Diablo III Part 2: The Gameplay

By Shamus Posted Thursday Jun 29, 2017

Filed under: Retrospectives 172 comments

I know I don’t say this very often, but this game is way too easy.

I am not against easy games! If you want to appeal to a more laid-back and casual player, or if you want to go for accessibility, that’s fine. But as I’m playing the game in May of 2017, I get the feeling the game isn’t working the way it’s supposed to.

There are lots of interesting game mechanics here. Some foes telegraph a rush attack that you’re supposed to dodge. Some foes bombard you with mortar style attacks to encourage you to get in and engage at point-blank range. Others create zones of fire or poison around them, so you’ll want to engage at a distance. Some bosses have moves to pull you in close so they can use their most powerful attacks. Some foes attack you from all sides, so you’ll need to be creative and alert if you don’t want to swarmed. Some maps have traps like falling rubble or magical landmines so you have to watch your step.

These are all great ideas. These features should, in theory, make the battlefield a dynamic place that forces you to adapt to an ever-changing landscape of threats. Sure, one dungeon hallway is much like another. But facing mortar fire in a narrow hallway is very different from navigating around fire in a narrow hallway, which is different from navigating around fire in an open area where you are surrounded on all sides, which is different from facing clustered foes on the opposite side of a narrow bridge. Your opposition impacts the shape of the environment just as much as the placement of the randomly-generated walls.

I could move a couple of steps to the side to get out of this pool of acid or poison or whatever, but... nah. I'm good.
I could move a couple of steps to the side to get out of this pool of acid or poison or whatever, but... nah. I'm good.

The problem is that all of this is a waste of time. I played as a wizard, which one would assume is a pretty fragile class. At the start I was careful to dodge telegraphed attacks and watch where I stood, but after a while I noticed the game wasn’t really punishing me when I messed up. At first I thought I’d accidentally lucked into some super-broken character build. Or maybe I had better gear than was expected?

But no. By the end of the game I was simply holding down the attack button and walking forward. I strolled through traps, stood in lava, and allowed distance attacks to land on my head. I stood toe-to-toe with bosses because it was easier than trying to keep them at range. Wizards have a shield spell they’re supposed to cast from time to time, but I only remembered to do so when facing a boss. It didn’t matter. I rarely saw my health go below half.

In the latter stages of the game, it seemed like I’d stopped taking damage completely. I’d yawn my way through a boss fight, standing in his pool of fire and holding down the right mouse button. He’d die in under ten seconds, and then I’d look down to see my health hadn’t budged. No matter how sloppily I played, I never felt like I was in serious danger of dying. Not only did I get through the entire game without dying, but I made it all the way to the end of the game without ever needing to drink a single health potion.

Azmodan - a major boss in the game - died in seven seconds. While fighting my wizard. At point-blank range. Without touching my health bar.
Azmodan - a major boss in the game - died in seven seconds. While fighting my wizard. At point-blank range. Without touching my health bar.

This can’t be the experience the designer intended. If the game had behaved this way at launch then the fanbase would have revolted. I have no idea why it works this way now. Maybe all the patches and expansions have tweaked the gameplay for the benefit of people doing end-game loot grinding, and as a side-effect it trivialized your first playthrough? Maybe this is like World of Warcraft, where they deliberately trivialized the early-game leveling because most of the player base is at the endgame? Perhaps at this point in the life cycle of the game, that first play-through is seen as little more than a formality? I have no idea, but it really does make the game a snooze.

Shamus, maybe the game is designed for multiplayer and the single-player experience is of secondary importance?

I suppose that’s possible. Although Diablo 2 managed balance both multiplayer and singleplayer experiences, so I’m not sure how this justifies the wonky design we see here.

Actually Shamus, the first play-through is really the tutorial. You can’t complain about the tutorial being too easy!

If the tutorial is a dozen hours long, then yes I think it’s totally fair to complain if it offers an uninteresting experience. More importantly, if this is supposed to be the tutorial then it’s a spectacular failure. It’s doing the opposite of teaching you how to play. If it was working as a tutorial, then it ought to be doing something to teach the player the mechanics of the game. Stuff like “Standing in fire is bad” and “Here is how to recognize and avoid mortar fire”. As it stands, the first playthrough is not just boring, but it teaches you bad habits you’ll need to un-learn once you get to the “real” part of the game. Wherever that is.

More importantly, this kind of backwards power curve works against the sense of empowerment the game is trying to create. The feeling of being an invulnerable murder machine should be something you strive towards, not something you begin with and then lose as you level up. If you’re grinding away in the late game, you should feel like there’s something greater ahead of you, not that you’re working your way back to feeling as strong as you were in that first trip through the game. As it stands, no matter how hard you work you’ll never feel more potent than you were during your first ten-ish hours. I mean, if you start with “You’re nearly invulnerable and you can clear a room in one effortless sweep” then what is there left to strive for? The numbers might get bigger, but the tactile difference between killing twenty zombies in one attack and overkilling twenty zombies in one attack is going to be pretty slight. It’s certainly not the kind of thing I’d spend weeks striving for.

Pointless Leveling

YAY! I just hit level 27. Of course, every single in the monster in the game ALSO just hit level 27, so...
YAY! I just hit level 27. Of course, every single in the monster in the game ALSO just hit level 27, so...

But wait, doesn’t the Diablo series use self-balancing gameplay? Can’t you fix this by simply skipping sidequests and hurrying into the harder areas of the game? Sadly, no. In Diablo 3 they dumped the normal progression system. You don’t have level 1 foes at the start of the game and level 30 foes at the end. Instead they implemented an Oblivion-style system of auto-leveling where foes are always your level, everywhere in the game, always and forever. Not only does this remove the ability for the game to adapt to different skill levels, it also renders the entire leveling system entirely pointless! You can’t get the visceral thrill of going back to the start of the game to plow through foes that were once formidable for you. You can’t sneak ahead and see how far you can push into high-level areas. The whole world is one big soup of same-level opposition.

Leveling is nothing more than a way to unlock skills and equipment. You need to be level 20 before the game will allow you to wear the level 20 hat. Which is pointless anyway, since enemies won’t drop a level 20 hat until you’re nearly level 20. You need to reach level 20 to unlock the level 20 powers, but with such a nonexistent difficulty curve there’s no reason to choose one power over another except as a matter of taste.

Worst of all, there just aren’t any decisions for you to make. Choosing gear comes down to picking the item with the highest level + quality. If two items are of the same level and quality, then the differences between them are so slight that it doesn’t matter which one you use. You’re not going to be juggling any complex trade-offs. There are no skill points to spend at level up. You don’t choose what powers to unlock. They just unlock at predetermined levels. The most complex decision you get to make is where to put your abilities on your hotbar.

This game is bursting with sensory stimulation, but it’s almost completely lacking in terms of mental stimulation. Blizzard made a game where you can’t do anything wrong by making a game where you can’t do anything at all.

This is not staged. I really did this. In my gameplay footage I found a moment where I stopped in the middle of a boss fight to check my inventory. I can't remember what I was looking for, but the distraction didn't seem to set me back. Again: Point-blank range, full health, boss nearly dead, potions untouched.
This is not staged. I really did this. In my gameplay footage I found a moment where I stopped in the middle of a boss fight to check my inventory. I can't remember what I was looking for, but the distraction didn't seem to set me back. Again: Point-blank range, full health, boss nearly dead, potions untouched.

Yes, I’ve read that the game is more interesting once you’re near the level cap. Then you can work towards one of the established, well-known builds for your character. Ability X + Gear Y + Strategy Z = WIN. I’ll allow that I can see why lots of people would enjoy the long process of working to put the proper set of gear together, since that ties into the well-tuned looting mechanics. But it takes a long time to reach that point in the game, and “It gets good after the first 20 hours” has never been a very good defense of a game.

Yes, you can turn up the difficulty. I tried it. It was awful. I still didn’t feel like I was in danger of dying from playing sloppily. Turning up the difficulty just gave everyone more healthThe game claims they have 150% health, but it felt like fights took four times as long. I didn’t mess around with it long enough to figure out why that was.. It was as boring as ever, except now fights took five times as long. That’s not a solution to the problem, that’s just adding another problem. I can choose between a mode where I’m durable and the foes are trivial, or the mode where I’m durable and foes are also durable. The game can be effortless, or a dull slog. I suppose if I turned it up high enoughThere are four base difficulty levels and then thirteen additional levels intended for end-game grinding. I’d finally be fragile, but by that point fights would take forever. There doesn’t seem to be a way to play this game as a challenging, fast-paced action title, even though it feels like that’s what it’s supposed to be. The “kill streak” mechanic in particular seems to suggest a game of frantic brinkmanship that never actually materializes.

In any case, I think it’s fair to assume that normal difficulty should represent intended experience the game designer has in mind, and as it stands the intended experience is a fundamentally uninteresting exercise in holding down the right mouse button and ignoring everything to do with damage avoidance and mitigation.

No matter how you look at it, the gameplay did not offer me interesting choices and it didn’t encourage me to engage with the mechanics. Diablo 3 was probably a lot more interesting at launch, but at some point it’s been “streamlined” into a shallow experience of cheap sensory stimulation.

It’s Not ALL Bad

Just hold down the right mouse button and watch your foes melt. I'm okay with that as a gameplay experience, as long as it's not the ONLY gameplay experience.
Just hold down the right mouse button and watch your foes melt. I'm okay with that as a gameplay experience, as long as it's not the ONLY gameplay experience.

I do like some of the changes Diablo 3 made to the base mechanics. In the previous games you had to load up your belt with potions and spam the “drink potion” hotkey. Maybe in the middle of a fight you’d have to open up your inventory and move a bunch more potions from your knapsack to your belt so you could continue chugging & fighting. When you finally ran out you’d portal back to town, buy a bunch more potions, and repeat. There was no upper limit on how many potions you could guzzle per second. It was kind of lame, it broke the flow of the action, and it introduced a little too much interface-juggling to the action. If you run into a foe that’s too strong for you, you can often overcome it through brute-force potion abuse.

In Diablo 3 you simply have a “drink potion” hotkey, and it has a fixed cooldown. The inventory hassle is gone and it feels more like a feature and less like an invitation to engage in a tedious exploit. Who knows, maybe if I’d stuck with the game long enough I would have found something so challenging I needed to actually drink a potion.

The loot-hunting is better than ever. The game itself makes a big deal when something good drops. There’s a sound and a ray of light to let you know you’d just won the loot lottery. Sure, that means the game is basically a slot machine that eats time instead of money, but if you’re okay with that then it’s a pretty good slot machine.

The individual powers are more fun to use. Yes, the skill tree is now simplified to the point where you don’t have any decisions to make when you level up and that’s really not a good thing, but the kinesthetics of using your abilities on the enemy horde are top-notch.

Yes, it's pretty shallow. But I'd be lying if I said it wasn't fun to wave this murder-beam around and watch foes explode into loot.
Yes, it's pretty shallow. But I'd be lying if I said it wasn't fun to wave this murder-beam around and watch foes explode into loot.

Every class has their own style of energy use. They each have their own form of “mana” that throttles their ability to use their most destructive abilities. (And some classes even have two different kinds of “mana” to manage.) In some cases this power is replenished over time. For others it’s filled by damaging the enemy with lesser attacks. If you’re careless you’ll find yourself running dry just when you really need the power, and if you’re too conservative then you’ll be slowing your progress for no reason.

This power management is one of those “easy to learn, difficult to master” things, and it works really well when combined with The “kill streak” mechanic, which rewards you for killing large numbers of foes in a short time by granting bonus XP. This encourages you to really pay attention to power usage, and perhaps tempts you to take more chances than you would otherwise.

Diablo 3 feels good to play, but it also feels like it was something far more interesting before someone “streamlined” away the most interesting parts.

Next time I’ll wrap this up by looking at what they decided to do with the story.



[1] The game claims they have 150% health, but it felt like fights took four times as long. I didn’t mess around with it long enough to figure out why that was.

[2] There are four base difficulty levels and then thirteen additional levels intended for end-game grinding.

From The Archives:

172 thoughts on “Diablo III Part 2: The Gameplay

  1. CliveHowlitzer says:

    Diablo 3 became something of a brawler in the end. Big, noisy, and dumb. Not a bad thing, but a different genre really, to me. I enjoyed it still. However, if I want a proper ARPG, I’ll just play Path of Exile. Although that has been getting big noisy and dumb also lately.

    1. Gawain The Blind says:

      I second Path of exile. It’s everything Diablo 3 should have been but wasn’t. I also quite liked Titan Quest and Grim Dawn- both by the same studio, sort of.

      I have so many issues with Diablo 3 that it would be a whole post under your post to really get into it but it mostly comes down to zero character customization with the exception of your equipment. Each class gets the same skills, each class has the same stats, its all just a big samey shitshow. I’m not sure where this new paradigm of giving everyone all the abilities and just limiting which ones they can slot at once started, but i wish it would fucking die.

      1. Idonteveknow says:

        I’m the same way. Diablo III doesn’t even feel like a Diablo title, really. Path of Exile does a much better job carrying that torch, for numerous reasons.

  2. Alrenous says:

    Having no choices at level up is secretly a good thing. Worse than having a dozens-hour-long tutorial, is having a dozens-hour-long penalty for picking the wrong skill. Misclick? Haha, you got punked. Change your mind? Haha, punked.
    Diablo 2 had no respec option, plus you could sink 40-100 hours into a character, and then they rebalance the skills, making it bad or at least suboptimal. (Respec was added in 2010.) See also: Dark Souls 1.
    Then there’s early WoW, where you had choices, but there was a right choice, and several wrong choices. If you noticed you made a wrong choice, you can pay an almost-trivial sum to fix it. By removing the harsh penalty, they trivialize the problem.

    See also: Dark Souls 2. If you make a few mistakes, or even want to completely change everything, there’s no penalty. There’s plenty of those dao things. However, if you want to experiment, you can for a bit, until all of a sudden you can’t. To ‘experiment’ is to ‘play around.’ Maybe don’t restrict playing in a videogame of all things.

    Nailing the medium is highly nontrivial. I do not trust modern Blizzard to be able to manage it. Ultimately, the only cost can be player time, if we’re using any kind of traditional cost.

    How long does it take to grind up the gold you spent? Or to pay off the XP debt? How long does it take to run through NG+ again to loot more dao things? If there’s a hard limit, then how long does it take to level up a new character?

    Player time is a terrible solution. If it’s fun, it’s not a cost. If it isn’t fun, why is it in the game? What benefit justifies intentionally inflicting boredom on the player? And then there’s Schrodinger’s fun. If you were going to run through DS2 NG+ anyway, then you’ll be swimming in dao things. If you weren’t – say it’s a PVP toon – then it’s hours of hassle.

    I do have a couple suggestions, but I get the distinct sense that developers as they actually exist cannot decide to use them.
    First, make the respec delayed. You can choose to change, but it won’t take effect immediately. Instead some limit of damage/healing done has to be passed. You’re stuck with your build until then. Now there’s some weight behind the choices, but hopefully not too much weight. (Real developers doing this would make it either take a trivial few minutes or, in Korea, a few weeks.)
    Second, treat them like equipment loadouts that have to be changed at the metaphorical hanger. Once you’ve entered your dungeon, you’re stuck with your choices until you leave. However, this requires a hub-mission structure. In Diablo, town is always a TP scroll away. (Which is its own set of missed opportunities.)

    1. Echo Tango says:

      The removal of choice is not good; It’s just the avoidance of a problem(s) by the reduction of the game’s depth and/or complexity. In fact, I’d say it’s antithetical to the nature of games – If I wanted a single experience without choice, I’d watch a movie or read a book.

      1. Gethsemani says:

        I’d argue that Diablo 3 gives the player more choice than most RPGs. By giving you access to every skill and feat, you can essentially make any choice you want at any time and you aren’t going to end up with an underpowered build or finding cool rare items that you can’t really use because they are outside of your specialized skill set. What Diablo 3 does is that it takes away the consequence of bad choices in character building. If I realize my build is terribad, I just switch it up and try something new. This is either a good or a bad thing, depending on your stance on the lasting consequence of player choice.

        Ultimately, Diablo 3 never locks you out of content and makes sure that every rare drop you get can potentially be worthwhile. You won’t find an entire set that makes summoning spells awesome only to realize you specced your Witch Doctor to favor poison. When you get that full set you can use it and feel good about it. As a filthy casual Diablo 3 player I like that the game allows me to just have fun with it and doesn’t ask me to make choices early in the game that will have consequences some 50+ hours down the line.

        1. Echo Tango says:

          I’ll agree that the game works well for people who want a sandbox-y game, where they can do whatever they want at any time. It does appear to fail however, for the people who want to make long-term choices that have consequences, which is who the original games were aimed at.

          1. Duoae says:

            I agree. But I guess it’s the same argument as why people like dark souls versus not liking it. Or permadeath rogue likes. ..

            The people who are saying that they want no consequences to their choices aren’t the ones that the game is really made for anyway. I could argue that perhaps THIS is where diablo 3 went off the diablo rails….

          2. Falterfire says:

            I guess I’ve just never quite gotten what those ‘long term consequences’ do for the sort of player interested in putting the time into getting them right. I imagine roughly two kinds of players:

            First are the casual players like myself that are playing the game with the goal of just sorta muddling through the game. I’m not looking up builds ahead of time, I’m not crunching any numbers, and I’m not checking ahead of time what is important at the end game. Naturally, this means that sooner or later I’m likely to choose wrong and find myself unable to progress unless I restart the game and build a new character from scratch (and if I don’t look things up, there’s a decent chance I have to repeat this process again later).

            Second are the more serious players who are interested in doing the number crunching and finding the optimal builds. For a player like that that, they’re unlikely to have to go back to the beginning, and respeccing won’t be important because they already know what they want to do. They may make other characters, but it’s because they have another build they know will work.

            So easy respecs really helps the first category and doesn’t hurt the second category. The long term consequences only really affect the players who are most likely to dislike them. The only way I can see that these consequences feel good for the second group is if they specific derive pleasure from knowing the first group are frustrated.

            [Also, this is further exacerbated by the presence of completely numbers-based stats in addition to active skills. There’s usually a completely ‘correct’ answer to whether you should get a point in strength or a point in intelligence in these sorts of games depending on which skills you’re investing in, which means it’s that sort of exciting gameplay choice where you are choosing between being powerful and being not powerful]

            1. Duoae says:

              Well, I’d argue that your first analogy is incorrect. You might make that mistake but you’ll still be able to proceed, you just won’t be optimal in your build. I can’t think of many games that are so poorly designed that if you mis-spec then you effectually make it impossible to finish the game.

              To put it another way, a casual player probably won’t ever notice the difference between optimal and suboptimal builds.

              1. Alrenous says:

                Casual players, who are already not very good at the game, are punished further. It may or may not make it them unable to finish without restarting their build.
                Passionate players, who are already pretty good at the game and looking for a challenge, have the challenge lightened or eliminated.

                I much prefer mechanics with the opposite dynamic. E.g. if the players knows where they’re going and skips unnecessary experience, they’re at a lower level and their greater knowledge is offset by the relatively harder encounters.

      2. Kylroy says:

        The inclusion of multiple suboptimal choices that are not clearly identified as such does nothing to add to a game’s depth or complexity – it just penalizes players who don’t study before playing. Adding a self-handicapped “hard mode” to a game is certainly valid, but shunting ignorant players into it is not.

        1. Echo Tango says:

          That’s exactly the problem that needs to be solved by the game makers – make the game interesting, and have all choices be roughly valid. Having shitty, poorly balanced choices is a failing of the people who made the game, and removing all choices is the laziest way to “fix” the problem.

          1. Kylroy says:

            And they narrowed the choices from the millions presented by D2’s non-respeccable skill tree to a few dozen viable ones. They just make it slowly unlock as you level, so Shamus didn’t get to see the breadth of choices available.

            1. Daemian Lucifer says:

              And they narrowed the choices from the millions presented by D2's non-respeccable skill tree to a few dozen viable ones.

              Hang on,are you saying that all builds in d2 are viable?Well then,all builds in d3 are viable.You can technically go through the game with any build,even the most insane one.

              1. Ysen says:

                I think what Kylroy was saying is that Blizzard removed the millions of unviable / ineffective builds from Diablo II, and replaced them with a smaller number of builds which are all somewhat viable in Diablo III.

            2. ngthagg says:

              With the current design of D3, viability isn’t even an issue. (Not every build is competitive, if you’re the sort of person to go after rankings, but that’s a different question.) Every build is viable at some difficulty level. And with greater rifts, you have a very granular difficulty scale.

              This makes for a fantastic casual game. When I’m in the mood, I can create a character, find some equipment, and pick some skills that seem interesting. Then I see how far I can push that character. If I don’t like a skill, or I find a piece of gear that suggests another build, then I change. Or not, it’s up to me.

              I can appreciate that arbitrary constraints can be a lot of fun. If Blizzard releases a remastered diablo 2, I will some a ton of hours into it like I used to. But I’m glad they made D3 into something different.

              1. Lanthanide says:

                Blizzard appear to be starting to work on D2: Remastered.


      3. Bogan the Mighty says:

        Diablo 3 does in fact have many multiple choices. Like its been said you get to pick and choose what you want at any time instead of being locked in. Granted most builds are sub optimal for end game content of the game, but any of them will at least let you experience harder difficulties.

      4. Adam Twede says:

        I was skeptical of D3’s ability system at first but it’s actually really great. In fact, it’s probably the main thing D3 does right.

        It’s not a removal of choice at all. It’s a removal of a limitation that exists for no other reason than to punish the player for experimenting or for not doing enough internet research beforehand.

        Forcing players to make choices that can’t be undone or come with a steep “undo” cost makes sense in some games, no question, but not here. D3’s ability system allows you to freely try out weird and crazy builds whenever you want and for me it’s the strongest aspect of the game. The only thing I would change about it would be to make earning the abilities and modifiers (runes) themselves more challenging than just “oh you mindlessly clicked your way to level 20? here’s 5 new abilities/runes.” Their original design called for runes to be dropped as loot. I would’ve really enjoyed a system like that, if implemented well.

        1. Blake says:

          I agree that D3’s skill system is much more interesting. And I think that when Shamus says “the skill tree is now simplified to the point where you don't have any decisions to make when you level up” he is simply wrong. The decision has just moved from ‘what skill to unlock’ to ‘what skill(s) to use”. And it’s a choice you get to keep making based on circumstance.

          In D2 you pretty much had no choices to make as you leveled up, if you didn’t have your build figured out before you started you were probably doing it wrong, but even then your choices were basically to level up an existing skill, unlock one of the 4 or 5 skills you wanted to get, or get nothing.
          In D3 every level brought a new skill, skill rune or passive, none of which were strictly better, just different depending on circumstance and build.
          I think by level 70 you have something like 150 different skills and passives to choose from, which you can change up as you get gear that synergises well with it.
          Every time I leveled up in D3 I tried out my new skills, often changing up all my other skills to accommodate. In D2 I’d maybe get a new skill to try out every 5 levels or so. Far fewer options, with most of them objectively wrong.

          I think if the difficulty curve had’ve worked better for Shamus, then he might have found more utility in changing up his skills, but if he just solo tanked his way through normal difficulty then I imagine changing skills basically just gave him different coloured particles on screen with little difference to his play.

          1. Echo Tango says:

            The thing to note, which both of you have brought up but not explicitly pointed out, is that D3 has a different type of choice for the player to make. D1 and D2 were based around making long-term choices in what to do, and D3 is based around moment-to-moment choices.

            However, even that is not completely accurate. D1 and D2 actually both had moment-to-moment choices. The games weren’t completely balanced, and so some choices were simply better in every way. This negatively affected the need to make moment-to-moment choices, and also the ability to make meaninful long-term choices. If one build is clearly better, you’re forced to use it, and also to research the game in a boring way to find the optimal build.

          2. Duoae says:

            I found (I managed to slog my way to level 60 something before quitting for good) that there were most certainly more optimal builds and they were easy to find without ‘Internet research’. So I disagree that d3 gives lots of choice because the reality is that it has a few skillsets that really are viable – even at lower levels (because they are constrained by not having extra choices to make).

            1. djw says:

              The same could be said for D2. The difference is that when you click on skills for D2 they are locked in permanently, and when you find out later that you chose poorly you must re-roll to fix it.

              1. Duoae says:

                Similar to how people like Dark Souls or Roguelikes (as I’ve said elsewhere). Some people like this ‘permanence’ to choices.

                Either way, as before, I’d argue that a casual player wouldn’t ever notice they’d “broken” their character build – they’re probably never going to be playing on Hell difficulty or higher, etc.

                It’s possible that players who really delve into the game would be impacted by this but then the revelations below that only a few skill sets are viable at the end game puts paid to any theory which says that dedicated players need or like to experiment with builds because those players will be playing with the same gear set-ups as all the rest: there was never any real choice available – just an illusion of choice in the intermediate levels.

                Looking at it like that, it seems that Blizzard should have scrapped all but the viable skill sets because the others are a waste of space.

                1. Sartharina says:

                  Sorry, but casual players DO realize when they’ve fucked up their build in ARPGs. Or they don’t, and just decide the game is trash because it gets stupidly hard stupidly fast, and they can see where they need to improve/change, but can’t because the game doesn’t let them experiment.

                  Want to know something cool about Diablo III’s system? The way itemization works, what’s viable changes as you level and acquire more gear and more abilities. The gear you need for Torment VII is much easier to acquire than the gear needed for Torment XIII, and requires a different skill set entirely. It’s an entire journey through gearing in Diablo III after you reach the level cap.

                  1. Syal says:

                    ‘Suboptimal’ and ‘crippled’ are far apart. My first Sorceress run through Diablo 2 I put probably six skill points into the basic fireball that were useless once the second tier unlocked, but the character was still strong enough to kill Diablo.

                    Thinking about it, having a recommended build right on the skill tree would solve things I think; have one or two ‘ideal builds’, and when you start to put a point above or outside the ideal build the skill highlights red. New players all have an idea what they’re doing, and weird people can still build a Sorceress with exclusively bottom-tier skills.

    2. Geebs says:

      Of course, character spec doesn’t matter in Dark Souls 1 anyway. I’ve finally got round to my OneBro run, and my SL1 pyromancer just soloed Ornstein and Smough on about the 5th try. And I suck at Ornstein and Smough.

      1. Alrenous says:

        Knowing the dodge roll timings dominates all build choices, yes. You can beat the game unarmed at level 1, if you’re not playing for fun.

        However, if you use e.g. a zweihander, it’s pretty easy even if you don’t know the dodge timings. I have a greatshield/greataxe dude who blocks everything and stunlocks everything lacking infinite poise. Sorcery is also known to trivialize most challenges.

  3. Nikolay says:

    I started as a sorceress. The slaughter felled good at the beginning, but progress is so easy, the only thing interesting was seeing what the next skill looks like in combat. There is little to none need to switch skills aside for achieving bigger combos, which is a personal mini goal. I leave the story comments to Shamus.

    1. Look at the bright side, at least wizards and sorcerers are way better and stronger than in Skyrim. Of course, we’re talking about a game with different end goals and game mechanics, but at least action RPG’s don’t nerf magic users, even though Shamus said he does end up using close range fighting instead of the ranged magic abilities due to the ease of the game.

      That’s one thing I have noticed though. Most games seem to be easier as generations go on. As WoW progressed, it became significantly easier to acquire mounts, do PvP and use other game mechanics/abilities. I recall WoW lowering the mount level cap from 40 to 30 in my own play-through.

  4. Lanthanide says:

    Your suspicions about difficulty are correct. On release, D3 was a lot more difficult than it is now – the base difficulty was about what Expert is now. What is called Normal is really “casual lols” difficulty – as in, one level below what other games would call “easy”.

    I recommend you start again playing from the start on Expert. If it gets too easy, you’re expected to put the difficulty up – that’s why it’s dynamic and you can change it at any time. That’s how the game is (now) designed to be played, and you’re not playing it that way, so that’s why it seems super lame to you. I’m not defending this, just telling you how it is.

    Btw, those 13 levels of torment aren’t even end-game – that’s the “greater rifts”, which have infinitely scaling difficulty. Personally I never got past torment 4.

    1. Zekiel says:

      Ah was this a change they made? I remember reading (age ago) someone rightfully moaning that you couldn’t play a higher difficulty without first completing the game on a lower difficulty. Which is stupid.

      1. Narkis says:

        Yeah, that’s how it worked on release and it was stupid. Now you can increse the difficulty at any point, it’s just that the absolute highest levels are locked until one of your characters hits the level cap.

        1. Kylroy says:

          The pre-expansion design was that the “higher difficulties” were effectively a new set of Acts. Jumping from “Normal” to “Expert” wasn’t a modest increase in enemy health and damage, it was effectively jumping up four of the sixteen levels present in a heavily power-gated game. This setup provided the kind of “self-balancing” gameplay Shamus is looking for – stay and grind in your current Act until you can proceed (and start over at the next difficulty’s Act 1 after beating Act 4), or go back an annihilate areas you now outlevel.

    2. Ilseroth says:

      While this may be what the community has come to a collective decision that is it is “The Way to Play” it seems completely unreasonable for the player to have to fiddle with random difficulty options to maintain a reasonably entertaining challenge. I mean does the game ever internally go “Hey you haven’t taken a considerable amount of damage in the last 30 minutes, you should turn it up.” Because if it isn’t in the base game, assuming players will not only fiddle with options but also engage in the community, find the community prescribed method, then *restart their game and lose the time they spent so far*

      ( I know you said you weren’t defending it, but still silly)

      I mean, the majority of consumers of a product, if they don’t find it almost immediately entertaining, will just move on to the next game, unless they have limited income and need to play X hours to justify the purchase to themselves.

      1. Echo Tango says:

        Diablo III was released 4 years after Left 4 Dead; I’m rather dissapointed Blizzard didn’t use their massive budget to implement a L4D-Director-style system in their own game. The auto-level system as Shamus describes seems pretty terrible in a post-L4D world. :S

        1. Nick-B says:

          That actually sounds very interesting to me. If you are face-rolling, turn up the monster density (more monsters is always more fun to cleave through than fewer, stronger monsters). If you are having difficulty, turn down the monster’s numbers. Have loot be related to the progress made (though that can punish players with sub-optimal builds by not giving them gear that would let them survive-longer/kill-faster), so that you are rewarded for more action/difficulty.

          Don’t pull an Oblivion and start throwing in high level mook variants at you that take 20 sword whacks to kill while being able to 2 shot you as a “difficulty increase”.

      2. Narkis says:

        Well, it’s not just the community prescribed method, it’s common sense. Game too easy -> increase difficulty until it’s not. And while the game doesn’t prompt you, the option is really hard to miss, and absolutely painless. You just pause the game, turn up the difficulty, and continue right from where you left it.

        The only valid complaint imho is the name. Normal difficulty should be named”very easy” to avoid such misconceptions, but blizzard’s hardly the only company to mislabel the difficulties.

        1. Ilseroth says:

          I’m curious if this “common sense” is as common as you would imply it to be. I generally always play on “normal” because that is the developer intended method of playing the game unless otherwise informed in game, and judge the game based off that. The game design should be a well sculpted experience to provide an enjoyable and appropriately challenging gameplay because that is the default setting. If they provide a poor experience then that’s on them.

          Generally I only consider other difficulty settings if I enjoy the mechanics of a game, and thus want to properly test my mastery of it’s systems on a repeat playthrough

          That said, I am personally not a huge fan of difficulty systems to begin with unless they have a major change to gameplay (perma-death, survival mechanics, ect) and think that you should design your game well, instead of just going “oh we designed this section poorly? just change up the difficulty to maybe make it interesting”

          1. Thomas says:

            I never fiddle with difficulty settings either

        2. BenD says:

          Did y’all read the part where Shamus increased the difficulty and the game was not improved? Because key to the player realizing that they should increase the difficulty to setting 3 is making setting 2 an improvement over setting 1. Shamus cranked it up a notch. It didn’t get harder, but it did get slower. Was he supposed to expect an increase in actual strategic interest by cranking it up one notch more? For that matter, nothing in these comments suggests he would have *received* strategic interest. Lanthanide, you suggested he start over on setting 3 (I think). Is it going to be a strategically interesting experience? Or just a slower way to play the loot lottery? Because the evidence Shamus has seen suggests the latter.

          1. Kylroy says:

            Yeah, the issue Shamus ran into was that he wanted a game where both he and the enemies would lose health and die quickly, and increasing the difficulty markedly increased enemy health without noticeably increasing damage.

            The irony is that at the highest levels, D3 is *entirely* about avoiding damage. Blizzard has a had to repeatedly introduce durability items that seem ludicrously overpowered (like permament *total immunity* to crowd control) to persuade players to trade off any iota of damage for durability. I think balancing for high level content has made them neglect the effects on lower levels.

            1. Geebs says:

              I completely agree with Shamus on this point – starting at a higher level just makes D3 horribly bullet-spongy. You’d think that higher difficulty level->more XP->level faster->do more damage, but then the auto-levelling kicks in and you’re left with a complete slog which doesn’t challenge anything except my time

              1. Kylroy says:

                Again, I’m playing at max difficulty (Torment 13) and I had to equip my character with several toughness-focused items just so he’d live the half-second necessary to vault out of the death. Looking at the “Monster Health” and “Monster Damage” difficulty scaling in D3 (which you can reach by clicking my name in this post), the damage scaling is almost constant while the health scaling takes it’s biggest jump from Normal to Hard.

                They need to smooth out monster health gain so it’s more backloaded near Torment difficulty, where most players are max level and starting to get some of the massive damage boosts that occur with getting gear you can keep – each step in getting all rare gear, then all legendary, then finally sets represents one or more difficulties a max level character can go up, and they’re just not available to someone leveling. So they should stop balancing lower difficulties around that.

                1. Geebs says:

                  Yeah, I’m probably being a bit unfair because I’ve never played at that level. I do think, though, that the situation in the early game is in conflict with Blizzard’s stated principle of ease of use as embodied by the ability to reassign skills at any point. Being able to re-spec characters on the fly is good, but the idea that I’m going to have to go through all of that boring early game slog, yet again, has basically stopped me from ever trying out a different character class.

                  1. Kylroy says:

                    Assuming you still have the game, you can try the new Challenge Rifts option to see what other players’ experience is in D3. You get a character with fixed skills and gear, and see if you can clear an area faster than the original player.

                  2. Blake says:

                    Once you’ve had one character beat the game, you can play adventure mode with any character (including new characters) at least, and if you’ve got any paragon levels and maybe some cool legendary skills in your Kanai’s cube, you can make your new character super strong from the start, which lets you bump the difficulty right up to level up very quickly giving you access to new skills faster than you can try them all.

                    The first time through the game is slow, and I agree with people about the low levels being very bullet-spongy if you turn up the difficulty straight away, but Blizzard have made end-game content be able to buff your new characters so at least it’s not as bad in subsequent runs.

          2. Lanthanide says:

            Yes, I read what Shamus said, did you read what I said? *start* the game on Expert difficulty.

            Shamus’ problem is that he took a character from casual lols difficulty to late-game Hard difficulty and couldn’t hack it – he wasn’t leveled or had the right gear or learned gameplay skill to take on the new difficulty level.

            If he had started at Expert from the beginning, he wouldn’t have had that problem.

            1. Kylroy says:

              I will concede that this approach might work, as he’d be getting more loot earlier. Not positive, though, because he’d also level faster.

              Effective or not, this is precisely the kind of undocumented, Do It Again Stupid design that Diablo 3 was trying to get away from.

              1. Blake says:

                I don’t think this counts as DIAS at all, just because there’s more optimized ways to level up doesn’t mean playing on easy for too long is wrong. He’s not repeating a bunch of content in order to progress. He can go and punch the end game boss in the face, win story mode, then jump into adventure mode at whatever difficulty works for his character.

                DIAS is about silly ‘gotcha’ moments that force you to die and try again. Like if Diablo had a skill that would 100% kill any character if you let it hit you, that he did exactly once when he dropped to 30% hp, forcing you to start the fight again because you could predict the future and know it was coming.

    3. Munkki says:

      OK, that makes sense – I’ve got Diablo 3 on console and even before the end of act 1 it’s pretty easy to die if you do something dumb or get out of position. (Which actually makes the potion cooldown a pretty scary addition sometimes)
      Also it feels like the level-scaling is at least less pronounced; I’m pretty sure there are areas that get less lethal as you level through them in the version I’ve got.

      So – maybe you could get a luddite physical copy if you’ve got a console that supports it? They’re in the bargain preowned box at the game shop near where I live these days. As an added plus you can do single-screen co-op with up to four players and having the extra constraint of not being able to travel more than half a screen away from your party members effectively adds a layer of almost smash tv onto things. Which is pretty cool, I think.

      1. SPCTRE says:

        Indeed. This is not a determination I make lightly, but in this case it’s true:

        Diablo 3 is better on console. (As someone who played from launch on PC, 7th, as well as 8th gen consoles.)

      2. Nimrandir says:

        Interesting. I picked up Diablo III earlier this year, and I have yet to see my character’s health drop below the halfway point. Is that a byproduct of my class selection (Crusader)?

        1. Axe Armor says:

          It is. Crusaders never die, but also don’t get much done. Still pretty fun though, thanks to the outrageous horse and Mary Elizabeth McGlynn’s sass.

    4. That explains my launch day (and a few days after) experience. I remember dying and potion-drinking, and also getting bored and wandering back to WoW to go through the high-level Cat leveling (again, man I hated those levels, but found them less boring than D3 at the time).

    5. Adam Twede says:

      On release, D3 was a lot more difficult than it is now

      And yet I still literally fell asleep during my first playthrough at launch. Diablo 3 has never been properly challenging. At launch it was painfully boring until you reached Hell or Torment or whatever it was, at which point you were just being insta-gibbed constantly. The power curve was a mess then too.

      Shamus seems to be implying that ARPGs should start out challenging and get progressively easier, but I disagree. They should get harder overall, but the little power spikes and dips in between are what keep you playing. That’s the key, and the whole reason that getting loot is fun. You get cool loot and experience the power spike for a while until the monsters catch up with you (or you choose a harder difficulty), and this dip in effectiveness is what keeps you looking for the next power spike. Additionally, the power spikes should get proportionately less pronounced as you go in order to incentivize hardcore players to keep playing for increasingly marginal upgrades.

      D3 mostly accomplishes this, I think. It still grows tedious after a while since there’s very little thought or strategy involved in the moment to moment gameplay, but I also think that’s by design so it’s hard to fault it.

    6. Idonteveknow says:

      I don’t remember that at all. I distrinctly remember Normal mode in D3 (at launch) being an absolute faceroll. Much like Shamus, I never had to pop potions nor did I ever die. And I was playing a pure melee build that had to effectively stand inside my target to do any damage.

  5. Mormegil says:

    Yes, the current point of the game really is to power level as fast as you can to 70 and then do rifts and try to get enough set and legendary items to do higher level rifts. Campaign balance is an afterthought, it’s just something you do to get access to adventure mode.

    I’m currently kind of irritated – I got back into the game in season 10, played it heaps. Necromancer pack just came out so I figured I’d try it out but season 10 is over and you can’t access adventure mode outside of a season unless you’ve finished all 5 acts of the campaign (I bought the game on release, killed Diablo, then never looked at it again until earlier this year).

    If the act 5 story is on par with the first 4 acts then I’m not looking forward to it. On the plus side, Zoltun Kulle is already dead so it’s not like I have to live through that part of the story ever again.

  6. DanMan says:

    Next time you’ll talk about story? Wait, Diablo III has a story?

    I was literally playing Diablo III on PS4 with a friend last night. I had a level 35 Crusader and he decided to start with a level 1 Barbarian. He just joined me where I was in the progression. He also never needed a health potion. We found that a little bit odd.

    In terms of no choices in leveling up, that definitely feels like an optimization specifically for consoles. If you’re playing couch co-op, any time a player wants to fiddle with their character, they have to pause the game for everyone else involved. Got a new power and want to read up on what it does? Now your friend gets to sit on his phone until you’re done. It REALLY breaks the flow of the game for everyone but the person who leveled up.

    1. Hal says:

      IIRC, D3 has a system of level balancing, wherein two players with uneven levels are scaled so that they can still play together. I don’t recall if it works by making the higher leveled player weaker or the lower leveled player stronger, but it was entirely done so that people could play together with as few barriers as possible. (A really good move on Blizzard’s part.)

      1. modus0 says:

        From what I read, it works by bumping the lower-leveled player’s stats up to what they would be (without modifiers from gear or skills) if they were the same level as the higher-level character.

  7. Darren says:

    I still think that a lot of decisions related to Diablo III were made to accommodate consoles. The skill system sounds really odd for a PC game, but when you’re playing on a controller it all makes sense and feels great in your hands.

  8. Ramble says:

    You’re supposed to change the difficulty level as you play. The idea is that if it’s too easy bump it up until it’s comfortable for you, and when it start getting too hard drop it down. It’s a bit fiddly because you have to come out to the character screen and adjust it.
    Changing the difficulty also increases other things like loot drop rate and gold/xp gains.

    Certainly when you’re on the higher difficulties (Torment I and above) you can’t just stand in the fire and wack (blast) away, you’ll die in a matter seconds.

    It’s a bit rubbish that Blizzard just assume that every should know this, they do a terrible job of communicating how it works. Especially considering how often you need to do it, I used to find it needed a adjusting every 5 or so levels depending on if I got any decent loot drops.

    1. Nimrandir says:

      As the player is given no in-game suggestion to adjust difficulty (except possibly loading screen tips?), I’m inclined to call that a pretty big failure on Blizzard’s part. The general assumption I bring into a new game is that the default settings are the intended play experience.

      Perhaps Blizzard has gotten used to World of Warcraft and Starcraft player bases poring over patch notes?

      1. Bloodsquirrel says:

        I had no problem figuring out that I should turn the difficulty up, but like Shamus said all it did was increase the number of times I had to click on a monster before it died.

        1. Ramble says:

          As I said on some of the higher difficulties the damage the enemies do ramps up fairly significantly. Especially when champion mobs start getting multiple affixes, if you’re not careful you can get trapped when something walls you in and another mob arcane thingy at your feet.
          When you’re at the point you need to start considering have a defensive ability rather than pure damage.

      2. Matt Downie says:

        Seems like even if they did say you were supposed to manually increase the difficulty level whenever things are too easy, that’s still a pretty lazy way of balancing the game. They’ve spent years working on this thing, they’ve got level-scaled opponents, and they still don’t know how to provide a reasonable level of challenge?

        1. Kylroy says:

          The issue is “reasonable level of challenge” varies wildly from player to player. Starting at faceroll easy seems perfectly valid to me, especially if you want as many people as possible to buy your game. The problems here are that 1) the game itself does nothing to communicate the availability of higher difficulties to you, and 2) those higher difficulties make the enemies much tougher than they are deadlier, which slows gameplay down without actually threatening the player with death.

          1. Joshua says:

            Reminds me of D&D’s infamous 4th Edition. The higher level you got, the longer it took to kill enemies and yet the harder it was to kill you as well. A popular house rule was to simply half all enemies HP and double their damage, that was how dull and sloggish the combat would get after about 10th level.

            1. Kylroy says:

              Sounds like an overcorrection from 3.5. I recently played a Pathfinder (aka D&D 3.75) campaign, and after level 10 no combat lasted more than five rounds.

    2. Kylroy says:

      D3 in general acts like game information is some terrible Lovecraftian secret that must not be shared with those who do not seek it out. The tooltips don’t display damage values by default, apparently assuming people would be soothed by adjectives (“moderate damage”) and terrified by actual numbers. You’re locked into using certain skills in certain slots..unless you find the box in the options that lets you put (almost) any skill in any slot, thus enabling you to make the best builds in the game.

      This was true even before the expansion and console release. I suspect that they’ve found that there really do exist players who get overwhelmed by even this limited information, while the kind of people who complain about it (like me) are also the kind of folks who’ll spend 30 seconds on a Google search to get the answer.

      1. Ramble says:

        Absolutely agree. I think it’s bleed over from WoW where everything is dissected by the community and everyone expected to trawl through the internet looking up guides on how to play.
        Not intuitive at all especially if you come from single player games, hell Diablo 2 was far better at communicating what you need to do.

        1. Kylroy says:

          Once you get to the point of collecting sets at max level the game starts getting pretty explicit. Sets *massively* increase your character power and are (almost always) tied to a few specific skills, so you use those skills and jump up a few difficulty levels. You only need to hit the wikis when you get to the point of needing to know *which* set is more powerful and what you should round it out with.

          The overwhelming problem I’m seeing with D3 right now is that the middle has fallen out. Super casual players will annihilate everything on normal, hardcore players race to the best loot, and folks just looking for a game that provides 40-80 hours of entertainment are left cold.

  9. Hal says:

    I only played through the free demo on the 360, but as I did so I was left with this thought:

    “This was definitely made by the same people who made WoW.”

    1. Grey Rook says:

      My own impression is that Blizzard has been writing World of Warcraft for so long that they can’t remember how to do anything else. It’s been that way at least since Starcraft 2.

  10. Leviathan902 says:

    It does sound like it has gotten easier, but it was certainly never hard.

    I actually played on consoles when it came out on Xbox 360 and again on Xbox One when Reaper or Souls came out. I rolled the Witch Doctor class and within no time at all I was just watching everything melt before my army of summons. It was viscerally entertaining but unengaging. Sounds like this issue may have gotten worse.

    I recently tried the free to play Marvel Heroes MMO ARPG due to the coverage it’s getting on account of it’s impending release on consoles (though I played on PC). It suffers from the exact same problem. I literally breezed through the whole first 10 levels of character progression with Deadpool and had the same experience. At one point I was fighting Doc Ock and literally just held down the A key and stood still eating all his attacks. My health never dropped below 80%.

    Is this just the way this genre is going now? With Diablo 3 has Blizzard codified the genre and eliminated every other style like it did with WoW and MMOs? Let’s hope not.

    1. Darren says:

      The Witch Doctor specifically has that problem because of its reliance on damage over time and pets. The Monk, Demon Hunter, and Crusader generally feel like the most engaging classes.

      1. Hector says:

        I definitely don’t agree. None of the classes are particularly engaging unless you go all the way to whatever they’re now pitching as the new endgame, and even that boils down to absurd grinding at the edge when the difficulty actually pushes back.

        The game anymore is in theorycrafting and not much else. WHich is absolutely painful, because that’s not at all what Diablo was ever about for fans.

  11. Paul Spooner says:

    Possible typo “pull you in to close”. Just sounds not quite right. Some alternatives “pull you in too close” “close with you by pulling you in” “pull you in close” “pull you into clothes”

    1. Syal says:

      “Get in an engage” should be “get in an engagement ring” I think.

      1. MichaelGC says:

        your're working your way back,” should possibly be: “I’m working my waaaay back to you, babe, and the happiness that died.”

  12. Langis says:

    This power management is one of those “easy to learn, difficult to master” things

    Not really, they have about as much depth as any mana system and at some point near level 50 they stop being even remotely relevant since you’re supposed to have equipment that automatically regenerates those resources faster than you use them. Either that, or the build requires no mana/rage/whatever because it uses lower tier attacks that can be boosted to room clearing damage easily.

    Diablo 3’s failures are only matched by how amazing Path of Exile is.

  13. Xedo says:

    Consider yourself lucky you’re playing this now and not at launch. The item system was horrifying.

    Items were truly random, so when there were 5 classes, you only had a 20% chance of getting gear for your class.
    Of which only a subset would have actually good stats – a number of stats like thorns and +loot pickup would dilute gear with powers that did not improve combat.
    And even if you got gear that had good stats and was class appropriate, it was usually about 5-10 levels lower than you were. Finishing the first playthrough, you would be roughly level 30. Diablo would drop gear that required you to be level 30 to equip it… but trash enemies right before him would drop gear intended for level 20 characters. (I think around the 4th playthrough you would finally be getting top tier lvl 60 gear from the hardest enemies, but I sure didn’t play that long). So even the best gear you got felt weak and obsolete at all times except for 4 boss fights.

    People blamed the auction house for ruining the game, but the AH was a symptom of a deeper underlying problem: D3 was a loot pinata game in which the loot was intentionally made to be unsatisfying so as to drive you towards the auction house. And Blizzard understood this, which is why the console version had no auction house and a revised loot system even while PC players were struggling with the original loot system.

    I’m struggling to remember if enemies had scaling difficulty at the time. I don’t think so. That helped put pressure on the players to need to routinely use the AH as they progressed.

    I think the game was harder and more challenging in the original release, but it was an unfair and unfun source of challenge that really undercut the intended feedback loop of killing enemies to gear up and kill bigger enemies.

    1. Kylroy says:

      Diablo 3 at launch was designed to have a 10 year loot tail. This seemed like a good idea, because people played D2 that long, right? The problem is when you see exactly what your loot goals and gameplay will look like for the next *decade*, it gets real hard to stay excited.

      D3 looks like it may well last for those 10 years, but it will be done by having the devs make regular updates and new loot that draws players in/back.

    2. MelTorefas says:

      I genuinely wish they had made ‘class specific loot’ an option rather than the only mode. ONe thing that frustrates me about the current game is that gearing alts is kind of a pain. I like to grind alt loot on my geared-out main when that option is given, but in this case it is not. Most of what you get can be used by any class, true, but the stats are always based on the character it dropped for. So your Demon Hunter will get Dex items which are useless for Str or Int classes, etc. (And yes you can reforge but only one stat per item so you don’t generally want to waste it on the primary stat.)

      1. Russ says:

        You can actually reroll entire items using the cube, which activates smartloot (so you get appropriate stats) for the character doing the reroll.

  14. Ateius says:

    I played D3 near-ish release (before the first expansion/DLC). While it was not as hilariously easy as Shamus is describing – I was motivated to occasionally avoid enemy attacks and would also need to use health potions now and then – It was still much, much easier than I had expected from the title and resultantly underwhelming.

    This was back when you couldn’t increase the difficulty at all before you beat the entire game, so it became especially tedious and uninteresting. Also the loot sucked and was consistently lagging behind my level (I suspect to encourage the use of the auction house).

    It was certainly pretty, though.

  15. John says:

    Some foes telegraph a rush attack that you're supposed to dodge. Some foes bombard you with mortar style attacks to encourage you to get in an engage at point-blank range. Others create zones of fire or poison around them, so you'll want to engage at a distance. Some bosses have moves to pull you in to close where they can use their most powerful attacks. Some foes attack you from all sides, so you'll need to be creative and alert if you don't want to swarmed.

    I thought this was interesting. In the most recent Designer Notes podcast Soren Johnson interviewed George Fan, who was at one point an AI programmer for Diablo III, and this sounds a lot like the sort of thing that he wanted to implement while he was working on the game. Fan’s complaint was that each encounter in Diablo played out more or less the same way. (The player just clicks and clicks until everything’s dead.) Fan wanted to make a game where the player would have to adjust his tactics and his approach to suit the encounter. Fan left Blizzard before they completed Diablo III, but based on this bit of the article I thought that they might have incorporated some of his ideas anyway.

