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RTTP Diablo 3 is an unusual shmup

DunDunDunpachi

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Since everyone despises fastest-selling PC game of all time Diablo 3 and prefers Diablo 2, I will conduct this RTTP as an early 00s fan-shrine so you won't notice I am talking about one of the most-hated action RPGs ever created.

STAY AWHILE AND LISTEN

The original Diablo III release in 2012 was a wonderful experience. I ignored the fanboy drama about Real Auction Money House and the pre-Loot 2.0 complaints, preferring instead to slaughter demons with my Whirlwind/Rend barbarian. After a few months of playing, I shelved it to wait for the inevitable expansion pack. Loot 2.0 came and went. The console versions came and went. Reaper of Souls came and went. The updated Eternal Collection came and went. It wasn't until a friend of mine picked up the Switch version that I decided to finally jump back in. That was on October 6th. Less than a month later, I'm completely hooked on this game and I have some thoughts to share.

My history with the Diablo franchise stretches back to the original release on PC, a wildly unbalanced action-roguelike with exceptional music and atmosphere. Unlike contemporary RPGs of its day (Fallout, Ultima) the focus in Diablo was pushing your hero through randomized mazes/items in real time combat. Dialogue and quests were sparse. Map variety came from the randomization, not from the variety of textures and enemies and quests. Diablo 2 took that action-roguelike formula and polished it into a Flawless Royal Diamond
.

I enjoy this series as a solid Gauntlet clone first, a randomized roguelike second, and an RPG as a distant third. For this reason, I never understood the whining about Diablo 3's stumbles. As a Gauntlet successor, even the vanilla D3 package was a great time. There were numerous fun builds at launch and a significantly better / more flexible ability system compared to previous games. After returning from my long hiatus, it seems they've expanded this flexibility in patches and in the expansion.

Gone are the days of...

dumping points into the skill tree only to make a critical mistake in your min-maxing
losing good runes/gems due to a bad socket choice
constantly re-speccing your character
having to dupe just for a reasonable chance to try out certain builds
re-fighting the same boss over and over for the best loot % rates
searching for gem shrines to upgrade your gem. One. At. A. Time.
extremely glitchy/broken pvp builds

Alas, everyone has their preferences and a lot of fans soured on the original release. I can understand the frustration even if it didn't really bother me personally.

In previous titles, I played melee fighters, so when I jumped back into Diablo III a few weeks ago, I wanted to try something new to me: a ranged class. I went with the obvious Demon Hunter pick. I beat the campaign + expansion (which was new to me) in a few days and this got her up to level cap + Paragon 40 in the process. Switching between difficulties and spending all of my playtime in that oh-so-sweet spot of high risk / high reward was extremely easy to tweak. Dropping turrets, flipping around the screen, dropping caltrops, flinging grenades, slowing down hordes of enemies, and shredding everything within the radius of my rapid-fire is immensely satisfying. I feel like there are still numerous builds to explore with this lady.

After getting the Hunter to a good spot, I figured it was time to try out a seasonal character. Seasons were a major addition... awhile ago.

My season 18 Witch Doctor is the first time I've played a pet class with any dedication or seriousness. Necromancer and Druid in D2 never captured my imagination. This season's reward allowed me to quickly transition into what turned out to be a really strong setup using
Zunimassa's armor plus Carnevil's special dart-shooting Fetish secondary. This results in an army of cute little voodoo Fetishes and a shitstorm of green darts.

As long as I've tagged my target with a Pirahnado or a Haunt, every enemy dies in a touch. Even Elites and Rift Guardians die within a a second or two. However, at higher Torments / GR ranks I die in a few touches, too, so I have to play tactically, checking my corners when entering a new room, dodging projectiles, and properly herding enemies into my killzone.

Several basic enemy types can still one-shot me (like the wraith and khazra spearchucker), and the nature of my build forces me to proceed carefully on maps with twisty-turny corridors. The min-maxers who whine about "GR efficiency" would suggest that I wipe and start a new rift whenever I encounter bad mobs or a bad map, but screw that. The harder the better. Tough enemies force me to actually play the game and explore the flaws of my build.



