View RSS Feed


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

Rate this Entry
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.


Page 2 of 2 FirstFirst 12
  1. Nihilm's Avatar
    I liked Torchlight 1 until I got bored of it, I didn't like 2 at all for some reason
Page 2 of 2 FirstFirst 12