Diablo III(rd) Time’s a Charm?

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In preparing to share my thoughts on Diablo III, my original plan for this piece was to play for one hour on my Cleave/Seismic Slam (now Rend) lv 58 Barbarian and 1 hour on my lv 60 Acid Cloud/Rain of Toads Witch Doctor…

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I swear I was just going to level my No-Dochi-wielding barb to 60 and see how my WD fared in the new patch. That’s all!!!

Instead, my Barb, WD, and Monk went from level 37 to 60, and my Wizard went from level 26 to 34 and an impossible number of hours later, I’m sitting here at work writing this because if I were at home I would still be on Diablo III.

The pre-Reaper of Souls “Loot 2.0” patch is THAT GOOD!

Then again, Auction House-era Diablo III was probably that bad.

If you’ve played DIII, you know the deal. I didn’t even invest  a FRACTION of what some folks I know invested into the game—a measly forty hours—and I quit. I can’t even begin to discuss how some players made an actual profit (paid for the game then some) by selling items on the Real Money Auction House (RMAH). When I did play, I might, MIGHT have found one legitimate legendary item in that time. Some people spending 100+ hours had the same or worse luck.

The game was a hot mess. The dtor of DIII, or the boss, the man to blame for the entire fiasco, Jay Wilson was cussing out David Brevik, founder of the Diablo franchise, over Facebook, in “retaliation” to some candid replies the latter offered during an interview about Torchlight II. It was such a professional move, that after apologizing for his potty-mouth but not the ruin brought to Diablo, he would eventually end up resigning from his position. Inferno difficulty, the “endgame” after all the bosses have been beaten and quests completed, was only playable to a handful of people using Barbarians or Demon Hunters and a ton of lame tactics like kiting. Itemization was underwhelming as it was entirely possible to play through Nightmare mode in its without finding a single item drop that is better than what you found in normal. Bosses would drop magical, even NORMAL class weapons. Elite mobs, allegedly the primary source of the best loot, were ridiculously overpowered. God help you if you ever encountered an immune pack. WTF WERE THEY THINKING??? Oh, and PvP dueling wasn’t patched into the game until almost a full calendar year after the release of the game. I’m a pure PvM guy 4 lyfe and I even thought that was silly! (Acti-)Blizzard tried, flaccidly, to amend things with Paragon System 1.0 and Nephalim Valor in the 1.0 patchI had leveled my WD to 60, and tried a few paragon/neph valor stack farming, but I was more interested in rolling a Barbarian. I quit before 60 because itemization was still embarrassingly impotent. Yes, that’s two references to phallic inadequacy, and I’m one of the more generous critics of DIII. I actually didn’t think it was a bad game. In fact, I think it was even a good game if one committed to playing through at least Hell mode and then running, running far, far away. However, compared to Diablo II, Diablo III was the equivalent of expecting Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza, and getting a Jeno’s instead.

So I put the game down.

Now that brings us to the present. I saw on an internet forum that Blizzard (without the “Activision” prefix because it seems they actually care about making a legacy game rather than profit alone) was killing off the AH for good and had patched “Loot 2.0” into the game for the purpose of parity with the console version of the game in addition to the upcoming expansion. All is forgiven, Blizzard.

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Level 60 Barb is notably more buff than lv 58 barb.

I jumped in with my Barbarian. Literally, because leap is one of my favorite skills in the game.  First thing I noticed was the new “difficulties” which replace Normal, Nightmare, Hell, and Inferno. Now there is Normal, Hard, Expert, Master, and Torment. You get exp, gold, and a “hidden” magic find bonus based upon the difficulty chosen. Apparently, monsters also scale to your level (like in the Elder Scrolls), so I’m not quite sure of all the fine minutia between the options, but I started on Expert because I wanted that delicious 100%/100% bonus. I chose my favorite act to farm, Act 3, to start.

I was immediately slaughtered by the first elite pack of creeps, which happened to be the first enemy I encountered .

