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.

Up To Act Three In Diablo 3.

Unexplored depths are less scary to explore with friends.

So Diablo 3 [D3] had a bit of a bad start. Its launch could of gone a lot better, but 24 hours after its release Diablo had his horns affixed and millions addicted… myself included. Though some of us will never forget Error 37 and the Torchlight fanboy trolling that occurred during D3’s troubled release, I think all of us will remember that moment when we realized we were hooked on the Devil again. Once I had chosen my character and I experienced my first Monster Massacre (D3 keeps track of how many monsters you kill in a certain time frame, 58 is my current record) and experienced my first significant loot drop, I knew I was hooked to an old friend made new. Diablo has returned and it is glorious.

Have a case of arachnophobia? D3 will test your limits, especially with Cydaea – Azmodan’s concubine.

Crusading against Azmodan’s minions in the battlefields that make up Arreat Crater (yes, all that remains of the Worldstone and the mountain that held it is a hole) is a constant melee. You encounter one group of demons after another and you must use all your character’s skills, passive or otherwise, to survive, especially when venturing alone. Each mini battle feels grandiose and after each Monster Massacre you take a deep breath, and prepare for the next one. Your characters powers feel like they should. They feel accurate for a race that is part angel and part demon, these powers are appropriate to the nephalem of Sanctuary. From Act I on the  super human abilities of your character are immersive and provide the proper amount of feed back to the player. This is the first Diablo that has instigated shit talking to the dead demons at my feet. On multiple occasions I have blurted out, “Suck it you bastards!” in response to Monster Massacre popping up on my screen.

Massacre + Loot = Win.

What D3, and all the Diablo’s preceding it, does well, is loot. D3 sticks to its shinies roots, and then turns it up to 11. My first unique item was a moment worth telling others. Actually, I did convey my excitement to my girlfriend upon finding a unique helmet, to which she replied,”So what does that mean?” I guess some people just don’t appreciate shinies as much as a Diablo junkies does. A brilliant move by Diablo, other than making loot drop better when playing with a group, is the addition of the loot focused moster appropriately called the Treasure Goblin. This goblin can be found throughout D3’s environments, shitting gold across the map. If you kill it before it ducks away into its portal, you receive a generous loot drop. My first three deaths in D3 were the direct results of my greed and of the Treasure Goblin. All three times I felt like a stock broker betting on credit default swaps, hoping for a big payout but never considering the risk. I chased that goblin and his riches across an entire map, three times, and each time I aggroed almost every creature in the area, then died. The best way to best the Treasure Goblin is to corner him before he awakens the rest of the map, otherwise you should just cut your loses and save your life. Then again, you could miss out on some unique, or even legendary, shinies. Ah, just chase the little bastard.

Circled in red, a Treasure Goblin being PWND!

A crown meant for a king.

D3 does everything you would expect/want from the third game of the Diablo series. Fighting is more fun than ever. Loot is one the most important elements to the game, hell, it already has its own Ebay built into it. Are you a nephalem who grew up on Diablo in its original form? Don’t worry, D3 is a nephalem nostelgia fest, with hundreds of references to the first Diablo. Hell, my first legendary item… Leoric’s Crown!  Looking to do some ample button smashing and mouse clicking like you did in D2’s Hell difficulty? Don’t sweat hell’s heat, D3 has four difficulty levels: Normal; Nightmare; Hell and Inferno. The only troublesome thing I’ve encountered with D3, is finding the will to stop playing long enough to write about it.