I loved Diablo 2. It’s one of those games that almost define my youth. I was growing up playing Diablo 2 for years, starting new characters, farming for better gear. During a period in my life this was the best game out there, all genres. Even several years after its release when the graphics was outdated we kept on playing. It was wondrous.
Then World of Warcraft came out and I saw it as the spiritual successor of Diablo 2. I quit playing that old game and focused completely on the new one, and god it was good. This is at the pinnacle of Blizzard, and for a time there they defined “quality” for the gaming industry. Many many years after, Diablo 3 was announced, and the hype was going through the roof. I preordered it on PC, even though I technically quit playing on the PC. I played through the campaign with a Monk and was disappointed. The magic was not there.
Later they released it for PS3, my preferred console, and I bought it again with intent of playing it with my wife. She loves the World of Warcraft action gameplay, so it would be perfect for her, but the port was lacking. Playing split screen on a TV was not manageable, and we quickly stopped playing.
Then I got a PS4 for christmas 2014 and wow, what a console. Sadly not many games to play, but I noticed the ultimate edition of Diablo 3, including Reaper of Souls expansion, so I bought it again for the third time to have something to play - but the game bored me to death. Three times I paid. I could really use some cross-platform buy from Blizzard.
Now I was between games and I decided again to pick up Diablo 3 on the PS4, since I paid for it and finish a challenge for myself - to beat it on hardcore and get to level 70, which is endgame.
Here comes my reflections.
The game poses no challenge at all. In Diablo 2 it was guarantee that you would die to the butcher first time you play it. In Diablo 3 there is no difficulty before you get to New Game+. The first play through is just a waste of time.
The story element of this game is horrible. It’s like it have been written by a really poor fantasy author. Listening to the dialogue sometimes makes me cringe because their lines are so bad. The dialogue is also sometimes very repetitive. I remember Diablo 2 having an interesting story arc with a rich lore on both the world and its inhabitants. This story is just an excuse to go kill some creatures.
The loot system is ridiculous. In Diablo 2 you would first staff your character with blues, and when you found a yellow it was party. In Diablo 3, blue items are trash and yellows are common. Grinding this game for level 70 I would find 2 legendary items every hour. You stop getting excited for new loot, just compare the stats and throw the surplus away. It is just a numbers game - the loot has no significance, no lore and no excitement.
The HUD on the console is really bad because everything is too small. This works on a computer where you sit 60 cm from the screen, but I sit 3 meters from my TV. Everytime I need to read something, like managing my inventory, I would have to move closer to the TV in order to see. Another problem is that the health bar is not visible enough and it makes it hard to keep track on your health, the most important aspect when playing a hardcore character.
The gameplay is very repetitive. During my play through I used only three skills, mashing three buttons in the correct order. It doesn’t present any difficulty so you never feel that you as a player is making any progress in terms of skill. I’m not a better player with my level 70 witch doctor, than I was at level 1.
The bosses are uninteresting. All bosses works exactly like ordinary mobs, but they have a huge health bar and an arena where you fight them. The exception is Diablo who has three stages where the shadow stage was quite unexpected. But this whole concept was then copied to Mathael, the last boss of the expansion Reaper of Souls. In Diablo 2 each boss was interesting, Andariel with her lore, Duriel with the slow aura, but in Diablo 3 each boss is just the same as the previous one.
This is a bad game. The closest comparison is a slot machine where you draw a handle and get small winnings for no effort. In Diablo 3 you get small increments of loot, continuously in order to keep your brains reward system satisfied, but you do it by monotonously hammering the same buttons for hours on end.
I get angry of the reviews that give Diablo 3, 95% and I get even angrier when a review gives the ultimate edition 98% - “it’s even better”. It will take time before I put my faith back into Blizzard, and in the meanwhile they may keep working on their card games for all that I care.