The life of Diablo 3 from release to present has been quite an interesting one. When the sequel that millions of people had been waiting years for finally launched, the majority of us were extremely disappointed in some of the game’s core design choices. The included a final difficulty that was so difficult it was nearly unplayable and an Auction House that supported in-game currency and real money sales. Well, the developers have made some really great improvements and the game is moving in a new direction – the console version gives us a brief look into the future of Diablo 3.
I loved Diablo II…
I was a teenager when Diablo II released. It was, put very simply, an amazing game all about finding treasure and interacting with people to not only acquire the best gear possible, but prove it via duels. It was a simpler time where you hosted a game with an appropriate title and get to work. Whether you were magic find (MF) farming Mephisto and Pindleskin, rushing a glass cannon Amazon through Hell or grinding cows for hours on end, it was a game about community and killing monsters.
Above all else, my favorite part regarding Diablo II was the economy. There was something special about finding an item and trading it directly with another person looking for that specific item. That moment when you opened up your chest and saw it was full of SoJ’s or completing your first d2jsp transaction was something very special. I feel that these personal experiences with others is something that Diablo 3 has lost and for me, that’s a really big deal.
The PC version just isn’t fun
The issue where the end game difficulties were not accessible to the majority of players has been addressed with the introduction of Monster Power. While it’s a greatly welcomed change to the game, the problem still lies where the game is simply not enjoyable after a while. It could be because of the completely random loot system that yields the wrong class’s loot the majority of the time or maybe the fact that with the introduction of the Auction House, economy is no longer the personal experience we all loved.
There are plenty of improvements that can be made and are still being made to the game. But I honestly feel that if Blizzard does not address the larger issue of the lack of community, Diablo 3 will never live up to its predecessor. We play online games to interact with others – I know, it’s a crazy concept. The people playing the game are the game’s greatest asset: utilize them.
Console is a blast, but…
Alright, so I purchased Diablo 3 for Xbox because the idea of playing Diablo with a controller sounded like something I would truly enjoy and be able to play casually when I had time. Boy, was I right. I actually enjoyed the game much more with a controller than I did the traditional Diablo point and click controls. The game just felt much more fluid and with the other improvements the console version made to the game, I was just having a blast.
On top of the control improvements, the console version introduced a “Loot 1.5,” if you will. It was a loot system that dropped less loot, but the loot that did drop was higher quality and focused on your class. This created a game that made your character feel like a god – and that’s a really awesome feeling when it comes to killing monsters. I was having the most fun I had in a hack and slash RPG since Baldur’s Gate 2.
I beat the game on Inferno within a few days and recommended it to a bunch of people who I knew disliked the PC version because of the issues I mentioned previously. But then I found the flaw of the console version – offline mode. Offline mode was introduced to the console version exclusively to increase the available audience of the game and encourage people to play with friends whenever they’d like – a good choice, overall. However, this introduced three major issues into the console version:
- Item Duping – Join a game with a friend. Give your friend an item. Dashboard/XMB out of the game. Rejoin the game and you still have the item, as does your friend. Without authentication, duplicating on the console is that easy, so it’s extremely widespread and makes loot not very special anymore.
- Item Modding – With the ability to play offline, comes the ability to modify game saves. Because of this, there are a handful of items in the game that have been widely duped that enable players to 1-shot anything in the game. These items are hacked and are simply ruining the online experience more than it already has been.
- Game save importing – Through websites like XPGamesaves, people can share their save status. This not only provided people with instant max level/max paragon characters, but also exponentially duplicated the hacked and duped item issues.
As of October 2, 2012, Blizzard is not really concerned with the state of the console versions of Diablo 3. The find the true value of the console versions in people wanting to play with friends and ignore these issues, or accept them and enjoy them (which totally has its place as well). But I think that will be short lived and the game can simply not be sustainable in its current state.
If creating some form of auto-save or authentication is not an option to address these issues, then when the expansion is released, ladders (competitive seasons) need to be online only. You can still offer offline gameplay to non-ladder players, but doing this online only restriction for console ladders would address the situation for those bothered by the unleveled playing field.
An expansion is coming…
So keep your fingers crossed that some, if not all, of these concerns are addressed. The Diablo franchise is something many of us hold close to our hearts and have very fond memories of. Diablo 3 is an extremely polished game and truly has the potential to be something much greater than what it currently is. With the support from the community and the continued game improvement by the developers, let’s hope this expansion picks up where we left off with Diablo II. Here is a running list of what we know so far regarding the upcoming expansion, Reaper of Souls – http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/9678948971.
What are your thoughts? Have you enjoyed your adventures through Sanctuary or were you left wanting more?