You have to feel for the masses of single player gamers who loaded up their shiny new copy of Diablo 3 to be met with lag, server errors, and various bugs. And this is what passes for a HALF-DECENT MMO launch.
All you need to know about this game is that it will tug mercilessly on the heartstrings of anyone who lost their heart to Diablo 2. All the gang are back: Deckard Cain, Tyriel, a blacksmith with an annoying accent, the Skeleton King, the Butcher, and a few new additions who you’ll probably wish would shut up so that you can get on with the serious business of exploding monsters in all directions.
Sadly, it doesn’t need innovative design or gameplay to make me happy when playing a Diablo-like game and they don’t really get more Diablo-like than this, so Blizzard hit the nail on the head with that side of things. Even down to the point of Act 1 taking place in grim gothic torture chambers and Act 2 in the desert. But if you like this sort of thing, it’s good clean explody fun and before you know it, several hours have passed and you find yourself pondering which weapon combination to try next or how that new rune will work out in play, where is the next waypoint and oh please will someone shut that companion up!
It’s uncanny really, I was just getting really wound up by the templar’s gormtastic moralising and cheesy combat comments (eg. “Evil has been REBUKED!”) and thinking, “You know, what my barbarian really needs is a sleazy thief sidekick who’ll spend the whole time trying to hit on me and any female associates “ and sure enough, Blizzard obliged. OK, that wasn’t quite what I was thinking, but the scoundrel is working much better for me as a companion than the templar who was a) annoying and b) NEVER HEALED. Or if he did I didn’t notice. Admittedly the scoundrel is Captain Obvious and says things like “that looks like a hard monster!” and “Yay loot!” (paraphrased, but he does talk about loot a lot.) It’s like adventuring with a sleazy version of Hawley.
It’s a slick game, I’ve been playing a Barbarian and have abilities that let me leap into a group of mobs, swing my axes around like a cuisinart and have things go flying in all directions. Simple pleasures. It’s like a fury warrior amped up to 11 and I’m not surprised that the guy who did the superfast run through normal mode picked a Barbarian. The multiplayer game is slick too, but we haven’t tried that yet since beta due to waiting on everyone’s copy arriving.
Arb expresses how sad of a panda she is that hers hadn’t arrived yesterday in her new blog that everyone should follow (it arrived in today’s post so hoping for a happy panda post tomorrow).
There have, as mentioned above, been a fair number of server issues. I think Blizzard seems to be getting onto these quickly but they did have a stress test, they did know how many pre-orders were out there, they should have really been prepared for this. Main issues I’ve faced have been “being put on US servers automatically and only realising after my first character killed the skeleton king”, “new character on EU servers didn’t get any achievements at all”, bit of minor lag, difficulty connecting during peak hours local. A lot of these seem better now – my partner got put on the EU servers when he installed his copy last night, when I tried the game today I was earning achievements again, the gold auction house has been turned back on etc.
Note on selecting servers: It’s Options –> Account –> Servers
So if it is bugging you, have some tea and settle in, it’ll be sorted swiftly. Clearly this doesn’t take away from the idea that you should be able to play a game you have bought, especially if you intended to play it as single player. And if those servers are offline for maintenance, then just forget it.
Tobold notes that decent items for levelling are cheap on the auction house. I think he’s right and this will continue – if you don’t want best in slot but something nicer than your drops, it’ll be cheap to buy it in the gold AH. Ignore any advice not to sell magic items to vendors, it’s entirely possible they’ll give you a better price than either a) the cost of the disenchanted materials or b) than you’d get on the auction house.
(Yeah, my Barbarian is in that screenshot somewhere.)
Blizzard have pushed forwards the storytelling aspect somewhat, experimenting in particular with giving you voiced versions of stories via journal extracts and conversation snippets with NPCs. This I think works very well if you can get past the accent issue, I enjoyed picking up bits of journal and following up on companion/ NPC conversations. I also really like getting the stories and setting in a piecewise way. The story itself is not going to win any prizes for originality or .. err.. anything else but it does the job. It’s DIABLOISH dammit. I quite like the snippets of game background and setting, however annoying the templar is as a companion (there is an unwritten rule in RPGs that templars are always annoying btw, this is also true in MMOs and applies to players in templar related guilds as well as NPCs), the templar order itself is quite intriguing.
Sadly, having gotten used to Bioware companions I keep expecting mine to be able to sell my trash loot and have involved romances. Not that I’d want to romance any of them, there are mobs to smash!
As you progress in the game the difficulty does ramp up, and the random encounters and bosses in particular can become quite interesting. Wasdstomp has some comments on one of the Act 1 bosses where I also had to pause, respec, have a look around the environment, and then go in and whip its arse. Never let it be said there’s no reward for thinking about an encounter, just a bit.
Pop Tips for the Butcher: There are two healing wells and they respawn during the fight. The fiery areas will start to glow before they actually get set on fire. And I respecced for good single target damage.
The music is also excellent and does a grand job of setting the mood.
And lets finish on some Diablo words of wisdom: