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


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

Torchlight 2 Pre-Purchase

Throwing their hats into the pre-purchase ring, Runic Games have Torchlight 2 up  for pre-purchase on Steam for $20/£14.99; release date is “Summer 2012” and the perk you get for pre-purchasing is a free copy of Torchlight (which you could gift to a friend if you already have a copy).

This is so much of a better deal than any of the other pre-purchase ‘offers’ I’ve seen recently, such as Guild Wars 2 (woo ‘free’ access to beta weekends) or Diablo 3 (no actual bonus for pre-purchase), and gives you a complete game to play while you’re waiting for the release that I’d give props to Runic for thinking things through.

If publishers want me to shell out money up front, these are the sorts of lines they should be thinking along.

[SWTOR] So the NDA is down, ‘open’ beta weekend looming. Also GW2 and Torchlight 2 delayed. What’s a girl gonna do?

I’ve been racking my brains on what to say about SWTOR as the fansite NDA went down last week and my RSS feed filled up with previews and opinions from people who have already experienced the beta.

I’ll link to a few here, it’s just a subset of the many good posts out there since most of them reiterate similar points.

Randomessa’s reflections (she discusses why she won’t be playing the game when it goes live.)

It turns out that I simply do not have the patience for staying in one environment that Bioware demands of me. […] I love me some well-crafted and portrayed lore and cutscenes, but at least in most MMOs I’ve played I have a variety of locales I can move through in a relatively brisk manner, or, barring that, a variety of activities I can undertake to advance, even within the same environment.

Keen and Graev on their plans for playing SWTOR but skipping the endgame. (To be fair, I don’t think the endgame was available in the beta so this is based on conjecture.)

SWTOR is worth buying because it has the qualities of every other Bioware RPG.  If you bought Dragon Age Origins or Mass Effect and had fun, and you like or tolerate themepark MMOs, then SWTOR is no different. From what I have seen, I fear the end-game will be just like WoW.  I’m not a fan of raiding for gear and I don’t like repeating the same raid over and over.  That truly is the end-game for me now — that’s where I’ll end playing the game.

MMO Gamer Chick writes a very thorough preview and explains why she loved it, but also notes that it isn’t a revolutionary game.

I’m a gamer of fairly flexible tastes, and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed every minute I had with this game. Despite some nitpicky issues I had, in general my overall view of SWTOR is extremely positive.

[…] as you level up, the combat gets a lot more interesting. By the mid 20s, I was really getting into it. And by 50, I was having a ton of fun.

[Planets] are HUGE. So huge, you will be crying tears of joy by the time you get to buy your first speeder. Quest indicators on the map are almost a necessity; otherwise, the game is so big you’d never be able to figure out where to go.

Kalliope focusses on the tradeskills:

My overall impression of professions in SWTOR is that they closely model WoW crafting. There are a few improvements such as the reverse engineering ability, the enhancement option and crew missions, but the skill levelling and procurement processes are quite similar. They also seem to have the same gated structure to the levelling process that makes crafting prohibitive to non-adventurers in most games.

Rohan @ Blessing of Kings enjoyed the game a lot but has issues with some of the mechanics. (I think this is pretty much a given for a Bioware RPG.)

The quests and storyline, and general solo play is amazing. I really enjoyed that and I look forward to fully exploring the game when it releases. Also, I’d like to reiterate that I loved Light-Side Sith.

But mechanically, it feels like there are a lot of design issues. These don’t really matter for solo play, but I think the crucible of group and endgame play will expose a lot of flaws.


Mostly I am finding that my previous expectations of the game are borne out by players. So top marks to Bioware for sending out the right messages with their hype. All I ask of hype is that it be entertaining and not give misleading impressions.

One note that Randomessa highlights in her post is that the different class storylines play very differently. She was conflicted in that the class whose story she preferred wasn’t the one whose combat gameplay she liked best.

I strongly suggest to prospective players that you pick your class based on the storyline. That’s going to be the strength of this game. Don’t end up saying ‘I played an X even though I liked the story that goes with Y better.’

I know my goal during open beta weekend, if I have time, is to play enough of the classes to get a feel for which story I am going to find most compelling.

Delays in the pipeline

In other news, Guild Wars 2 sounds as though it’s likely to be at least a year out from going live based on comments made during NCSoft’s latest earning call. Although if their beta is still due to start this year, that would leave them with an unusually long beta ….

Torchlight 2 is officially delayed now as well, I wish Runic all the best with the game and look forwards to play it when it does come out. But it’s bad news for them if they can’t get T2 out before Diablo 3.

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.


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.


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.

Gaming News: Starcraft 2 numbers, Torchlight 2, Gameforge buys majority of Frogster, Google Wave ditched

Starcraft 2 sells well, but not as well as WoW

The SC2 numbers are in and they’re good. Blizzard claims best selling PC Game of 2010 with over 1 milion copies sold within the first 24 hours. Kotaku compare this number with WoW expansions, and finds that both TBC and Wrath sold over twice as well in their first 24 hours of release.

I’m dubious as to how much weight to put on the first 24 hour sales with this game, since it’s expected to have a very long tail indeed if it follows after the example of its predecessor.

SC2 fans will probably also enjoy this article by Sirlin about the game’s online ranking mechanism.

In other Blizzard news, the developer has announced intentions to try to police roleplay on one of the US RP servers. Apparently Moonguard US has zones which are notorious for people cybering in public and some hapless GM/s have been assigned the least enviable job in the community management arena by being told to go in and stop people doing it.

So good luck with that then. And in Activision’s Q2 investor call it was confirmed that Blizzard is working on a new MMO with a new IP. (I’m not sure if this is news, I had thought they already said as much but it’s official now.)

Torchlight 2 announced! Not a MMO but will include multiplayer

Runic Games announced this week that they plan to release a sequel to fan favourite Diablo-alike Torchlight, to be released around March 2011. Torchlight 2 will include multiplayer functionality so you can adventure with your friends, and they also intend to offer a free peer-to-peer matchmaking system.

Also overland areas, more classes, more customisation … and so on. We still have no dates for Diablo 3 so this might well beat it to market. I am curious to hear more from Blizzard on how they’re going to differentiate D3 from the increasingly slick looking competition.

Gameforge buys Frogster

Frogster, best known in the MMO community  for distributing Runes of Magic is now majority owned by Gameforge. Massively have some comments on Gameforge’s current portfolio and where this purchase fits in.

Also in commercial news this week, Google picks up social gaming app/ widget maker Slide. There’s no doubt that they intend to be a major player in the social gaming field, I can’t wait to hear more about their plans.

And in the same week, they announced the demise of the much hyped Google Wave.

So farewell, Google Wave

understood by no one.

You failed to make waves.

‘Never seen that before’ MMO news