Or, “The Post in which Toriah Rambles Incoherently About Her Experience of Diablo III So Far.”
I’m not sure if it’s calm realism or cynicism that let me remain unperturbed by the issues plaguing the first few days of Diablo III’s launch. After three Warcraft expansions and armed with the knowledge that there would be no offline-mode for D3, I could foresee what would happen when over a million people clambered to get into the game last Tuesday. It’s the same sort of thing that happens when one of WoW’s expansions goes live. Actually, you could say that it’s practically the same thing that happens. It just wouldn’t be a Blizzard game launch without a couple (or many) hiccups.
The difference is that D3 was meant to be a single-player game with a co-op function. Well, that’s what my perspective was, anyway. When I got around to finally playing D2 back in 2005, I didn’t get to utilize the Battle.Net stuff because the CD key had been used long ago. And, seeing how Blizzard handled Starcraft II coupled with Bioware’s execution of the ME3 campaign/multiplayer modes, I was quite hopeful.
You see, when the internet goes out— let’s not even talk about if Battle.Net takes a heaping technological crap on itself— I’d like to have options open when I don’t feel like watching TV or reading a book. It’s why I play games other than WoW, after all: these are the games that don’t need the internet to work. I can still blast pixels to smithereens when Cincinnati Bell fails at its job for the umpteenth time.
But this is how they’ve set D3 up. Maybe they saw the prevalence of groups formed on Battle.Net during D2’s days, or were astonished at the sheer amount of people who signed up for the Annual Pass and figured all of these people would want to play with their guildmates anyway. Whatever their logic was, this is what we’ve got. At the risk of sounding like a Blizzard fangirl, a lack of offline single-player mode is honestly a minor inconvenience. Don’t get me wrong: I still think it’s silly not having single-player available offline. It just means I have to categorize D3 alongside WoW. And Error 37 gets added to the (sometimes) endearing list of Frustrating Things I See From Blizzard, right in between the BlizzCon Failoc and “Working as intended.”
So, now that I got that tidbit out of the way… I’ve got a demon hunter (Metandra) set up to play with my guildmates, currently in Act II; I also have my wizard (Kirana) who literally obliterates her way through Sanctuary with the trusty Templar at her side. Ended up staying awake until 1am to finish Act I on my wizard. It would have been sooner except I died to the Butcher a couple of times.
It’s a very small detail but I love the little snippets of conversation in Sanctuary. The Scoundrel consistently harasses the Templar if they’re both idling in town. Villagers comment about your progress and what you’re doing. My Templar is also incredibly chatty, which I had not expected. I expected him to be the silent holy warrior type with trite little platitudes. Yet he talks to my character constantly about our adventures and the situation at hand. And, by God, does he love to fight the minions of Hell. Someone on the forums likened the Templar to a Crocodile-Hunter-Meets-Paladin mashup, and now I can’t dissociate the two.
One of the things I miss most from D2 was the ability to scroll through your abilities. If the function is still there, I haven’t found it. Being able to change your skillset on the fly was clutch in the previous game. You had no idea what was going to be around the corner. It could be an AoE group, or a single-target group, but you’d be ready with the turn of a mousewheel. Having skills mapped out for me, for the moment, is a nice thing since I’m trying to catch the story while I’m playing right now. Perhaps I should try the elective skills function the next time I log on.
The reason my wizard died to the Butcher the first time was because I had the most inappropriate spells up for the fight. I tried to run around, avoid fire, avoid him, and heal myself all while trying to switch spells. Whoops.
Between the two, I’m a much bigger fan of the way my demon hunter plays as opposed to my wizard. My demon hunter, however, sounds awfully… Oh, what’s the word… Smarmy, perhaps? I’m just glad that she shows a little of her more compassionate side from time to time. There’s only so far an icy composure will get you, ya know? Yet there’s something admirable in the single-minded determination she shows, the ability to wall off personal fears and doubts for the sake of the quest.
The wizard is a refreshing contrast to my demon hunter, with her youthful confidence that borderlines hubris and almost naive idealism. When she spoke to the Templar about his initiation, she reacted with authentic shock and indignation— not for herself, but for Kormac. Beneath her lack of regard toward authority is a real sense of empathy.
I’m still getting the hang of everything, obviously, but it’s been intuitive for the most part. In all honesty, I haven’t had much time to spend on the game. Seeing sudden bursts of magic or arrows still makes me laugh, because I’d gotten into the habit of right-clicking items and NPCs. Overall, I’m having an awesome time on both of my characters. My “twitch” gaming skills have been honed over the past couple of months thanks to copious amounts of ME3 multiplayer. They’ve certainly come in handy for D3, that’s for sure.
Also, running away in D3 is hard when everything is controlled by mouse clicks. I keep reverting to ASDW and… Well, let’s just say those buttons don’t do what they usually do.