    But no. By the end of the game I was simply holding down the attack button and walking forward.

    Yeah, I guess maybe not. In the interview, Fan did suggest the possibility that constant clicking and loot drops might just be the point of Diablo in the first place and that if large numbers of people really like that sort of thing then maybe that’s fine. I don’t know about the clicking, but the cycle of loot drops was probably the thing that kept me going until I finally got to the end of Diablo I. I’ve never had much desire to play any of the sequels.

    1. Syal says:

      I think Diablo 2 had already mixed up it pretty well. Lightning Enchanted in particular made it hard to just faceroll everything, and Mephisto and Diablo would kill you dead if all you did was stand in front of them.

  16. IanTheM1 says:

    Coincidentally, I just played through the free trial to see if I wanted to buy in to the game, since it’s on mega discount to coincide with the Necromancer release.

    My experiences were identical to Shamus’s. With the added wrinkle that all the fancy feel-good kinaesthetics instantly break down the second you introduce the slightest hint of input lag due to latency.

    The story mode itself also has the key flaw of being terribly paced. Not counting the cutscenes or dialogue, since I knew well in advance to not bother with those, the opening few hours are just goddamn boring. The areas are long and meandering and the enemies lack variety and are completely toothless until you encounter the fat blob zombies that explode on death. And even then, they’re only a threat if multiple stack on top of each other since the game will almost certainly have dumped a bunch of handy passive regen gear on you by then and your potion will obviously be off cooldown. Breakables will also basically never contain anything, so just feel like filler to waste your time.

    The simplified leveling system is fine in theory, but I think it has a big flaw in the way that skills and runes are slowly trickled out. It creates weird situations in the very early game where you’re making zero choices at all or making lopsided ones where you can choose between a skill or a skill + rune combo or end up with seemingly redundant skill choices. I’m sure it’s not so much an issue once you hit the mid-game and have a swath of choices to work with, but combined with the languid pace of everything else it adds to the mindlessness of the beginner experience.

    And as a final nitpick, I don’t know if it’s a limitation of the trial, or if something went sideways with my installation since they let you boot it up early, but the game inexplicably looked pretty darn uggo. Low-res textures on my characters and the backgrounds looked adequate but missing something – possibly additional fog and light effects (and maybe better textures as well).

    Overall a pretty big failure for a free trial meant to hook me into the game.

    1. Idonteveknow says:

      The game in general doesn’t look very graphically astounding. It’s very much in the same vein as something like WoW, where the graphics are pretty poor but the game can be played on a potato.

  17. Kylroy says:

    Sounds like Shamus *would* like high level D3 play, if the game wasn’t a snooze while leveling.

    The current patch added a “Challenge Rift” option, where you play a specific character (their skills and equipment) and try to clear an area faster than the original player did. It’s a grind-free way to see different things D3 has to offer.

  18. Bogan the Mighty says:

    You’re basically right about the campaign being an after thought now to the competitive side of the game. Like some have said the harder difficulties were so much harder originally than they used to be.

    At this point the game just embraces Adventure mode as its core game mode. Everything in the game is built around grinding yourself new gear to give you the ability to move to the next rift difficulty so that you can grind even more gear for the one after that. It does this well currently. You have many options to attempt to get new gear to keep you from doing the same thing over and over.

    Overall I’m happy with this form of game play. When it first released Diablo 3 was nothing more than a poor Diablo 2 clone with a frustrating auction house to exploit. The move has shifted it enough that its some what different. It may not be what everyone or even most want, but to me it doesn’t feel that its just a poor rip off of its predecessor.

    On a side note once you figure out how to properly power level in the game you can max out a character in like 2 hours or less. I got 30 levels once from a boss at some point. I was entertained by the 5 minutes straight of pop ups for the level ups as the game tried to catch up.

  19. Daemian Lucifer says:

    There are no skill points to spend at level up. You don't choose what powers to unlock. They just unlock at predetermined levels.

    This is the worst thing about d3.I played the game at launch,through all the difficulties and then some,going past the 70th level thing,only to then find out that you actually CAN customize your skills from the start.I found out about the skill customization thing only about half way through the second run.And the game definitely gets more fun when you get to customize your skills in the way you wish,boosting the ones you use most often and ignoring the ones you dont like.But the game itself never tells you that you can do this from the start.

    Also,regular difficulty used to be tougher back on launch,but they nerfed it.Which is sad.

  20. Torquemurder says:

    As someone who was amongst the top 5-10% of D3 players (until a few months ago; then I got bored), I’m not sure how to take this article. I was really looking forward to hearing your take on this game; however, I think that this really is a case of “you’re playing it wrong.” There are lots and lots of real problems with D3, but you’re not really talking about them because you’re not playing the same game that everyone else is.

    I feel like you’re reviewing Windows 10 by just playing the solitaire app.

    You are playing “Campaign Mode” which, in D3’s current state, is essentially a side quest. Everyone plays “Adventure Mode”, in which you do Bounties, Rifts and Greater Rifts. The latter is where ALL the action is. You complain that the “campaign/tutorial” is a waste of time at 12 hours, and you’re right. Except that everyone gets to level 70 (where the game actually starts) in 30-90 minutes in adventure mode.

    Speaking of level 70, this is where you start getting Paragon Levels, which let you actually customize your character. Most D3 players have over 1,000 of these, with top players having 2,000 – 3,000 of them. Many builds need around 600 paragon levels to work properly.

    It’s easy to understand how you ended up experiencing the game this way. Blizzard does a terrible (ie; non-existent) way of introducing new players to the current play style.

    Anyway, let’s address some specific points.

    “…the game is designed for multiplayer and the single-player experience is of secondary importance?”

    No. It can be more interesting this way, but I almost always play solo.

    “backwards power curve”

    The game feels that way when you’re trying to play it like a regular ARPG. Due to D3’s odd evolution there are three distinct progression phases:

    – Get to level 70 so you can unlock Torment levels 7-13 and Greater Rifts
    – Farm regular rifts to get the basic pieces of gear that you need for a build that you think looks fun
    – Farm greater rifts to get the rest of your build together (all required pieces and paragon levels)
    – Farm rifts to get the perfect pieces of your builds and push into the higher greater rift levels

    There are HUGE stair steps in the difficulty curve as you move between these phases. I routinely critical for over 2 TRILLION points of damage. That right there tells you a lot about the real problems in D3.

    One of the reasons that I play solo so much is that I play around GR 90+. Most of my clan members can’t get out of the 70’s. With the build in your screen shots, you’d be lucky to clear GR 10. If you could play GR’s at all. Which you can’t because you’re not lvl 70, yet.

    “Diablo 3 feels good to play, but it also feels like it was something far more interesting before someone “streamlined” away the most interesting parts.”

    It was always streamlined. The real problems are:

    – Most of the skills are useless, because…
    – Most of the items are useless, because…
    – You need to be wearing full set items, because…
    – The good sets will give you 3,000x – 7,000x damage and survivability (no, I didn’t mean “%”, I mean “x”), because…
    – The power creep has gone bananas. We are looking at “billions and billions” in the rear-view mirror.

    Anyway, if you have the stamina for it, it may be worth hooking up with someone who actually plays the game. Then…when you come up for air in a few months you can tell us what you really think.

    1. Kylroy says:

      That’s the problem, though – he doesn’t want to devote months to this game, he wants to play a fast-paced ARPG loot game *now*. High level D3 play does sound like what he wants to do, but he doesn’t want to slog through unfun faceroll gameplay to get to the part he’ll actually enjoy.

      Honestly, the best thing I think could happen for him is to have a friend powerlevel him to 70 and get him some solid rares and some legendaries – I have faith in Shamus’ ability to juggle the ability options available at max level. But it stinks that you need a friend to boost you if you don’t want to slog through dozens of hours of tension-free, nearly lootless gameplay.

      1. Torquemurder says:

        He doesn’t HAVE to slog through un-fun gameplay. Switch to Adventure Mode and start doing bounties and regular rifts. He’ll be into the high-level content in no-time.

        1. Kylroy says:

          Possibly. But when the nature of the game is completely different at lower levels versus high levels, and the ideal way to advance in the game is a mode that was never present in prior Diablo games (or many ARPGs period), that sounds like something Blizzard should fix.

          1. Bogan the Mighty says:

            Is the nature of lower levels different from higher levels? The only actual difference in the beginning you grind for xp, and at the end you grind for gear. Both of which serve the same purpose. I don’t believe Blizzard needs to fix anything. This is the game they currently want to have even if its not the one you wanted. It sounds like you might be served better to pick up Path of Exile or maybe Torchlight 2. People tend to forget that this isn’t actually Diablo 2.5. Also any Diablo related news only ever talks about the seasons and adventure mode content which should be enough to show where their priorities lie.

            1. Kylroy says:

              I like Diablo 3. I’ve been playing again with the Necromancer launch and I’m enjoying it. I’ve got everything but a Monk at level 70 and am farming Torment 13. You don’t need to sell me.

              But Shamus didn’t particularly care for it, and his complaints (no gear tradeoffs, no skill choices, no threat of death, raising difficulty doesn’t make enemies noticeably deadlier while slowing the game down) don’t sound like the game my set-equipped level 70 DH is playing. And based on those complaints, I think Shamus *would* enjoy the game I’m playing. He’s an experienced gamer, and I have faith that if the game made his path forward obvious, he’d follow it; if the new player experience is confusing and frustrating him, I think it’ll have the same effect on most new players.

              I can understand why a five year old game is more interested in catering to existing players than bringing in new ones, but it sounds like they’ve dropped the ball badly on the new player experience.

              1. Bogan the Mighty says:

                Which is fair. I guess I should say that’s what Shamus should be playing. Seeing as this game isn’t more like what he wants obviously his review will reflect that. In my own inner circle I’ve defended Diablo 3 for being what it is, and not what they want it to be too the point I sound fan boyish at this point.

                At the end of the day the game should be a free to play hack n slash that has the polish of a AAA game.

            2. Daemian Lucifer says:

              Is the nature of lower levels different from higher levels?

              Yes,it is.The lower levels dont allow you to fully customize your skills like the higher levels.You get your base skill and thats it.You cant even access any of the mutators until you reach higher levels that unlock them.So the ways to approach the game differ much between lower levels and higher ones.

              1. Lanthanide says:

                Not true. You start getting skill runes at around level 10. You get the base version of all skills by level 30 (not including new RoS skills). From level 30 to 70 it fills in the rest of the runes, but by level 30 you’ll have a lot of runes to select from.

              2. Bogan the Mighty says:

                You can’t hold that against Diablo when that is true of all games. That’s what progression is. I would also counter that as you reach the higher levels you should choices remain limited due to the fact that you will eventually need to use the skills buffed by what set pieces you’ve managed to collect.

    2. Xeorm says:

      I think this was mentioned earlier in his last post, but Shamus does acknowledge that some consider the leveling process to be the intro to the true game where you’re max level. What this article does illustrate is just how terrible the game feels like to someone that isn’t invested in it or doesn’t compare the current with how it evolved.

      Remember, he can’t access adventure mode until he’s gone through the campaign, for him the campaign is all that matters. And leveling itself really is a terrible slog. Things level with you so you don’t gain much power as you go. You don’t want to increase the difficulty either, because your xp rate gain doesn’t compensate for killing things slower. Even better, the early game rune system is absolutely bonkers. It gives defensives first, when the character is nigh-invulnerable. Runes themselves are only unlocked later, but it’s assumed that all abilities will have a rune attached to them. So you get a new skill, only to ignore it because you haven’t unlocked any runes, much less the one rune you’d like that really makes the skill work.

      And that’s before getting into how bad the story is. Yes, for someone that’s played for hours it may not matter, but the story is what draws in new players and gets them playing to start. Gets them invested in the world so that they’re doing more than playing a spreadsheet. To have that be so worthless is not at all what should have happened.

      1. Torquemurder says:

        It takes 3.5 Torment 6 rifts to get from level 0-70. If you have someone to help you, that’s about 15 minutes. Why are we even talking about this?

        1. Shamus says:

          I played the game as intended. I went for story mode on default difficulty. The fact that you can skip story mode doesn’t explain why it’s so unbalanced. If the obviously presented default experience is out of whack, then expect new people to encounter it and talk about its shortcomings. Plenty of other games manage to offer both a coherent single-player introduction AND a serviceable end-game grind, so I don’t think it’s unreasonable to suggest that Blizzard could do the same. Particularly since this is something the previous two games did really well.

          1. Hector says:


            Thank you(!), because somebody needs to say this.

            This game was terrible on release for an entirely different set of reasons, but truth be told it wasn’t good even after they fixed them. The basic gameplay started out simplistic and poorly tuned and not especially engaging. I could never even get through the basic campaign mode because it was just that dull, and even playing once they let you burn through everything just changed the flavor of its dullness.

