail.

    Blizzard have tied their own noose by creating such a closed MMO-like system for a game that should have been about getting more people playing it – where/whenever they chose – and embraced a modding community.

    They are the things that create a community and keep people playing.

    Given how long it takes Blizzard to do anything, does anyone actually believe people will just wait around for some content?

    Torchlight 2 is going to mop the floor with them, unfortunately (for Blizzard, not for us gamers). I’ll bet even Runic will be surprised with the influx of players they get because of this debacle.

    • reggiep says:

      How many hyperbolic claims can one man fit in an internet comment? You sure are going for the record. I liked how you called Diablo 3 a “debacle” the most. Because people playing the game for hundreds of hours before finally getting bored is exactly that: a debacle, right?

      I also liked how you held up Torchlight 2 as the savior of dungeon crawlers. I’m betting 90% of the Torchlight 1 players never even saw the end of that game. Torchlight 2, while it looks like an amusing $20 game, is hardly going to live up to the D3 haters’ claims. But they’ll never let it show because the double think is strong in them.

      • Premium User Badge

        AlwaysRight says:

        I like how he thinks Blizzard have engineered their own demise by making the fastest selling PC game of all time.

      • Lemming says:

        Guess you two invested in the endgame then, eh? I wanted Diablo 3 to be great but I’m not about to get pissed on and call it rain.

        @reggiep I did not make ‘claims’ as you put it. I voiced an opinion on a) what I think should happen and b) what I think is going to happen. Try to learn the difference before you don the fanboy defence league uniform.

        Torchlight 2 being the closest to the Diablo model that has the highest publicity, it is natural to assume that it will affect the numbers of people who’ll keep playing Diablo 3 once it’s released (given how vocal the playerbase has been). That’s not hyperbole – that’s an observation, and soon we’ll get an idea of the numbers.

        @AlwaysRight How fast a game sells has nothing, nothing to do with its longevity, but thanks for playing. Maybe you should change your handle now, eh?

  32. Beelzebud says:

    Torchlight’s problem is the WoW style cartoon graphics. I just don’t think I could actually play that game for a long period of time.

    • JackAsterson says:

      The thing is, you can change (or wait for someone else to inevitably do it) the graphics because Torchlight 2 has extensive mod support.

      I guarantee you if D3 supported mods, we’d already be seeing things like like better class balancing, better end-game loot hunting, fixes to things like crappy Legendary stats, graphical tweaks/overhauls, and all sorts of other cool stuff like new items, new monsters, new moves and behaviors for existing monsters, new classes and skills, etc.

      Look at the some of the awesome mods can came out for D2: MedianXL, Eastern Sun, Zy-El, and others. And D2 wasn’t even all that mod-friendly. Imagine D3 with great mod support; it would be incredible.

      This is largely why I can’t wait for T2; the core looks great as-is, but the excellent mod support will mean a lot of new content as well as things like graphical overhauls and balancing tweaks and the like. It really builds the community and increases re-playability.

      • Beelzebud says:

        If someone reskins Torchlight, and does a good job of it, I’ll buy it. Not sure I’d want to mess with a bunch of random peoples ideas of how a game should be balanced. I’ll leave that sort of thing up to the creators.

        • Lemming says:

          See I don’t get this. I can understand if you don’t prefer a cartoon-style of artwork, but you seriously saying it’d actually be the difference between enjoying a game or not at all for you? I assume you’re still waiting for a platformer other than Mario that meets the same high standard, because that’s never been bettered.

          • Beelzebud says:

            Yeah I am saying that. It’s not like there isn’t any other games of this style to play, and frankly 1 is enough for me at a time. It’s just my opinion. You’re free to disagree.

        • JackAsterson says:

          “Random people” often do a great job of balancing. Try MedianXL, a mod for D2 created and maintained by one single guy. The end game is brilliant, and the balancing, though not perfect, is a whole lot better than vanilla D2.

          Morrowind/Oblivion/Skyrim/Fallout 3/Fallout NV as well all have a number of mods available for them that do an infinitely better job of balancing every aspect of them than Bethesda themselves; enemies, weapons/armor, skills, spells, birthsigns, perks; you name it, and some “random people” have made a mod that balances things better than Bethesda. Not to mention all the other non-balance focused mods that do amazing new and cool things.

          Torchlight also had a few good balancing mods that fixed some issues better than Runic itself.

          Heck, even old PS1 roms have hacks that do a better job of balancing than the developers; Final Fantasy Tactics for the PS1 has a rom hack that does a better job of balancing skills and classes than Square (FFT 1.3 Hard- and Easy-type).