Waiting in the wings are some other interesting armor sets (Jade Harvester, Helltooth) plus I have both the Legacy of Dreams gem and the Legacy of Nightmare two-piece set already. I'm excited to delve into more builds and I'll probably start up a third character in season 19. It's so dang fun.

LORD OF CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM

Diablo III's gameplay loop can be taken in one of two ways. Cynics complain that the loot grind is essentially meaningless, noting how the endgame content only serves to push into more difficult endgame content with no payoff. I don't see it that way.

The RPG stats and the loot mechanics aren't the goal. These merely facilitate the player's goals. The gear encourages various play-styles and enables you to use combinations that seem unconventional, but I have always chosen builds that are fun instead of builds that are the most efficient. When the fanbase starts arguing about efficiency, I can safely ignore because those people obviously aren't having fun.

When a cool piece of equipment drops, I'm not really looking for stats but for the possibility of new play-styles.

The meat of the game is to push your build into harder and harder content, tweaking as you go. Usually, the stats of your character will not save you. If you aren't dying in a few hits, then you aren't playing on a high enough difficulty. I think D3 is most fun when I am wrecking huge armies while standing only a hit or two away from death. It isn't about playing on the highest difficulty but on the highest difficulty my preferred build can handle (there's a big difference). Pushing to GR 100 isn't any more "fun" than GR 50. It is the actual playing of my build that makes the game fun.


Speaking of grind, this is the least grindy Diablo in the franchise. It spoils you with vendors, tools, randomized rift dungeons and unlimited bounties to accelerate your character's growth (if that's your bag). Don't have a good gem? Just make one. Need to unsocket? Go for it. Trying different builds is less stressful and time-consuming, therefore more enjoyable. Players are gifted with a Wardrobe to save their builds and quickly select (reminds me of a feature they eventually added to Monster Hunter). Conveniences upon conveniences.

The game lays out the red carpet for players hoping to avoid the grind. In fairness, I come to the game with some previous experience, but if I can solo to Paragon 375 / Torment 15 in two weeks of casual play, then the grind can't be that bad. Previous Diablo titles demanded hundreds of hours for a solo player to reach end-game content. Seasons
are the ultimate hand-holding format for new players and for those hoping to quickly acquire a "viable build".

Kanai's Cube and Kadala provide yet another avenue for acquiring loot. Gone are the days of farming Diablo over and over for the best drops, and now there are Ancient/Primal Legendaries plus augmentations to push your builds even higher. Diablo III is a game about providing tons of options to the endgame chaser while allowing a causal player to ignore pretty much all of the extras.

Heaped upon this excellent foundation of solo play is the multiplayer. I expect sticking everyone on the same screen wouldn't work for the very highest GR ranks (where players must fit various roles of pulling, grouping, tanking, etc), but otherwise it performs the job of Gauntlet's jump-in-and-kill gameplay nicely.


Is it a perfect game? I don't know, but it is my favorite Diablo game by a huge margin. Yeah, I said it. All hail ActiBlizzard Communist Western Media Branch. Previous games were great but if the complaints against D3 are valid (too much grind, endgame doesn't matter, not enough viable builds) then they are even more valid when aimed at the previous two entries. Jetting around a map and filling the screen with projectiles is mighty fun. The multiplayer adds another dimension, ensuring this game stays in rotation for many more months/years. I don't think I'll go back to a melee character any time soon.

Clicking this gem has an 84% chance of spawning 3 threads about Diablo II.

Each thread deals 2500% nostalgia damage over 5 seconds.

EDIT: In regards to the angry devotion to Diablo 2, it all boils down to my opinion that Diablo 3's combat system is fun even when played without stats and gear. That's something that I can't really say for the previous titles. Yes, in D1 and in D2 (moreso in 2) you were pushing the combat system to its limits in really crazy ways while waves of enemies flooded the screen but you were often doing so by just clicking your mouse. A lot of the best D1/D2 builds were one-skill clickers. In Diablo 3, I'm actually using my full compliment of skills and picking them carefully and I do so for every build I've played so far. Skill points were a mistake, even though they provided an interesting (but ultimately time-wasting) early game meta. Deciding when to spend or when to horde your points got old. It also resulted in builds that had to max out stupid non-useful skills just for the synergy bonuses.


I daresay the console controls are another major factor in my enjoyment. Rapid click-click-click is just not for me anymore (I save that arthritis-inducing action for my shmups). Moving with the thumbstick makes so much more sense for a game like this, even though you lose a bit of aiming accuracy. The roll on the right stick is okay, but I would really kill for the right stick controlling your pivot/aiming, essentially turning the game into a twin-stick shooter akin to Alienation and Enter the Gungeon. It would bring things full circle.


Thanks for reading my OP.
 
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Husky

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The Bowery, Exodus
This is aesthetic as fuck, except that the black text doesn't fit well on dark mode. Not invisible with my contrast settings though. Got any shades of grey that'll work well on both modes?
 
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wtftad

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completely.....totally.....agree with you.

loved the first 2.....still play this one EVERY season and have thousands of hours across all the versions.

hmmm....I think I made my first internet friend today......
 
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DunDunDunpachi

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I'm glad folks like the thread. Share your coolest D3 stories and builds.

Nu Diablo 3 ain't bad. It's like your favourite band's new album after they sold out. It's not terrible, it's just not as good as their old stuff, you know?
To me, it's more like a Greatest Hits 2 LP compilation. Some of the fans might miss the b-sides and lesser-known tracks from previous albums but the tradeoff is that you're not slogging through dud songs to get to the good ones.
 
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Mr Nash

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I haven't played D3 seriously since around season 4, but remember having a great time when monks' exploding fist build was the bee's knees. Used to love diving into rifts, tagging as many baddies as possible, then causing a chain reaction of monsters blowing up.
 
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Guynamedbilly

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I love the format of this. I loved, or just really liked, not sure, D3 as well. One of my three PS4 platinums.

I've never been into grinding hundreds of hours for the perfect ARPG loot. So the complaints about that I did not relate to at all.
 

drganon

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I never played the first two since my PC back in the day was crap, but played alot of diablo 3 for the 360 and later ps4 and enjoyed it.
 

Barakov

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When all is said and done Diablo III in it's current state is pretty good. In some ways it's better than Diablo 2 and in a few crucial areas it's worse. I think Blizzard has learned some good lessons from what people want out a action rpg and Diablo in particular. So I think they're in pretty good shape when they decide to bring out Diablo 4.
 

Hinedorf

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I'm of the mindset Diablo 1 was a pretty trashy game with very limited actual monsters that were just just given a different color. The game itself was incredibly boring and repetitive that was only fun if you used a cheat program to actually level up a character enough to tool around with all the abilities.

Diablo 2 was fantastic but ultimately inferior to Diablo 3 in every way.

The moment I hear somebody champion the call of Diablo 2 was better than Diablo 3 I stop respecting their opinion.
 

DunDunDunpachi

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lol. Diablo 3 is a piece of shit. You need higher standards.
Dang now I gotta delete my OP. You're right.

When all is said and done Diablo III in it's current state is pretty good. In some ways it's better than Diablo 2 and in a few crucial areas it's worse. I think Blizzard has learned some good lessons from what people want out a action rpg and Diablo in particular. So I think they're in pretty good shape when they decide to bring out Diablo 4.
What are those few crucial areas, if I might ask?

I'm curious because I know a lot of hardcore D2 fans have shifted over to games like Grim Dawn and Path of Exile because they were dissatisfied with D3. What are the things that you think made people shift over?
 
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bryo4321

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When all is said and done Diablo III in it's current state is pretty good. In some ways it's better than Diablo 2 and in a few crucial areas it's worse. I think Blizzard has learned some good lessons from what people want out a action rpg and Diablo in particular. So I think they're in pretty good shape when they decide to bring out Diablo 4.
definitely agree. It ultimately turned into a great arpg, with significantly more to do than kill baal over and over.
Fingers crossed diablo 4 blows us away but I’m genuinely scared that it’s going to be a mess when they try to do something nobody asked for.
We shall see however.
 
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DunDunDunpachi

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Added to the OP:

Diablo 3's combat system is fun even when played without stats and gear, that's something that I can't really say for the previous titles. Yes, in D1 and in D2 (moreso in 2) you were pushing the combat system to its limits in really crazy ways while waves of enemies flooded the screen but you were often doing so by just clicking your mouse. A lot of the best D1/D2 builds were one-skill clickers. In Diablo 3, I'm actually using my full compliment of skills and picking them carefully. Skill points were a mistake, even though they provided an interesting (but ultimately time-wasting) early game meta as you decided when to spend or when to horde your points. It resulted in builds that had to max out stupid non-useful skills just for the synergy bonuses.