            Diablo 2 remains the superior game for action, and Diablo for atmosphere. Both have obvious flaws, but they nail the genre and tone. You might say that Diablo is Alien and D2 is Aliens: horror movies where the threat is different. But both of them rely heavily on never being able to feel entirely safe and yet not being actually helpless.

            Personally, I could never get through the campaign mode because it’s simply *that* tedious, but the game also fails to ever give you another reason to actually move forward. It’s grinding purely for grinding’s sake. Their efforts to make alternative modes grinding just put me off, since didn’t actually give you any way to feel invested or that there was an actual challenge to voercome.. D3 removed every single aspect that made the series more than a raw skinner box. Most people have better things to do with my time than push buttons to get bigger buttons to push. Literally every other Blizzard game ever made has more, more varied, and better designed gameplay, from Blacktorne to Overwatch.

            D3 isn’t even particularly good in its own genre. Sure, there’s Path of Exile – but even if you don’t like that, then Torchlight 2 is both more relaxing and frenetic to play (if that makes any sense), while having a much more engaging art style, a better challenge/reward curve, plenty of great mods, and makes those number grinds meaningful because the challenge don’t arbitrarily scale.

          2. Lanthanide says:

            Well the developers intend people to increase the difficulty if the game is too easy for them – and if you hit a choke point that’s too difficult to get past, then you’re supposed to drop the difficulty as required – that’s why they let you change the difficulty mid-game like this, unlike in D1, D2 and D3 when it was first released. You didn’t do that, so you didn’t play as intended.

            Granted, the game gives no indication of this. But you’re still not playing the way that the developers intend, for a seasoned game player such as yourself.

            I recommend you play it again from the start on Expert and see how it is, with a different character class. Of course you can’t go back and re-play it for the ‘first’ time, but at least playing on a more appropriate difficulty, you’ll probably have more fun.

            It’s actually the same with Doom. If you’ve played FPS games before and are generally good at them, then Normal is too easy and pretty dull. I recently replayed on Hard and it was much more challenging.

            1. Steve C says:

              Shamus said in the article that he did change the difficulty. It seemed to do nothing other than give enemies more hp. He wrote:

              I can choose between a mode where I'm durable and the foes are trivial, or the mode where I'm durable and foes are also durable. The game can be effortless, or a dull slog.

              Lanthanide, I don’t see how what you wrote makes any sense in that context.

              1. Lanthanide says:

                I already answered this above:

                “Shamus' problem is that he took a character from casual lols difficulty to late-game Hard difficulty and couldn't hack it ““ he wasn't leveled or had the right gear or learned gameplay skill to take on the new difficulty level.

                If he had started at Expert from the beginning, he wouldn't have had that problem.”

                1. Matt Downie says:

                  It wasn’t that he couldn’t ‘hack it’ on Hard. It was that he tried it on Hard, and it just seemed to be the same thing at a slower pace. This discourages experimenting with the difficulty system.

                  It sounds like the difficulty levels currently go:
                  Normal: You basically can’t die, which makes it boring.
                  Hard: You basically can’t die but the enemies are tougher. Progression through the game is still uninteresting, only more so, because it’s slower.
                  Expert: Something resembling a balanced challenge, but if you’ve played it too long on Normal, you might not have the gear to handle Expert mode.

                  Is that about right?

                  1. Lanthanide says:

                    No, if he’d played from the beginning on Hard, then he wouldn’t have encountered the sudden shift in difficulty. Just as if he’d played from the beginning on Expert.

                    1. Steve C says:

                      No. Just no. Did you even read the article? It seems like you made up something in your imagination and then replied to it.

                    2. Lanthanide says:

                      I read it and understood it perfectly well.

                      As someone whose been an avid fan of the Diablo series for over half my life (and I’ve got an Act 5 mercenary in D2 named after me), I have quite a good understanding of how the games work.

                2. Moddington says:

                  Last time I tried D3 I switched from normal to expert in early act 1. Was that still too late a switch, because it felt just as awful as Shamus described.

          3. Daemian Lucifer says:

            I played the game as intended.

            No,you didnt.It was intended to be like that on launch,but it has clearly been changed.You played it AS COMMUNICATED.Which is still the problem of the game,true.But its not the intended experience.

            1. Lanthanide says:

              Thanks, that’s a very succinct way of summing this up.

              1. djw says:

                I agree with both of you, but Shamus is correct as well, since they did do a fairly bad job of communicating this to new players.

            2. Bubble181 says:

              I agree.

            3. MilesDryden says:

              Unfortunately, you’re right. Shamus is playing the game wrong. It’s not his fault, but it’s the truth.

            4. Duoae says:

              Wait, so for all those people who are claiming that players are supposed to increase difficulty as this is the intended play style designed by the developers point to some literature or references where this is stated?

              I’ve searched with Google and gone to d3’s site and found nothing. Or is this just another optimising situation discovered by players in the community? In the same way that “players 8” wasn’t the way d2 should be played but that it *could* be?

              1. Lanthanide says:

                When D3 was released, monster difficulty was fixed and didn’t scale. You couldn’t change the game difficulty at will.

                In v2.00 with reaper of souls expansion, they introduced monster scaling, redid the difficulty system entirely and allowed you to change game difficulty in the fly, giving very significant bonuses for doing so.

                If they didn’t intend people to scale the difficulty as they played, they wouldn’t have overhauled the game to allow it.

                As we’ve been saying, this is poorly communicated, so you’re unlikely to find anything official suggesting it, although I think if you look for developer interviews at the time of the change, they’ll discuss this as being their new vision for the game.

                1. Duoae says:

                  So, what you’re saying is that it’s your opinion?

                  The logical argument here is that if a person is able to play the game from main menu options then that play style is what was intended by the developers.

                  Sure, some ways of playing will be more or less optimal – which is what you guys are really speaking about – but they are all *intended* by the fact that the developers included them as an option. They intended that players can scale difficulty but they also intended that they didn’t have to – it’s an option.

                  So this notion that Shamus is playing the game “not as intended” or is “playing the game wrong” is just ridiculous and lacks a logical basis for its premise. Otherwise, Shamus and other players have managed to break or bypass the design the developers released to the world.

                2. Daemian Lucifer says:

                  The logical argument here is that if a person is able to play the game from main menu options then that play style is what was intended by the developers.

                  So you mean that single player campaigns in modern warfare games are the intended way to play those games.Never mind that most of the development time goes into the multiplayer component,that multiplayer is the most supported component,that the majority of the players play multiplayer,that majority of the players dont even bother with the single player at this point,all of that is irrelevant.

                  is just ridiculous and lacks a logical basis for its premise.

                  Then you dont know what logic means.If the designer of the game specifically tweaks the game to push players in a certain direction,but never say that they did it because of that,it IS logical to assume that the designer meant the players to go in that certain direction.The fact that they communicated it poorly is a different issue,but their intention is clear.

                  Blizzard has made changes to diablo 3 that indicate what direction they want players to go.This is clear to anyone who has experienced the game before and after the changes were made.So their intent is clear.But it is not clear to those who have not experienced the game before the changes were made.Hence their communication is poor.If you think that logic is faulty,then point out which steps dont follow from the previous ones.Just saying “thats just like your opinion man” does not make it incorrect.

                  1. Duoae says:

                    I think we can agree that you’re confusing the matter by comparing game modes. I’m saying that if you are able to legitimately play the game without mods or cheats or glitches in order to advance in a way that you meet the goals of the game then you are playing as the developers have intended. That applies to both Single player and Multiplayer portions of a game like Call of Duty.

                    i.e. If you don’t attack in Call of Duty or D3 you won’t advance to the end game – therefore it is an unintended play style. You can get through the game by playing sub-optimally (e.g. in CoD dying repeatedly) but that is still an intended way to play – the game has been designed to take that into account.

                    Why did the developers allow someone to play in an unintended way in their game? The logical answer is that this way of playing was intended to be allowed.

                    Your position is that the developers have allowed the game to be played in a way that is “wrong”. That is illogical. These are main menu options we’re talking about here. You’re providing no evidence that players are pushed or supposed to *do* a certain thing (in this case increase difficulty as they play through the main campaign) when in all other cases the game pushes players to do certain things (e.g. take quests, attack creatures, use skills). If you think that position is more than an opinion then please provide evidence. Reading intent into the minds of the developers is not a science – hence why I said “opinion”.

                    Otherwise, stop telling people they’re playing the game wrong.

                    I understand that you guys like this game but you’re coming across as being unable to critique it rationally.

                    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                      Your position is that the developers have allowed the game to be played in a way that is “wrong”. That is illogical.

                      Really?Have you been to a starting area of an old mmo recently?Or just read one of the entries Shamus had where he mentioned how barren they are?Do you think its the intent of the developers for new players to go through desolate areas never encountering any other player,to wait forever in queues for group quests because no one is there to group with them?Because thats exactly what you are saying is blizzards intent.

                      Diablo 3,despite its predecessors and despite its small party size,is still structured as an mmo.And as an mmo,its player base migrates when the rules change.If you dont follow that migration in an mmo,you are playing it wrong,thats a fact.If the developers dont tell that to newcomers,thats their fault for poor communication of their intent,but their intent is clear by which areas/modes they support and which they leave to rot away.

                      Diablo 3s main campaign has been left to rot away.That has been said by numerous people here who are playing different modes.Just because it was left there because it was easier than removing it(and probably because someone might want to explore the “story”),does not mean its intended to be the main meat of the game.

                      And besides,the main campaign was always just a tutorial.An overly long tutorial,but clearly just a tutorial.And this is also a fact,because you werent locked out of many options until you finished the campaign on normal,even though no one officially labeled it as a tutorial.So thats also a reason why it was left in,though significantly nerfed.

                      I understand that you guys like this game but you're coming across as being unable to critique it rationally.

                      Yes,thats precisely why I said that the game has a problem with communication,that it had a problem with communication since it was released.Because Im unable to critique it rationally.

                    2. Duoae says:

                      Daemian, so using your argument – Blizzard have had many, many patches to change this structure. They haven’t. Therefore it is as intended.

                      I disagree that you can compare a game that requires other players to experience the content is the same as a game that does not. I agree that D3 has become more like an MMO than its predecessors but its structure does not require other players and so a player will never experience this sort of ghost town effect.

                      A player can’t access any of the stuff you’re talking about upon beginning a game. I can provide screenshot after screenshot proving this. You can’t access rifts, you can’t go past expert difficulty (Normal/Hard/Expert), you can’t access adventure mode. Saying that you’re not locked out of all the options is just plain incorrect.

                      If it wasn’t the intent of the developers that the game is played like this (which is what Shamus is complaining about) then they could have patched it so that players could immediately skip to that content without having to have a character reach level 70 first. By your very words, the developers have patched the game to become the “intended” way it is now.

                      So why didn’t they?!!

                      Ipso facto, telling Shamus he’s playing it wrong when he cannot play the game any other way because it is designed like that to this day is illogical.

                    3. Duoae says:

                      Actually, thinking about your comment even more – if you look just to the left of D3 at what Blizzard themselves did with WoW you’d see that they ran into the same sort of problem. Only, as intended, they patched the game so that you could level a character really quickly to the new base level (I forget which level it was at the time, 60 – 80?). That is a clear signal that their intentions for the game changed over time.

                      No such thing has happened in Diablo 3.

                    4. Daemian Lucifer says:

                      Have you read what others have written?You can get to level 70 in fifteen minutes.How is that not the thing that happens in d3?

                      Also how many years(and how many patches) did it take blizzard to make an expansion that dealt with the beginning area problem?And how many years has it been since reaper of souls?

                      As for the mmo thing,you can solo plenty of mmos.Shamus made three series out of that concept.That doesnt mean the game was not built with other people in mind.

                    5. Shamus says:

                      This argument over “playing the game wrong” has looped through the same points a few times now, so I feel the need to step in and see if I can break us out of this rut. Assuming that the developers expect all players to constantly crank up the difficulty as they go, they seem to have bungled that idea in several ways…

                      1) There is nothing to draw attention to this design in the game. That’s an unusual approach to difficulty, and it’s reasonable for people familiar with the series (and indeed the entire genre) to simply enter the game expecting it to behave like previous entries.
                      2) The default difficulty is called NORMAL, which to me signals “this is what the developers want you to pick”.
                      3) Normal difficulty is itself STUPIDLY easy. Like, even the most casual of casual stereotypical grandpa players would probably find it boring. Why does the game DEFAULT to such a low setting, and why is it called “normal”? If you’re using a non-traditional scaling system, then don’t use the traditional names!

                      Either the game is badly designed in terms of balance, OR the game is badly designed because it doesn’t explain itself properly. You can pick whichever one of these two you like. Differentiating between the two involves authorial intent, and arguing about that is a mug’s game. All of the people telling me I’m playing the game wrong are basically saying, “No, the BALANCE is fine, it’s the INTERFACE that ruins the game!” Uh, okay? At least we agree it’s broken.

