So this weekend, Blizzard had announced it would be allowing ANYONE with a valid Battle.net account access for the Diablo III Beta. However, it should have been titled Diablo III Server Stress Test. I downloaded the complete game file Friday and wasn’t able to play until Sunday afternoon. Here is where I have a real big axe to grind. Diablo III starts off as a single player game…but I have to have access to the servers to play it….because we of course want to avoid piracy. Here’s the thing the game industry doesn’t get: Piracy is as bad for the game industry as cassette tapes were for the music industry. If you put out a product people want at a price they are willing to pay, more people will buy it. Because the industry on the whole wants to put out bad/worthless/incomplete games and still charge you $59.99 for it, people are going to pirate, but I digress. The real gripe here is I want to play my single player game with out MASSIVE SERVER PROBLEMS. Even on Sunday, I still had to wait for 3 to 5 different server side errors to be completed before I had access. Which is why I ask this question: Blizzard, subsidiary of Activision, owns/maintains the biggest MMO of all time World of Warcraft. They constantly brag about their 10 million + subscribers, but can’t handle a beta launch? I mean, looking at the math, Blizzard rakes in around $153 million dollars a month in WoW subs alone, and with 10 million subscribers you would think they know what kind of sycophant audience they release to. So one really wonders what they do with their money.
Let’s talk about the game now. You are free to make a character of either gender in 5 classes: Barbarian, Demon Hunter, Monk, Witch Doctor and Wizard. Each has its own skills and primary resource. I chose Dawg the Demon Hunter whose primary action resource is Hate followed by Discipline. Which is very funny when you run low on resources and your character cries out “NOT ENOUGH HATE!” or “I’M OUT OF DISCIPLINE!”. With my LOLtastic name chosen, I set forth on my adventure to deal with the risen dead, slay the Black King Leoric and deal with this Fallen Star business. Now I played Diablo I and II when it was new, some nearly 20 years ago when it came out….and the first thing I have to say is “What took so long?” This game’s graphics are no where near pristine, and while granted, yes this is a beta/demo, I don’t see Blizzard overhauling the graphics before launch in a week or so. Graphics aside, this is more or less your daddy’s Diablo. You still require only the mouse for action, but you will be obliged to use the keyboard for the 4 action buttons you will receive along the way. Another issue, though, would be why did they dumb down the interface? This is the Diablo audience, not the WoW player base. So why am I not allowed to align stats in this game, but merely be taken directly to the skill page where I am allowed to choose one skill per key, out of the 4 existing skills that may be tied to a button. I definitely do NOT think less is more in this consideration.
But back to the game. If you played either Diablo I or II you will find III very intuitive and if you never played any of the series, fear not, it is incredibly simple to pick up. And if you have no hands….well it’s just going to be really hard. In closing, I guess what I am really wondering is this: Nearly 20 years in the making and this is the best they could come up with? Granted its beta, not the finished product…but the game comes out in almost a week, so to me, this is the finished package they are trying to convince me is worth the retail price. For what it’s worth though, I am saying wait until you see the logo staring up at you from the bargain bin unless you have an incredible fondness for nostalgia, in which case Diablo III might be right for you. Although, I am quite sure the rabid Blizzard fanbase will see it differently.
Our other rants can be found here.