Diablo 3

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Blizzard has teased fans for years about the pending release of Diablo 3.  It was originally rumored to be released 18 months ago…then pushed back…and back…finally May 15th 2012…d3 has dropped.

I’ve been a fan of diablo for a very long time.  In 97 I first got a taste of Diablo.  I was in college and had nothing better to do that sit at my roommates computer and click away.  He got a bit pissed at me, and this resulted in me buying my own machine.  Diablo was also my first taste of pirating anything.  It was really what started the techno empire…quite an impactful game.  I pre-ordered my copy a few weeks before release.  I thought they would ship me a dvd set, but instead the installer was available for download.  It was over an 8gig download…which took me 16hrs on my crappy home connection.  After the download finished I tried to install it…no dice!  It wouldn’t even let me install the game until the Monday before launch.  Maybe I could have monkeyed with things and gotten it downloaded…but I wasn’t that edgy.

I’ve spent a couple of days now clicking away, maybe 6hrs or so total play time.  I’ve been following the story, not reading anything but not going off the map either…completing all the “quests” they give me.  My character has had probably an hour or so of just sitting there while I’m doing something else in the house…so reasonably I’m at 4-5hrs of play time all solo.  My character has reached level 14 now, so I don’t think that’s too bad.  I don’t know how much of the story I have left to complete.

One of the most interesting things to me is that they have taken out basically all character development.  Back in the day you had a certain amount of stat points and you could allocate them how you please with your character.  As you leveled up you gain points and spend them in various attributes.  This would allow you to add some sort of uniqueness to your character.  Blizzard decided this approach was more problem than it was worth.  They figured that people either screwed up their character during this process, or people followed a “cookie cutter” formula and everyone ended up with the same type of guy.  I can see that to some extent, but one of the more interesting parts of the original diablo was acquiring gear that would up certain attributes so you could either wear another piece of gear or read certain books to gain use of spells.  It seems like that part of the game has been removed.  So far it hasn’t detracted from my “click on everything over and over again” game play.  Gear I’m getting now is only level restricted, you don’t need to have say 20 strength and 12 dexterity to use an axe…you just need to be level 11 or something.

One of the new pieces of information on gear is that it tells you how it is going to affect your overall character.  I’m still not sure what the numbers mean though.  If I gain 1.0% damage output…what does that actually mean when I use the weapon?  I understand the hit points…but I don’t know what the relationship between hit points and armor class is.  If I gain 15AC is that the same as 5HP?  Is there a cap for AC where it doesn’t make an difference or there is a diminished return?  Also, when you mouse over a piece of gear in your inventory it shows the stats for that piece then it also shows you the stats for what you currently have on.  My confusion is that if I have a 1 handed axe and a shield…then I mouse over a 2 handed weapon, it shows me that 2 handed weapon compared to the 1 handed sword.  The 2 handed weapon might say +.3% damage, -.5%defense.  Does that take in to account that I can’t use a shield with it?  Or is it just compared to the stats on the 1 handed weapon?  Right now those questions don’t matter too much, I put on a new piece of gear and use it a bit…then compare that to the other piece…and see which “feels” better.  I assume that’s the general idea of what they want you to do…but I’d like to know the actual numbers behind the game.

There also isn’t really a way to build in uniqueness in skills.  You just get skills at different levels.  In the past, you could pick a path you wanted your character to go down…maybe I want a barbarian that is more heavy on defense compared to someone else’s that wants to put out more damage.  You don’t really have an option to lock that in anymore.  The difference in the characters is going to come in the way you use the guy in battle.  The skills have a “cool down” period after you select them.  Basically this keeps you from switching to different skills during a fight.  I’ve found that to be a bit daunting, but over all irrelevant at my current level.  In a given area there is generally several “minor” NPC’s to kill and a “mini-boss”.  I have a skill where I can swing my weapon and hit multiple targets, and another skill that seems to deal more damage to a single target.  It would be nice if I could use the group slash to clear out the trash and switch to a single target skill for the boss.  Given the cool down time you can’t really do that.  There is probably a point to this, but it seems really lame to me.  But at my stage it’s not going to matter all that much.

This is my first gaming experience on a mac and a laptop.  I had to turn the graphics down a bit, which is fine…they still look pretty good.  I thought maybe the 13″ screen was going to be a problem but it hasn’t been at all.  I dig on being able to move around with the machine instead of being glued to a desk.  It does get warm though.  I sat with it in my lap for a little bit…but it got pretty warm in a hurry.  It also gobbles battery.  I burnt more than 1/2 of the battery for an hour session.    I also used an external mouse.  I wanted 2 buttons…but I also wanted to not beat down the track pad.

Overall, the game is pretty good.  I’m not going to be able to put in long hours like I used to, so I think it will be a decent hack and slash for the hour or so I can screw around.

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