Nerdberg Ahoy: Diablo 3
After many failed attempts, I was lucky enough to score a code for the Diablo 3 beta. Long story short, it came down to me sitting on Twitter for almost two hours, flanked by two open browsers (Firefox/Chrome) and a window of about 15 seconds for me to redeem the aforementioned code… but I digress.
With roughly an hour of play, Diablo 3 was instantly recognizable. Forgetting that I have not played its predecessor since 2003, combat, magic, inventory, character development ALL CAME BACK within minutes. Needless to say, such a feat is pretty impressive (for Blizzard, not for me so much).
However, the new systems introduced in this iteration were equally accessible. Pulling from my years behind the wheel of World of Warcraft, I understood the process to create a character with a degree of identity. A large push this time ’round for those characters is to give them flexibility. In Diablo 2 you were basically locked in to one line through a classes talent tree. Here, I was quickly able to intuit the swapping out of skills at a moments notice for different occasions was possible and I guarantee you will be necessary. Gone are the days of strict Bowzons, Frozen Orb sorcersseseses and Frenzy Barbs: adaptation is the emphasis and the skills allow you to pick/choose/swap/tinker/finesse.
I am sad to admit but after a short while, I completely stopped noticing the upgraded graphics. My computer ain’t no slouch, but I’ve really come to expect that the adventuring zones would naturally have a sweet layer of paint on them. I did appreciate the level of detail on environments like dusty book cases and the inaccessible backgrounds that are present.
On the flip side, one this I was rather impressed with was a more dynamic storytelling method. The player is able to pick up story items that are narrated and will actually tell you how they expand the universe. Touches like this are much improved over tool-tips and relying on flavor text to populate the world. I cannot count the number of times I skipped over quest information in World of Warcraft simply because I had other things to do besides stand somewhere dangerous and wonder about Mankirk’s wife.
All of that being said and this still being in beta, not I was able to crash the game, but also give myself a blue screen of death. But with roughly a month and a half left to iron out the hiccups events like this should become less egregious.
Looking forward to other new/improved mechanics, I completely understand and champion Blizzards continued mantra, “It’s ready when it’s ready,” and forgive them for omitting PVP (specifically because I do not care). I’m curious to see how the auction house will affect casual gamers where they can find/craft/sell armor for in-game and real-life currency, specifically in regarding real money transactions. Obviously cold-hard-cash sales will appeal to hard-core gamers, but casual players will be able to take advantage as well, especially if they are looking to cut some corners to save some time so that they can get more enjoyment out of the game.
Implementations like this are very complicated, not only to execute but also the real world connotations that they have. Ironing out deals with different governments and different currencies takes a lot. I hope their lawyers are ready. Still, I’m left wondering who the first Diablo 3 tycoon will be. I’ve long heard plenty of stories where people sold Word of Warcraft accounts for thousands of dollars. In games like Second Life where people actually have real estate empires that they oversee, they are able to rely on these methods as a livelihood.
Understandably, the real reason Blizzard is doing this is so that they can: 1) hold on to the money. 2) use that for other in-game services or cross game services. 3) run all the way to the bank with whatever percentage they decided to account. The demand has long permeated other Blizzard properties, so why not embrace it from the beginning? Ultimately, I don’t anticipate this to be a world changing system. However I do want to anticipate that with Blizzards large audience and this games large appeal that players who take advantage of this money-grubbing opportunity won’t be the only cats with the skillz to pay the billz.