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The dust has finally settled on Diablo 3. When it came out, things were crazy. Error 37s were happening all over the place and I felt lucky if I could even get in and play a little. Thankfully, that is mostly behind us. Sure, there are some server snags here and there, and there was that incident that killed hardcore players around the world, but for the most part, I have been able to sink my teeth into the game (about 120 hours) and really get a feel for it.
Overall, I love Diablo 3. It has some problems, but the sum of its parts makes for a special gaming experience, the likes of which has not existed since Diablo 2 (you could argue that Torchlight filled the gap). Today, I am going to talk about the things I love most about Diablo 3. I intended to write this as things I love and things I hate, but it turns out I love so much, I am going to have to split it into a two-part article (that, and Blizzard has a patch coming soon, so the stuff I hate might be fixed in a couple of days).
The Auction House
Diablo 2 was full of scammers. When you got an incredible item, and you wanted to sell it, for either real money or in-game currency, you had to meet up with another person and hope that they did not stiff you on the deal. Those days are gone, since Blizzard introduced the auction house.
Sure, the market is flooded, and the economy can be a little wonky at times, but I will take that trade-off knowing that anything I sell is secure, and I will receive my item or currency (after Blizzard takes a cut of course).
Nephalem Valor increases your characters ability to find rare and magic items with each hard mob he kills. These mobs, known as champions and elites, are scattered throughout the dungeon, and each time you kill one, you get a stack of valor. You can build up to five stacks, and this helps a great deal in getting more quality items.
I love this because it gives you incentive to keep banging your head against a hard enemy. It also keeps you playing longer because once you leave the game, you lose the valor you worked so hard to build. Overall, it is just a fantastic feature that improves the game a great deal.
I have always loved the concept of an MMO. The problem is that I am just not committed enough to be online at a certain time for raids and all of that. Diablo delivers a very MMO type of gameplay experience without the commitment. You can invite friends to your game and do boss runs, which feel much like an MMO raid, but if someone leaves, it is no big deal. The game scales based on the number of players in the room, so you quitting will not mess with your friends’ fun.
In Diablo 3, you will be clicking on enemies, using your keyboard to cast spells, and all around having a blast (as long as you like dungeon crawling RPGs). It is a simple game at its core, but the amount of skill and strategy that goes into the game once you reach Inferno (the hardest) difficulty is truly amazing.
In Diablo 3, you can change your character on the fly. Most RPGs force you to progress up a skill tree, and what you choose is locked in. With Diablo 3, you can change a spell at any time. If a certain spell just is not meeting your expectations, feel free to change it, just remember that you will lose your Nephalem Valor.
I’ve heard some people complain about this, because it takes the commitment out of your character, but I personally love tweaking and fine-tuning my build. I love knowing that if Blizzard issues a patch that weakens one of the skills, I can just try another one (it’s already happened to my Wizard). For people who hate commitment, the character builder in Diablo 3 is perfect.
The Cutscenes Between Acts
I am never a big visual person. Generally, I only care about how a game plays, and the visual appeal means little to me. However, the rendered scenes between each act in Diablo 3 are mind-blowing in their beauty. They are the most gorgeous cutscenes I have ever seen. The facial animations, environments and voice acting is better than a lot of big budget movies, and it is truly something to behold.
Diablo 3 is a single player game. However, you can party with up to four people and play co-op. The enemies scale, keeping things difficult even when you are rolling with a full crew. When you are farming the spots repeatedly for gold and gear, bringing in some friends can break things up and give the game a different feel.
In addition, while progressing through the game, bringing a friend can help you break through a spot that is giving you difficulty. I play as a Wizard, which is primarily a ranged-based spellcaster. Some types of enemies can give me serious problems, and bringing in one of my Barbarian friends can help take the pressure off and make thing more bearable (although on Inferno, it’s never easy).
All of these combine to make one of the most awesome gameplay experiences I have ever had. As I said, I have spent well over 100 hours with Diablo 3, and I am sure I will spend hundreds more. Of course, there are some problems, and we will get to those next week.
What do you love about Diablo 3? Please, do not comment and tell me you hate bad mob affixes and weak legendary items. I know. We will get there next week.