Review: Diablo 3: A second take on Sanctuary, 100+ hours in

Aug 3, 2012


First off, thank you for coming back to the site for an extra helping of D3 news. The community is buzzing, sources from all around the world are sharing their thoughts and as the dust settles, we believe that the geeks have more to add on the subject and will give you a dose of reality as it pertains to being a true gamer, looking for the real deal! We have a series of simple, direct questions that we asked ourselves, other geeks and a few fans and the answers are just below, enjoy and we hope you have some of your concerns addressed. Feel free to comment or e-mail us more questions, concerns.

1. How does your d3 experience at 100 hours compare to your first 30?


Unfortunately, I never made it to 100 hours. I started to jump ship around the 50hr mark. I really enjoyed the different spells and abilities i got when I leveled up and it made me push forward to see what else I unlocked as I continued playing. Two things hit me though, shortly before I stopped playing. I was set on a certain build once I unlocked the abilities I was primarily using, so leveling up slowly became meaningless to me other than growing stronger. Also, I was tired of playing through the same areas over and over again just to get to Inferno. However this also happened to me on the previous Diablo games.


My first 30 or so hours were amazing, I loved nearly everything about the game. However after roughly 70 hours and more so again at the 100 and 150 hours mark, I dramatically lost interest in the game. The original Diablo and Diablo 2 were in no way long games with tons of content, but the expectation at the time of those games was exceeded by the experience, and I played to my heart’s content many, many times, out lasting a few PC’s, a decade+ and over 1000 hours. Diablo 3, just does not have the lasting appeal in terms of treasure hunting, story, content and replay value. However, if you want a great dungeon crawler, and normally only put in 50 or so hours, grab D3 just for that, it is a game worth playing and sharing with friends as it sits currently, and more so when the next expansion comes out.


2. Do you feel the auction house negatively affects gameplay?


I love the fact that gear I don’t use can be put up on the auction house and sold to someone who really does need it. Unfortunately, it becomes a necessity at the End game if players want to advance through Inferno. Also, it made item crafting meaningless because you why spend gold upgrading your blacksmith to make weapons that you can easily replace with a quick visit to the auction house.


The auction house as a general tool has been a favorite of mine since Final Fantasy XI and World of Warcraft. In an MMORPG, it was an essential part of the economy and as I heard about it coming to Diablo 3, my heart raced, could this be happening? During my first play through, I looked at the auction house with disdain, because I wanted to stay “true” to my roots, even though I really wanted to use it and continued to Act IV: Normal with only items I found or crafted, besides 2 items I purchased on the auction house, ones I could not find in Sanctuary. I was totally ok with that. On Nightmare and beyond I got tired of the difficulty and found that the gear I could acquire on the auction house was far far superior, sometimes 100-150% of an upgrade in terms of statistical bonus. I began to worry at that point. At the 100 hour mark I exclusively used the auction house for everything and could not afford to play the game without it due to the grossly out of balance crafting system and the loot table being inconsistent and behind in terms of relative ilevel and power at the particular point in the game I was. Looking back then and now I do think that the auction house, in it’s current format, is negatively affecting the game at it’s core and should be addressed!


3. Diablo is a series known for grinding, looting, and repetition. Do you feel d3 lives up to series tradition? If not, does its style help push the series on a positive direction?


It absolutely lives up to the tradition. People would not be putting in 200 hours into this game if that wasn’t the case. They would be dropping after the first playthrough. End game item hunting may be a bit unbalanced, but that doesn’t negate the fact that it’s all about the loot.


