[Diablo 3] Some links: Barbarian builds, comedy, metacritic scores, Torchlight 2 beta

D3barrel

I forgot to mention yesterday how fun it is to destroy the scenery, not to mention the various barrels, in D3. I’ve seen regular barrels, water barrels and torture barrels – not quite sure what the latter ones are.

Anyhow, since loads of people are playing Diablo 3 at the moment I thought I’d share some links today.

Barbarian Builds

My build changes regularly, like every time I want to try out a new rune or decide to respec for more mobility or more survival or more fury or more heals on crits – you get the picture. There is an interesting interplay between gear and spec that I hadn’t previously picked up on, in that you do need a certain amount of survivability in the higher difficulty levels but you have some choice as to how you want to acquire it. So a highly defensive gearset might support more offensive skills. Or something like that, certainly as you gear up through a level there seems to be more scope to experiment with less defensive builds.

Anyhow, here are a couple of builds that other people are using in Hell/ Inferno level.

Dean’s Hell level barbarian guide

Writhan’s barbarian guide to Inferno level

Sooru discusses his build and play style in Act I of Inferno mode with a barbarian.

Players in general are being quite proactive about posting builds up on the official forums and I’m sure the same is happening on D3 fansites as well.

Comedy Plot Roundup

I found this in the official forums, there are plot spoilers but he’s not that far from the actual plot.

Asmodan: “Puny human! I am the evil master strategist and I show it by frontal assault with no vanguard and a demon in the larder. Fear my cunningivity!”
Player: “Now you’re making !@#$ up. Time to take the fight to you, if only to shut you up. Nothing personal, really. Besides, I can see the family resemblance to Belial.”
Asmodan: “Are you mocking me? ARE YOU MOCKING ME?! I tankrushed hundreds of noobs in C&C, I’ll have you know!”
Player: “Actually, that explains quite a lot. Up for a game of Stratego?”
Asmodan: “RAWR!”
Player. “I’ll say.”

Metacritic and the Problem of Crowdsourced Reviews

I’m all for freedom of expression, but when the haters rush the review sites it’s hard to get a meaningful review from crowdsourced sites like Amazon or Metacritic. Or in other words, yes I get that you hate the DRM but apart from that what is the game like?

Gamepolitics.com reports on the deluge of embittered critics on Metacritic. For sure it’s annoying when you can’t play a game you paid for, but some people like reviews to also consider the gameplay rather than representing a spike of frustration.

So at least pro (or even non pro) game reviewers still have something to offer, even if people hate their opinions too. Metacritic in particular is so vulnerable to this type of hate-bombing that it is losing any value it ever had as a review aggregator and instead is more of a – I don’t know – opinion survey? For a very specific set of opinions.

Patrick Garratt at VG247 wonders about Metacritic’s relevance. He also highlights Blizzard’s refusal to allow pre-release review copies which means that any reviews you read must have been compiled after release and explains why that could be a good trend.

I am quite curious to see what the more authoritative pro reviewers make of D3, and hopefully we’ll see more of this in the upcoming week. I enjoy it very much as a game (which is my personal bottom line), but it also has major failings that leave questions in my mind.

Torchlight 2 Beta

Runic rather smartly held a weekend beta for Torchlight 2 last weekend, with no NDA, so first impressions are scattered around the internet. My personal feel is that I plan to play it, but it will be really hard for me to go back to a talent tree based system after D3. I also love storytellling, even if it’s really cheesy, which is another point in favour of D3 for me.

(I know, my tastes in games are not cool Winking smile )

Pete at Dragonchaser is more of a fan of talent trees and feels differently. Even reading this I die a bit inside when he gets excited about spending 5  points per level on stats – I always hated that aspect of RPGs.

Arb waxes lyrical about her ferret, and that’s not a euphemism.

Here’s some discussion about the T2 beta from rpg.net

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14 thoughts on “[Diablo 3] Some links: Barbarian builds, comedy, metacritic scores, Torchlight 2 beta

  1. I’d argue Metacritic is potentially evolving into a far more useful, dynamic game rating tool. Afterall, hate bombing is certainly an indicator of dissatisfaction, not to mention many, many games love bomb their scores. If we must get rid of one, then we must get rid of the other. Both, in your opinion, skew the ratings unreliably.

    I, on the other hand, think it’s a nice way to show people at a flash if users are satisfied with the game. Metacritic has been reliable in that regard, especially the user scores. Yeah, some reviews suck and are terribly biased …so is every main stream “balanced” reviewer people pay money for. Metacritic allows dissatisfied and satisfied alike, show their current opinion of the game. I’d say a 3.7 for Diablo III on release is extremely fair. Extremely. That score will creep up as the game improves. Just like it should.

    So if you think we should fix the hate bombing, should we ignore the love bombs?

