It was a late night sometime in 2008. I was just returning home from working a late shift at the store where I worked after a long day of classes. I sat down and booted up my pc to read up on some gaming news and perhaps play something. I look at my shelf of pc games and see my favorite game Diablo. I decided to go to blizzards website just to see what was new and I got my first glimpse of Diablo 3. It was the picture with the black background with Diablos eyes, mouth and the three claw marks in red. It did not say Diablo 3 on it anywhere and I instantly put that image as my PC's background. I was excited beyond belief that I was going to see my first video of the game that I had been waiting for since I finished Diablo 2 and its expansion. I clicked the link to watch the video of the barbarian and waited with bated breath to see the new world I knew I would be exploring and with a character I had played before in the previous game. Then I realized that the barbarian was a character I had already played many hours with before in the previous game, and if I wanted to get technical I played a barbarian with the "barbariantest" command.txt mod in Diablo 1 expansion Hellfire. So I have played the same character in all three of the games? I thought, no matter its an established reoccurring character, it'll be ok. So the video loads and I see my first glimpse into the world and the dungeons looked cool, the desert, wait what?! Desert?! there is going to be another desert! I hated the desert in Diablo 2, ok, deep breath...its probably just one small area, they can't put in a whole desert area like they did in the second one. After the video was over I sat and thought. I can't wait for this game to come out! My desktop sat with various Diablo 3 wallpapers throughout the four years it took for the game to actually come out and I was the second in line at my Gamestops midnight release and picked up my Collectors Edition as well as a poster and big diablo 3 box that the store gave me.
That paragraph was to let you know that Diablo is my favorite franchise in gaming history and it is with a heavy heart and crushed expectations that I must report, Diablo 3 does not live up to expectations. I, among many others, felt cheated by Blizzard. They seem to have lost that special connection that I felt that they once had. It felt like they listened to their customers and fans feedback on issues and had their fans/customers best interest when it came to their release date of "when its ready". I had nothing but the utmost faith in Blizzard when they announced D3 and knew it would be a shining example of everything right with the action RPG genre. Instead it is nothing more than a clone of itself and any innovation it had at any point during development seems to have been intentionally removed. I feel as if the developers said "OK, now Diablo 1 and 2 are universally thought of as the best games in this genre right? What can we do to make the third one sell more than both of them combined?" Not how can we make the game better, but how do we sell it. Well they took out pretty much any character customization that isn't aesthetic and made the game so easy that my two year old nephew could breeze through it, thats how. On my first playthrough I died on diablo, the final boss, once. That was the only death I had in that first playthrough. I know what you're thinking, but what about the nightmare, hell, etc difficulty levels. To that I say, what about them? I should not have to play through the entire game once before I can get a challenge out of my game? No, no, no, no, that is unacceptable horrible, horrible design. Now, I am not asking for nightmare or hell difficulties right away but some amount of challenge would have been nice. It was entirely too easy. Another big complaint I have is that this game is pretty much Diablo 2. Don't believe me? Well, the first area is a small town, then you go to Tristram, then you go through some caves, then you go underground to fight the boss of act 1. There are other areas thrown in but act 1 is a grassy area that serves to get you to the caves that lead you to the next grassy area which lead you underground to kill the boss. Act 2 is worse as it is an almost exact copy of the desert levels in act 2 of Diablo 2, and worst of all is Act 3...yeah I have to rage quit this sentence. Basically I had a "been there, done that" feeling almost everytime I entered a new area. I have played the game through with my Monk twice and have one of every other character up to act IV or approximately level 30 hoping with each time I play it I feel that there is so much potential.
I know I am bashing the game pretty hard and its because of my love for this game and the disapointment I felt while playing the game. I am sure that most fans of the series thought the same as I did. The redeeming qualities though, are there. The dungeons and act VI levels are beautiful and act IV was a great addition to the game. As always the music is fantastic but I long for Matt Uelmen's beautifuly haunting melodies. The characters each have personality and are very unique which makes every playthrough different. So while you may not want to play through the game a second, third or fifth time, rest assured it is not entirely the same experience each time. Also, if you do play through more than once the nightmare difficulty is where the real game starts. It is where you really get tested and where the game starts to really shine. The higher difficulties are the reason I still play the game and enjoy it so much. As far as my opinion goes I really enjoyed the story and liked the direction it took. While I will not spoil anything for the game it is a pretty good story with some twists, turns and surprises along the way.
The majority of this game is good and it seems as though I bashed it like a barbarian bashing a fallen's skull. It was mostly disappointment in the fact that you can not really customize your character anymore and the feeling that they just re-hashed diablo 2. I did not mention the always online (which is bad) or the real money auction house (really really bad) because by now you should all know about them and if you want to waste your money on fake swords, by all means go ahead. All in all this is a good game but is nowhere near what I, or many of the longtime fans of Diablo or Blizzard expected from this franchise. So although my expectations were crushed in the way of a Diablo game, the game is a solid dungeon crawler. I give this game eight soulstones out of ten.