So I’ve been playing Diablo III a fair bit this week, experiencing the life of House the Witch Doctor. Not entirely sure what my goal was, the game is, after all, incredibly long coming. There is an upper echelon of gaming sequel delays that few franchises exist in and even fewer wish to find themselves in. Once you are in this place it is almost impossible to make a game that really matches up to what people expect.
I don’t even remember Diablo II anymore. I know it had fun gear, silly secret levels, and the general premise of good vs. evil. Other than that there is a large amount of nostalgia that I just wasn’t a part of. I wasn’t interested in this genre of game. But I am one of the suckers out there that loves to have pretty boxes laying around their house. With that in mind I picked up Diablo III and I must say that without a doubt it is one of the nicest boxes I’ve ever purchased.
The art book is also quite good, the amount of thought that went into the artwork and character design for this game is rather remarkable. This raises the question for me, that I think many people are asking, why wasn’t there as much (if any) thought put into the actual storyline? Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the video sequences, they were systematic and basically form fit to be awesome. I felt as though Blizzard had a checklist of what makes a video awesome and they put it all in the scenes, I wouldn’t mind watching each of them again, but there are almost none of them to speak of. This is one of the greatest tragedies for me, someone who buys blizzard games largely for the cut scenes.
But, you are saying, what about the awesome gameplay? Warcraft III, Starcraft I and II, etc, etc. No, I’m sorry, in one way or another I’ve always been on an endless journey to see a video unfold. This is ironic seeing as I am not a big fan of cinema in general. I much rather would read a book than watch a film, something I don’t think many people know about me. Perhaps it is the act of hiding the videos behind a challenge that raises my interest in them.
As you can see I’m sitting at level 52, what you may not know from this is how many times I’ve played through the entire game.
I haven’t reached that marvelous “Inferno” Difficulty, I will admit that I’m glad that I chose Witch Doctor as my class of choice. I’ve played with all 4 other classes and I wasn’t all that excited, they all seemed neat but I found myself delighting in my frogs, little tiki men, blow darts, and Cuddly Wuddly’s.
My companion of choice through the game was the Paladin, I can never remember his name so I’ve dubbed him “Palli Dan”. He wanted to shrug off the social demands of his people and decided to roll with an “I” instead of a “Y”.
We ventured far and wide, to the darkest depths and to the highest highs. But I found myself surprised by just how remarkably short this game is. This game is considerably shorter than Starcraft II, as in if you took cheats and gave yourself invulnerability in Starcraft II and rushed the entire game, you would beat this one faster.
You’d beat this one multiple times, faster, actually. Which normally is not a complaint I make, a solid gaming experience that is fast is just as desirable for me as an Epic fantasy adventure. But when your company is sitting on enough money to buy a nation I tend to expect a bit of padding. Some sort of grand adventure that really grips me by the balls and says “Listen to me or you are going to get hurt!”
I didn’t really find it here, the people I actually found interesting were far and few between by the end. The general rule of thumb is that if a character is in any way likeable, you won’t be seeing them for more than a fraction of an act. The Scoundrel being perhaps the only exception.
As the game started to slow down for me, as those joys of loot drops and streamlined glories started to dry out, I found myself needing a reason to go on. That’s when I decided upon finding this illusive “not-cow level”. It involved one late night (last night) and a fair bit of boss grinding but by the end of it I had my prize.
Sadly I thought I was taking screenshots of the actual gathering process but it turns out that Diablo III decided that after 7 screenshots it was really not enjoying my company and it ceased to save a single screenshot after this point. Lucky number 7? Fraps came to my rescue after that problem and the rest of my screenshots were taken with it.
I had ground out 150,000 gold and the items needed and I was on my journey. Now it was just a matter of finding the doorway to this wonderful world of happiness. The true final level of Diablo III, as it is I’m already spoiling secrets here so you might want to turn away. Oh god it is too late! You’ve already peaked at the image just below this line of text! I’m sorry!
Sprouting from the corpse of a fallen bovine, here was the Ghost of the Cow King, bringing me to the promised land. The cookie cutter nonsense of Good Vs. Evil was a thing of the past, what I had now was the true plot, the most exquisitely crafted monolith of environmental design.
All it required was a leap of faith.
A flash of rainbow brilliance and House could see nothing, then he heard rumors of a majestic candy mountain…the fog parted and there he was…Whimsyshire.
I had ventured across the beautiful landscape of Whymsyshire, seen the prancing ponies, the cuddly bears, and walking flowers. Pristine waters and lush green grasslands padded my tired feet and it was at that moment a rainbow formed over my head.
I had come to the end of the road, the last real event of Diablo III, all else was unnecessary and frankly boring. House sat back with Cuddly Wuddly and I tapped the alt and F4 keys. A few minutes later I was here typing this up and I think I’m done with Diablo III.
It’s a short game, the initial impression is strong. But you will soon find that all the gear is effectively the same, your only goal ends up being your DPS. Before you know it the game becomes a race to the finish of you dealing your DPS faster than your enemy, two glass cannons waging lighting quick war.
It’s not a bad game at all, but it feels more like a tech demo. I wouldn’t put it on the same level as Spore because it actually functions and has actual gameplay elements. I think if the auction house leads to monthly updates this could still end up being one of the best games ever made, but for now it is merely average.
So I’ll just be slapping that tag on here. I may come back to it and finish those last 8 levels, maybe even tomorrow, you never know. But I think it is much more likely that I’ll spend my time sorting magic cards and writing some kind of story.
The saviors of all existence, minus the bad part of it.