          Modders, especially when they group up and form modding teams, often do an incredible job at balancing things; in quite a few instances, they do it better and faster than the developers themselves. There is not a single doubt in my mind that if D3 had the modding capabilities of SC2 (or heck, even Warcraft 3), there would mods out already with more to come that would do a great job of fixing broken skills/runes, fixing crappy Legendary and Set items, and making the end-game all-around more enjoyable and rewarding, not to mention all the cool mods that add new items, enemies, skills, NPC’s, etc.

          Blizzard has proven itself incompetent for years with WoW and now with D3 when it comes to balancing things; I see no reason why modders couldn’t do a much better job.

          • Beelzebud says:

            Well you’re free to have fun enjoying those. I choose not to. You won’t convince me with a wall of words, because I’ve tried a lot of those mods, and I disliked every single one I tried.

  33. Premium User Badge

    Carra says:

    I’ve spent about 30 hours with the game. I finished it on normal mode with two characters and played a bit around in nightmare. I’m happy with that, I’ll probably play some more in the future, maybe play another character or play some more nightmare.

    I’ve played WoW for years, it was the only game that I played. These days, I’m happy to finish a game and continue with the next one. And my steam/gog catalogue is huge, if I were to game 10 hours a day I’d never manage to finish them all so why stick to one game?

    And of course, as has been said, you now have an auction house. I’ve used zero of the items I found, all items are 5 levels beneath what I find. And without a BOP system, I’m way better off just using the AH.

  34. Joshua Northey says:

    Not every game, and in particular not a game with as few elements as Diablo, needs to be hundreds of hours long. I played it for maybe 60-80 hours (a bit with each class and beat it with 2 of them) enjoyed it, moved on.

    Its not a strategy game with a lot of decision making that makes it replay-able, it is a little story, a lot of clicking and some cool art and game mechanics.

    Of course I stopped playing Wow after 4 months when I hit max level back in 2005 or whatever, so maybe I am not the market they are aiming for.

  35. derbefrier says:

    excellent article and i have found myself wondering the same thing. I have put close to 200 hours in D3 and have completed inferno on one character. I haven’t booted the game up since and i am fine with that. 200 hours of entertainment is a nice return for a 60 dollar investment but it appears I am a minority in thinking that. There have been a fwe threads in the forums talking about active players like it really matters in this type of game. I dunno blizzard already got too much WoW in my Diablo and i dont think the whiny forum crowd is gonna stop until this is a glorified MMO with a “proper” end game. I mean the forums are ridiculous, people with over 200 hours of game play upset because after 200 hours they dont feel like playing anymore and in their WoWified minds this means the game is a failure. I guess Blizzard is going to a a victim of its own creation, the WoW generation of gamers.

  36. amok777 says:

    When D2 first came out it had an endgame. We would be questing and a high lvl character would enter the game. We’d all ask him what he was doing then we’d start hurrying up to finish our quest. All of a sudden the screen would start shaking and a pop up box would come up counting down. The game was over he had killed Diablo and we’d have to start a new game.

  37. Jamesworkshop says:

    Isn’t inferno the end game, for me Diablos always been about co-op parties like on diablo 2 getting a whole party of necromancers going, then getting a Sorceress join to abuse the Lower resistance curse.

  38. StickyNavels says:

    EDIT:: I just realised this whole thing I’ve written is sort of not entirely on topic. So, you know, keep that in mind?

    I loved collecting items in D1 and D2! The unique/rare ones, that is: Hand-crafted, so to speak, by the developers. Those made the game(s) for me. Mysterious, cool, weird, sometimes not very useful, but at least they were all mostly creative – and now and then they’d be real game changers (I think that’s the role “unique” items should serve in cases like this – as (emergent) gameplay modifiers, and to hell with “balance”).

    In D3 they’re called Legendary items. When I reached Nightmare difficulty I’d yet to find one. So the drop rate was pretty depressing, but I figured it’d be off-set by all the legendary-ness to come.

    Couldn’t stand the wait though (I think that can sum up D3 for me – waiting for something to happen, but it never does), so I had a quick look online at what other people had found – and I’m glad I did! I haven’t played D3 since I discovered that the Legendary items in store are dull and unimaginative. They use the same stats and effects as D3′s magic/rare items do. I’m not sure what role they’re supposed to fill. Where are the inspired procs, effects and other one-off attributes? (As a side-note, I think there’s also a problem with D3′s itemization from an aesthetic perspective – even “normal” items can have very exaggerated designs, so the supposedly unique offerings are sort of lost in the mess).