                      The terrible thing is, this is exactly the sort of thing that Blizzard used to be really good at, so it’s doubly confusing.

                    6. Daemian Lucifer says:

                      Uh, okay? At least we agree it's broken.

                      Oh,absolutely.Granted,it wasnt as bad as you described it before reaper of souls,but even then you were never told that the first run on normal is a tutorial,or even worse,that you can(kind of)skip it.I learned that after someone told me to check the wiki,even though I had one maxed character,one half maxed,and a plethora of others near the end of the normal run.I cant really blame the game for not having the option,because it WAS there,but I do blame the game for not telling me that it was there.

                      Thats why I said that you played the game as communicated.Which isnt your fault,but it is the wrong way to play it.

                    7. Lanth says:

                      This is actually Lanthanide but none of my replies are showing up, so trying under this name instead.

                      @ Shamus:
                      “Differentiating between the two involves authorial intent, and arguing about that is a mug's game.”

                      Except in this case we know exactly what the authorial intent was, because the game director and lead level designer gave an interview about the new system before it was released in Reaper of Souls:

                      “”No, the BALANCE is fine, it's the INTERFACE that ruins the game!” Uh, okay? At least we agree it's broken.”

                      I don’t think anyone is defending the current design and poor way it is communicated to players.

                      This “hiding important stuff in menus” is a long-standing issue in Diablo 3, going right back to the original release.

                      There are (at least) two very important checkboxes that you need to enable to get the most out of the game, one called “advanced tool tips” which actually shows you the damage numbers of skills etc instead of vague descriptions about how they work, and the other is “elective mode” for skills, which allows you to use multiple skills from the same skill tab at once, instead of just 1. There have been a lot of stories of people where their friends got frustrated at D3, because they didn’t realise elective mode was available. And lots of stories of people not learning about it until they saw another player use it in multiplayer. Elective mode makes a massive gameplay difference and Blizzard never did anything to indicate to people that it was there.

                      In the upcoming patch, elective mode is finally going to be enabled by default.

                      @ Duoae:
                      The reason you’ve been somewhat arguing at cross-purposes with Daemian (and I’m on his side), is that you’ve mis-identified what the intent of the developer actually is.

                      Blizzard’s intent is for players to play their games and have fun (so they can make money and future sales from a reputation for fun games).

                      As we can see from the interview above, it was perceived that the original difficulty system acted as a barrier for some people having fun – they wanted a more challenging experience from the get-go. So they created this new scaling system in order to provide more ‘fun’ for their players.

                      If you start playing the game, and you aren’t having fun because you’re playing on a difficulty that is too easy for you, and the developers have provided a system that you can use to increase the difficulty so as to increase your fun, and for whatever reason you don’t use that system, then you aren’t playing it the way the developers intended – they intended you to have fun, and gave you a lever to adjust the primary aspect of the game that impedes or fosters fun.

                      Different people have vastly different ideas about what ‘fun’ is. Some people want challenge, others want grinds. Some people want hardcore characters. Other people just want to experience the storyline and cinematics and aren’t too much interested in the gameplay. Other people want to quickly try out all of the characters before they find their favourite and stick with that one. The dynamic difficulty scaling system is an attempt to provide all of these players with ways to achieve their version of fun, and the developers intend for you to use it, after having set the base difficulty at a very low level so practically anyone can play it.

                      Experienced gamers of course aren’t “practically anyone”, and so the base difficulty level is generally not going to be appropriate for them.

                    8. Duoae says:

                      I agree we’re going round in circles here – sorry for my contribution to that, I’m trying to be as clear as possible.

                      @Daemian: A new player cannot get to level 70 in 15 minutes – they are forced to play the single player campaign in order to advance. I actually asked this of Lanthanide in a previous post about D3 (maybe Shamus’ initial post a while ago?) because without having a level 70 player in order to have all the options unlocked, you cannot do this as far as I can see. Maybe there’s some secret way to do it?

                      Since you guys keep saying it, maybe let us in on the secret? I found a video that I think is explaining what you guys are hinting at but here’s the thing:

                      None of those options are available to a new player!!! This is where Shamus is at!! You’re all saying “you’re doing it wrong!” but he (and any other new player) has no other option…

                      This is what I see as a new level 60 character playing in the final act:



                      Everything is locked except for the main campaign up to expert difficulty level.

                      I started another new character just now to test two things – to see if the restrictions are the same and to see if I could get to level 70 in 15 minutes at the hardest difficulty level available to me:


                      For some reason I didn’t take a screenshot of the middle screen here but the max level unlocked is torment VI. I don’t know why this isn’t unlocked for my lvl 60 character! Might be a bug?


                      The video of the first 15 minutes (I missed the first kill accidentally) is here.

                      I managed to get to level 3. You can also see from the video that Lanthanide’s linked interview is wrong – there’s no challenge, just punishing enemy HP and damage and since there are still torment levels locked then there blatantly IS a “progression” (against what the developers were saying in the interview). Now, you could make the argument that they’re really speaking about people who have unlocked all the game content – and I’d agree with you there. But that means that the ‘intent’ we’re speaking about here is different – so you’re right Lanthanide, we’re talking at cross-purposes:

                      – Shamus is complaining about the game from beginning fresh.

                      – I’m speaking about the intent of the developers from beginning fresh.

                      – You guys are speaking about the intent of the developers and the solutions to Shamus’ problems from a position of having unlocked all the game modes. (This is an end-game discussion)

                      It doesn’t make sense to be telling a person whose going through the first scenario the tips, tactics and design of the game for the second scenario. They just don’t apply.

                      I don’t think I can say the same thing in any further variations. I’ll be quiet now.

                    9. Lanth says:

                      @ Duoae:
                      Firstly, *I* haven’t said anything about being able to level to 70 in 15 minutes, or having all difficulty levels unlocked, or adventure mode unlocked, or anything else like that. Daemian said it and as you’ve pointed out, he’s wrong on all counts.

                      As for your video, you are playing on Torment, which isn’t available to Shamus, and isn’t what I suggested he start playing on – I said Expert. So I’m not sure what the point of your video is because it doesn’t refute anything I’ve said.

                      “”“ I'm speaking about the intent of the developers from beginning fresh.”

                      As am I.

                      “”“ You guys are speaking about the intent of the developers and the solutions to Shamus' problems from a position of having unlocked all the game modes. (This is an end-game discussion)”

                      No, I’m demonstrably not.

                    10. Daemian Lucifer says:

                      Nope,not wrong.Here is a guy helping some fresh characters* level from 1 to 70 in 27 minutes.Or,if you dont have someone willing to help you like that,either a friend,a streamer or a good samaritan,here is his guide to do it solo in 2 hours.

                      *This is what Torquemurder was talking about above that I was referencing.Randos are willing to help out people like this all the time in diablo 3.They were from the beginning.

        2. Idonteveknow says:

          Because he literally can’t do that until he’s finished the story once? Unless I’m mistaken and something has changed since I last played, you can’t even jump in to adventure mode until you complete the campaign once on a new account.

          He’s literally playing the game as presented. Effectively as it was originally designed, as is critiquing it as such.

          And, no, the game does not really get better at the higher difficulties. The game still flips manically between “mobs that are too tanky to kill and/or kill you instantly” when you aren’t geared enough and “this content is faceroll easy” when you are geared enough.

    3. Lanthanide says:

      I already replied earlier, but there’s a couple of points I can make here.

      I got D3 on release. It took me about a week to get my first character to the then cap of lvl60, and now it can be done in a couple of hours.

      Also, this shows another problem with always online games – is now impossible to play D3 as it was at release. If it had an offline mode, then you could have installed it and chosen not to install various patches, so you could experience the originally designed gameplay, which I think is much more what Shamus is looking for. And actually I too would be bored with the auto-leveling monsters now in D3 if I were to first play it today.

    4. Mephane says:

      ““ Most of the skills are useless, because…
      ““ Most of the items are useless, because…
      ““ You need to be wearing full set items, because…
      ““ The good sets will give you 3,000x ““ 7,000x damage and survivability (no, I didn't mean “%”, I mean “x”), because…
      ““ The power creep has gone bananas. We are looking at “billions and billions” in the rear-view mirror.

      This is why I have entirely given up on the game. I have played it a lot before that and still some after that, but eventually it just got too annoying. The game started with this system where you can combine the skills and runes freely, maybe sometimes you get an item with stuff like +10% fire damage so that would encourage you to use fire spells primarily, but at one point Blizzard started adding sets with absolutely ridiculous bonus damage numbers for specific skills, essentially railroading you into choosing one of three “correct” play styles dictated by the stats on the set.

      And I don’t even like sets in general. I prefer being able to mix and match individual items instead, but the only way that is still viable is by a) getting all your gear with the “ancient” modifier and b) wearing a specific ring set that gives you similarly insane bonus damage for each ancient item you wear.

      And I don’t see any sign of this status quo changing again. Every update since then has doubled down on this “the gear set defines your character” principle. My only hope is they eventually make a Diablo 4 where they completely rethink this and bring back the original freedom when choosing gear and skills.

      1. Idonteveknow says:

        The problem is that Blizzard either doesn’t understand how or doesn’t want to develop items with unique game-changing properties that also bring drawbacks with them. So instead they wind up designing legendaries and sets with ever-inflating damage modifiers as a way to “unlock new play styles”.

        Each patch the stat creep gets a little more out of control. It’s reached a point where most of the numbers are entirely meaningless.

  21. Nick-B says:

    Interestingly, at launch, Diablo 3 was supposed to be all about “avoid the bad”, with those pools of bad to not stand in, the circles of mortar to avoid, etc. But then they made a boneheaded decision to ignore that for the melee hits from monsters. Even if the zombie swings slowly, you cannot circle around them, or run out of range before their arm falls. If you try that, the hit will land anyway. At higher difficulties (the 3rd playthrough, or mayhem) glass cannon builds were impossible to play as. They made a game that was all about avoiding damage, then made fights where damage was unavoidable.

    I lost interest quickly in the game when the melee characters (who had a natural 30% dmg reduction simply for being melee) got all the love. Survivability, stats that also gave survivability, and resources that didn’t starve you of attacks.

    The big changes in loot 2.0, as well as the change to the difficulty system were fantastic. They did put the difficulty levels from normal to expert at below pre-patch-1st-playthrough difficulty, so that was something to keep an eye out for. My only other complaint was the sheer amount of health monsters can have. You can smash up regular mooks just fine, then you come up against an “elite” that has 100 or more times the health of regular mooks. I don’t recall the champions/elites in D2 having that large of a health pool difference between the normal and elite variants.

    1. djw says:

      Highest difficulty at release (forget what it was called) was no picnic on a melee character either. I managed to get through the first act on my monk, but the second act was a huge roadblock. I quit playing after about a week of beating my head against that.

  22. Geoff says:

    I can’t comment on the change in difficulty, I played a lot at launch and not much at all since then, but several other commentors confirm that it is easier than at launch. But I think it does reflect the desired tutorial / gameplay experience that the Designers wanted.

    Much of the focus for D3 is on the end game content loot grinding, all of which can only be obtained on the highest difficulties at the highest player levels. The expected experience is that the player will play and replay the end game content repeatedly, trying to obtain the perfect build and gear. Over that time, you will get the power fantasy as you go from a difficult experience to the undefeatable tank.

    The rest of the experience is practice in getting ready for that experience. Whether that’s a GOOD tutorial is a separate issue and largely seems to reflect views on whether tutorials / gameplay learning should be hand held affairs (ie: heavily scripted or paced) or try and die and try again style (ie: Don’t Starve or Good Robot).

    This “tutorial” does try and educate you as a player along the way. Leveling introduces you piecemeal to all of the skills and powers you’ll have available by the endgame, so you can try a few things out at a time as they unlock, without being overwhelmed by dozens of possible ability combinations. On higher difficulties, the Elite powers and abilities scale. They teach you how to deal with Morter enemies and Freezing enemies and Wall enemies individually on the first playthrough and begin combining these powers on higher difficulties. The challenge becomes how do you deal with an Elite who uses Morters, which require movement to avoid, but can also slow you down and create walls which limit your ability to maneuver.

    As I recall, the sweet spot for me at launch was on the third difficulty at level 60. That was the point where my gear, my experience and the general difficulty of the enemies and the game converged into the most satisfying experience.

    1. Blake says:

      “As I recall, the sweet spot for me at launch was on the third difficulty at level 60. That was the point where my gear, my experience and the general difficulty of the enemies and the game converged into the most satisfying experience.”

      I think I had a pretty good time around then too.
      Was frequently encountering elites with new combinations of suffix’s and having to react appropriately. Was playing with a wizard who would die super quick, so I had the diamond armour skill with 6sec cooldown which I had to use any time any damage was coming my way.

      Very differently play experience today.

