Diablo 3 and WoW

Quick update on two Blizzard games today!

Diablo 3
Today I downloaded the installer for Diablo 3 and brought it home from work to copy onto my gaming machine. You can’t install it yet, but hopefully other than some minor patching it’ll be a quick launch into the game when it goes live.  

Diablo 3 certainly is raising very mixed views from the blogosphere:

  • Thade of Thade’s Hammer was surprised how much they enjoyed beta access
  • Azuriel at In an Age is rethinking even getting the game at launch as their experience was pretty negative – the “baby WoW” comment raises concerns for me (see below)
  • Sullas at Soresu thought it a journey to “Hellville”
  • Spinks had a more positive impression other than the Demon Hunter’s stereotypical high-heeled boots

I will get Diablo 3 as the sweetener on the oh so bad value WoW annual sub. So I’ll play it just to try and wring some kind of value for money out of a sub I am no longer making any use of. I doubt it’ll grab us the same way Diablo 1 did, that was the first game I could play on LAN with my partner – it was such a revelation to play cooperatively on separate computers with a full screen display each. It was fast and furious and addictive. But times have changed a lot and it looks like Diablo 3 hasn’t kept up with the times. Well, I’ll see in May how that one pans out.

WoW Beta
I have beta access and have so far leveled a panda monk to 11, and have just finished the panda start area with a friend this last weekend.

First the positives:

  • The panda character animations, emotes and general art work is adorable and *very* well done. I especially love the sitting animation, which is a lotus style meditation pose.
  • The starter area is pretty gorgeous artistically, they’ve done wonders with the rather creaky old game engine there.
  • The monk class may be fun to play, I want to play more to see the healer spec in action as it could be interesting and I do love healer classes

Now for the bad stuff:

  • The questing is pretty lacklustre, there are a few (very few) standout interesting quests. But after doing the starter area we noticed that almost every group of quests had the same make-up (1x kill X, 1x collect Y plus maybe a third click Z). Yes they are tropes of the whole genre but the quest design for the area made it very obviously repetitive^
  • I have logged in to a few of my level 85 characters and I honestly feel a strong ‘allergic’ reaction to the new talent system – it’s just *wrong* to dumb-down character creation to that level. Everything seems so automatic, so patronising and simplistic, including the auto-learning of all skills. The system makes me choose between signature abilities for Balance druid (like Typhoon or Insect Swarm); great, so now I have even less utility spells to cast!?

I sincerely doubt I’ll love monk so much that I can get past what they’ve done with the classes changes. Also with only 5 levels of new high level content it’ll be the same as Cataclysm – be rollercoaster rushed through the leveling quests solo (no point grouping for anything as it’s LOL easy) and then dungeon/heroic/raid treadmill. Sorry that’s not for me again in WoW.

You know if Blizzard had only gone with Mists full on, and produced an entirely new leveling path in a larger continent of Pandaria – so you could level from 1-80 or even 1-85 in the asian setting I would probably have forgiven them and carried on playing. They could have saved so much wasted development time by not messing yet again with talents, with the attendant class rebalancing, with redoing again the glyph system and adding PokeWoW and concentrated for once on the actual game we all fell in love with all those years ago – you know the World of Warcraft?

^I realise that you could level the same criticism at SWTOR or even at Vanguard but both those games beat WoW for immersion and the fact that not all content is laughably easy to solo.

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4 Responses to Diablo 3 and WoW

  1. thade says:

    The “baby WoW” comment should be weird, right? WotLK “heroics” where everything was an easy zerg-fest lowered the bar for much of the game’s content; it was good as it meant more people could see and enjoy it, but bad for some of us as we no longer fell within its target demographic. We wanted BC-era heroics that presented a challenge; we were out-numbered and essentially out-voted. I left at the end of WotLK feeling a bit cheated…but at least Arthas was finally beaten. That was the entire reason I grabbed WoW of the shelf in ’04. (That and the redemption of the blood elves…but I got that in BC playing the paladin story line.)

    D3 is interesting; it doesn’t give you the level of customization that the Secret World is claiming it will give us, but it’s still a far cry better than D2 was. Also there is one thing about Diablo that will always trump WoW in particular: you don’t need to depend upon four, nine, or twenty-four other people to be able to clear their schedules, watch and study strat videos, and gear themselves up in order to see content. You can – all by your lonesome – fight your way from the very beginning to the utter end, taking down the big bad super bad guys solo.

    If you want to bring friends, you can. And unlike WoW you won’t necessarily fail just because they aren’t as obsessed with the game as you. <3

    In conclusion, roll a Barbarian. Seriously. The hits are soooooo satisfying.

  2. Hunaiam says:

    Well you just convinced me not to reup with WoW. I have been contemplating going back to check out Mists, but if its more of the same then no thanks. I will stick with SWToR and maybe play D3.

    • Simon Jones who is blogless says:

      While I like SWTOR, it has the exact problems pointed out here in it’s questing to a vastly, vastly greater degree, only with added grindiness.

      The talent thing I kinda like because it’s stripped out all pretense that there’s other options because it’s always been an illusion of choice. In talent tree games, you always have, and still do, take your cookie cutter spec or you’ve been crap even way back in the dawn of WoW. At least the choices you make mean something this time.

      • Telwyn says:

        WoW does a very poor job of distracting you from the grind (IMHO), whereas the dialogue cut-scenes and excellent writing in SWTOR do just that – they make questing a hell of a lot more interesting. I guess it’s a personal preference thing, I’d much rather have talent trees and the gradual continual progress than picking a very few random abilities every 15 levels or whatever it is. It all feels so dumbed down in Mists.

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