It was a hot summer in 2000. I was about to be a senior in high school, and as was common at the time, there was a group of my friends at a particular buddies’ house because he had all of the cool toys and parents who were rarely home. The Mountain Dew flowed like water, the junk food wrappers piled high, and our laughter echoed into the night while we smashed the crap out of each other on a variety of titles that I remain nostalgic about to this day. I’m looking at you, Perfect Dark…
There was a pool out back, a hot tub, and a roof that extended *just* far enough out over the deck for us to foolishly launch ourselves from the roof into the pool. It was a recipe for a nearly perfect summer. One particular night, we were all properly hopped up on sugar and pizza, but one friend in particular was not invested in the group. As was befitting a group of young men, we left him to his devices and continued to pound the controllers and use swear words whose meanings we couldn’t really understand, we just knew they sounded ‘cool’ when we said them.
Slowly, over the course of the night, this one particular boy remained reclusive in his parents’ office. One by one, the others went in to check on him and never came back. Eventually, there were only about three of us in the living room, so I decided to go check on what was going on. Perhaps get a glimpse of why these guys were away for so long, or even just verify that they had passed out so we knew they weren’t coming back, and could continue on without them.Imagine my surprise when I see the first guy staring at his computer in a trance, and four others huddled around behind him, talking about the game he was playing. I came closer, looked at his screen, and was immediately enthralled myself. The game was Diablo II, and from that moment on, I knew I needed a PC that could run it.
The rest of the summer went by in a flash with more soda pop and crazy junk food nights than I can readily remember. Eventually the group dispersed, and we all went our separate ways. But that game has always had a special place in my nostalgia library. So, you can imagine my shock and glee at the announcement of Diablo III in 2008.
Unfortunately, by its release date in 2012, Blizzard Entertainment and Activision in particular had managed to mutilate it and destroy any nostalgia that it brought to the table. First off, the game required an internet connection. This was, of course, because Blizzard wanted to integrate all of their games into the fledgling Battle.net desktop app, and that required a connection.
OUTRAGE! BETRAYAL! HOW… HOW COULD YOU, BLIZZARD!?
People flew off the handle with that announcement alone, but the following one was the one that made me lose my proverbial shit. They were going to have an online auction house… using real currency to buy in-game gear.
Wow. Now you’ve sold your souls. Not only will I never play that game, I will never play another Blizzard title ever AGAIN! HAVE AT YOU, VILLAINS! Well, suffice it to say that my (And most others’) bravado was short-lived, because I was a hopeless WoW addict and I loved StarCraft. I did abstain from Diablo III for a long time, however. I found the online auction house to not only be… questionable from its very inception, but the idea of people using real life money to buy digital items from other players was just too much for me to handle. My primary beef with the auction house was that I felt it destroyed the integrity of the game, and made it pointless. Why, in a game designed to be all about smashing things and getting shiny loot… would you put in an auction house that people could use to skip the smashing of things to get the shiny loot? Now you just have people running around farming gold all day long so they can buy the legendary items for sale on the AH for exorbitant prices. Yeah. That’s fun. Sounds an awful lot like sitting on my ass for 8 hours a day at work, so I can get paid, only to hand all of my money over to someone else so I can have nice things too. Except that game is called MY LIFE. It doesn’t exactly motivate me to play this video game, savvy?
On the other hand, the forced online aspect of the game is a silly sticking point in our current age of constantly being online for everything we do. Besides, it’s not like you can access your burgeoning Steam library without an internet connection either, ladies and gentlemen. So, this is a moot point and I really wish people would just shut up about it because that’s the way the industry is evolving. As much as I love to be nostalgic about gaming, this is definitely one thing that I can agree with: Online is necessary for PC titles. From a developer perspective, it’s truly genius. Instead of having to put out a patch for people to download at their leisure, (which may screw up during the install process), you can put out a patch as a mandatory download. Besides, internet connectivity is just as necessary in this day and age as electricity or plumbing. So get off your damn high horses about this. If you want to play something offline, throw in Super Metroid, Ocarina of Time, Final Fantasy anything through X, or a billionty other titles and have yourself a throwback day. I do it all the time.
Back to the topic at hand, Diablo III. Blizzard may be many things. They may be money-hungry. They may be stuck in their own happy little land of three IPs, and regurgitated material *cough* World of Warcraft *cough*… But they are not stupid.
After about a year of live time with Diablo III under their belts, Blizzard decided that there were some much needed changes that needed to take place if their game (and company, more on that in a minute) was to survive. First off, the auction house had to go. Not only was it destroying the purpose of the game itself, but the IRS had taken a keen interest in just exactly *how* Blizzard was going to be taxed for all of this real money exchanging hands on an open online marketplace that they had invented. Particularly in an area previously uncovered by known tax codes. Suffice it to say that within months of the IRS showing up and sniffing around, the axe fell on the real money aspect of the AH. Shortly after, the announcement came that allowed me to consider buying this title: The AH itself was going to be closing down forever.So, with the advent of those announcements in rapid succession, I decided to buck up and whip out my credit card to give this thing a chance.
At first, I was skeptical. The classes just seemed like cheap knock-offs of the classes from Diablo II. Or, they were just the same class that looked prettier. Hell, even with the same name… Barbarians. Nice, Blizz. Really original…
Then, I fired it up. Like months’ old snowpack in April, my frozen visage and chilly approach to this game thawed and melted away, leaving little to no trace of my previous vitriol. This was… a very, very good title. Sure, the classes were revamped from the old ones. Perhaps because the old ones were AMAZING and one adage that Blizzard does adhere to is this: If it ain’t broke, why fix it?
Yes, the Demon Hunter is the Amazon. The Wizard is the Sorceress. The Witch Doctor is the Druid. The Crusader is the Paladin, the Monk is the Assassin, and the Barbarian is… well, the Barbarian.
The more I played, the more I realized the nearly limitless customizability that this game offers. So many skills to choose from. Pieces of gear that ascribe to particular abilities. Whole sets derived around particular abilities for specific classes. Hell, they even brought the damn cube back, guys…
You can blow up certain legendaries to use their unique abilities without having to equip the gear. You can take set pieces and convert them into the other pieces of the set you don’t have. So, you have 6 set pieces and three of them are the same pair of gloves? Get to the cube, buddy. Oh, there’s one particular axe you need for your build? Try your luck with the cube, maybe it likes you today.
Besides the cube, there are goblins that pop like loot pinatas, crazy ‘Nephalem Rifts’ to conquer, bounties to explore, seasons to destroy, and countless other things you can do with this title. There’s a special realm full of gold and legendaries literally laying on the floor, there’s a realm where you can bash the SHIT out of ponies under rainbows with smiling clouds, and… if you’re lucky…There’s the cow level.
But, unlike it’s foolhardy earlier stages, it feels like that same old, hack-and-slash, let’s kill EVERYTHING game from 2000. It’s gotten back to it’s roots, and Blizzard has made it fun again.
So, please. Do not let your stale hatred of what this title was at launch deter you from something that has incredible potential to be fun for not only you, but your friends as well. Give it a shot.
I will see you in four years when you’re done being addicted to it.
For now, I have more greater rifts to farm.
Oh, and Blizzard? Necromancer knock-off soonish?