Tag Archives: Diablo 3

Forecast: Blizzard

For some indescribable reason I decided to further my vacation from my consoles for a while longer and dove headfirst into Diablo 3, mostly due to all of the hype surrounding the new 2.0 patch and the (then) upcoming Reaper of Souls expansion pack. First: good news, everyone! My concern in Lightsabers and Labyrinths was unfounded and Diablo 3 does in fact hold up quite well in the atmosphere department. The setting still feels very much like the grim world of Sanctuary from Diablo and Diablo 2 and even then some and the music is still great and perfectly atmospheric. The graphics, while a tiny bit cartoony compared to the previous games, actually feel ike a perfectly logical evolution of the previous style and overall look great. I had other concerns too such as hearing that they packed in much more backstory and dialog (including from your character!) than in previous games. I was somehow picturing a bunch of cheesy in-game cutscenes which would probably change the feel of the game quite a bit. Instead most of the dialog is delivered using something akin to ye olde “audio logs” and the follower interaction and plot related cutscenes that are there are mostly delivered in fairly unobtrusive ways too.

I feel like Conan most of the time I'm playing my Barbarian. Fuck yes!
“I feel like Conan most of the time I’m playing my Barbarian. Fuck yes!”

Gameplay wise, I rolled a Barbarian and played through on normal difficulty – Barbarians being one of the simplest yet funnest classes from Diablo 2 I figured it would be a good starter character to try out and I was definitely right. If anything I could have stood to bump up the difficulty a bit. I feel like it bears stating that yes, this playthrough took place entirely AFTER the 2.0 patch which included a lot of the refinements of the earlier console ports of Diablo 3 including the apparently greatly improved loot system so I have no first hand account of how things used to be. All I can say is that what is there now works quite. I felt like loot drops were aplenty and upgrades came fairly often, at least in the first few acts of my adventure. Perhaps some of the best praise I can give Diablo 3 is that despite just playing through all of Torchlight and the last act or so of Diablo 2: Lord of Destruction, I not only managed to avoid getting burnt-out on the simple and repetitive ARPG gameplay but even somehow wound up totally addicted like I was playing Diablo 2 back in 2000 all over again.

I might as well mention the expansion since I bought it and played it inline with the original campaign and it’s still somewhat new on the shelves as of this update: it’s largely more of the same. The new zones, monsters, and events are awesome, the story, journals, items, and powers fit perfectly in with the core game, etc. etc. Really, the bulk of the biggest changes in the game outside of new content were those patched in (to everyone, expansion or not) with patch 2.0. The other big change is “adventure mode” which I’ve only briefly dabbled in so far. Regardless, it certainly seems like a better way to grind out levels and new gear than playing through the campaign for the 30th time. I think my only real surprise with Reaper of Souls is that it’s not just a straight continuation of the plot like they did with Diablo 2’s Lord of Destruction expansion. Instead it’s a new story entirely. That is, while continuing where the plot of the core game left off, it’s not just “and then a bigger, more badass demon showed up and you had to kill him too!” kind of thing. The only problem with this is that the stakes will always have to be extraordinarily high given your character’s story and the fact that you already managed to save the world from total annihilation in utterly epic fashion the first time around. Hey, if they can keep that expansion cycle up more power to them!

Someone call an exterminator?
“Someone call an exterminator?”

Overall I found Diablo 3 a total fucking joy to play through – capturing what I loved about Diablo and Diablo 2, refining some of those systems, and giving a slightly deeper look at the world of Sanctuary and its lore. Sure, the story arch feels a bit of a rehash of Diablo 2 in some ways and the game is still a simple blend of remorseless clicking and inventory management, but Diablo 3 delivers exactly what caused me to be captivated by the genre in the first place and does it with the usual top notch Blizzard polish. I’ll definitely be heading back through the campaign with another class against at some point in the future, probably multiple points even. I’m ecstatic.

Blizzard also updated their… err, updater? Okay, their “launcher” recently to serve as a single launch (gah, I did it again!) point for all of their newer Battle.net games and on that list is there new free-to-play collectible trading card game “Hearthstone”. Hearthstone plays like a simplified version of the old WoW TCG which itself was highly inspired by Magic: The Gathering and its ilk. I’ve heard great things about Hearthstone from friends and on some of the podcasts I subscribe to and, being the sucker that I am for mounts in World of Warcraft, seeing the little advertisement for a special mount for trying Hearthstone out was all the extra push I needed to give it a whirl. A whirl turned into a couple of whirls and then more whirls and now hours and hours of whirls. Man, this game is fun!

