Video Game Thoughts: Diablo III

Diablo III is a 2012 action role-playing game by Blizzard Entertainment for the PC. Diablo II was one of my favorite Blizzard games, so when I heard about Diablo III, I was super excited and couldn’t wait. I closely followed the game for all the announcements, but it seemed like progress was slow. At one point, the gaming community thought the game might even be cancelled. Blizzard had done this before with a few games. They could have done it again. Luckily, the game was still being worked on.

After years of waiting it finally went into a closed beta. I happily signed up for the beta but was never invited. I think there was a huge amount of interest in the game. There just weren’t enough invites for everyone. Most thought the game would soon be released. We were wrong. After several months of beta testing, Blizzard postponed the release by six months. All the fans were disappointed, especially because so few people were able to get into the beta. Only the select few beta testers got to play in the interim.

Finally, the game released. I pre-downloaded it before the release day to make sure I could play when I got done with work. My preparation didn’t matter. There were just too many people trying the play the game at the same time. The servers were not responding sometimes and crashing other times. Blizzard scrambled to get more servers, but the damage had been done. Blizzard had specifically made this game online-only and its faults really showed here. Many players never touched the game after this first attempt to play. Others demanded refunds. I was patient enough to wait, but Blizzard wasn’t out of the woods yet though.

The gameplay had a serious flaw. It was designed around trading, but there were no gold sinks. Since gold was rarely spent on anything in-game, after only a short time massive amounts of gold had been generated by players. They accordingly set their prices high when selling items. Eventually, the new or returning player could just not acquire enough gold to get the items they needed to progress. Some players tried to just put in more hours finding items, but the item system in the game was designed to have extremely low drop rates to make trading mandatory. Ultimately, only a few dedicated players really stuck around with the game. I myself came back to the game many times to see if things were better, but it just got worse. Despite the game not lasting as long as Diablo II, I still got a lot out of it. I probably put in a three hundred hours or so. It was definitely worth the money, but it could have been so much more.

Reaper of Souls expansion

I had written the game off until the announcement of an expansion. I was skeptical at first, until I heard about the changes they were making. The trading system was being removed. The item drops would now be based on what each player’s character could use. Getting new items would happen at a more even pace. This was perfect for me. I had never been able to use the trading system much anyways. The prices were always too high. I was happy to be able to get new items on my own in a more realistic time frame. The new system wasn’t perfect though.

I had actually envisioned a similar system and had posted it on the forums earlier. In my system, players would get guaranteed upgrades after completing certain tasks in the game. These tasks would range between fifteen minutes and an hour. The longer the time investment, the better the reward. Since the game was now mostly a single player game, it made sense to me for the game to have an ending. That would happen when the player had upgraded their items to the maximum level. It would take a long time, but it was guaranteed to happen.

The system they went with did give guaranteed upgrades but only to a certain point. Eventually, the player still hit a point where further progression was almost impossible. It just took a lot longer to get to that point. Still, the drop rates they went with were a vast improvement over the original ones. I decided to buy the expansion and had a blast. I ended up putting another three hundred hours into the game and got many of the optional achievements too.

The expansion also added more depth to the paragon level system. This was a leveling system at the account level. The activities of all max level characters on the account helped gain paragon levels. In addition, all the player’s characters on the account gained a benefit from these levels. The player could give stat bonuses to many different things on a character by character basis. There was no maximum level, but the bulk of the bonuses ended at paragon level 800. I had a goal for a while to get to paragon 800. I thought it would be a great achievement. However, I was starting to get older now.

I saw that life was short. I had other goals I wanted to be working towards that I felt were more important. I wasn’t able to give up the game completely at first. For awhile I went back and forth between wanting to get all those paragon levels and quitting the game. I had already written off getting perfect items, but I still thought getting to paragon level 800 would be fun. Eventually, I realized even that goal was going to take more time than I was willing to give the game. I had stopped playing but still couldn’t bring myself to uninstall the game. Finally, after a year, I was ready to totally let go. I uninstalled Diablo III and never came back. I didn’t have as much fun with it as I did with Diablo II, but it was well worth the time I spent on it. I didn’t have any major disappointments.

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