Let me take a brief moment to give some context to my views and opinions on this title. I did not play the original two Diablo games. In fact, before learning about Diablo 3 in 2012, I had never played any action RPGs in the vein of that series in my life. When I did start learning about and subsequently got excited for Diablo 3, I cut my action RPG teeth on Torchlight. I learned all about the history of the Diablo franchise and how that eventually lead to Torchlight’s development. When the Diablo 3 Beta began, I was lucky enough to have a friend lend me his code. That was the first time I’d ever experienced the loot-drive, addictive, extremely satisfying grind of the series.
Months later, Blizzard Entertainment’s long awaited, highly anticipated Diablo 3 launched to critical and commercial success. However, universal success doesn’t always mean everyone is completely satisfied. As is with every launch of every online service, the opening days of the always-online title were rough, to say the least. The extremely common “Error 37” sparked it’s own swath of internet memes. Diablo 3 was a difficult game to love in the early days. At its heart was a fun and rewarding experience, but that experience was clouded by several annoyances that, for some, made it nearly impossible to compare to its predecessors. Between the internet connection issues that plagued the launch and the backlash from the game’s inclusion of a Real Money Auction House (RMAH), Blizzard fans found a lot to be upset about.
Fast forward a little over a year and console gamers are treated with the release of a special tweaked version of Diablo 3. Bringing with it two major changes: No internet connection required; no Auction House (AH) of any kind. These changes to the game made the console version appear as the superior experience of the game so far. The lack of requirement for internet allowed more people to enjoy the game on console than on PC, since several parts of the world do not have affordable and reliable internet, still. The lack of any RMAH meant there was not “Pay to win” aspect to the balancing of the game. In fact, the lack of any kind of AH allowed the developers to explore tweaks to the drop rates and the attributes of the weapons and gear overall. This new loot system became what is now known as Loot 2.0.
With the release of the console versions, Blizzard announced that they would be shutting off both AH’s for the PC version in March 2014. Around the end of 2013, Blizzard opened up a Beta for the upcoming expansion for Diablo 3, called Reaper of Souls, the expansion was announced to bring even more benefits and changes to the game.
This is where I picked up the latest iteration of the game, March 2014. First of all, I’ll agree with the sentiment throughout the wider gamer community that has played the Patch 2.0 version of Diablo 3, it truly feels like a totally different game. The complete lack of an AH mixed with the Loot 2.0 system’s Smart Drop has lead to far more fun overall. The experience of plowing through countless numbers of enemies feels more rewarding this time around as the game drops more and more useful and exciting gear compared to the original version. In the time it took me to go from the start of a new character at the beginning of Act 1 to level 35 at the end of Act 2 (roughly half way through the game), I had looted a half a dozen Legendary Items. That’s virtually impossible in the older version of this title.
Not only am I now looting more better items, the better items are far more useful to me than any high level or rare items prior to the patch. The work Blizzard has put into the new loot system really shows in these item drops. It’s not completely perfect, because that would be less fun, for instance: I took one of my old Level 60 characters through Act 1 to kill The Skeleton King, after finally destroying my enemy, a set piece dropped, along with it, my jaw. I had never looted a set piece before, ever. In the original version of the PC release, I’d only ever found set pieces in the AH. So I went to identify it with my Barbarian and wouldn’t you know it? Monk gear. I can’t use this junk! So I had to salvage it. However, this is one instance in dozens of fantastic experiences between my friend and me playing hours of the new version of the game over the course of a couple days. Legendaries falling like snowflakes.
The improved loot game isn’t the only trick this version of Diablo 3 has learned. A tweaked and improved difficulty system as vastly improved the end game. Clan support has been patched into the game with several bonuses and perks associated with it. One of my favorites being the ability to inspect a clan member’s heroes from the clan window instead of having to go seek them out in game, even if they’re offline, how’s that for convenient?
I’m very satisfied with what Diablo 3 has become and am glad to see Blizzard put in the effort, as opposed to just abandoning a half-broken, but ultimately, great game. Here’s hoping that with Diablo 3 “fixed”, the dev team can now focus solely on providing more new and compelling content!