[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

What is your nemesis fight?

Back in the ancient era of TBC, anyone who was raiding at the time may remember a little raid instance called Karazhan. When you raided back then, you had to accept that some fights would be fun for you and some …. less well designed for your class/ spec/ style. Karazhan contained both heaven and hell fights for melee classes.

Shade of Aran was a melee dream fight. There was a bit of running in and out so that you didn’t get bored, you could interrupt to your heart’s content, and most of the rest of the time, you could just hit him. Even better, the fight didn’t need a tank so your tanks got to let off some steam too (unfortunately dual specs didn’t exist at this point, so letting off steam meant dual wielding in your tanking spec – but it was the thought that counted!)

And then to make up for it, Prince Malchezaar was the fight where melee always died. (Apologies to anyone who didn’t, you are either a mutant, sleeping with ALL the healers, or very lucky.) You had to run in and out … but you also had to dodge random infernals and if the tank was unlucky they could end up in a position where melee literally could not get out in time safely.

And there was a kind of expectation that there would be some balance. For each horrid fight, maybe you’d get a melee friendly one. And similar for ranged, and healers, and tanks … and maybe now you see the design issues here.

But what happens when one fight is SO hellish that it puts people off the entire raid? One of my ex-WoW guildies hates healing Chimaeron, for example, and checks the goals of a raid before he signs up. In LOTRO, I hated one of the fights where I had to stand pointlessly on a distant  platform for about 80% of the time because it was so melee unfriendly and my class wasn’t that important anyway. (Nothing will make you hate a fight so much as feeling pointless … apart from guaranteed insta-death I guess.)

This is not so good for raid leaders, who really would like people to just sign regardless of which fights are on the menu. And back in the good old TBC days, that’s what we did. What else were you going to do? It was how things worked.

Now I suspect that players are more willing to just say “suck it” if they hate the fight that much, because there’s always another game, or waiting until the next tier to see if that’s more fun. I’ve wondered also if class/ soul design feeds into this, meaning that it’s easier to make fights that are just that darned unfun for some people. Or maybe the drive for devs to keep finding new and different mechanics to drop into a fight – maybe tank and spank with a few movement mechanics wasn’t so bad after all.

Do you have any hell (or heaven) fights? Have you ever considered only signing for a raid if they’re going somewhere you like? And as for me, I hate that LOTRO platform fight and never want to see it again, but it seemed rude to only sign up conditionally (eg. I can come but only if we don’t go to that wing) so I stopped signing up altogether. I wonder if that was better in the long run for everyone else.