on June 13, 2012
The best part of this game is seeing the few minutes of cinematics. No, seriously. Just save your money and watch the cinematics on YouTube.
Where do I even begin?
*** Character and Skill Customization ***
There is no appearance customization aside from choosing your character's gender and using some dyes to change the color of your armor. I personally don't care about this, but some people do.
However, I DO care very deeply about skill customization, because different choices create different playstyles, which can make a game interesting. Boy, did they botch this badly. You are limited to using only 6 skills at a time (and forget about changing them during a gaming session in Inferno or you will lose an important stacking buff called Nephalim Valor).
Furthermore, the final difficulty level of the game (which is where most players will obviously end up and want to progress), called Inferno, is tuned to such an extreme degree that only a few class skills and strategies are even viable (Blizzard/Hydra kiting for ten minutes is fun, right?!) and other skills are downright mandatory (Energy Armor with Force rune, anyone? How about War Cry? Know any barbarians without it?).
*** Inferno Tuning ***
Simply ridiculous. A game is supposed to be fun. Don't get me wrong, I love a good challenge. I've spent countless hundreds of hours in World of Warcraft, during Vanilla and in every expansion thereafter, dying repeatedly (aka wiping) to progress on raid encounter bosses. Happily doing so. Because that is what you expect in the end game of MMORPGs.
But Diablo isn't World of Warcraft. Diablo is essentially a hack and slash game, an action RPG. Such games are supposed to be fast and furious and fun, blowing up hordes of baddies in the mad search for cool items. Therefore, not being able to withstand a sneeze from an enemy monster while wearing decent gear is just plain stupid.
Even after stacking Vitality (for health) and Resistances, my wizard dies after 3 hits from anything (and that's only because of a class skill I'm forced to take for survival; other range classes simply die after 1 hit and melee classes are pigeon-holed into tanking). So after three hits from anything (a stray arrow, the tiniest minion's slap, an unavoidable mortar because I'm jailed), I'm dead.
It wouldn't be so bad if you had room to move around or could see far enough away to avoid an ambush, but you don't and you can't. You are going to open a door or monsters will spawn from the ground, and you will instantly die. Don't even get me started on Vortex. So now you get to enjoy a resurrection timer before you run all the way back to your body, revive and die again. Rinse and repeat, and Blizzard just increased the repair costs in game, yay!
Furthermore, players routinely have to Leave Game because elites with certain combinations of abilities are simply unkillable. Is that good game design?! It doesn't get much better with better gear either. Gear which you can't afford or farm for anyway. We'll get to that later.
*** Dungeons and Items ***
You know that awesome feeling you got in other games when exploring a new, unknown dungeon? Wondering what you might face? What awesome items you might find to improve your character or party?
Well, forget about ever feeling that with Diablo 3. The dungeons are short and repetitive. Not to mention, you are proceeding along part of the same quest line for the 100th time just to face the same bosses (great, it's the Butcher boss again). If you were expecting truly randomized dungeons, where you could explore with your friends for hours, forget about it.
And you know, such tedious farming might actually be worth it if you got the rare gratification of actually finding a useful item for yourself. But you won't. You are going to farm the same trash, the same elites and the same bosses over and over and over again, only to vendor everything you find. If you're lucky, you might find an item worth selling to someone else. That brings me to my next section.
*** The Auction House ***
You are quickly going to realize that you are doing nothing in this game but farming gold in order to buy items from the auction house. However, due to bots (programs which farm gold around the clock) and duping (copying of items by exploiting the code), the market has already spun out of control. Blizzard is trying to wrestle some control back, but the damage has been done. Billions of gold is now floating in the market and prices are so inflated that you can't even afford to buy the kind of upgrades you will need to progress in Inferno.
Blizzard intends to make some better items drop (at a very tiny rate) in earlier Acts of Inferno in a future patch (to throw a bone to the vast majority of players who couldn't race to 60 and get into Inferno before prices spiraled out of control, due to pesky jobs and families and whatnot), but it seems to be too little too late. Who really wants to do yet another Butcher farm run? Just the thought of it makes me want to gag.
At this point, you can only hope that Blizzard's stealth game limit cap implemented in the last patch (to crack down on bots) combined with more determined players gradually grinding and farming their way through Inferno will eventually lead to a reduction in AH prices to something more attainable to players who can't spend 8 hours a day graveyard zerging their way through content.
*** Recap ***
You can't progress in Inferno without gear. You can't farm the gear you need yet. You can't afford it either. Your only solution right now is to pay real dollars on the AH and buy your way to victory. That will certainly make you feel like a hero against the hordes of hell!
What a disgusting disappointment for a longtime fan (I flew to the last two BlizzCons and have been playing the franchises since they began) and shareholder (soon to be former shareholder) in the company. After years of development and hype, this is the best they have to offer? With nearly unlimited resources, this is what they produced? It makes me want to vomit.