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A reason why Diablo 3 is a well designed game that I dislike

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So the Diablo 3 expansion has been announced. Instead of a trailer for the game, they released the opening cinematic to the game. I'm sure that one is easy enough to find, but what I was most intrigued in was the gameplay teaser trailer:



Now I think that Diablo 3 is an amazingly well crafted game from a design perspective. Everyone involved and the designers especially have my utmost admiration and respect. However, as a player I have a lot of ire for the game. I absolutely understand what the disconnect here is, but it came at a cost of over 200 hours of playing the game. Normally I would just say that "Well the game was good enough to hold my attention for that long. Well done game" and leave it at that. Its what I do with most games that go over 100 hours of play time. In this case however, I feel almost cheated of that time.

So what am I really looking for in my games? First of all, I would like to play as a character in the world. Especially if its the hero of some epic quest. Note the gameplay trailer above. Its not a new character that is being introduced. Its a new class. The avatars of ourselves in Diablo are fairly faceless and interchangeable. This isn't really a deal breaker. Plenty of games do the cookie cutter'd hero that doesn't really affect anything. In fact if you played the game through once and never again, it is a really good short story to get involved in. The lack of impact your character has is masked very well.

The problem lies in the fact that the game expects people to play the game over and over and over again. First there are the escalating difficulties. And once more through the grinder if you decide you want to try a different class. When the same story is being rubbed in your face over and over again like this, the lack of characterization gets a little more noticeable. Strangely, each class is in fact distinct from each other. They have different responses, different personalities, tones and obviously feel different in gameplay (cannot stress how important that last one is). They each have their own lore, official back story and a life that they lived going into the game. All of that is great! Except that whatever potential was there never comes to fruition.

And then you realize that this extends into your companions as well. Each of the 3 companions have their own problems with their life. Barely touched upon. Not really explained, but there in the game for you to look at, listen to and bond to. I held out hope that instead of a world breaking disaster, the expansion would go out and deal with each of their problems. A world on the brink of ruin isn't saved just because you kill the Prime Evil. Who knows, the game could still do that and I could be wrong, but judging from the opening cinematic, it doesn't really seem likely. The stakes always have to be high to attract people's attention right?

Having said all of that though, the game is amazingly well designed. Looking back, I think I was looking for closure. Somehow, magically on the next difficulty and playthrough, all the loose ends get tied up. My character suddenly matters to the game. Not even in the ending cinematic do players really get a reward for their hard work. If I had to put it into words, the game is very well at denying closure. The more that the player feels is unresolved, the more they will play the game. Its not the only tool they use. Any game would be poor for using only one tool to keep players playing, but it certainly feels like a big one now that I have stepped away from the game for a few months.

There is probably an entire book to write on this game. If broken down moment to moment, you would be able to see shining brilliances in game design and some small thing put in there just to keep you going for that little bit longer. It is a rare thing for me to regret playing a video game. I don't regret the time I have put into Diablo 3, but I do look back on it with a bit of sadness. That is a shame. I never want to make an experience that people regretted. I can (have) ranted for hours and hours about what I dislike in this game so I'll just stop here instead.
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  1. DezoPenguin's Avatar
    So basically, you're saying that Diablo is the Pac-Man or Space Invaders or Defender of modern gaming?
  2. I3uster's Avatar
    Iunno if a lack of character was its main problem to be honest as D1 and 2 worked in the same manner and my D2 addiction was so bad that I probably have more hours clocked in it than I have slept in my life.
  3. Nihilm's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by I3uster
    Iunno if a lack of character was its main problem to be honest as D1 and 2 worked in the same manner and my D2 addiction was so bad that I probably have more hours clocked in it than I have slept in my life.
    I'd say the main problem was that having a easy to use auction house, made the grinding for items actually less exciting. The game turned into grind for gold/items you can sell for gold so you can get exactly what you want of the AH.

    D2 was more, wow look at this awesome thing I got, I'll use it even though it is clearly meant for a different class and has stuff on it i don't necessarily need because it is better than what I had previously.
  4. HappyCube's Avatar
    That's a big part of what turned me off. Items weren't this neat thing that I found that may or may not upgrade my gear. Everything was SHIT and all I needed to do was grind for the AH. Nothing was personal. it was all automated advancement.

