I was watching the BlizzCon live stream when it was announced that anyone willing to pay for World of Warcraft for a year would receive Diablo 3 for free. I was almost too good to be true. I had no reason to doubt that I would still be active in the game a year later. I was going buy Diablo 3 at launch anyway, so like many people I signed up for a year and waited patiently for Blizzard to release the game to their hungry fans.
Anyone who followed the launch of the game knows that it was not without fault. In fact, it was barely playable to begin with. This was the third time Blizzard had launched an online-only game, yet they still managed to underestimate just how many players would be fighting to log in the moment the clock struck midnight. Gamers who now faced waiting to play, took the internet to mock the now famous ‘Error 37’. Within twenty-four hours a patch was applied making the game playable, but for too many it was yet another reason to mistrust games requiring an active internet connection.
My Warcraft guild ran two full groups in Diablo 3. For a month it was where we could be found if we were not raiding. After we capped at level sixty, the game became less interesting. In Diablo 2 end game fun could be found in running bosses for loot drops, or playing with user-created mods. Both of these are absent from Diablo 3 as the nature of the game does not allow it to be modded. Instead of running content for loot drops, it became more effective to sell everything and head to the auction house to find gear with desirable stats on it. To me, the game became about grinding money for gear so I could grind more money in another area.
The game quickly became stale. Once I reached inferno difficulty and had accessed the cow level, I found little left to hold my interest. I created a hardcore character (which is lost permanently if he dies even once), but even that only held me until I cleared the game on normal and fell back into the same pattern of grinding money again. Diablo 3 was a good game, but I did not feel it was a worthy successor to Diablo 2.
Skip ahead eight months. Lusipurr decided to recruit his wife and I to create hardcore characters. Having played a Demon Hunter on hardcore before, I stuck with a class I knew. While on the surface little seemed to have improved, it soon became apparent that there were numerous quality of life changes. Reagents used for crafting, once useless after advancing to a new difficulty, could be exchanged for higher level materials. Items used for upgrading the blacksmith and jewelcrafter could also be exchanged for their better versions. No longer would materials remain useless until one decided to level an alt.
Lusipurr decreed that the auction house was to be off-limits for our characters, so we had to rely on our luck to get useful gear. Every few levels found us heading to the blacksmith for upgrades. We had our share of setbacks. We each had to roll new characters and start over at least once. The second time I died, I decided to play a Witch Doctor. While it would seem like a spell caster would be more fragile than a dexterity-heavy character, Witch Doctors have many pets and can be tough to kill if setup right. This time I played solo to make up the difference in levels without skipping over potential loot drops.
After catching up, the ‘just one more’ mentality found me advancing further. I needed materials for crafting, got find those. A couple of bars to level, I should kill a few more enemies. New gear to craft at my level, I should make some. I could not get the stats I wanted and ran out of materials, I should get more. And so the cycle would repeat itself until I convinced myself to sleep. I was having fun again, and even Ni no Kuni could not tempt me away.
Blizzard have not been slacking on the extra content for the game either. Once a character caps at level sixty, there are one hundred additional ‘paragon levels’ that can be earned to further develop a character. Each paragon level gives extra stats, gold find and magic find to help work oneself through inferno difficulty. At all levels, monster power can be increased for additional experience and rewards. Raising monster power during inferno difficulty unlock special event bosses that can drop new craftable items, to unlock challenging double boss encounters. With all this to look forward to, how can I not carry on playing?
Have you played Diablo 3 since launch? Would the recent updates bring you back into the game, or even encourage you to buy it? Let me know in the comments!