Gamers without Remorse
Like most of the gaming community, I’ve been engrossed by the release of Diablo III. I’ve been playing with everyone I can find (friends, family, co-workers and of course Guild Members). I’ll tell you one thing right now to start this off: The game is fun. It’s a mindless grindfest of rapid clicking and getting a gross enjoyment of seeing the mobs die in a satisfying “sputch” sound.
But was it worth 12 years? That’s the question we’re going to explore here.
To be fair, the game was announced in 2008 but we’re going to start a little further back with a company we know as Blizzard North.
Blizzard North was responsible for Diablo, Diablo II and Diablo II: Lord of Destruction. Shortly after the Diablo II expansion, Blizzard North started the groundwork for Diablo III. Not much is known about the game at that time, but we do know that development continued on this version of the game until 2003. In 2003, issues with financing and insecurity with Blizzard’s ownership caused a large departure of many of Blizzard North’s development team. This caused the team to stop development on all other titles other than Diablo. Development continued for a couple more years, however, Blizzard North ultimately closed in 2005.
Interesting Tidbit: Diablo III was originally rumored to be more like an MMO than it’s final version with a battle between light and dark (Heaven and Hell) with players picking sides.
In 2007 Blizzard picks up where Blizzard North left things. “Team 3” as they were called started going through old Diablo III Assets and pieces together a plan to develop Diablo III again as something different. As you know, World of Warcraft was in full swing and much of Blizzards resources were tied up with ongoing development of WoW expansions and patch content.
In 2008 Blizzard first announced Diablo III and gave us our first look at the Barbarian. While still in the early phases of development, the engine was 100% 3D and looked great for the time. Had the game released within a year or two of that initial first look, it would have easily been one of the best looking games on the market.
Fast Forward to present day. After 5 years of active development on the current version of Diablo III, we finally have a released game. Does the game stand up to the 12 year wait between titles?
First, let’s look at the jump between Diablo and Diablo II:
The first Diablo game was fairly simplistic. You only played in one area (not counting the Sierra expansion) and were largely limited to clicking on mobs to kill them. When Diablo II came out, it really expanded on the game play. That simple click-to-attack element remained, but now you have a skill tree to build your character. This became the basis for how MMOs today are largely modeled around. The influence of Diablo II can be seen all throughout the industry.
Diablo III doesn’t really do much to innovate the industry like Diablo II did. The simplistic skill builds are new, but nothing we’ve not seen before. Most recently Blizzard decided to go this route with the fourth World of Warcraft expansion Mists of Pandaria. The areas that the game takes place match almost exactly the zones in Diablo II. Does the game Innovate? My opinion? Not really.
What Diablo III does do is capture the fun of mindless grinding for levels and gear. Something that most of the industry has left behind. It’s hard to capture the magic of old action RPGs that really allowed for this type of gameplay within a modern gaming industry and Diablo III does that well. It’s fun to try out different skills and see how much damage you can do. With the inclusion of Achievements, Massive Blows and Massacres you can run through the game dealing out death to demons with real satisfaction.
The graphics of the game aren’t anything to write home about. It can run fairly well on most modern computers and doesn’t need any kind of “gaming rig” to really enjoy the game. This does make the game more accessible to more players (thus more money for Blizzard) but really fails at what the franchises fans were hoping for out of this game. A robust engine that provided amazing environments. Personally I think Blizzard should have taken the Unreal Engine used that rather use an updated version of the WoW engine. The environments would have looked better and likely would have ran even better on more machines.
But at the end of the day, was this worth 12 years? No. This game could have easily have come out 2-3 years ago with it’s current incarnation and would have wowed the world. But right now (to me at least) this is going to be a fun past time until something better comes along.
However, with all the trouble with Blizzard North and Blizzard’s own internal changes, I cant help but be sympathetic to the amount of time it took to get this title into our hands. It’s just sad that it isn’t going to have the impact on the industry that Diablo II had and will ultimately just be something to play until Guild Wars 2 comes out.