I am pleased.
I’m the guy who remembers Diablo and Diablo II with considerable clarity. And let me tell you, there’s a lot of hype to live up to. It’s not even just the game, but the memories of playing alongside my brother and college buddies. Having a blast, adventuring together.
Thanks to Blizzard’s socially networked system, I got a taste of even that yesterday. My buddy Lincoln and I powered through Act I together. I caught up with an old chum, Paul, for the first time in years. And I teased Lahna about her newfound birth control pants. She pointed out that all pants are technically birth control.
…Touché, Lahna. Well played.
Part of me always worries that a new game based on an old franchise, untouched for a decade, will abandon its roots. But those gaming traditions are alive and intact. The same, simple gameplay. The satisfying murder of mass minions. The looting system that feels like a slot machine. The crafting system offers some interesting depth that I look forward to exploring.
I at first disliked the skill system, prefering the character-design approach of Diablo II. But it won me over when I got to level 10 and recognized some of the complexity of the runes and passive skills. It also eliminates the fear of creating “dead-end” skilled characters who cannot survive the higher difficulties. “Respecing” did not exist back in the day. I liked how each class handled their skill power (not always mana this time) in differing ways. Sometimes it regenerates over time. Sometimes, you build it by using your basic attacks. This gave each class a degree of variety akin to Warhammer Online.
A number of complaints have been made about Diablo III‘s online restrictions, in that it must be online. Cracked.com has already written a great article about the issue (language alert). Not just about the current problems but some likely future ones as well. How obnoxious is this problem going to become? I can’t say. I played for a few hours yesterday before my ISP decided to fail on me during my single player games.
Technically, not Blizzard’s fault. Indirectly, a design failure for sure.
But in Blizzard’s defense, I think people forget how bad cheating and abuse became in the previous games. I assure you, it got horrible. And I’m not talking about the player killing of the original Diablo. Or the ol’ “Gimme 10,000 gold and an item and I’ll imbue it for you” scam of Diablo II. I fell for that once, never again.
What I’m talking about were the mods. The mods that gave characters powerful equipment both immediately and for free. Or even created new, otherwise impossible gear. Or the fully maxed out, level 99 (despite a cap of 20, discluding item boosts) for every skill, and 999 stats. Every reason to even play the game went out the window with these mods.
With one glaring exception (Tommy, I’m talking about you), my college buddies pretty much gave up on playing with strangers for these reasons. And given that Blizzard now gets a cut of any real cash auction trades, they have every incentive to keep players honest.
But there are other reasons for forcing Diablo III to be online.
Part of this really goes back to SOPA and beyond. Tons of people (including yours truly) came out against the bill. I didn’t think about it at that time, but a lot of search results suggested that Blizzard (or at least parent company Activision) supported SOPA.
If I’m wrong about this, give me your source and I will correct it. I hate spreading false info.
We wisely rejected SOPA. But this in turn also means that the industry has to find ways on its own to protect their IP. I feel that game piracy ironically threatens to kill its own host, especially given the very high costs of producing these blockbuster games. I’m sure others feel differently, but let’s not lie to ourselves that stolen games don’t hurt the industry. Businesses are not immortal. If you want to know more, you can check out the debate here and decide for yourself.
This is why SOPA got support in the first place.
No matter what, the piracy issue has to be dealt with somehow. Sure, I miss the freedom from the internet as much as the next single player. Make no mistake Blizzard, you are absolutely welcome to come up with a better way that keeps single player offline and protects your stuff. But for now, if it keeps the mod abusers* out and the gaming industry alive, I’ll bare it just to have a good, honest game.
*-I changed this from user to abuser. Technically, not every mod is a full blown abuse of the game system. Some actually fix or improve the game elements. So I’ll give the more honest, non-cheating mod developers a break.