I daresay the console controls are another major factor in my enjoyment. Rapid click-click-click is just not for me anymore (I save that arthritis-inducing action for my shmups). Moving with the thumbstick makes so much more sense for a game like this.
 

bryo4321

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Added to the OP:

Diablo 3's combat system is fun even when played without stats and gear, that's something that I can't really say for the previous titles. Yes, in D1 and in D2 (moreso in 2) you were pushing the combat system to its limits in really crazy ways while waves of enemies flooded the screen but you were often doing so by just clicking your mouse. A lot of the best D1/D2 builds were one-skill clickers. In Diablo 3, I'm actually using my full compliment of skills and picking them carefully.
this is very true too. As much as I love newer games like Grim Dawn as well, ultimately my most effective builds were along the lines of ground slam and stacking shouts that make ground slam stronger. Then just endlessly spam ground slam with an occasional movement skill if I get trapped. Sure the theory crafting is a lot of fun, but the active gameplay is kind of dull when efficiency forces you into narrow use of combat skills.
 
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Barakov

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What are those few crucial areas, if I might ask?

I'm curious because I know a lot of hardcore D2 fans have shifted over to games like Grim Dawn and Path of Exile because they were dissatisfied with D3. What are the things that you think made people shift over?

The first one is basically the tone of the story and the game world. D2 was foreboding and morbid. D3 focused on Leah and all the problems that brought to table. D3's tone was all over the place. Honestly, it could've been set in the Warcraft universe and it would've fit right in.

The second was the loss of permanence and D2's style of customization. I felt the permanence when building your character in D2 is what made that game unique. I can see why some people wouldn't like it but the variety of builds it allowed was unparalled. While D3 had a 5 gem system, D2 had gems, runes and more for even more customization. Can't speak to Grim Dawn but I think why a lot of people jumped over to Path of Exile because of how varied the customization is. Also, POE has an artstyle that definitely evokes the style of D2.
 

DunDunDunpachi

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this is very true too. As much as I love newer games like Grim Dawn as well, ultimately my most effective builds were along the lines of ground slam and stacking shouts that make ground slam stronger. Then just endlessly spam ground slam with an occasional movement skill if I get trapped. Sure the theory crafting is a lot of fun, but the active gameplay is kind of dull when efficiency forces you into narrow use of combat skills.
Though it might be a strange comparison, building your character in D3 feels like deckbuilding in Magic the Gathering (or a similar card game). Sure, a player might be able to make a really powerful deck packed with all sorts of Rare cards, but the core gameplay of MtG is still crunchy and enjoyable when played with a deck of Commons and Uncommons. In fact, a well-designed deck can easily beat a more "expensive" deck. Cards all seem to have their purpose.

D3 offers a set of skills that are fun from the get-go and remain interesting throughout the life of that character build (even into endgame, it seems). They all seem to have their purpose, though some combos will be superior to others.

D2 endgame was like "awww, the game is getting too difficult to really make use of these other skills. Bummer. Guess all these cool skills that I loved using in early/midgame need to be cut from the rotation and replaced by a useless skill that synergizes with my main damage dealer."

D3 endgame is like "Finally, look at all these toys I can play with. Should I do all pets or just one? I can summon a giant FROG with my primary? Okay, this belt lets me shoot more Haunts, so I should probably add that one into my rotation. Bolas explode instantly? Okay, it's time to switch over to using Bolas now, but what rune should I add..."

And you're right, the theorycrafting was fun in D1 and D2 but it was more about funneling every ounce of your character's power into simple, repeatable actions.
 

jshackles

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Gotta say, this thread is a wild ride of emotions.

I'm firmly with DunDunDunpachi DunDunDunpachi on this one though, Diablo 3 (as it exists at present, at least) is a much better game than Diablo 2. I think lots of people here looking back fondly on Diablo 2 with a huge dosage of nostalgia.
 

Contica

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I always preferred Diablo 1. Couldn't really get into neither D2 or D3 for some reason.
 
