2011: Year of the Diablo Clones?

I’m not sure if everything old is new again at the moment, or if other companies just tend to follow Blizzard’s trends. But it does look as though group based PvE type games are on a roll at the moment.

diablo-3-screenshot-4

First is Diablo 3 itself, of course. I will be amazed if this does not turn out to be the fastest selling PC game of all time, judging from general levels of enthusiasm. So no pressure on Blizzard there.

It will be an interesting balancing act, to make sure the game appeals to people who loved the last one while still being able to make innovations to the mechanics. And just as Diablo influenced WoW (talent trees, loot, etc), I suspect that this time round we’ll see some bleed through the other way. Only last week Blizzard announced that D3 will feature crafting, in a way that will be very familiar to GW fans. I can’t wait to hear more and it sounds as though Blizzcon will have a strong D3 theme this year (a fact which should surprise no one.)

torchlight-2 Next up is Torchlight 2 (the multiplayer co op version). People have been saying that Torchlight was reminiscent of Diablo from …. the first second they booted it up. This isn’t surprising given that some of the original team now work for Runic. It’s fun, fast, furious and if D3 doesn’t quite hew closely enough to the original for many tastes, Torchlight 2 almost certainly will. It never really had the depth of Diablo, but it was a lot of fun at a budget price, and I’m sure that the co operative version will be as well.

The Runic CEO has joked that Torchlight 3 might even be out before D3, given the pace and pressure over at Blizzard. But he also noted:

I’ll be the first to buy Diablo 3, I’m a huge fan. I just know what it’s like over there.

darksporeshared-1-1279576043 The third Diablo-esque game on the slate for 2011 is Darkspore. I wasn’t really sure what to make of this one when it was first announced, I never really got hooked on Spore and it wasn’t an action type of game anyway. So what this really has to do with Spore at all is lost on me.

However, it only takes one screenshot to clear everything up. My first reaction was, “huh, that looks like Diablo…”. and EA are now promoting the game as “Spore meets Diablo.” So I assume we can mostly forget the Spore parts as far as gameplay goes and look forwards to another cool Diablo type game with some interesting tweaks. This one involves some pokemon style choices from the player:

When choosing to beam down from your starship to a planet, you will see a lineup of enemy types that you’ll encounter. This gives you and your friends enough information to decide which three characters from your collection you’ll want to deploy.

So you’ll have a variety of monsters to fight with, and you’ll also be able to customise them with drops. But some will have attacks which are stronger against certain types of enemy so you’ll have to choose which monsters to bring with you into battle on each level/ planet.

dungeon-siege-3

Yet another game due for 2011 release will be Dungeon Siege 3. This was first announced by Obsidian at E3 earlier this year and since then we haven’t heard a great deal about it. They do however comment that it will include a co-op mode for up to four players, and again, the screenshot speaks for itself and it says “Diablo!”

Neverwinter, just announced by Atari and Cryptic, isn’t going to be a Diablo clone. However, it will feature group based PvE so I’ll put it in a similar or neighbouring category. This isn’t going to be a traditional MMO, despite being developed by Cryptic. Players will be able to design their own dungeons (as in Neverwinter Nights) and it sounds as though Neverwinter is planned to bridge a gap between MMOs and CRPG play.

I don’t personally see the appeal of Forgotten Realms as a setting (where are my Planescape or Dark Sun games???) but it’s familiar to a lot of players. And this game sounds as if it will offer an interesting tweak to the group based strategic style instancing gameplay that a lot of MMO players do enjoy, albeit not in a traditional MMO type virtual world setting. One to look out for.