When I signed up for the yearly pass, part of the reason was to get the free D3. Not so much for me, but for my kid, who is the world’s biggest Diablo fan. Unfortunately, it turns out, you can’t transfer licenses1. So I was left with a working copy of D3 and no real desire to check it out.
But when opening night came, I decided to see if it was worth all the hype, so I installed it and started it up.
I started out with a wizard (my D2 character had been more vanilla). The male wizard looks like a cross between Tom Hiddleston and Skrillex – so of course, I called him Grillex. I’m hoping eventually to make his arcane blasts go wubWubWubWub as they glide across the room, but first things first.
What I will say of this game thus far: the best way I can describe my experience is that of a long walk on the beach with an old friend. There is practically nothing that I don’t like. It’s a time machine taking us back to when we were playing D1 and D2 in almost an identical way.
Sure, there are gameplay elements that have changed, but the fundamentals have not. And that makes all the difference. Blizzard have hit the ball out of the park on this one. The "X" factor that made D1 and D2 such runaway hits is still all there.
The only downside to this game is the mandatory online aspect. You can’t just fire up a session on your laptop to kill an hour or whatnot. There are procedures. You Must log in, you Must authenticate, ergo you Must have a working network connection at all times.
The other downside to this is that any time you lose the network, whatever instance you were in is completely reset. If it’s a special one with special bosses with special loot, it might disappear altogether! This is a harsh price to pay for server instability from a company that has not once managed to launch a game without server instability. Now that they are pals with Valve, maybe they can switch to Steam deployment, and have that "work offline" option. I mean, Valve CAN make it work, after all.
Within the game, the only thing that isn’t my cup of tea so far is the witch doctor. I don’t get this class. It doesn’t belong. Unless you consider the "jungle" area with the pygmies2 in D1/2 to be the source of such – hello, negative stereotypes! Thanks for reaffirming Blizzard’s tone-deafness in matters of diversity. And ooga-booga to you, too.
Over all, though, it’s a glorious incarnation of an already legendary game, and I suspect this one will surpass the previous two in popularity.
Of course, some of the biggest Diablo fans in the world are playing WoW. Or, were, rather. All around the ‘sphere we’re hearing of dead cities, silent chat channels, even the ANAL guys have bailed to go play D3. Nothing has had such an impact before. Aion? Nothing. Rift? A pip. STWOR? Shaken, but not stirred. But D3 … it’s done what none of the "WoW killers" could do. Granted, it’s in the pre-expansion doldrums, but still.
Which confirms what I’ve said all along. Blizzard’s worst enemy is Blizzard themselves.
See you in a few days.