Monday, June 4, 2012

Review - Diablo 3, Part 3; The Balanced

First off I've got to note that my previous entry, Part 2 of my Diablo 3 review, was more of a victim of anger then it was passion.  I've been so infuriated by Blizzard over the past week that I simply let it spill over and as a result have compromised what I set out to do here every time I post; to inform and educate.

Moving on, despite of my efforts to stay objective while writing this I, like many people, feel either hot or cold about things pertaining to Diablo 3.  There's very little middle-ground, and while I've already covered things both praising and condemning the game, here's a few that I missed that honestly fall about as close to the middle as possible.

Irrelevant, but funny.
 - The overall challenge in the game is appropriate until, again, Inferno level, which really just puts the player in an endless equipment grind against radically overpowered opponents in the hopes that one day they will be able to either find, or afford, an upgrade to their current equipment that will make the challenges in Inferno just a little easier.

Challenge can mean a lot of things - and even though Inferno is nothing less than one of the hardest game mode's I've ever encountered for any game, ever, what I will praise as fair and balanced is the AI controlling your enemies.  They don't really do anything 'cheap' or run from you for hours making you chase them for kills, they react appropriately and accordingly to your actions.  Enemies and bosses use their abilities exactly how they should be used - I've never wondered why a boss with ability X didn't just use that ability to kill me.  It's so unfortunate that Blizzard mucked up the end-game (inferno) scenario so poorly that this really can't be seen by players without frustration taking control of their senses.

- The UI is largely useful and informative, with a few noteworthy exceptions.  All in all, with the issue of comparing rings (and only being shown one via the UI), there aren't many noteworthy examples of things gone wrong.  It's laid out and executed with a familiarity that gamers have come to almost instinctively gravitate toward over the past decade.

- Crafting, while futile, is a fair system that allows you to share your progress ad stashed items across all characters.  This is an absolutely excellent decision by blizzard.

Now, it's here and not in the good section because it's still subject to the same ludicrous odds as random-equipment drops, but that makes crafting an upgrade that much more satisfying when and if you actually accomplish it.

Another note is that while still random, this system lets you pick the type of equipment you want to craft, while endlessly hunting monsters just lets you pick up almost anything.

It's also of note that cost/benefit wise, your time is still better spent farming gold and buying an upgrade off the auction house then it is attempting to craft one.  This is mostly due to the amount of players currently in the game.  Expect this to change in months to come.

 - The followers you receive in game provide little in terms of usefulness or distractions.  While the Templar can heal you, and the Scoundrel can provide some cover fire and additional DPS, they have almost zero chance of killing a single enemy alone after the normal difficulty level.  This chance becomes absolutely nothing once you kick up the difficulty to hell.  The only exception is the enchantress and her charm ability which, with some luck, can actually turn the tide of a hard battle in a pinch.  If it wasn't for that ability, this would be in the bad section of the review.

- Finding players, joining quests, and starting games on a previous quest is easy, but the descriptions lack enough meat in them to find out exactly which part of the quest you're starting on.  Until you try it a few times, picking up a new game at a previous quest point can take some practice.

- The characters and lore of the game seem rushed, and at times ridiculous.  I've talked about the lore some already, but its worth noting that at more than one point I just sat back and was frustrated at the lack of care and dedication that went into not only the voice actor's part, but the part of the writers that came up with story.  There are parts that are simply horrendous.  The evil's lines mostly being the focus of the previous sentences criticism.


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