Into the Mouth of Hell All By Myself

(Editor’s Note: A�Ever been so sure of something only to be proven completely wrong? A�Enjoy watching me eat a nice helping of crow.)

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a big fan of World of Warcraft. A�I have not enjoyed this latest expansion as much as I thought and I might even be in the twilight of my WoW playing days. A�I start with this statement to immediately clear up any misconception right away. A�I like Wow, which immediately brands me as a Blizzard fanboy. A�As with most generalizations, this one is simply not true. A�I enjoy Heroes of the storm and occasionally tolerate Hearthstone when I can, but I have never even played any Starcraft game and only played Diablo III completely by chance.

I knew of the Diablo games, but only came upon Diablo III as a result of a WoW promotion. A�Unlike many players in the game, I never even played Diablo II. A�I know that is considered a sin because DII is widely thought to be one of the best games made and possibly Blizzard’s greatest game. A�I just wasn’t much of a PC gamer at the time. A�By the time I started gaming on my computer, WoW became my loot filled addiction. A�As tends to happen, that addiction became a potential gateway into others.

Blizzard ran a promotion that got you access to Diablo III if you signed up for their WoW annual pass testing. A�I had nothing to lose and another game to gain, so I joined the test. A�True to their word, I received a code for Diablo II and downloaded it using their Battle.Net app. A�Having never played DII might have worked to my advantage. A�All I kept hearing from other players was how much DIII sucked mainly because it wasn’t DII. A�I came into the game without that baggage and could decide for myself. A�Unfortunately, whether or not you played the previous game, DIII was not that great of a game. A�I played it for a couple of weeks or maybe a month, off and on, and then stopped in favor of other games. A�It wasn’t terrible. A�It just was not very fun. A�Blizzard patsA�A�themselves on the back forA�making fun games. A�They really missed on this one.

More recently, Scott Johnson from The Instance podcast mentioned how much he liked the console version of the game as a couch coop game. A�He is an admitted Blizzard fan boy, so I considered the source. A�Nevertheless, always on the lookout for new games for the web page and podcast, I ordered the game from Gamefly. A�When Chris and I got too busy over the holidays to play or record, the game sat at the bottom of my gaming bag. A�We started recording again and I suggested DIII during our most recent game night as a topic for the digital playground.

Part of the problem with the game is that it starts off slow. A�Really slow. A�I know that games are supposed to start off with training wheels to give you time to find your footing (sorry for the mixed metaphor), but DIII’s beginning is annoyingly slow. A�There is entirely too much talking and not nearly enough action. A�I know that Blizzard prides itself on story (mostly ripped off from other sources) and those stories are sometimes actually very good, but there has to be a balance. A�Diablo III, in my opinion, goes too far in the direction of story at first. A�That certainly led to my less than favorable first impression of the game. A�It nearly made me just say forget it and go back to the drawing board for the podcast.

Luckily, it didn’t take too long for the action to increase. A�We were soon up to our eyeballs in zombies, demons, skeletons, and other supernatural foes. A�Once that happened, the game was really fun. A�We played through until our tired brains wouldn’t allow us to focus well enough to progress anymore. A�After we played, Chris wrote in an article that he enjoyed himself and I finally did, too. A�For me, Diablo III is much better as a multiplayer game. A�Heck, it might even only be fun on consoles as a couch coop like Scott Johnson mentioned. A�I do know that i wasn’t fun to play by myself. A�But, I’m going to try it again. A�Hey, you can’t say that I didn’t give it a chance.

Maybe I’m stubborn. A�Maybe I’m just trying to figure it out. A�Like most gamers, when there’s a game that I don’t like but probably should, I want to know why. A�For what it is, DIII is a good game. A�Other gamers who play it really like it. A�I play the game by myself and I don’t like it and I’m not sure why.

Maybe it just isn’t my style of game. A�That’s often where you start when trying to assess a game. A�I always thought that I didn’t like MOBAs until I started playing Heroes of the Storm. A�Turns out that I jus tdidn’t like playing with the jerks who normally play those games. A�Heroes of the Storm is less competitive (offers less competitive game modes, at least) so you can avoid much of the toxicity of the MOBA community. A�That’s not the case with DIII, either. A�I have played other ARPGs extensively and they are fun. A�Another game that had a dubious launch was Marvel Heroes. A�People hated that game. A�Initially, so did I. A�The roster of heroes (and especially free starter heroes) was horribly small. A�The story was strong, but the gameplay was repetitive with little payoff. A�However, the the developers took feedback seriously, tuned the game, released more heroes, and the game became the most improved MMO of last year. A�The gameplay is still repetitive, but now there are more ways to play the game to keep it fresh. A�I play Marvel Heroes daily and have leveled two characters to max level with a third almost there. A�Even though the game is free to play, I even bough a character to support the developers and encourage them to keep improving the game.