Hot troll on troll action.
“Hot troll on troll action.”

I’ve never been a TCG/CCG guy – I tried Magic out when it first hit in the 90s but it just always felt slightly too complicated to me for what it was trying to do. I also had a love/hate relationship with the whole collectibility part of it. Hearthstone, by streamlining the rules so much, really nullifies most of those complaints. The game is really fast and really easy to pick up on. Sure, there is still a “he with the most cash wins” aspect to it but I feel like the streamlining means that even the most rare (err, “epic”) cards aren’t too crazily overpowered. That, and Blizzard has the free-to-play mechanic fairly fine tuned so far so that you can pretty consistently unlock new cards without ever dropping a dime of real money. Add that addictive gameplay to some Warcraft aesthetics and some good old Blizzard polish and man, this game is rad! Given the repetitive nature of something like this I doubt I’ll play it too much more besides trying to master a coupe of more “classes” but so far I’ve really enjoyed my time with it.

Blizzard has definitely still got it.

...and I log in to immediately start grinding fucking Archaeology again. Ugh!
“…and I log in to immediately start grinding fucking archaeology again. Ugh!”

As an aside, yes I know I probably shouldn’t care too much about World of Warcraft mounts given that I don’t actually play World of Warcraft anymore but… *sigh* once an addict, always an addict! I loaded up my level 50 something goblin hunter the other day and played through a whole zone and actually enjoyed myself once again. I suppose I’m getting hyped back up for the new Warlords of Draenor expansion coming later this year. I truthfully barely have enough energy for the game left in me to remain interested enough to buy this expansion. I almost didn’t buy Mists of Pandaria as it was back then. The new character models and the free level up to 90, as shallow as those offerings are, help sway me. The bigger thing is probably just having to personally come to terms with what I get out of the series nowadays – a few months of hardcore addiction before I put it back on the shelf until the next expansion, and honestly that’s totally fine with me.

Two Thousand Eight

Hey, it’s the new year!? Here are a few New Year tidbits:

Best 2008 game I played: Grand Theft Auto 4. I realized I hadn’t played nearly enough games this year, and of those, not many were 2008 games. In fact I was really struggling to come up with 2008 titles deserving of this accolade until I remembered that GTA4 was an 08 game. I’ve already talked about my experience with GTA4 a bit in past blog posts so enough about that. I will say, however, I can’t fathom why it has suddenly become so popular to hate on this game. Not as good as the previous ones and other, similar games in some ways? Sure… Heck, I had my initial complaints as well. But horrible garbage? Hardly!

Best 2008 game I didn’t play: Fallout 3. Yeah, I pretty much just made up this one but considering how much of the most interesting stuff that came out last year I haven’t actually played yet it seemed like a fitting topic. Being a big fan of open world, sandboxy RPGs, as well as Fallout along with Bethesda’s previous RPG efforts, I can’t help but predict that I’ll love Fallout 3 when I finally get around to playing it. I also predict that I’ll really, really enjoy Fable 2 when I finally pick it up as well.

2008 game that everyone tried to get me to play that I didn’t: Left 4 Dead. A lot of old gaming chums had been picking this up, I’d been hearing tales of it on podcasts and reading about how awesome it was in forums, but I just couldn’t convince myself to drop any money on it. I came VERY close a couple of times but the vast majority of opinions I’ve come across on the subject pretty much imply that Left 4 Dead is a game best played with friends. Most of the friends of mine who wanted me to play it with them are in fact in different time zones than I so I figured I’d never end up playing it not unlike Team Fortress 2. I had actually decided to check out the demo of the 360 version the other day with the intent of possibly trying some split screen co-op but for some reason Valve has already removed the demo from everywhere. Hmph, here I was not even slightly interested in the 360 version now considering buying it? Boo! One potential sale down the drain!

Most disappointing 2008 game: Age of Conan. Easy… So much potential! You can read a lot more about my feelings on the subject in earlier posts. Pirates of The Burning Sea was also a big let down for me as well.

Most anticipated 2009 game: I don’t know! 2009 feels very different from 2008 so far. There really isn’t a ton of games I’m dying to get my hands on though there are many I’m fairly interested in. I might have to go ahead and name Diablo 3 as my most anticipated game of 2009 but it is a little optimistic to even assume it’ll be out this year.