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DunDunDunpachi

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The first one is basically the tone of the story and the game world. D2 was foreboding and morbid. D3 focused on Leah and all the problems that brought to table. D3's tone was all over the place. Honestly, it could've been set in the Warcraft universe and it would've fit right in.

The second was the loss of permanence and D2's style of customization. I felt the permanence when building your character in D2 is what made that game unique. I can see why some people wouldn't like it but the variety of builds it allowed was unparalled. While D3 had a 5 gem system, D2 had gems, runes and more for even more customization. Can't speak to Grim Dawn but I think why a lot of people jumped over to Path of Exile because of how varied the customization is. Also, POE has an artstyle that definitely evokes the style of D2.
I still think D1 has the best tone, if we're really keeping score. Bleak game world that sometimes felt broken-difficult due to how enemy hordes could spawn. D2 has the jungles which is easily one of the most iconic maps/areas in a videogame. D3 was very Warcrafty, I completely agree. I could've done without any cutscenes at all and instead put that money toward more content. The characters were badass but not creepy / intimidating. The Reaper villain in Act V looked very World of Warcraft / Overwatch Reaper. I was hoping for more gore and grit and horror since the graphics engine is better.

I don't think D2 had more build variety but maybe my memory is foggy. It seemed as though there was a narrow list of "best" builds whether it was for pvp or for pve or farming, and players mostly stuck to those. Most skills went straight-up unused in endgame content. Arguably, some skills in D3 are probably too weak to be worthy of inclusion into an end-game build but I feel as though the ratio of useless/useful skills has never been better than in D3.

The Set skills and the Secondary skill on certain items (the orange abilities) are really what sets the character building apart for me when compared to earlier Diablo titles. These abilities will often transform a formerly-mediocre power into something quite different, or open up a new exploit. I hardly care about the stats (though I do like seeing better-rolled items). The game is all about those Secondary abilities. It completely opens up each class to a huge variety of viable builds.

You talk about roguelike. Do you just mean hardcore mode or is there something else?
Nah, I mean like Rogue and Nethack and Angband and ADOM and other roguelikes. These had permadeath, yeah, but they also had randomized maps and the randomized loot and randomized enemy placement. That was also a huge part of the appeal. The first Diablo took this formula and made it real-time (I believe Blizzard originally built the game to be turn-based). The shrines in Diablo are a simplification of the altars in many roguelikes (typically allowed players to interact with the game's deity system and gain new abilities at the risk of offending the diety and getting your gear cursed).

Diablo 3 a bit more substantial. It has the simple arcadeyness of Gauntlet built upon that deep roguelike randomization. The previous games didn't enjoy nearly as much fine-tuning to the controls, the combat itself, and the character abilities.
 

FCKAFD

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fastest-selling PC game of all time

Justin Bieber also sells a lot of copies. Doesnt mean the music is good or will be remembered in decades like d2 is and will still be in the future, unlike d3

They did the combat and animations right though. but thats about it. All systems are fisherprice kind of dull . grinding paragon doest motivate me to keep grinding like in d2 or poe
 
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DunDunDunpachi

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fastest-selling PC game of all time

Justin Bieber also sells a lot of copies. Doesnt mean the music is good or will be remembered in decades
Yeah but Thriller is the best-selling album.

And you can bet that the tens of millions sold on consoles will imprint memories just as strongly as D2 did, the key difference being that D2 is still stuck without a single console port whereas D3 has been ported to two (technically three) generations of consoles.
 

Lanrutcon

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Yeah but Thriller is the best-selling album.

And you can bet that the tens of millions sold on consoles will imprint memories just as strongly as D2 did, the key difference being that D2 is still stuck without a single console port whereas D3 has been ported to two (technically three) generations of consoles.
It certainly will. The memories of the absolute clusterfuck it was at launch is a stain on the franchise that'll take some time to forget.
 
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HelpYouFall

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The only people who hate Diablo 3 are also people who have hundreds if not thousands of hours logged into this game.

"OMG THIS GAME IS SUCH TRASH BETTER GET MYSELF READY FOR THE NEW SEASON!!!!"
 

Terce

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I agree.

That being said, stop supporting Blizzard. Uninstall and refrain from playing or paying for their games.
 