    That, and the super repetitive maps. I knew where every point of interest is on a map after the first playthrough, because they don't change.
  5. Strife ❤️'s Avatar
    Everything you mentioned in your initial post was pretty much in D2, and D2 was amazing.

    The problems with D3 lie elsewhere in my opinion.

    - Skills don't have ranks/levels. Major change. Getting +skill was crucial in D2. Not to mention stats generally can't be allocated.
    - Item drop rate is calibrated with the auction house in mind, making farming boring.
    - It's tuned down a lot. D2 was just crazy at endgame. An example is Teleport, which could teleport you through solid objects, anywhere on the screen, with no cooldown. Compare D3's completely lame version of the same skill.
    Updated August 22nd, 2013 at 05:57 PM by Strife ❤️
  6. I3uster's Avatar
    Fuck Enigma.
  7. Blue's Avatar
    Maybe. I didn't REALLY love D2 either though. You guys are absolutely right that the tuning down is a major factor. And of course the RMAH crippled their ability to actually do much about the balance in the game without completely alienating their user base. Many many factors, but if I were to nitpick and criticize, I'd definitely start here.
  8. I3uster's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Strife212
    - It's tuned down a lot. D2 was just crazy at endgame
    To elaborate this wasn't exactly intended.

    People running around in Enis, Phoenixes, hotos or VHEEZEs are not supposed to be the status quo, it's just that massive duping in addition with horadric cubing/item socketing resetting item ID caused a retarded inflation in the market price of high runes and a simultaneous total dumbing down of the playerbase that didn't understand jack shit about optimization, considering hoto + eni the best shit for whatever they were running (I saw fucking sorcs using hoto, my pain was unending. To this day Javazons still run fucking phoenixes for no fucking reason except "somebody told me this is pro equip lawls".)

    D3 actually fixed a lot of gripes I had with D2, for instance physical fighters can keep up with their casting cousins and not need 2 ravens to even hit shit in Hell (and don't even get me started on fucking IM, it made act 4 literally impossible for ww baabs in HC).

    Too bad they fucked up the thing that was the most fun, that is trading and farming.
  9. Raven2785's Avatar
    Another problem that D3 has is that unlike D1 and D2 the market wasn't exactly saturated with Diablo-like games, now you have a bunch of games out there that can scratch that loot itch that Diablo was the king of about 10 years ago, games that are quite similar to Diablo itself (Torchlight) or even games that are wildly different but are still loot driven at the core (Borderlands 2) the fact that you now have options may have stolen some of it's thunder.
  10. Dark Pulse's Avatar
    And this is why you should've done the smart thing, and bought Torchlight II instead.

    Especially since Torchlight II can be actually modded. In fact, the devs even released an SDK to support it.
  11. Moczo's Avatar
    But on the other hand, you can punch the devil.
  12. Dark Pulse's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Moczo
    But on the other hand, you can punch the devil.
    With mods, in Torchlight II you can Falcon Punch the Netherlord.
  13. I3uster's Avatar
    If only Torchlight wasn't just a bad imitation of D2 with 5 people simultaneously playing it on a good day.
  14. Strife ❤️'s Avatar
    I gave Path of Exile a go for like 10 minutes and quit because it was an awful hardcore wannabe clone with no charm or character.
  15. I3uster's Avatar
    Especially reading PoE dev statements made me cringe and think these guys were the first in line to go "YEAH IT SHOULD LOOK LIKE THAT" at the hardkorr photoshops of D3.
  16. Kotonoha's Avatar
    Darples pls ban anyone who says bad things about Torchlight
  17. Kelnish's Avatar
    Torchlight is shit.
  18. Kotonoha's Avatar
    Goodbye, Kelnish.
  19. Kelnish's Avatar
    Torchlight is so shit Darples can't justify the ban though Koto.
  20. Strife ❤️'s Avatar
    I've heard good things about Torchlight but I've never tried it myself \_(ツ)_/
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