Enchantless: The Painful Companionship Of Diablo 3’s Enchantress.

The Enchantress from Diablo 3 [D3] is anything but enchanting. I’d rather face down the demons of hell and Diablo himself, rather than listen to her babble. Supposedly she and her “sisters” were put in a state of stasis by their leader, the Prophet, until the world of Sanctuary needed them. I honestly think the Prophet put them in stasis for 1500+ years so he would be good and dead by the time they were released. Playing the Monk solo requires the assistance of the Enchantress because her skill set matches so well with the Monk’s, outside of that she is just as painful to be around as a Terror Demon. Actually, a Terror Demon would be welcome company next to the Enchantress.

The Enchantress has a skill called Focused Mind, oh the irony.

Eirena, the Enchantress, is met in Act II right as you set out of the city of Caldeum. From there forward you are cursed with her presence. It is true, you do have the option of venturing forth with the Scoundrel or the Templar, but Eirena’s Focused Mind skill (unlocked at level 30) truly benefits the Monk class the most. The skill provides Eirena and all her allies with an increase in attack speed of 3%. It is a shame you have to put up with hours of painful dialogue just for a 3% gain, but at least you don’t have to buy her dinner. By the way, who just eats larass bread and sweet wine? Someone with an eating disorder, that’s who.

The poor Templar. Through the sludge that is the dialogue exchange between the Enchantress and the Monk, we find out that the Templar, Kormac, is in love with her. I’ll give it to Kormac, the Enchantress does have a well rendered body. She also knows how to accent that body with very little clothing. Let me take a moment to recognize the fact that I am talking about an inanimate object. The point is less about her digital beauty and more about an opportunity missed by Blizzard to create more atmosphere in a game that, at times, suffers from cartoonish influences. The hirelings in Diablo 3 could of been a great source of quality lore, that could of been used to create a darker atmosphere to counter D3’s vibrant art design-that’s more befitting of a Care Bears episode. Instead we get a love struck, virgin, Templar; a womanizing Scoundrel, that is most likely a closeted homosexual; and an Enchantress that reminds me of a freshmen sorority girl, after having her first beer… ever.

Turn it all the way to 11 0.

It’s not as if the developers of Blizzard didn’t recognized that their final product was missing the grizzly and evil atmosphere from Diablo I and II. Hell, they put in a secret “Pony Level” called Whimsyshire as a direct mock to the negative feedback they received from the Diablo community in regards to D3’s art design.

I do understand that D3’s art design will age well, so in the long run the D3 community and myself will benefit from it. I also realize that you can adjust the voice dialogue volume to zero in the options menu, what I call the Enchantress fix. Also, I hope that ring I just sold in the Auction House for 3.825 million gold, was the Templar’s engagement ring.

Selling his engagement ring means I’ve saved Kormac’s life twice.

Advertisements

A Game That Gets Better Each Time You Beat It, Diablo 3

Goreshot The Immortal, a unique Colossal Golgor that had a mortar attack ability and shielding, was right at an entrance/exit in Act 3 during my Nightmare play through. He was not alone, he had minions, and though each of his minions had far fewer hit points than Goreshot, they shared his abilities. Together they formed an almost invincible force that slayed my enchantress companion, my summoned “Water Guy”, and my level 43 monk, Dalei Camel. Then they did it again. And again. After my third death, I had finally whittled away Goreshot’s hit points to the point that I was able to take him and his minions down, and I loved each and every failure leading up to that point.

Playing through Diablo 3 on normal difficulty is pretty uneventful. The challenge you receive from monsters that are uniques and specials, in the normal difficulty setting, is limited. It’s not until later on, in Nightmare difficulty, that you start to strain to defeat specials and uniques, and that’s when Diablo 3 really starts to be fun. I will admit, playing through Diablo 3 on normal difficulty was disappointing at times. I was never worried about what was in the next room, or around the next corner. Even when the reinvented Butcher made an appearance, I was not frightened like I was in Diablo 1. When I faced the Butcher during my Nightmare play through I was on edge. As I near him again now, in Hell difficulty, I am both looking forward to and dreading the lines, “Fresh meat!” As Diablo amps up the difficulty, it equally amps up the fun.