Hinedorf

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While I think its true about the core gameplay, boy do I want this art style back. I loved the more realistic gritty gothic style the original 2 had. The painterly look in 3 is beautiful as well, but let’s get back to that grit and darkness and ditch the cartoony proportions.
Agree with you there. I thought the music of Diablo 1 was better than 2 or 3. I thought the art of Diablo 2 was the best, but gameplay/replay value/actual game was hands down Diablo 3
 

DunDunDunpachi

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After another week of playing (only 3 weeks since purchase) I progressed tremendously. It's easy to sneak 10 or 15 minutes in, especially because of the portability on Switch. It's also easy to be absorbed for an hour or two while the wife re-watches Parks and Recreation for the third time.

Demon Hunter increased from Paragon 40 to Paragon 349.
Witch Doctor increased from Paragon 375 to Paragon 560.
Obtained several dozen more sets and Legendaries, opening up more builds.
Same-screen co op using everyone's character (so everyone keeps their loot and Exp) is incredible.
I'm still seeing new enemies and unfamiliar areas of the game.
I'm still finding all kinds of useful gear that I look forward to trying later.

The game isn't forcing me to invest a ton of time in order to get better gear, and this is perhaps why my opinion diverges from D1/D2 fans who wished for a more loot-grindy loot grind. Gear matters but gear isn't the only way to advance your character. Once a player hit the level cap in D2, progress involves repetitive boss-grinding for gear and gems/runes, repeatedly, endlessly.

D3 offers more hamster wheels to run, at least. Whether I'm gambling for specific pieces via Kadala or Kanai's Cube, or pushing Bounties, or running Rifts, or leveling Legendary gems, or farming for Death Breaths, or maybe I'm just replaying favorite areas on the highest difficulty I can muster, I have not yet encountered that oh-so-familiar Diablo WALL that I experienced in the previous two games. Rather, my time in D3 (so far) reminds me of post-game Disgaea grinding, where a player has free access to several "broken" tools that can rocket your progress forward if you know how to use them.

Each class appears to have a few Set armors that offer generous special effects and damage bonuses (like 'Impale does +75,000% damage on the first hit'). These bonuses offer an easy transition into the end-game Legacy of Dreams/Nightmare builds where players mix-and-match powerful Legendaries.

Yet, I am not compelled to grind for specific items and sets. I run through the dungeons and enjoy myself, basking in the slaughter. The loot is a nice reward at the end, nothing more.

It is... liberating to play a loot-grind without the loot actually nagging at the back of my mind. Every facet of D3's gear and leveling system makes the grind easy. The curtains of the loot-grind separate and allow the arcade gameplay to take center stage, and I do not feel the desire to return to the previous titles. Even the animations and sounds remind me of an arcade game. All enemies have distinct noises, deaths, and attack patterns. It is a well crafted game, designed to provide that steady dopamine drip.

The Diablo II habit-forming loot grind, actual footage.


The Diablo III pick-up-and-play loot grind, actual footage.



Attacking and dodging and using skills is fun. I would play this game even if the gear and stats were stripped away. Loot exists in D3 so that a player can extend early/midgame builds into the endgame, and also to open up new builds. The loot isn't really a requirement to have fun with the underlying mechanics, and I think that may be why many people were upset with it.

This feels like an arcade game first, a loot grind second. Diablo 1 and 2 did not feel like arcade games. The tonal shift is undeniable, and I definitely see why people soured on it.

Experience-boosting killstreaks (called Massacres) are new to me and are easily one of my favorite parts of the game. Like a combo-chain, these massacre bonuses hammer home the game's intention: the better you play, the faster you'll level up. I think this is part of why I've advanced so quickly. Since I am regularly getting 75+ chains and playing on the hardest difficulties I can handle, I am receiving far more EXP compared to a player who isn't stringing together groups of enemies and creating long bonus chains. Bypassing dozens of hours of grind via quick reflexes and clever time investment seems like a great bargain to me.




The art style is strong. Blizzard knows how to make an eye-pleasing game, which is especially important when the player is re-treading the same content over and over again in pursuit of loot.

A fun arcade game is more interesting to me than a complex loot system. I prefer to spend my time trying out builds. I am not fixated on that one gem, that one helmet, that one last randomly-rolled piece of gear that will transform my build from mediocre and boring to overpowered and "fun". Many difficult areas in Diablo 3 can be beaten through grit and reflexes. That wasn't necessarily true in previous Diablo titles, owing to their more simplistic combat engine.

