Did Diablo III Do Anything Right?
Disclaimer: I am in no way saying that Diablo 3 is better or worse than Diablo 2. I’m not making this commentary to compare any other ARPG’s. This is just my opinion on what makes Diablo 3 a good game (Not better than D2). This is not a post bashing D2. This is merely to open discussion on some aspects the community feels about some aspects of D3. Along with some commentary of where they might fit in D4. If you come to these forums for the sole purpose of shitting on D3, then just simply close this post and select a different one. I've learned from my previous "Let D4, be D4" post and I'm just clarifying that I love D2 (And D1) as well so no need to bash this post for being "Anti-D2" or "Pro-D3". I've been playing Diablo games since the age of 12 starting with D1, if you wanted to know what level of fan I am for this series.
There’s plenty to hate when it comes to Diablo 3. The absence of a grim atmosphere (I’d recommend gathering inspiration from the likes of H.P. Lovecraft and Zdzisław Beksiński for D4). The poor script writing and bad voice acting direction (Seriously, these guys should have been fired on the spot). The lack of depth in the skills system (It feels like an ARPG-lite game). The diminished late end-game (We really need more to do once you push past that GR90). But often times, the best parts of D3 are overlooked. Judging by some commenters here, you’d think that D3 is the worse game ever created. That it shouldn’t exist. That nobody should play it.
But the truth of the matter is that Diablo 3 still remains one of the most successful games in history. Although it had a very rocky start, the game has formed some pretty innovative aspects and there’s things it does that many other ARPG’s don’t. It still remains one of the best ARPG’s in the past 10 years (although that competition is really ramping up).
So today, I’d like to highlight some of the things that I like about D3. In a sea of hate towards this game on these forums, I feel like there’s a need for some balance so I’m going against the grain for the sake of discussion. Do not bash each other, this is just to open dialogue on how people feel about certain aspects of D3. D2 has been spoken about many times before so there really isn’t anything I can add to that conversation and this post is not to bash D2 or anything like that. Just to merely open up dialogue.
Combat Fluid. That’s the word that comes to mind when thinking of the combat in Diablo 3. Now, I’m not talking about the skills and affixes and such. I’m talking about the core functionality of Diablo 3’s combat. D3’s combat is seemingly so fine-tuned and precise in its execution that your character feels like an extension of yourself. Not some character on the screen you control. Every move, every button click, feels intentional. I don’t think anybody can disagree that D3’s core-combat is as tight as it can be. Sure, some feel like the pace should be dialed down (I’m pretty sure we can find a balance), but the combat feels rhythmic and animations are smooth as butter. D3’s combat has even shown to be influential on other ARPG’s in the industry and has set some sort of standard within the genre. Play enough D3 you’ll find many other ARPG’s before it feel janky and unnatural in comparison. Players expect snappy controls within ARPG’s these days.
A Sense of Progression and Learning Diablo 3 is newcomer-friendly, and that is intentional. It’s part of Blizzard’s design philosophy for a long time now; Easy to play, hard to master (Although I wouldn’t say D3 is particularly hard to master). Not only is it newcomer-friendly to people familiar with ARPG’s, but people new to the genre itself. This is not because Diablo 3 is simplistic in its design (although that’s part of it). It’s because D3 has a good sense of progression. There’s a decent amount of time before new a skill opens up. There’s a decent amount of time before a rune is available. There’s a decent amount of time before you gather a new type of gear. This allows the player to absorb what they are doing a little bit at a time. Like an onion with many layers, the game eventually reveals itself to you one layer at a time. This is great game design. The game is teaching you how to play it through real-world experience: Learning by playing. Once you ding that level cap of 70, the game has prepared you for things to come and even further progression techniques are done there. You have to do a Rift, to get a key, before you can do a Great Rift. I gives the player a sense that these are 2 different things and should be treated differently. The fact that you have to do a side-quest to unlock Kanai’s Cube communicates to the player that this thing is really important. In other words, D3 doesn’t bombard you with a bunch of text in attempt to give the player some half-assed “tutorial” and information overload. Other ARPG’s can learn from D3’s progression and newcomer-friendly format.
