We're three days away from the launch of Diablo III, the most anticipated game since Angry Birds Space. I'm planning on stocking up on Monsters for a long Monday night and am quite prepared to be a shitty mess at work Tuesday. I'm usually the anti-hype: I rarely pre-order games and am usually extremely skeptical of major releases. If I hadn't actually played the game I still would be. The open beta sold me. The format of the game is essentially the same: Diablo pretty much invented the dungeon crawler. It wasn't the first, but it became more than a dungeon crawler: it became the archetype of the dungeon crawler. One didn't judge Dungeon Siege or Torchlight on their own merits, they were judged in comparison to Diablo (or Diablo II). Diablo III doesn't reinvent the wheel but it does make everything else look like shit. The changes made for Diablo III don't feel significant; they feel like tweeks. In reality, Blizzard completely redesigned the interface and control scheme while keeping the soul of the game nearly indistinguishable from the earlier iterations. Gone is the keyboard smashing to pop health potions very quickly. Q is the health potion button, the ONLY potion button, and there is a cooldown. Skill levels are completely absent from Diablo III. Skills are gained through leveling but there is no commitment. Skills can be upgraded using Runewords, also gained through leveling, keeping low-level skills scaling throughout the game. Primary and Secondary attacks and abilities stick around but look very different: there are specific Primary and specific Secondary abilities, the Primary attack usually being used to build energy or mana or whatever for the stronger Secondary ability to consume. No mana potions. Hell, the Demon Hunter has 2 types of energy! The 1-4 buttons on the keyboard that are no longer being used for potions are now used for other types of abilities. Think hotkeys in WoW (or any MMORPG, really). The beta didn't let me experiment with too many of these but the ones I did see focused on survivability and crown control.
|This was a frequent event|
That's a big list of changes. You'd expect the game to feel unfamiliar. If you loved Diablo I and II you might be crazy skeptical of these changes. Don't be. Diablo III somehow manages to play a hell of a lot like Diablos of the past despite being so very different. I'm extremely impressed with what I saw in the beta. Like many people I'm a little weary of the real currency auction house and am put off by the constant internet connection DRM. At least I remember those things bothering me, before I played the game. Right now I don't care. I'm WAY too excited to let those issues spoil an otherwise amazing experience. Hurry up, Tuesday.