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Diablo 3 General Article: Review-in-Progress Part Two

By Michael Bitton on May 25, 2012

It’s been a week since we last checked in and I’ve definitely made some progress in Diablo III, though not nearly as far as many of you no doubt have made it thus far. I’ve beaten Normal difficulty on my Wizard – yeah, Wizard.  I realize that last week I was showering praise on the Barbarian, and it’s still my favorite class, no doubt, but I ended up playing with two other friends through the campaign and I decided to use my second favorite class, the Wizard, for that playthrough.

The Wizard may not be as visceral as the Barbarian, but the class is pure awesome anyways. What I’m really glad about is the fact that Blizzard accounted for those of us who want to go the ‘Battle Mage’ or ‘Arcane Warrior’ route. Going through Normal with a slick nodachi (katana) and cutting up monsters en masse with Spectral Blade is pretty satisfying. In any case, with my Normal playthrough now behind us, let’s break down the experience up to this point beginning with…

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THE GOOD

Power! Unlimited power!
 

Again, the versatility of the classes is a huge pro for me. Sure, I still have the same larger concerns for the game’s character progression design, but the fact of the matter is you can still accomplish some off-the-wall builds using what Blizzard provided.

Diablo III doesn’t feature the best story ever written, but the cinematics tying all the acts together are the top-notch Blizzard quality you’d expect. I often feel both deflated and amazed while watching these cinematics; I’d love to see Blizzard do a movie in this format for any of their major franchises.

The random event system is another feature that really hooks into my style of play. I explore every nook and cranny of the map and finding these randomized events is probably the best reward I can think of for doing so. Sure, placed easter eggs are fun, but logging into the game at any time and finding new stuff to do and things to loot every time I explore a map? Awesome.

THE BAD

I honestly don't remember this guy's name. He was pretty much a speed bump. Dead in 15 seconds flat.
 

Honestly, I’m not a fan of Diablo’s difficulty configuration, at least not for Normal. I realize that the Diablo series has had unlockable difficulty levels since the original game, and I don’t necessarily mind this, but I think they could’ve gone for some sub-difficulty levels for the Normal playthrough. Normal is simply a breeze and this is entirely intentional by Blizzard in order to teach newbies the ropes. I don’t necessarily want to beat the campaign 3-5 times per character in order to get to ‘the good stuff’ so I’m just not a fan of this configuration. I often crank every new game to max difficulty and when playing through the game the first time it’s hard to enjoy the story and fear fighting major characters when the boss fights are little more than speed bumps.

Again, I don’t mind having to unlock Nightmare, but I wish there were a way to scale up the base difficulty to at least be somewhat of a challenge on my first playthrough. To make matters worse, since I explore the entire map I end up overleveling the content and making things even easier. By the end of my first playthrough I was already level 32, which I’m told is much higher than necessary for Normal.

NOT SURE

Yeah, I've got sweet gear. Who'd I loot it off? Pfft! I used the auction house!
 

The auction house (not just the real money auction house) is kind of a mixed bag. Sure, you could trade items in a fairly inelegant way in Diablo II, but the in-game auction house makes this process so much easier. Why is that a problem? Well, it ties into the point I raised about the game’s difficulty: it’s far too tempting to just buy yourself a slick set of gear with all the right stats on it. This, of course, exacerbates said difficulty issue because you can ensure you’re always decked out in the right gear without having to play the item lottery in the game itself. Given how popular the game is, prices are also easily affordable for most gear outside of Inferno-level gear. It’s simply too easy to put together an entirely new set every five levels or so.

Well, that’s it for this week. Hopefully I’ll be done or close to done with my Nightmare playthrough by our next entry. I’m really hoping the game gets harder in Nightmare. And yes, I know Inferno is ridiculous, but I’m not there yet.

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