The other game that I really like from this genre is Torchlight II. A�Around the time that I abandoned DIII for the first time, I learned of the Torchlight series. A�Several people called it “the game that DIII should have been.” A�It wasn’t F2P, but it was only 20 dollars on Steam. A�Even though I wondered how such a cheap game could compete with one that cost 60 dollars, I bought it. A�That was when I learned that my life long pursuit of being a cheap gamer would finally pay off in a big way.

(Before I proceed, let me explain. A�Skip ahead if you want. A�It won’t hurt my feelings. A�Once upon a time, I paid full price for a Playstation. A�Not a Playstation 2 or 3, but an original Playstation. A�That tells you how long ago this happened. A�As these stories generally go, a couple of months (or weeks, I remember it as weeks) later the price dropped. A�I vowed after that to never pay full price for a game again. A�Other than a couple of games (ironically, mostly when I was unemployed), I have stuck to that vow. A�One of the side effects of this is that I rarely get to play a game when it is new. A�Usually that isn’t a problem because I’m not much of an online gamer. A�Lately, it has been even less of a problem because of the proliferation of F2P.)

Thankfully, I was wrong. A�Torchlight II is amazingly full featured for such an inexpensive game. A� A�Everyone who suggested it as a substitute was right. A�It played nearly identical to Diablo III at one-third the price. A�Furthermore, I played the game both by myself and with my friend Kevin. A�I had fun playing both modes, but I actually played the hell out of the game by myself. A�Like Marvel Heroes, I played all the way to the end. A�i haven’t gotten a character to max level yet. A�I have done some end game and started another to play through again. A�What about those games makes them more fun than DIII? A�Let’s explore.

Diablo is much darker than the other two games. A�I don’t mean the story. A�While that might be true, the colors of DIII are very dingy. A�It reminds me of Batman from The Lego Movie if he added brown to his palette. A�Kevin and I both talked about this in Episode 2 of the podcast that got lost in the murky nether realm of dead hard drives. A�Even with a less than happy tale, Torchlight II still manages to use many shades of all the colors of the spectrum. A�Marvel Heroes, of course, inhabits the colorful comic book world. A�Granted, color scheme can’t be the only reason, but it can make for a dull play experience.

There is also the slow story ramp of Diablo. A�I don’t think that I can overstate that. A�Not knowing much about the story of Diablo might have hurt me in this regard, too, because I didn’t care too much about the characters or what was happening to them. A�The thing that got me through the Marvel Heroes introduction was my connection to the characters and stories. A�Like Diablo, I knew nothing about the Torchlight story, but the Outlander class kept me interested in the game until I got interested in the story. A�Perhaps that is my problem with Diablo III.

Let’s try something else. A�I’ve got the new video capture card for the computer. A�Maybe I can test it out with Diablo and try again. A�Up until this point, I’ve picked a Witch Doctor. A�Maybe that is the problem. A�Maybe I just don’t like class of Witch Doctor. A�I thought that it might be cool with the description and the spells available, but let’s try something else. A�I really liked Outlander in Torchlight II. A�Is there anything like that in Diablo? A�Turns out that the Demon Hunter looks similar to the Outlander. A�I’ll pick that. A�Also, as I was setting up the video capture card, the introduction of the story played through. A�I had skipped through it every other time playing the game.

Both the introduction and the new selection of class seems to have worked. A�It changed my mind about the game. A�I love hearing the *bang, bang* of the Demon Hunter’s gun as I blow stuff up. A�Not literally, yet. A�I don’t know if enemies explode when you kill them like they sometimes do in Torchlight II. A�If not, add that to the list of things that make TII better. A�In either case, I was wrong about Diablo III. A�The game is a fun game as long as you find the right class to play. A�My final piece of advice. A�Witch Doctor might not be the right class. A�Get out there and kick some demon butt.

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