    Blizzard are buffing the Legendaries and increasing their drop-rate. Which is nice, I guess. But they’re still boring as shit (people have linked me to Hammerjammers and Horadric Burgers or whatever whenever I go on about this, but I think such examples only emphasize the problem – it’s a bit wonky when D3′s most interesting items are the silly pop-culture joke ones).

    TL;DR: Cool items were the end-game for me in D1 and D2. There are no cool items in D3.

  39. cummerbund jackson says:

    For the perfect sort of dungeon grinding game, Diablo needs to rip off another game which starts with “D”: Disgaea. Bring in the Item World. The item world let you go through a randomly generated ten level dungeon with a nicely overpowered boss (also random) at the end. Completing the item world would let you upgrade a piece of gear. This would not only allow for endless non-repetitive raiding but also gives you some control over how good your gear is. Control in terms of gameplay, that is, and not by just shopping around endlessly on the AH. In Disgaea you could take a mediocre item and go through the Item World a few times and end up with something exceptional.

    I don’t know why no one else has taken this idea. If you want people to play endlessly in your game, there’s really no better solution. I spent over 150 hours in Disgaea and still fire it up from time to time because of that mechanic.

  40. Beernut says:

    They made the game “fully-connected-always-online” like an MMO.
    They added a tightly integrated auction house and control trades and game-interactions completely server-side like in an MMO.
    They nerf and balance the crap out of things like in an MMO.
    They control in which way and how fast the game is experienced like in an MMO.

    Gee, I wonder why people would expect MMO-like things like proper “end-game” from D3?
    The problem could stem from the fact, that Inferno (supposedly the “real” game) doesn’t feel that rewarding to most players. After having suffered multiple playthroughs of the same shallow story with the most linear (and compared to D2 insufficiently randomized) levels imaginable, they naturally expect to get some enjoyment out of it at last. What they find however, is a difficulty level which tends to restrict the choice of players in their skills to the point, where they probably won’t be able to progress very far, unless they pick 2-4 “mandatory” defensive talents to survive more than one hit. So they have to give up their talents of choice which probably worked fine for the last 40-50 levels and start to play the metagame. On top of that, they’re forced to stack defenses on their gear, which up until inferno was nearly completely unnecessary.
    All those restrictions could induce a feeling, that there should be some kind of better experience after the hard work and annoying sacrifices the players are supposed to put up with (–> end game). Players of MMOs are okay with tediously farming their potions and other consumables in a repetitive fashion, if that’s what it takes for them to be able to do a raid or another “fun”-task.

    D3 has managed to deliver the rather cumbersome experience of farming for stuff (or gold for buying said stuff on the AH) without offering the proper carrot, i.e. “something to do with the stuff once you found it”.

  41. Pantzed says:

    Uh. When I made my way through with my friends, I assumed that gear was simply a means to defeat the next boss. Then we killed the biggest boss of them all (you know.. the big one.. his name escapes me at the moment but I think the game is named after him) and thusly saved the world and were done.

    Right? The world was saved? We won?

    Did we do it wrong? :/

  42. Metalhead9806 says:

    A “endgame” in an Action Rpg is completely different than an endgame in a MMO.
    Its kind of like New game plus in single player games. You beat the game then continue progressing that character through multiple play through in which each one is slightly harder.

    Thats it, You do this over and over until you are satisfied, then you leave.

    These entitled WoW players think there should be this endless cycle of new content in Diablo because WoW is the only freaking game they play.

    “Sustainable endgame” is not needed in a A-Rpg. Just a few difficulties, some leveling and tiers of gear to get… thats it. Its shallow, yes but its how these games are.

  43. Premium User Badge

    ts061282 says:

    The game was built around a microtransaction model. The loot drops are significantly different than in D2 because otherwise valuable items would flood the market and the prices of items would plummet and the game would be trivialized because any player could buy high end gear with little effort. With this then, the gear grind is incredibly demoralizing and getting _anything_ of value is like winning the lottery. Instead of killing monsters and getting cool weapons, you kill monsters, get mediocre weapons for 10 levels below you, list them on the AH, get gold (sometimes) and then, maybe save enough to buy cool weapons. It’s a convoluted bastardization of pure Diablo purely for the sake of having microtransactions.

    The player base is outraged about verious aspects of this, but few see the big picture which is that corporate interests needed to puff up the value of the company for sale by Vivendi. They needed to get the game out before announcing the sale to lock the D3 sales into the asking price (world record sales), the microtransactions are also similarly motivated (buzzwords for stock value). The end result is a beta game without the soul of the franchise, patched together from the most finished parts of the real Diablo 3 to get it out the door. These pieces were glossed over with MMO design elements the development team was most familiar and comfortable with.

