Diablo 3 – Sanctuary in the Balance

EB and I have been logging many hours in Diablo 3 lately, and it’s a good game, but I feel like we’ve yet to see the “final” form of it. It still feels very “beta” quality at this point, sadly.

The game’s trying to balance several things – it’s got single player, co-op, and MMO elements, all in one game. It’s clear that the “hub” at the center of these is the real money auction house, and Blizzard is prioritizing this and trying to grow it as an ongoing revenue stream. “That’s fine,” I hear you say, “as long as I can play Diablo 3 my way.

Well, you can’t. Not really. Several times now Blizzard has posted something that boils down to “we don’t think you guys are playing the game the way we intended, so we’re changing this or that to punish this particular playstyle.” That’s certainly single-player hostile, and in many cases the intent of the rebalance is to ensure that the market for uncommon items is properly maintained.

Plus the single player experience just sucks. It’s laggy, and the game’s just not optimized for it. Your companions are terrible. Many of the classes just can’t survive at higher difficulties without resorting to cheap strategies or crazy gear/skill combinations. Reading their blog posts and other information about the game’s design seems to indicate that they intended for many different strategies to be viable, but there are just so many terrible skills and runes.

Inferno’s problematic for me as well. It’s one of those things where the difficulty doesn’t ramp smoothly, so you’ve got to invest extraordinary amounts of time in grinding for gold and new gear in order to progress. It’s at odds with the rest of the game’s difficulty curve, and it seems like the intent is to keep us all in a holding pattern long enough to become real money auction house addicts, or for whenever PvP support is added.

I think the goal of beating Inferno is out of my reach at this point. I’d rather come back in six months when they’ve worked out the kinks and the balance, and things aren’t quite so grind-y. I think I’ve already sank enough hours in to get my money’s worth, though, so if I get distracted, big deal.

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