    • Well, if the bombers (of either variety) are predominantly not in tune with my tastes, then it is useless to me. And I’d argue the haters mostly represent aggressive male gamers with conservative (small c) tastes so knowing that they hate a game for some reason isn’t giving me any useful information about whether I would like it or not, or what the actual gameplay quality is like. Since they’ll bomb stuff because they hate the dev, have a grudge against the DRM, or don’t like the storytelling.

      Love bombers skew the ratings also but for different and more commercial reasons.

      • I did find it insanely frustrating that I couldn’t play the game sunday afternoon, my primetime – because it was down. That’s the first time the ‘drm’ annoyed me – and I’m not entirely sure it won’t happen every weekend. But for me not to be able to play the game when I really really want to, over a new beta.. that’s bad.

      • I have not read the phrase “love bombing” before. I will try to use it five times in conversation today.

      • Erik Kain at Forbes argues that these bombings are really more of a no-confidence vote (http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2012/05/16/upset-fans-take-diablo-3-down-a-notch-on-metacritic-are-they-entitled-gamers/); I think it’s closer to a loud protest. We can argue about just how effective this method of “sticking it” to the big publishers is or how legitimate the gripes themselves are, but treating these bombings as legitimate reviews is a mistake, I think.

  2. Actually Metacritic is still as valuable as a review aggregator as ever. It’s aggregation of reviews is excellent.

    Of course it also has a tab labelled

    • ..not sure why that posted before I clicked “Post”..

      ..Of course it also has a tab labelled “User Reviews” which is a complete waste of time, featuring as it does a thousand fanbois giving the game 10/10 and a couple of thousand haters giving it 0/10 – with none of those thousands managing to string together three intelligent or even coherent words.

      So ignore that crap. Just look at the aggregation of reviews by reviewers.

  3. I admit-I love talent trees. I love in Torchlight 2 I have real freedom with the characters to go *against* their theme if I want to. In THIS particular style of game, I want that. In another game, say a console RPG, I might not.

    For example, Final Fantasy 4 on the DS introduced a system called ‘Augments.’ You could give other skills to your characters. It didn’t change WHAT they were, as, well, Kain the Dragoon could never cast black magic, but it let you build on their *themes.* This is great in a game like that.

    In a ‘3rd Person Looter’, I want as full a freedom as I can get.

    I bring up the ‘melee mage’ build a lot since in games like this, I use it as my ‘Yardstick’, so to speak, to measure how much freedom I have. The ‘Melee Mage’ test is essentially: Can I take a Mage type character, usually seen as ranged and casty and not physical, and turn them into a head-smashing powerhouse with some weaker spells, more as a ‘hybrid?’ If the answer is ‘Yes’, then there is a lot of freedom in the game. In Torchlight 2, I can do this. I put points between my Melee Embermage’s Strength and Focus(the magic stat), with a little bit of Vit for survivability(he is a bit of a glass warrior/cannon type, something has to give), but I can then equip some fun spells on him, give him a giant 2 handed axe, and watch him cleave through enemies physically just as awesomely as my Berserker does, and then pewpew some others. I sacrifice Crit(Dex) and some HP/Armor(Vit) for this build, but i can do it, and it’s lovely. In D2, my Meleemancer did just fine. He was awesome to play.

    In D3, I *can’t*. The closest thing to a melee mage that I saw was more ‘a mage that stood in melee.’ Now, of course there is that irony of on Inferno mode wizards being the best tanks, but the melee mage made me feel off. There was no physicality in there. I was stuck in *their* idea for it, and in this style of game, I dislike that. I *wanted* a wizard cleaving heads with a 2 hander with some spells, even if I had to give up some other stuff to do it. In TL2, they say ”Here are the reigns, have fun.”

    Just my tastes, of course. (I mean, I guess my ideal 3rd person looter would be more of a ‘Build Your Own Class’ kinda deal where you select a bunch of traits and stats at the start to make a character with your own feel to it.)

    For me though, I’m going TL2 the whole way. It just has so much love put into it(and to be fair, the talent trees have a nice little thing where they’re ‘noob friendlier’ than others, in the sense that many of the abilities scale with character level/weapon DPS than they do skill ranks, allowing people to sprinkle points around a bit more liberally. More points typically adds more secondary effects, of which you’ll probably want in the harder modes, but for Casual/Normal? It’s well done, I think.)

    • You could have a system like this that allowed a melee mage; D3 doesn’t, but it’d be easy to imagine that it could be done without talent trees.

      I’m looking forwards to checking out T2, but I’m so tired of having to care how much crit or stamina my character has and carefully assign points every level. I just want to pick cool gear and cool abilities that might work together in interesting ways and play. That’s what this system does, which is why I love it :) (Although you probably do have to care a bit about your vitality and defensive specs, which I don’t much enjoy.)