If you consider Diablo in only this context, grinding, looting and repetition, then yes it does live up to tradition. However one could argue that the long term experience does not hold with tradition for a large percentage of players, including myself in reference to these three terms. It is in this argument that I feel Diablo 3 as a whole experience, does not live up to what Diablo and Diablo 2 offered gamers for over a decade. That is a big statement and also an empty one, so let me briefly give you an example of why I feel that way. (Grinding): In Diablo I began my grind around lv 30 for gear and experience. During this time I found the Godderdamerung, a legendary, unique great helm and the best of all helms. I finished around lv 41 and was never able to continue to max level. It was this notion of working towards oblivion and receiving like-wise rewards that makes it a memorable grinding experience for me so many years later. (Loot): Diablo II was another source of great memories, trading items online with other hardcore players (dedicated) and finding countless set, rare and unique items as well as charms,  gems and runes for later use. I got so many on my way to max level, that I installed Diablo II on another computer and my friend and I set up an item sharing network by giving ourselves room to store all these items we collected on their very own characters because we simply ran out of room. I reached max level (99) after much hard, arduous work and felt the trip there was worth it as I collected items for true heroes amongst them being the Grandfather and Doombringer, two legendary weapons that had no equal. I created new characters so that I could play them high enough to equip all the other cool things I found. (Repetition): As you can see, the above basically collectively, shows you how playable Diablo as a series has been for me up to Diablo 3. However it is this last one that remains the source of my argument, the replay value is just not there, which doesn’t allow me enough time to accomplish what I did or even a fraction of (grinding, loot) within the window the games stays fun to play. It is this that gives me the right to say as an opinion, Diablo 3 did not live up to the series at the time of it’s release and to date without a major content patch or expansion.


4. Would you encourage players new to Diablo to start with d3 or a game earlier in the series?


Diablo 3 has a lot of callbacks to the original game, however from a story perspective, I don’t think anyone needs to play the previous games as a prerequisite.


It isn’t necessary to play 1 or 2, before playing Diablo 3 because the story is referenced to and bridged and the play experience of each game is of its own and that goes without explanation for anyone who has played them. From my experience though, I think someone new to the series, should start with the first, move to 2 and finish with 3. My sole reason for stating that is simply to know from experience how far the series has come and how awesome it was so long ago. It’s unfair or perhaps premature to say, just play Diablo 3 because it is better or newer. Alot of people may agree with a large audience by saying it was fun for a while, but then it got old and by extension, Diablo must not be for me. On the contrary, playing the first 2 may shed some much needed light in the grey or dark areas of Diablo 3 and give people a reason to love the series as those of us that began with Blizzard North and Diablo 1 so many years ago on our “grind” to Diablo 3. They were indeed, good times!


5. If you could make one change to d3, what would it be?


Add voice chat. For such an excellent integrated online system, it’s a little sad that Blizzard dropped the ball on this one.


The item distribution (auction house, loot tables and stat distribution): Above you asked me what I thought about Diablo 3 as it holds true to (grinding, loot and repetition), if this is truly what Diablo has always been over the years, this is what I want changed in Diablo 3 more than anything else as it takes the most away from this game for most people who are struggling to find a reason to start or continue playing after 100 hours.


Auction House: Cluttered and unable to filter intelligently to find relevant items to your individual play style. The market is volatile and unstable and unlike many MMORPG economies, this really needs to be reworked to emulate those economies or changed completely to offer balance, ease of use and most importantly used only as a tool, not the sole means of acquiring gear in a “loot” driven game.


Loot Tables: After 200+ hours in total between multiple characters, it’s safe to say I’ve seen all I want to see about the loot, in fact I had this feeling at about hour 120 and it took me 80 more hours to realize that Blizzard either wasn’t aware there was a problem or was unwilling to change it due to a motivation that was superseding creative game design, such as the real money auction house. The prefix and suffix system, in place since Diablo 1 is grossly out of balance in Diablo 3 end game. Things are found on magic items of all rarities that have no business being with other modifiers. This ensures that the best items are so rare they will only be found on the auction house as it takes millions of players of 100-200 hours to find some of these items. I’m ok with rare, I get what it means and support the idea, but it has a whole new meaning in the end game of Diablo 3. What is rare and what is useful to you are not the same thing and what is worth farming for is not worth equipping. This is a simple call out in my opinion, Blizzard must improve the stat distribution on items to function for specific people or classes and not “mod out” items with stats that have 0 value because not 100% of said stats are relevant to whomever found it.