Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The best 3.6/10 game I ever played

At least going by Metacritic's user scores. Let's not dance around that fact: Diablo 3's launch has been nothing short of cataclysmic. Pretty much everyone's noticed the massive amounts of maintenance yesterday (including one that introduced a hotfix for a glitch that not only wasn't in the beta, but pretty much makes no sense from a programming standpoint), and that was enough for the bad press nuclear bomb to be set off.

However, what many people seemingly failed to notice is the fact that the achievement system has gone totally bonkers. I myself lost a few achievements once yesterday, which caused me to start over (fortunately, I was barely past the beta content, so I didn't waste too much time), but nothing ever since. Everything's running smoothly on my end, but a lot of other people claim that they lost achievements twice, if not more... up to every time they log in. So for all that I was slightly set back in the gold-hunting and elite-killing achievements, some people have it much worse. And Blizzard scarcely ever updates us on the situation - they've allegedly been "working on it" for over 24 hours. Oh, and let's not forget the auction house going down for a few hours this afternoon. Good thing for Blizzard that the RMAH isn't open until next Tuesday, eh?

So of course, everyone's pointing at the online-only aspect as a proof of failure (for all that the game runs much smoother today than it did yesterday). And yes, it's been a rough ride so far, but Blizzard has loooooots of experience with online-only games, so it's going to get a lot better (as soon as the achievement saga gets put to rest, at least).

That makes it very easy to forget about the game itself, which for the record is in a far better state than Diablo 2 was at launch. The extended beta period definitely helped, and it's likely that the neverending development cycle did too. The only really nasty glitch there was was squashed on day one, whereas many HUGE glitches lasted for months in Diablo 2.

Right, the game. It's pretty much everything I expected, and everything I wanted. Of course, I'm only at the start of Normal Act 2, but I'm progressing at a leisurely pace, having fun with it. Can't say the same for those people who are already in Inferno Act 2 (yes, some people are there already). Seriously, are they even enjoying rushing through the game? My money's on them being in it for... well, the money. They probably dreamed of selling high-end equipment on the RMAH faster than everyone else... too bad the RMAH only opens in six days. So I guess they'll be banging their heads to try and get to the final boss before then (I'm not saying who it is even though it shouldn't be a huge shocker).

I feel I made the right choice rolling a Wizard first. It's supposed to be a squishy glass cannon, but Diamond Skin trivializes a lot of fights. And yes, I'm using Diamond Skin. A LOT. Remember the complaints about the beta being too easy? Well, the going gets significantly tougher as soon as you take one step past the beta content. I almost died on the first pack I fought in the Fields of Misery, which was two Wood Wraiths and their hugely damaging poisonous plant attack. I honestly didn't know what was going on, because both guys were already dead, and yet I went from full to a sliver just like that. It was only the next time I fought some of these that I realized what was going on. So yeah, the game is noticeably harder than Diablo 2. You WILL need those defensive skills early on.

Of course, the Wizard doesn't have a shortage of damaging skills. Right now, at level 16, I'm running Electrocute and Arcane Torrent. Without runes, since I don't have any for either, but I still prefer them to the other options I have. The runes I want are the first unlocked for both skills, which is fortunate. Especially considering that, from what I understand, the Prodigy passive applies for every enemy damaged by a Signature Skill. Meaning that since Electrocute can attack up to three enemies twice in an attack cycle, you can regain AP in a snap... oh, and did I mention the Chain Lightning rune increases the number of targets hit to six? This simply has to be intended, especially after all the speculation around it. Simply put, if you don't run Chain Lightning + Prodigy, you're an idiot. (Edit: apparently it doesn't work like that for some people. Weird. Can't wait to get Prodigy to try this out.)

So, these are my thoughts for now. See you later for more!


  1. This is why I'd be hesitant to try a game like this from launch day. There are bound to be server issues and complaints. Penny Arcade covered the fact that you could have a downloaded copy of the game several days before release, but couldn't play it until it hit store shelves. As always, though, bad decisions and planning from the hosting company shouldn't affect review scores and opinions of the actual game. That's just gamer rage.

  2. Doesn't change the fact that it shouldn't have been an online only game, but I've stated my stance on the matter enough times. And offered up a multitude of ways they could've made it work. But it certainly doesn't make it a horrible game, only a horrible business move.

    So in terms of game-play, it's probably the Professional score, business practice it's the Public score.

    Metacritic is pretty much garbage anyway, so any scores given there are inconsequential.

    Rereading your previous posts on the matter, it's quite clear the reason for the HUGE amount of bugs was the fact that there were a ton of "Last Minute" changes made to the game. Along side it being a glorified Demo.

    1. That much is true. Two of the classes had massive revamps over the course of the beta, meaning they weren't even ready when it started. Worse, they changed the rune system, arguably the most interesting and important mechanic in the game, partway through the beta to solve a few problems that arose with the old system.

      Furthermore, the neverending development time was partially caused by, as Jay Wilson admitted, the fact that they clung on to Diablo 2 standards and mechanics for way too long just because they were in Diablo 2, and they eventually realized they had to scrap that if they wanted to do away with D2's most crippling flaws.