    It’s an absolute travesty for the medium.

    I think most players want something, anything interesting to do after plowing through the first three game difficulties, completely trivially with easy access to AH gear.

  44. Om says:

    Educate me. What’s the difference between an “ending” and an “endgame”?

    • Brun says:

      “Ending” carries a definitive connotation – that is, an ending means that the game is over, period. Like the ending of a story.

      “Endgame” refers to a perpetual set of activities that become available to players of persistent games (most commonly MMOs) once they’ve reached the limits of systemic character development (that is, non-gear development).

  45. FunkyBadger3 says:

    Are people still playing this?

    • mr.ioes says:

      I can’t believe it either. Even my bro plays this game and enjoys it. He kind of didn’t see that there are no interesting items. I showed him Torchlight 2 and he was very hyped, asking about Torchlight 1. Anyway. People that don’t really think much about game design is my answer. Casual players one could say.

      • Euphoric says:

        Lol, Torchlight2 isn’t casual? I’m not defending D3 – but if you really think you’re an “elitist” gamer being hyped about TL2, sad sad. You get a puppy/cat that runs loot back to vendors for you for shits sake – if that isn’t casual I don’t know what is – let alone the cartoonville graphics engine.

        • mr.ioes says:

          Visuals decide over whether a game is casual or not? Not in my book.

      • FunkyBadger3 says:

        I played it a couple of weeks. It’s very and shiny and nice. Then stopped having the urge.

        It’s candyfloss. Pretty candyfloss, but candyfloss.

  46. Pointless Puppies says:

    Well, multiplayer gaming has evolved greatly from before, namely in the implication that with multiplayer comes endless replayability.

    And boy did Blizzard advertise the multiplayer feature. At times it even seemed like it superseded practically any other aspect. They were willing to make the entire game online-only for the sake of perfecting its security, people with less-than-stellar internet connections be damned. Given the fact that a game heavily focused on multiplayer and MMO-like auction houses, it’s no real wonder that people expect to stick around after the credits roll.

  47. Sandiiman says:

    After getting my barb to inferno, and a wizard and witchdoctor to hell, I decided to go back to diablo 2. And I enjoy it a lot more. Not trying to make any kind of point, and although D3 seems great, it just does not have what D2 has to keep me playing. Won’t try to analyse, merely play :P

  48. Ohcomeonnow says:

    I nearly went out to buy this last week. I asked my brother in law how his game is going….he said that the servers were down a bit last week and could not log on to play (we live in Australia). Also the constant lag that he and a few of his mates get was enough to stop me from buying the game. And then I read this article….wow. Just…..wow. Endgame….in a Diablo game? Are these people nutz?

    I mean it is not a MMO. Though it sure is being touted as one.

    So…..I look at D3 and I then look at Mu Online.

    Diablo 3/Mu Online…….only 2 differences I can see is that one lets you rubber band and it lets you….you know, log on and play :)

  49. frightlever says:

    I still like Nathan’s writing, in general, despite a couple of spills in his early RPS career.

    But… he’s testing me.

    This reads like a Daily Mail commentary on video games by someone who saw a still from a movie where someone played a video game. That’s NOT an endorsement.

    D1 had no end game. D2 HAD an endgame. And by endgame, which some people seem to be misunderstanding, I mean what you do with the game after you’ve finished it. The after-the-end-of-the-game game, if you will.

    But, this isn’t really what people are complaining about. It’s not the END-GAME, it’s the JUST-PRIOR-TO-END-GAME that’s the real problem. Everyone can breeze through the game prior to Inferno – no matter how bad you are, and I understand “bad” is a stupid term but I only use it as a relative anchor of difficulty perception – but the game starts at Inferno.

    Sadly the game that starts at Inferno is either auction house roulette or merciless grind. So, to keep your soul lily-white, it should be the grind, right?

    When there was nothing but the grind the grind was fine. You got as far as you could and when finding the loot you needed became too much you quit. But now the AH and the RMAH offer another way.

    So NOW the “End game” is either crappy loot tables – and I have not had a drop I’ve equipped since May – or grind for gold to buy stuff off the AH. And this isn’t an option, it’s the only way you’ll move from IA1 to IA2, and from there to IA3. Better loot. Not better play. Only by better loot.

    When a Blizzard rep says they misjudged the end-game, they mean they… well think Charlton Heston and the Statue of Liberty.