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After almost an entire year of not playing, I immediately went *squish*

I had never even seen the “wormhole” affix before, and if you clicked the link above where I mention the imba elites, it’s not included in the original game. Discouraged that after all the to-do about the patch, the game was still “broken,” I punked out and lowered the difficulty thinking that would fix things. It kinda did, kinda didn’t–again, I don’t understand the distinction between skill levels and the scaling foes.  As it would turn out, after beating the first elite pack, the very first loot drops were tremendous upgrades from what I had. I’m talking that the inferior items were those that I, like everyone else did, purchased from the AH for my character. Those drops, which were mega-upgrades convinced me that in the first two minutes of playing that AH-era DIII might go down as one of the greatest disappointments in video game history. I was instantaneously rewarded for “pressing start,” so to speak, and though it didn’t break the game, I felt the satisfaction (dat dopamine release) after having accomplished something, which was beating a legitimately ferocious pack of elites.

That’s what DIII was supposed to be about all along!

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In the second hour of my playtime with my Barb, I had almost completely replaced my entire inventory. Only my weapon would proved to be even remotely adequate.

Even beating the bosses again (changes to the bosses have re-activated the achievements) became a treat because like in DII, they now drop legendaries for me on a quasi-consistent basis.

Actually, that’s what everyone wants to know about: legendaries. Compared to Auction House-Diablo III, legendaries now drop like rain in Seattle. Seriously, there are times where I will play for an hour and not find one and there are times when I’ll play for thirty minutes and find three.

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Goodwill says that “giving feels good,” so Blizzard decided to give us more legendaries and made sure we would take note when they drop.

The best part about them is that the game is now patched to roll drops geared toward the character you are currently playing. In the past, even in DII, getting a Sorc drop while playing a Barb could be considered passive-aggressive “encouragement” to roll a new character. DIII eliminates that, allowing players to focus on the character of their choice, and I actually argue that the way things are now, especially with the xp bonuses for the next three weeks, the game provides its own implicit “encouragement” to roll a new class. I’m thinking about doing a Whirlwind Barb (Juggernaut?) and Hardcore WD (Papa Shango?) now because I am encouraged with the hope that I won’t be using crap gear to slay arcane enchanted elites.   The “abundance” of lengendaries is balanced as well. They are now account-locked, so it will be interesting to see how people will complete sets without the AH or trading (in parties, you have a 2 hour window from the drop time to trade with the party you find the item). They are also scaled to level, so if you find a legendary at 30, even if it’s typically a level 10 item, the stats will scale to match. This is how Blizzard built into the game to avoid players getting crap legendaries more often than good ones.  With the level locked at 60, and raised to 70 with the expansion, it will be interesting to see what happens over the next few weeks and beyond.

So if you are into farming legendaries, it is possible by doing what Blizzard had initially envisioned—playing through the game in its entirety instead of a select few areas for “farm runs”—is possible without becoming  monotonous. Bots and farming items for profit on AH or on websites will also become obsolete if not neigh impossible.

And I didn’t even cover the new Paragon System, though you can read about it in the link attached to the previous Paragon System above. Basically, Blizzard has re-integrated aspects of DII into the game, such as being able to customize how we allocate stat points to our character classes upon level up. Nice!

The point is, if you own DIII, and you’re like me, either keep NOT playing the game like you and everyone else was, preferring Torchlight II or Path of Exile for your hack-n-slash fix, or do like me and tell someone to tell your wife and kids that you love them if you catch my drift.

TIME TO GET BACK HOME AND LOG ON TO B.NET!!!

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There is much that we should value in the “fool me once…fool me twice” adage.
But it’s Blizzard we’re talking about here. Oh, will I be able to resist?

Author: Maurice Pogue

With his FSU Seminoles and San Antonio Spurs both winning championships in 2014, Maurice's friends want him to "go in" with them on the possibility that his 49ers will win in a calendar year. But he isn't *that* kind of gamer. Holla at him.