      I don’t even know if I want to design a one-off character class, I’d be happy enough if they design one that is fun and balanced and that I never have to think about. It may be that my level of laziness in this respect is abnormal though. But what I really don’t want is to put any effort into character design and then find out it’s subpar (which it would be because I’m not a minmaxer.)

      This type of design goes a long way to avoid that happening. If my talents don’t work out, no biggie, I’ll just reassign them. Yet at the same time, T2 only has three classes. If I wanted to play a monk I’d be SOL. It’s flexible if you have flexible tastes.

  4. To be honest, if you aren’t a challenge gamer…it’s VERY hard to mess something up in Torchlight 2. TL2 has four classes, and you can have a ton of builds, far more, IMO, than D3, in terms of actual separate builds. I’m kinda glad I dropped D3 as I imagine I’d be bored to tears after awhile due to the limitations.

    I actually am doing a test in TL2. Normal mode, I am picking classes and pretending I’m either a new player or one of those players who just want to shove points in stuff and run, and I’m seeing how effective it is. To be completely honest, it’s fine. Really, I’m floating around stat points and shoving points in skills and while the class definitely feels a little less cohesive, it won’t destroy a newbie. (I would not do this in Veteran/Elite mode.) See, I LOVE putting effort into this and picking stuff. But if you aren’t a crazy challenge gamer(which requires minmaxing in any game), you aren’t going to run into issues going nuts ”I wish I took that 1 point of Vitality!”

    Also you have to remember. MODS. The mod community. Which designs classes for the game, some of which are *awesome*. Yes, I expect the Berserker to be able to be Monked up very very easily. The Mod Community will open up far more in TL2 than…well, D3 HAS none, so yeah. (Oh yeah, if respecs aren’t given normally they will be in about 30 seconds as I’m pretty sure they already pre-made a mod for it.)

    I also have this thing where I’m a fanatically loyal supporter to the mod community, and with Blizzard basically giving them two middle fingers on account of their precious RMAH(regardless of the fact they helped keep D2 going far longer than it would have) I admit I have some rather hot bias there.

    • Bah! can’t edit my reply, forgot to add something. :D

      I did want to say that it’s not necessarily the system Blizz implemented in D3, but the fact they purposely choked off builds from it for reasons that…well, sadly, I link to their putting in PvP and wanting to turn everything into an esport. :/ I imagine that we weren’t given the option for an awesome flavorful mage with a big 2H axe because ‘it would unbalance PvP.’

      • I actually think they moved away from talent trees and tried to keep abilities thematic to their classes out of conviction that it would make a fun game. They’ve been going that way with WoW so I could see how D3 is an opportunity to try something else along those lines.

        And tbh it works. It may not give you the flexibility that you want, but it does work.

    • In TL 1, there was an “optimal” way to play on the harder settings and if you didn’t, you were a goner. This is no different from D3 on Inferno except that you can get there with 1 character, rather than having to build a completely new one because you made defensive choices rather than offensive (a-la D2).

      You’re arguing that you can’t use an axe in melee when that has nothing to do with the skill trees. Being able to swap around skill points is a different argument than what skills you actually have to use.

      Mods address developer inadequacies. WoW vanilla had some amazing mods because Blizzard’s interface was horrible. Over the years, they’ve integrated the mods into their game (raid frames, threat meters, quest helpers, auras, etc…). I do wish they had given more credit to the modders though. TL has mods because the game is unfinished.

      What TL did right was streamline many systems to make the game much more accessible than D2. You can see many of those systems in D3. You can also see quite a few that they didn’t take in order to try to push people to the RMAH.

  5. Well, working is cool-but, sadly, it sorta kept me away from the game. :/ There are lots of things that work that aren’t to my taste. I mean, my friend loves playing MAG, for example. The game works for what it is. But it’s not my cup of tea. I need freedom when I play these types of games. It’s cool that not everyone does, but I just feel like…I guess I keep feeling like ‘what I want to make’ and I end up feeling flat, I guess. I’m picky in my own ways.

    I also should note another neat thing TL2 does is allow character customization. It doesn’t make the stew, but it adds a tiny bit of spice. To be able to pick both genders, hair style, face, and haircolor(and skin tone), it’s a really nice little thing. For example, my ‘Casty’ embermage is an older, wise looking guy. My ‘melee’ embermage is a young, handsome fellow with a big 2H hammer who busts apart enemies before letting loose some frostbolts. My ‘Bot’ engineer who specializes in guns, mines, and tinkers looks like a curious young lady, where my 2H Tough Guy engineer looks like a Blue Collar Worker from Springsteen Country. It’s just a really nice touch. :) Would have loved to have seen something like that in D3 as well.

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