Diablo III was in development for over a decade. That's right: A DECADE. In probably one of the longest development cycles ever, D3 continued to generate fans and anxious watchers over that decade. Gamers who cut their proverbial teeth on Diablo 2 grew up and new fans joined the legions clamoring for a chance to play Blizzard's sequel to the wildly popular action-RPG.
*inserts commercial action* I know that Diablo III isn't an MMO. It's still powerfully popular with our readers. We write about it. 'Nough said. *ends commercial action*
When Diablo III finally launched in May, a literal poop storm of controversy and adulation came with it. It seemed that fans fell into either the "love it" or "hate it" camps with few in between. But as they say, the truth lies somewhere in between.
In The List today, I'm going to take a look at five things I think Blizzard did exceptionally well. In a later installment, I'll write about five things that maybe they should have done better.
5. The Auction House
I know that this one entry into the list will generate more discussion than any other but I feel it merits a place on The List today. Let me clarify my feeling by saying that the in-game currency side of the auction house is brilliant. I've been able to gear up some of my characters for no more than the gold I find lying about in game. The gear that I've purchased, while not top of the line, has been quite adequate and inexpensive too. In my book, that's a good thing. Everyone wins. The seller reaps some gold for auctioning midline gear. The buyer gets good stuff for no real outlay other than spending gold found in the game.
I have no real feelings about the real money auction house. I've read the controversies and seen the outrageous prices that some are willing to buy/sell items. I have no plans to utilize RMT in Diablo III and, trust me, that side of the auction house would never make the cut to The List. *grins*
I remember back in the faded past when Diablo 1 first came out and the endless speculation that went on about the much ballyhooed Secret Cow Level. Ostensibly if you went and popped the dead cows outside Adria's shack, you would find it. No such luck, right?
Then came Diablo 2 where Blizzard really did include the Secret Cow Level complete with Cow King and "moo moo moo"ing cows with halberds looking to hew you and your party in half.
Enter Diablo III. How does Blizzard beat the awesomeness of the Cow Level? With Whimsyshire, a Mario-esque looking zone packed with chubby pink ponies, cute little teddy bears, fluffy smiling clouds and happy little flowers.....all bent on savaging you and your party. Nothing says embarrassment like "so-and-so was slain by a Chubby Pink Pony". Still it's one of the best places to collect gear in the game.
In Diablo 2, Blizzard introduced the companion system so that players could run the game solo but not solo, if you know what I mean. The companions could be geared up to make them actually somewhat effective and allowed players to be able to travel to areas perhaps somewhat inaccessible due to playing alone.
In Diablo 3, Blizzard has taken the companion system one further and made the three available more interesting and fun than the ones in the previous game. In D3, players can interact with companions and, honestly? They have some of the best lines in the game. That Enchantress is a flirty little thing. The Scoundrel is a crack up and the Templar is a bumbling bag of righteousness.
I have to admit, however, that I'm less-than-impressed with the skills that they bring to the table. Their skill sets stop at 35 even though they continue to level up to 60 along with the player. It doesn't make them very effective killers to say the least. I always smirk when my Templar says something along the lines of "Look how many bad guys we've killed" and I'm thinking..."Wait, I just got NEW RECORD: Killed 65 monsters and you're still working on that baby spider, Templar". Oh well, at least he kept that one busy.
There is no question that Diablo III's story is far and away the best of the three. And it's not just that there -is- a story. It's actually a good story. Blizzard's writing team has far exceeded my expectations with the game's lore. I haven't played Diablo III so much for the action and adventure, though clearly those are there, but because I want to find out what happens next, to see what will be revealed around the next corner.
I don't know about you all, but there have clearly been times that I've had my gamer socks knocked off by twists in the story. I won't spoil it for anyone in case they haven't gotten through to or read about the end but...just wow.
1. Adria, Cain and Leah
In the interest of keeping this article spoiler free, that's all I will say. If you've hit or read about the end game, you know what I'm talking about and are probably still sitting there with your mouth hanging open.
So what about you? What things did Blizzard do right with D3 in your mind? Let us know in the comments!