  23. Christopher says:

    I feel ya. If there’s no punishment involved with failure at all, then it’s easy to just not engage with the game systems. It’s difficult to balance this stuff since one person’s hard can be another person’s walk in the park, but ideally you’d go through the easy difficulty and have a relatively tough time just learning the game, so the extra wheels are appropriate. I think they oversteered, too, from what I played of it.

  24. lllVentuslll says:

    I know you’re probably sick of hearing this but I’d be really curious to see your take on Path of Exile – I’ve played both and I really prefer Path of Exile (in fact, I’ve played more than 1000 hours and spent £200 on the game :/). I know you’ve tried to get into the game before but the new 3.0 expansion is coming out for PoE late July (more likely early August but we’ll see). It removes the “difficulty” system of playing through the same 4 acts 3 times to get to end game, and adds 6 new acts, it’s exciting stuff! Also, the game has plenty of early game difficulty (along with clunkiness but that does improve whilst retaining interesting difficulty). If you want someone to join you at all, I’ve got plenty of free time until October so feel free to hit me up. And I’d really love another of these “in-depth” series on it, and your comparison to Diablo, even if you do hate it, as I suspect you might! :)

    1. Idonteveknow says:

      Path of Exile is such a weird beast. It’s an incredible game in so many ways, but it’s also flawed in so many ways (likely due to years of accumulated technical debt). It’s easily the best ARPG in the genre, and the only game that’s really carrying on the legacy of Diablo II, but I can understand why so many people have such trouble with it. It can take a few tries (or a not-inconsiderble masochistic streak) to really sink your teeth into the game.

      But it is so, so worth it if you can manage to get past through the learning curve. It’s easily one of the most rewarding games on the market if you value number-crunching, optimization, unique items, and smart play.

  25. Misamoto says:

    People sort of said it already, but you ARE thinking about difficulties wrong. It’s not “first playthrough is a tutorial”, it’s “normal difficulty is a tutorial”.
    I’m not saying it couldn’t have been done better, but I personally had enough incentive to turn the difficulty up – the difficulty screen is pretty visible, and all the benefits are written right there – “more, better loot”. Since loot is pretty much all the game offers – the choice is no choice, crank it up as soon as you can handle it.

    1. Lanthanide says:


      The game really should do a better job of indicating you should use the highest difficulty you’re comfortable with, but as you note, the rewards being more gear and more loot should be attractive enough for people to try it out anyway (Shamus didn’t, and by the time he did, his character was underpowered).

    2. Blake says:

      I pretty much agree with this. I always put up the difficulty as soon as I could, probably because I always liked using “/players 8” (or whatever it was) in diablo 2 when playing through that on my own to bump up the challenge and rewards.

  26. Grampy_bone says:

    Game was tougher on release. It had set leveled monsters and strictly tiered difficulty levels like Diablo 2. You had to really work you way up through the levels; Belial was actually a really tough fight. That was when they had the real-money marketplace though.

    When they changed it to loot 2.0 and auto-scaled the monsters all the difficulty went out the window. Now you just dial the slider to your preferred enemy healthbar/DPS level and grind until it gets boring, then notch up to the next level and repeat. The fighting is tactically meaningless.

    Oh well maybe the Diablo 2 remaster will be good.

  27. Gaius Maximus says:

    I’ve been gaming for almost 30 years now, and there is no game I regret purchasing more than Diablo III. I’ll admit, I’m far from the typical Diablo player. I absolutely never did multiplayer and I didn’t have any interest in grinding Hell difficulty for loot. I would beat the game on Normal difficulty, then start over with a new character. I was mostly in it for the atmosphere, and, to a lesser extent, the story. I still loved the first two games, though. There was a lot to give me pause leading up to DIII. I really hated the idea of having to be logged in to play single-player. The auction house sounded like a disaster waiting to happen. But I got it anyway, and it was just so dull. I got a bit into Act III and stopped. Haven’t touched it since. I really regret having missed my chance to vote with my wallet against the sort of ‘innovations’ Diablo III introduced.

    1. Lanthanide says:

      It’s one of the highest selling PC games ever, so your wallet contribution is a mere drop in an ocean for all the good refraining from purchase does.

      I waited until RoS went on sale at 50% off on a Halloween sale before I bought it. At least they can track those stats – the proportion of players who bought D3 at release, but then didn’t buy the expansion pack till it went on sale.

      1. Gaius Maximus says:

        Yeah, I know it doesn’t really make a difference. It’s mainly the principle of the thing, plus, of course, the actual 60 bucks.

    2. Bubble181 says:

      While I’m mostly the same, I’ll say that, bar the story being horrible, the game itself is now much more fun for the casual player than it was at launch. Losing the Auction House was an absolute necessity – that was one of the worst things ever.

  28. RCN says:

    The progression of the game is simply stupid.

    Even at launch levels were meaningless. In its current state? They’re REALLY meaningless. The development team simply looked at the game and decided that in their ARPGs levels shouldn’t mean anything at all. To the point you can get to the level cap in a matter of MINUTES. Clearly mirroring their own philosophy when it came to World of Warcraft. Developing your character isn’t even part of the deal. Reaching the level cap is STEP ONE.

    And the paragon levels are the WORST kind of advancement in the world. They are the typical “you get +0.00003% extra damage! Congratulations! Now grind for several more hours and you’ll get another one of these!” that people usually exaggerate when talking about bad progression. But here it is played straight. It gets worse when you remember that the original reason for paragon levels was so that people could max out their +% chance of loot because the devs were antsy about 99% of the people playing their loot game with terrible, dull equipment that maxed out their loot chance in the hopes of getting actually useful loot… that they wouldn’t equip because they’d rather keep wearing their horrible +% chance of loot items for the slight chance they’d get a slightly better item.

    But finally, the worst part of it, the greatest and most monstruous slap in the face, comes in the form of the late-game loot. You don’t get to choose which combination of skills you like and stick with it. You choose which late-game loot skill to go for and hope for the best. And the worst part is that these loots simply COMPLETELY CHANGE the way your skills work. Well, sometimes they just attach a ridiculous multiplier to the skill damage and leave it at that, but some really do change completely how a skill works. So that that piece of loot is ONLY useful with that skill which it changes completely into purposefully broken heights. This could be character progression. Instead, it is a skinner box that you check and then increase the difficulty 5% more…

  29. MaxEd says:

    I didn’t play D3 and never will, but from the description, it seems if you better off playing either Torchlight (for casual-but-not-as-boring gameplay) or Path of Exile for hardcore-bust-yer-ass variant. A lot of people I know swear by PoE and play it constantly.

  30. Philadelphus says:

    I would love to see a comparison between this (which I haven’t played) and Torchlight II (which I have), as I can say that even on normal difficulty my Embermage (=squishy, ranged magic user) dies a lot more frequently that I’d really like to admit, despite quaffing potions like a gamer with a Mountain Dew addiction.

  31. Dreadjaws says:

    “It gets good after the first 20 hours” has never been a very good defense of a game.

    Man, how I wish the Final Fantasy XIII defenders realized this… and that they were at least a little bit truthful in that claim, which they most definitely aren’t.

    1. MilesDryden says:

      Well, it DOES get better once you get down to the open-world part of the game; but even then it doesn’t feel like a traditional final fantasy game. If you’re waiting for the story to get better, that’s not going to happen, but the battle system gets a lot more interesting and it becomes a lot less linear. The lack of villages and mini-games is still a bit of a problem.

      I would say that if you don’t like the first 20 hours, you probably won’t like the rest. But if you do enjoy the first 20 hours, then you will LOVE the late-game and post-game sections.

      1. Dreadjaws says:

        I don’t understand these claims. The game does not become less linear in any capacity, it only adds sidequests, which are all of the “go to X place and kill Y monsters” variety. The story still plays out painfully linearly.

        The battle system also doesn’t change one bit. It’s still the same “play with your eyes closed until you reach the one boss battle that makes you pay attention to things every 5 or 6 hours” bore. This is driving me crazy, are people playing an entirely different version of the game from the one I played?

        I mean, it’s perfectly fine that people like the game, but these claims about its content suddenly exploding are simply not correct in any way.

  32. Henson says:

    Your description of the higher difficulty levels of Diablo 3 is so reminiscent of my experience with Metro 2033. I played the game on Ranger Easy, which is essentially ‘glass cannon’ mode (enemies die quick, but so do you), and going through the game on regular difficulty afterwards really highlighted how uninteresting ‘meat sponge’ difficulty can be. I think enemies with lots and lots of health are best suited for boss battles or games not focused on fast-paced action.

  33. Sartharina says:

    The game’s supposed to be self-balancing difficulty by increasing the difficulty option you’re set on. For some dumb reason, though, it doesn’t let you raise the difficulty multiple times in a playthrough.

    The game doesn’t really begin until you start playing on Torment difficulties, and from there, you’re trying to see what Torment difficulty you’re best capable of playing at. Seasons reinforce this, by giving rewards for playing at specific difficulties.

    That said – I definitely agree that leveling is awful in Diablo III, and there really should be an option to just make a max-level character without having to trudge through the gear treadmill (And hop onto the actual gear surge/hunt at the level cap). Leveling doesn’t get fun until you start getting Paragon Points, giving you choice in how you distribute your stats, and allowing you to specialize your build through acquiring gear, selecting your Legendary Box effects (And hunting down those things)

    I quit after my first season of playing not only because I lost all progress with the season rollover (They should make a version of a season that isn’t time-sensitive, but still gives one-time rewards for a character), and I had no intention of climbing through the hell that is ‘normal’ leveling, or going through the frustration of a powerlevel.

  34. Sartharina says:

    Leveling normally, however, is still a tutorial – it introduces your skills and traits slowly, allowing you to play around with them. Diablo II had the problem that if you invested in a newly-unlocked skill to play around with it, you were stuck with that decision forever. and if you did find a skill you liked, it rendered all the points you invested in other skills meaningless. Torchlight was sort of worse in this regard “I could grab this new skill that’s flimsy because I haven’t invested any points into it… or I could just make this skill I’ve been using since Level 1 and investing all my points into even more powerful”

    The free swapping of abilities is the one thing I actually miss when playing other ARPGs.

    1. MilesDryden says:

      This guy gets it.

  35. Trym V. O. Tegler says:

    As someone who played through the Diablo III campaign yesterday, before I read this post, I find myself with an experience that mirrors your own, and opinions to match.
    Even though I cranked the difficulty up as fast as I could the original campaign was a cake walk, so much so Infact that I wondered if the necromancer was overpowered(who knows).

    In the reaper of souls, I finally found myself having to use potions and dying. But I found my newfound mortality to be a bit too binary, I am either alive or I am not, with little in between those two states.

    The games difficulty seems like it might be too easy to begin with before it becomes hard in a ways I do not care for. It feels like the game goes from one extreme to the other, atleast as fare as player mortality is concerned.

    The lack of information about skills was also something I found to be very annoying. Diablo is ostensibly a game a numbers game, but it is lacking critical information about your skills let alone what the rest of your numbers are doing to them.

    So yeah Diablo III has issues and I should probably be playing Torchlight II instead.

    1. MilesDryden says:

      As far as skill info, go into options and turn on advanced tooltips. No, it’s not on by default. Yes, that’s stupid.

      For the rest, please see Lanthanide’s comments above.

      1. Ebenezer_Arvigenius says:

        It would help if he stopped speaking in tongues. I have read all of his comments and still no idea how what he says is related to the critique. Either he is really bad at expressing himself or understanding requires having actual high-level experience as a reference point.

        1. Idonteveknow says:

          A lot of what Lanthanide is saying is based on high-level play. It can be hard to pick up as a new player, unfortunately, as the game does an absolutely terrible job conveying it’s systems to the player.

          Blizzard has become increasingly allergic to providing players with information out of the gate, in fear of their game being seen as inaccessible. So instead they have opted to bring everything to such a low level that no one can really figure out what’s going on without hours of time piddling around in their UI.

  36. Taellosse says:

    Wow, I guess I didn’t realize how much the game has been changed since I played through it around launch. I got it on PS3 and thought it was reasonably fun, in a popcorn-flick sort of way, but definitely felt the experience was improved by the different interface they designed for the consoles – it would have been a bit too tedious on PC (where I played the previous games, of course). Still, it certainly wasn’t trivially easy like you describe – enemies could hurt you, and there was a need to pay attention to what was going on around you.

    I’ve been meaning to get the PS4 version with the expansion for a while, but it sounds like maybe I shouldn’t after all. I don’t care about multiplayer, and I am not interested in playing a game that’s all about farming the same content over and over for low-spawn loot drops. I never got into that side of things in D2, either – just would occasionally fire up the campaign and play through with one or another character type. I’d sort of meant to do that here as well, but if they’ve ruined the story mode, there doesn’t seem to be much point.

  37. Metzger says:

    Normal difficulty is a joke, that’s true. But don’t judge the game by it. This is literally the lowest difficulty in the game. Get to Torment 4-7 at least.

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