Many Lanes of Progression Speaking of progression, D3 has quite a few avenues players can utilize to progress upward. There’s always a sense of growth. Of course many ARPG’s do this and it’s really nothing new, but thought it was worth mentioning. D3 gives the player many tools to progress upwards. There’s always something you can do to elevate your character to the next hurdle. From Paragon points, to gambling with Kadala, gambling in the cube, combining gems, leveling up legendary gems, finding set pieces, infusing gear, modifying gear, etc. There’s always something the player can be doing to get to the next step. To push that slightly higher GR. It gives control and responsibility to the player to make their character better. Not just relying on random drops and allocating skill points correctly. It is my hope that D4 follow this philosophy with many things the play can be doing to progress.
Rifts Rifts are the backbone of endgame content in Diablo 3. For better or worse, these concise, randomized, and addictive gameplay loops IS Diablo 3. As an older guy with a kid, I appreciate this gameplay mechanic so much. If I have 10 minutes to spare, I can run a rift. If I have an hour, I can just carry on. This drop-in/drop-out gameplay is flexible to many tight schedules. Although, I would not like to see Diablo 4 lean so heavy on rifts as the main pillar of endgame content, I would like to see them return. Albeit in a much smaller capacity.
Kanai’s Cube Can I just say how much I love this little thing? Sure, it’s annoying having to do Kulle’s little side-quest every damn season, but I feel like it’s worthy of a side-quest to unlock. The cube pretty much is your end-game go-to. I love that I can transform affixes into passives. I love that I can gamble and try to get a specific piece of gear by upgrading Rare’s. I love that I can convert gems. I love that I can infuse gear. I just love a one-stop shop for all these things. But, sometimes this one-stop-shop approach can make the world feel smaller. Maybe in next installment (If it returns) the cube can be in pieces and only specific options are available at specific towns to make the world feel a bit bigger.
Smart Loot You know what I don’t like? Being excited for a piece of gear that is meant for a different class. You know what I hate more? Having my inventory cluttered by gear meant for a different class. I know many people like when items just drop regardless of whether your class is designed to use it or not (Because of “Freedom”). But I feel like a system that caters to the class I’m currently using get’s rid of a lot of inventory management. That is wasted time I could be using to actually play the game. I don’t want to sit there playing Inventory Tetris. I don’t want to have to read what each item does if it doesn’t pertain to my class. I want to slay demons, upgrade my gear, and be on my way. Maybe D4 can include a loot filter as well.
Bonus: Freedom and Simplistic design I was a late comer to Diablo 3. I didn’t start playing it until 2015 and have no experience on what the game was like before that. All I am is a guy who played Diablo since Diablo 1 (When I was 12 years old). I fell out of the genre for a long while. Diablo 3 resparked my love for the genre. Diablo’s beginner-friendly and simplistic design allowed me to rekindle that love. Diablo 3 is not an ARPG for the hardcore player. We know this. But it makes an excellent jumping platform for the more niche titles like PoE.
All this is mainly because of D3’s simplistic design and the freedom it gives players (in some respects, not all). The freedom of changing skills on-the-fly is awesome for experimentation. The fact that D3 bypasses skill trees and opts for an easy to understand Rune system is great for those new to the genre. It’s this freedom and simplicity that allows newcomers to learn the subtle causes and effects of an ARPG. The knowledge they learn from D3 is knowledge that can help them get into the more hardcore titles. It’s this basic reason why I’d tell anybody new to the genre to start with Diablo 3. It’s the best place to learn the mechanics of this genre. And the more newcomers to the genre, the more the genre will grow and the more ARPG’s we’ll see in future.
Now this last one is where I hope Diablo 4 will get rid of. The main reason is because my prediction is that Diablo: Immortals will carry this beginner-friendly baton instead (Or at least it should). People new to the genre should play Immortals instead. D4 should be fan-service for the player-base that’s been there since day one. For those of us who have been playing since Diablo 1. D4 should follow the progression and learning techniques mentioned above that allow for a beginner-friendly format, but the end-game needs to be for the rest of us who’ll be playing long after launch. For the dedicated fans who’ll continue to post comments on the forums. For us that have been clamoring for a “proper” Diablo release since Diablo 2.
Disclaimer: I feel like I must mention this again.. I really shouldn’t have to but people on the internet like to argue and I’m trying to avoid that. I’m not trying to bash Diablo 2. I’m not wishing Diablo 4 to be like Diablo 3. I’m not bashing or comparing D3 to any other ARPG. I’m not trying to stir controversy. Don’t go into the comments saying “Well D2 did this!” or “Diablo 3 is utter trash!”. I just want to open conversation.
submitted by Chupraka