Since the stringent stat requirements from D1 and D2 are gone, the loot you obtain is more likely to be usable, whereas in the past a lot of stuff was junk because you didn't have enough of a stat to wear it (or enough Hel runes to bring those requirements down). Did this added restriction somehow make previous games better? I don't think so.

Diablo gained fame by offering complex loot systems. However, randomized loot is only one facet of its gameplay. The inspiration for Diablo -- roguelikes -- offered much more than just randomized loot. They also boasted dungeon crawling and hordes of dangerous enemies and fickle shrines and watching out for each monster's attack patterns. I think D3 made the right decision to evolve past the loot and offer meatier gameplay at the foundation. It didn't remove powerful loot, it just made it easier to obtain. If obtaining powerful loot is why people find this series fun, doesn't that make D3 the most fun in the franchise?

Chasing after the best loot can be fun, but I do not have nearly as much patience for that nowadays as I did when Diablo II came out. The loot is no longer a reward unto itself. The little dopamine hit of seeing a legendary or a set item isn't nearly as strong. I do agree with the Diablo die-hards: this doesn't feel like a sequel to Diablo 1 or 2. It feels more like it took the original inspirations for the Diablo series and absorbed many of the innovations and imitations that've arrived on the scene in the decades following:



(Gauntlet series, with its action gameplay, maze-like dungeons, and hordes of enemies)


(Roguelikes, with their turn-based gameplay, maze-like dungeons, and hordes of enemies)


(The Action-RPG "Diablo clones" that followed in Diablo's footsteps)


(The modern "roguelikes" which are distant successors to Diablo's take on the original roguelike genre)

I watched some "Diablo 4 wishlist" videos from hardcore Diablo fans and they all repeat the same sentiment: Diablo III doesn't have enough depth. I can't imagine why one might confuse "complexity of hamster wheels" with "depth". Did these same fans consider Diablo 2's one-skill click-click-clicker builds to be "deep"?

Diablo 3 offers a long list of viable, fun builds for every character class. Isn't this depth? I expect that if I get bored with the current builds for my Demon Hunter or the Witch Doctor, I will switch to yet another build. Or if I get completely bored with the character, I can spin up a new class with its own set of new skills. Diablo 3 makes that quite easy, since the Stash, Kanai Powers, Recipes, vendor levels, and Paragon levels are shared between characters. The shortest, easiest part of the game (leveling to 70) is the only part that has to be accomplished on a per-character basis. Blizzard wants you to play several classes, which is why they have removed most of the repetition involved with spinning up a brand-new character in these sort of loot-grind games.

I will continue delving into deeper dungeons, killing harder enemies and watching their puny bodies explode in a spray of gore.

I need to bring it up again: console controls elevate this game to something amazing. I played the PC version when it came out and mouse k/b isn't bad at all. However, moving around with a thumbstick and tapping face-buttons to activate skills is a match made in heaven. Assigning whatever skill to whatever button I want is also a welcome feature.

Some thoughts for future patches or future Diablo games:

I wish the maps were a bit more interactive: more traps, more hidden passages, more secret rooms. These little touches harken all the way back to the original Rogue, and I wish the game had a bit more of it. Traps in particular could use an overhaul. I want more mines and rooms with spinning flame-wheels. I want more traps that fling me across the map (like in Act V, iirc). Perhaps in Diablo 4 they will go true "roguelike" and allow tile destruction. Most roguelikes permitted the use of spells or tools (like pickaxes) to cut out new tunnels or even to make a path to a hidden room. Diablo needs more of that. It would be quite cool to equip a certain element and cut through the associated "tile": swing your fire-element sword and cut through trees that are otherwise impassible. Shoot your earth-element Wizard beam to cut away at specially-marked blocks to cut completely new paths, and reveal new areas.

I'd like more environmental effects, too. Fire your lightning arrows to electrify pools of water. Neutralize poison clouds/ acid pools from afar by firing Holy element. I'm ballparking, of course. Games like Magicka and Divinity: Original Sin really stepped up the environmental combat elements in a Western RPG / action RPG. Diablo 4 needs to follow suit.
 
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