The level of difficulty is not the only thing that changes in Diablo 3. As you progress, and the creatures you face become more dangerous, the quality of the items dropped, improve. As you face down that fourth special monster, after already defeating three of them, you are not only anticipating his death but the items that drop because of it. In normal difficulty the items that dropped were usually not going to immediately replace the ones you had already equipped but as you progress in difficulty the items that drop become better and more rare in appearance. The reward for busting up a unique monster amps up with the difficulty of the game. It keeps you wanting more, even after dying over and over.

The true test of Diablo 3’s replay value and design quality will not be established until the last difficultly level (Inferno) is defeated. If I keep coming back for the battles versus specials, uniques and bosses, and the shinies that follow their demise, then I will know that Blizzard once again got the recipe for click and reward right. I will also, by that time, actually believe I am nephalem.

Yes. Yes I am.

Down Goes Foreman, I Mean Diablo, And Other D3 Musings

**************** DIABLO 3 SPOILERS BELOW ****************

Diablo 3’s Witch Doctor shakes like he suffers from Parkinson’s. In one hand is his weapon, in his off hand is his wanga doll, both of them are constantly moving. The Witch Doctor is the Michael J. Fox of Diablo 3[D3]. His comical movements add some much needed humor to a plot line and atmosphere that can be, at times, dire. By the time you make it to Leoric’s Manor and delve into its torture chamber depths, you realize D3 is just as dark as its predecesores. The only thing that takes away from the fear that one feels as he or she ventures through the dungeons of Diablo are the in-engine story cinematics.

The games Act transition cinematics (major cinematics play when a player progresses from one Act/Setting to another) are some of the best I have seen and are a testament to Blizzard’s creative ability. The end game cinematic, that follows the slaying of Diablo, is gorgeously rendered and beautifully scored. It’s a cinematic that is befitting of the death of Diablo. Diablo, a character that is the series namesake and its main protagonist, deserved the cinematic given following his death. It’s the juxtaposition of the in-game cinematics and the in-engine ones, that makes it difficult to immerse oneself into the games story.  Most of the in-engine cinematics are forgivable and not so terribly important to the overall game play, or the game’s story-there is one exception however.

Following this quests completion is one of the most befitting cinematics for the death of terror itself.

Deckard Cain has been a reoccurring character in all three of the Diablo games. He is the last of the wise Horadric mages who have spent their lives fighting back the Prime Evils. Throughout all three games he has provided valuable information to the player and the plot,   and more importantly (in Diablo and Diablo 2), he helped identify your magic loot. He is the wise old man that you would gladly give an ear to when asked to, “Stay awhile and listen.” Deckard Cain is/was the Yoda of the Diablo series. His death in D3 was a sad moment but the magnitude of his passing was lessened by the in-engine cinematic that portrayed it.

Deckard Cain receives an in-engine killing blow.

If any plot lines deserved the same cinematic treatment that was given to the Act transitions, Deckard Cain’s death was one of them. Instead of feeling like I just lost my Grandpa, Deckard Cain’s in-engine death came across like the death of a week old pet goldfish. I was sad, but the cartoonish visualization of his death cheapened what should of been a momentous event in the Diablo lore. Even in his death Deckard Cain was working to fight the Prime Evils. As he took his last few breathes he recrafted Tyrael’s sword, letting everyone know that, “The truth lies within,” just as Yoda, on his deathbed, lets everyone know, “There is another Skywalker.”  Deckard will be missed, despite his unceremonious sendoff.

Even right before his death, Deckard Cain continues his fight against the Prime Evils by making Tyrael’s sword whole again.

Diablo 3’s Release Gives Hope That One Dungeon Replaces Another

I play a multitude of games that focus on dungeon crawling. From Skyrim, with its plethora of dungeons scattered across its massive landscape, to the Legend of Grimrock, with one dungeon stacked on top of the other, I live to explore and pillage damp caverns of stone and rock. The great thing about dungeon crawlers there’s always the option to quit, there’s always an exit. For the last eight months though, I feel like I’ve been stuck in a dungeon with no option to quit and no exit.

