When Diablo 3 launched, I wasn’t a fan. I was hoping for a real sequel to Diablo II in more than just lore and the very broadest of brush strokes, but that’s not what Blizzard delivered and I found it hard to adjust. I was anticipating a game with endless character building possibilities but Blizzard opted to deliver a more mainstream title for today’s more casual gamer. People no longer see having to re-roll a character as part of the challenge of gameplay and learning a game; they see it as an annoyance.
Anyway while Raptr was showing people racking up 18 hours in the first 3 days of launch, I put about 5 hours in total in the first week. I just didn’t find it all that interesting so I stopped playing.
Friday night, after almost a full week away, I picked it up again. I spent some time tweaking the controls (I have Move on W and Stop on E & D) so it controls a little like a direct control game (downside is I keep hitting S meaning to backup but instead pop up the Skill window in mid fight) and I have easy access to the few hotkeys the game gives you. I think these adjustments helped me let go of the dream of a sequel to Diablo II since the game now played so differently. I also turned off the stupid, stupid system that makes you bind certain skills to certain buttons and only lets you have 1 skill in every category active at a time. Now at least I have some tactical customization options.
You can probably tell by the tone of this post that I still harbor some ill-will towards the game, but at least I’m finding it fun in small doses now. Mostly I’m just soaking up the lore and the random chat going on around me. My Templar companion makes me chuckle fairly often and the things the villagers say can be amusing as well. The gameplay still seems awfully simple and there are some very odd decisions that seem to have been made as a result of yanking features. For instance they’ve gotten rid of Town Portal and Identify scrolls. Casting Town Portal takes a few seconds and I understand that…you don’t want it to be an escape mechanism from a tough fight. But Identify takes a few seconds, too. Why? Why have Unidentified items at all if you just have to right click them to identify them?
I do miss those scrolls though. I miss having a full inventory and having to decide if it’s worth the cost of a Town Portal to go back and sell, or if I should just discard some low value objects and press on. On the other hand, not requiring them keeps casual players clicking away, which is what Diablo 3 is all about. Click click and click some more! It could almost be a Zynga game.
Another thing that’s a bit disappointing was finding out that my rate of fire while holding down the left mouse button is much slower than the rate of fire I can obtain by rapidly clicking it. On the one hand, the ‘hold down’ rate of fire is sufficient to kill most enemies before they get near me. On the other hand, if the game ever does ramp up the challenge spamming that button is going to play hell with my RSI issues on my mousing hand.
I’m a bit baffled by the loot system, too. I’ve had a few Rare items drop but they’ve tended to be no better than Blue items I already had equipped, even though they both have the same level requirements. Nor do they salvage into anything interesting. I guess they’re meant to be vendored? Or maybe I’ve just been unlucky. I did find one rare Quiver that is pretty interesting..it has a bunch of stat boosts on it. Most of my Rare stuff has been dull, though.
So far gold has been kind of irrelevant. I’ve been spending all mine to level up the Blacksmith since the merchants never have anything worth buying, I’ve never had need of potions, and scrolls have been removed from the game. Essentially there seems to be a lack of gold sinks in the Normal Difficulty game. I understand this all changes a lot on higher difficulties though. I don’t want to use the AH because honestly the game is providing absolutely no challenge at this point (still in Act 1, remember) and I certainly don’t want to make it any easier.
My goal for now is to chip away at my first play-through, enjoying the story and the lore. Then when I have the higher difficulty levels unlocked I’m hoping the gameplay gets more interesting (or maybe even before then…perhaps later Acts get more exciting). Or perhaps I should re-roll as a barbarian (I’m playing a demon hunter) since I hear in general the game is much more challenging for melee characters. Or maybe Blizzard will put a $9.95 “unlock” item up for sale that lets me jump to higher difficulty levels before finishing normal.
Still, I’m at the point where I can jump in and spend an hour having fun just making monsters go “Blammo!” and listening to my Templar pal hoot and holler and ask for more fights like that one. This is way beyond where I was during launch week when I was just pissed off that I’d flushed $60 down the toilet for a game I really didn’t like.
I really wish players could just pick a difficulty level from the start. I think that would’ve changed my experience considerably.