Diablo III is fun again

I have been a long-time Diablo fan. I played through Diablo 1, and its moody atmosphere, dark dungeons and ultra-violence (for the day) were enthralling. Diablo 2 only made things better, with significantly more map/terrain variety, tons of classes (Assassin FTW) and the endlessly addicting loot drops. Also Act V was really badass. 

After spending a good chunk of time in the beta (and even writing a preview of it for IMG) I then promptly pre-ordered Diablo 3 as soon as I was available to do so. I also bought the Book of Cain just to prove to you how much of a Diablo lore-nerd I am. This arrived in advance of the game itself, and I eagerly pored over its beautifully written pages, feeling like I was indeed reading Deckard Cain’s journal.

When the game arrived, I was ecstatic. I wasn’t one of the diehard Diablo 2 fans who complained about the game’s brighter tone or lack of individual stat points to assign. Or skill trees. While I loved these things in D2, I was more than pleased with D3’s design and mechanics. Smashing skeletons with a Barbarian, or putting on a visually pleasing light show with the Wizard, was too epic. Not to mention the Witch Doctor. I mean come on people, you have zombie dogs and FUCKING FIRE BATS. Stop complaining.

I have firebats so you are WRONG.[/caption]

The game was a blast...until you hit Inferno difficulty. Then things came to a grinding (no pun intended) halt. The game was drastically too hard, and didn’t drop you the gear you needed to progress. The only option at the time was to spend a billion hours grinding Act 1 in Inferno, or just go to the Auction House and buy what you need. Neither options were preferable, but of course I bought gear (with gold) so I could actually continue playing in a reasonable fashion. That being said, I’m not sure how people actually found good gear to put up on the auction house. Maybe there was a world-wide network of Diablo slaves playing countless hours to find gear? I don’t know. 

After a while, I gave up playing because it was no fun. The end-game sucked, so, after putting roughly 150 hours into Diablo 3, I starting playing other games.

Fortunately, Blizzard later removed the Auction House entirely from the game and reworked the loot and drop system to be much better. I watched (and read) these changes from afar, pleased by the progress, but still a bit apprehensive about spending a lot of time on the game again. Then Blizzard released Adventure mode and the expansion, Reaper of Souls. I immediately bought it (and reviewed it.) The new act was a phenomenal  achievement of awesomeness that made me immediately wish all the other acts were that cool and polished. And the Crusader became my 2nd favorite class, after Wizard of course. Additionally, every class had new skills with the level cap being raised to 70. The (then) new Wizard skill Black Hole (and its lovely scientifically named runes) is still the best thing ever.

The Black Hole of Awesomeness[/caption]

I spent a lot of time running through Act V with my Crusader and Wizard, as well as questing-and-bounty-ing in Adventure mode. This was pretty fun, but the Legendaries in the game were still somewhat underwhelming, with Rare items often being the better option. Unless you could grind out a full set-item for your character, it wasn’t the best. I put the game down again, and once more resumed my observation from afar.

Blizzard, listening to the community it would seem, added all kinds of awesomeness to Legendaries. Drop rates improved, affixes were actually sweet, and it was exciting to replace your gear again. Somewhere along the way they revamped the difficulty system, and replaced Inferno with Torment 1-VI, then later added another 4 levels for a maximum of Torment X. You now had a very fine grain control of what kind of difficulty you wanted versus gaining extra drop rates for items and gold and XP gain.

In proof of the new Legendary items goodness, not but an hour or two in, my Wizard found a Leg wand. It’s affix was “arcane orb now explodes twice.” I gleefully then sent arcane orbs into clusters of mobs, and watched as the double explosion sent them flying all the over the screen. I felt a little bad for my co-op partner, until her Demon Hunter found a quiver that gave no channeling cost on rapid fire. It probably should have read “Rapid Fire for DAYS” instead because obviously she could then channel it forever.

Whimseyshire. Land of murderous teddy bears and unicorns.[/caption]

While the cheeky Whimsyshire has been in the game since the beginning, Blizzard later added the “Not The Cow Level” which was, in fact, the cow level from D2 pretty much. Moar secret levels please, Blizzard – they are fun. ew levels they did add (if not secret) via Adventure mode. The snowy Ruins of Sescheron held frosty new goodness, along with the spectacular Kanai’s cube. Okay, I don’t actually know that from personal experience as I’ve never gotten it yet, but from what I hear it’s like D2’s Horadric Cube, but on steroids. Yes please. That’s our next stop when we play again. I also hear there’s a new swampy/moody/foresty area, but again, haven’t visited it yet. A friend of mine did, and shouted on the voice server “HOLY S!%^! this new enemy just picked me up and shook me like a rubber chew toy. Awesome.” So there’s new enemies as well. I can’t wait.

What else awaits me? Finishing my season journey. Unlocking another sweet pet and a banner. And a full set of class gear for my Wizard. That is going to be delightful. 

Diablo 3 is fun again. While it won’t hold my interest forever, it will keep me slaughtering monsters in Sanctuary for awhile, and that’s enough. Thanks Blizzard