Diablo 3 has been in my “don’t touch” bucket for the longest time. The amount of negative press, justified or not, soured my anticipation for the game. Always online connection required? A real money auction house? Colourful environments? “How dare they, those wretched motherfuckers,” the comments echoed.
Well, I finally got it. For better or worse.
Launch day wasn’t much better. Servers buckled under the weight of millions of eager mouse-clickers, choking server queues and snatching up bandwidth like a swarm of latency goblins. People suddenly realised they paid $60 for a game that they weren’t able to play on launch day and, as gamers do, they got pissed, and they made memes.
The hard knocks didn’t stop. People complained (and Blizzard acknowledged) that Diablo 3 lacked end game content beyond grinding for better loot. This was in turn influenced by the real money auction house, with drop rates adjusted so as to preserve the virtual marketplace. At one point, the economy was crippled by an exploit that enabled players to duplicate billions in gold, resulting in several bans and the threat of a server rollback that never happened.
Blizzard ain’t giving up though. The changes are promising. Loot 2.0 has been welcomed as a breath of fresh air that made progression more meaningful. Loot drops are now more frequent and encourage different builds. The controversial auction houses have been shut down. And Reaper of Souls, the first expansion to Diablo 3, is dropping soon, with another Act, a new character, and more. And I’m just getting started on my first toon.
When everything works, it’s fun. After setting up a Battle.net account, registering an authenticator, downloading the client, queuing up the hefty game file package, and working around server maintenance and the odd error codes that mysteriously appear…it’s actually fun to play. At least there are Australian servers now.
The gameplay is fast. When I started, a 50% XP boost event was being held, and my Barb churned through levels like a whirlwind, hitting the magical 60 in no time. The abilities were interesting. The gear drops were great, with a slow but steady trickle of Legendaries. And the salvaging / crafting system? A little convoluted, and I had to refer to Google more often than I would’ve liked, but salvaging materials encouraged me to let go of my hoarding habit.
It’s a big departure from the previous Diablo games. That niche seems to be filled with plenty of other options now, so if you’re really hankering for a more traditional ARPG approach, you can take your pick. Diablo 3 streamlines the process. It breaks it down into a few simple elements: thick mobs, plenty of skills, and mounds of loot. It’s enough for this green-ass wannabe, thinking he’s hot shit with his crit chance and his armour sets.
Anyway, after almost 2 years, I finally bought it. Thanks to all those who put up with Diablo 3 in its infancy. If you didn’t, I probably wouldn’t be enjoying it as much.