Gaming related New Year’s resolution:I need to play more games! Yeah, looking back over 2008 I’m surprised how relatively little gaming I’ve done. I chalk most of that up to being hooked onto MMOs, Age of Conan and then Warhammer Online, for a large portion of the time. I also let two lengthy Xbox 360 games, Grand Theft Auto 4 and Warhammer: Battle March, dominate far too much of my limited console time. I really feel like I need to spend more time beating and completing more games. I’ve got massive 360 and DS backlogs now and there are countless PC games, new and old, I’m pining to revisit not to mention titles I plan to discuss, log, and/or review for this site. What’s the solution to this problem? One great first step would be to stop sinking so much of my gaming time into these damn MMORPGs, all of which usually end up sucking in the end anyway. Hmph.

Site related plans: I’ll continue slowly working on Garn’s Oblivion adventure. It hasn’t even gotten too interesting yet, I know, but it’ll get there. I also hope to do some others as well. Some potential possibilities are Stalker, Fallout 3, and some one off ArmA missions. I’d also like to do some logs of older games, such as Master of Orion and X-com. Who knows how many of these I can pull off though. I also intend on putting out more and more retro PC and console game reviews. I only got one full review out the entire time last year which is really quite pathetic though I am currently wrapping up a playthrough of a combined 3 games in a series for my next review. Yes, there are a lot more old games I’m just ping to replay.

I was going to make this sort of thing my first post of the year but I’ve been busy and the 1UP thing seemed to take precedent.

Diablo 3 Announced!

So Blizzard‘s mysterious mystery image mystery is no longer a mystery! Or something… Diablo 3!

In better fashion that most game announcements Blizzard has simultaneously released a great website with plenty of cool info, lore, screenshots, and a couple of videos including a 20 minute game play movie.

Who knew you could set your camera like this in WoW?!
“Who knew you could set your camera like this in WoW?!”

A few quick impressions:

The game play movie looks awesome! Day 1, collector’s edition purchase for me.

It looks quite a bit like Diablo 2, only refined in some areas and using a much more modern 3D engine. The 3D engine, from what I can tell, actually reminds me quite a lot of Titan Quest‘s and doesn’t look to be all that advanced which hopefully means the game should have relatively low hardware requirements. One advantage of using a 3D engine is greater control over animation and many of the animations shown in this preview are fluid and much more expressive than those of the past games. So expressive, in fact, that I can’t help but wonder if the player avatars will be more fully fleshed out characters this time around. It does appear that the game has an overall slightly more cartoony, stylized, and less gritty look, with simpler looking models and a brighter, less dreary color palette than the previous two games. This is sure to irk some hardcore fans of the past games, especially those that despise World of Warcraft, but honestly it isn’t taken to WoW extremes and doesn’t stray too far from the previous two games.

Apparently the world of Sanctuary is 80% bridges.
“Apparently the world of Sanctuary is 80% bridges.”

There is apparently going to be a lot more randomization in dungeons and available quests and events this time around which should make replays a lot more entertaining and varied. This is definitely a good thing as the random elements of the Diablo series strike me as one of its appeals but not one that has been sufficiently explored considering its Rogue-like roots. Of the two classes shown in the preview the Barbarian looks to be very consistent with the design of the Barbarian class from Diablo 2 while the witchdoctor looks like he was put together to replace the Necromancer. The mini-boss they showed in the trailer is fuckin’ huge! This gives me hope that the bosses featured in Diablo 3 will be a lot more epic than those of Diablo 2 – I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who was amazingly unimpressed by The Lord of Terror himself. There were some other nifty things like destructible environments and both sexes available for every class as well but those seem like minor bullet points to me.

Making undead corpses dead corpses.
“Making undead corpses dead corpses.”

Beyond the videos I found the content on the new site to be quite awesome. The descriptions of the few released classes, monsters, and locations are all done in character with the renowned scholar Abd al-Hazir telling us of his research into these various topics. Pretty good reads and I loved the quip about the skeletons hiding in barrels for hundreds of years. Good stuff and I can’t wait to read more.

We’ve also got Deckard Cain’s journal. Anyone who played either of the previous two games should remember Cain and it appears as if he has a major role to play in Diablo 3 as well, maybe even larger than in previous games if some of the hints I’ve read are to be believed. Anyway, Cain’s journal sums up the plots of the first two games from his perspective, complete with his delightful Sean Connery-esque accented voiceovers and even all of the cut scenes from Diablo 2 thrown in as well. This stuff is a must for Diablo fans to dig through!

All of these screenshots are Blizzard’s and not mine. Of course, if they were mine this post would be much, much more interesting.