Beautiful, but I want out.

I’ve been unemployed for the last eight months. My old company could no longer afford to pay me due to the decline of print, and the recession that is quickening its death. For the last eight months I’ve been crawling the same unemployment dungeon. In Skyrim, dungeons are littered with traps, monsters and magical rewards. The unemployment dungeon is littered with poor and few good job opportunites, a multitude of other (qualified) candidates and supposedly an exit… a job.

No exit, just stairs to another dungeon.

In the unemployment dungeon I have yet to find that exit. I’ve been close, a lot. With 15 plus first round and around five second round interviews under my adventure’s belt, I’ve seen the light that signifies my escape. Three times now I’ve been, what I like to call, a semifinalist for a position. I’ve been the companion that is left behind as the hero narrowly rolls under the falling wall. Now I feel a little remorse for all those hired hands that died during my adventures in Skyrim and Diablo 2.

You didn’t know Aliza but you did know she would die.

On the horizon is the release of one of my all time favorite dungeon crawlers. A dungeon crawler I used to go to computer cafes back in the 90s to play with my brother-in-law. A dungeon crawler that caused me to drag my step-dad and mom into the home office, to show them the in-game cinematics. A game I’ve been looking forward to since its second coming in 2000. Until recently. Blizzard’s Diablo series is set to release its third iteration (Diablo 3) on May 15th, 2012 and after my most recent near escape from my career dungeon, I was looking forward to it.

After receiving another letter in the mail this past weekend, informing me that my time in my personal employment crypt is not yet over, my anticipation for a virtual crypt took a hit. Diablo 3 lost some of its luster and importance to me as I read the HR letter filled with fluff. I’ve had this disease before but found the cure. This time around it’s different. My cofers are thinning and I’ve used all the potions available to me. As I write though my excitement for a game 12 years overdue rises, just like the games protagonist and namesake. My determination to leave my real world dungeon and enter a virtual one, is reastablished.

Lets hope the exit is just ahead.

Shinie Induced Boners

With Diablo 3 on the horizon, like a Rancor in Jabba’s Palace, I can’t help but salivate in anticipation of all the shinies (droped loot from killed enemies i.e. rings, armor, weapons and gold) left behind by fallen foes. Oh to hear the “baaaaaaa!” noise a Satyr makes as he falls and his hoard is laid bare at my feet. Images of Blizzard’s Diablo 2 and its expansion Lord of Destruction keep flashing into my head. I can envision the inventory screen laid out in front of me with all the rare, unique and set items positioned ever-so upon my person or in my stash – with multiple Stone’s of Jordan grouped together.

My precious...

My precious... the Stone of Jordan

Diablo 2 and, even the earlier Diablo, tapped into my O.C.D. like no other game before or since. A slight boner would present itself almost every time Deckard Cain would say, “Hello there.” as he would prepare to identify my newly found magic shinies.

Deckard Cain - Shinie Identifier

Yes. There was a time were this mans voice inspired a chub.

This game created the desire to continue to play even after you finished the main story line once, twice, or even three times. After the first play through you could decide to start the storyline over and play it in a more difficult mode and then do all over again. Each time the game would become harder and your character would seem weaker. Each time the shinies that were dropped were that much more joyous to find…and powerful.

What was it that compelled me to continue my quests to find the next best thing? Did I need to complete a magical, 4 or 5 piece, set of armor and weapons? Did I need to find a helm that was just a little bit better? Or did my amazon warrior just look a bit sexier with a giant rare javelin in her hands [Please insert your own Freud joke here]? The answer is yes to all those questions. The desire for shinies could be justified in so many ways.

With the change in art design from Diablo 2 to 3 and an almost entirely new cast of playable characters, there has been some worry about the game remaining true to its past. I believe as long as they shroud the storyline in the same deathly-dark atmosphere as in Diablo and Diablo 2 then results will be very satisfying – but hey Blizzard, make sure to shed some “light” on the atmosphere with a heavy dose of SHINIES.