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Diablo 3 Hands-On

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the where-would-i-put-this dept.

Role Playing (Games) 216

At this year's Blizzcon, we got to try out a section of Diablo 3 that was pulled directly from the single-player storyline and playable with all classes. A large number of skills and abilities were playable, and the skill rune system has been implemented, a feature that was lacking for last year's demo build. We also got to spend some time trying out the newly announced PvP system — Battle Arenas. Read on for a walk-through of Diablo 3 as we've seen it so far. In short: it's shaping up to be an excellent game, and a worthy successor to Diablo 2. Read on for more.

The demo started me off at with a level 9 character and dropped me into a dungeon, offering up two objectives: fight my way through and, as a bonus, find and destroy a particular boss. From the start, it had a very familiar feel. I took a few steps down the hall and got rushed by a group of monsters, which I quickly mowed down by mashing the buttons on my mouse. It's Diablo, alright. Here I paused to actually read my abilities and see how the UI worked. If you've followed along with the game's development at all, you're probably aware of the fact that the Diablo 2 potion belt is gone. The 1-5 keys are now used to activate skills displayed on an action bar at the bottom of the screen. The right and left mouse buttons also activate skills (ostensibly the most-used ones), and pressing tab will swap back and forth between two skills bound to the right mouse button. Subtract one of those slots for health potions and you've got seven easily-accessible skills.

Skills:

Of course, I didn't get that many to start; instead, they're doled out as a character levels up, increasing the complexity of combat slowly but steadily. Blizzard has done away with the talent-trees of old, so picking skills is a lot tougher. Instead, every few levels a new skill slot unlocks, and you get to pick an actual activated ability that you'll immediately start using to kill monsters. On the levels in between the unlocks, you can power up one of your existing skills. All of the passive, math-y talents that were prevalent in Diablo 2 are dealt with through a different system, called Traits. Traits are a wide variety of passive bonuses that you get to spend points in every couple levels — things like boosting a particular stat, or increasing the amount of gold monsters drop. They're pretty straight-forward — not that exciting, but a nice, consistent way to make your character stronger in some way.

As it happens, attaining level 10 unlocks a skill slot (the fourth), so after spending a little time wading through the demonic hordes inhabiting the dungeon, I leveled up and tried to make a decision. It was pretty difficult to choose. There are a lot of fun-sounding or powerful-sounding skills, and you're just not able to get all of them. One of Blizzard's mantras of late has been about having the player make meaningful decisions, and this certainly qualified. They've stated in the past that some form of respec will be added to the game. They haven't ironed out the details, but they don't want it to be trivial. If I hadn't had a limited amount of time, I would have spent quite a while pondering which skill to take. It would have been nice to have some sort of preview, or a minute-long grace period to swap to something else. But it definitely created a feeling that there were more good options I'd be able to get in later levels.

I'll get to the individual classes and their skills in a moment, but one more feature that needs to be introduced is the Skill Rune system. This is a concept Blizzard has been playing with for a while, and last year it was in the midst of a redesign, so we didn't get to try it out. It works like this: each skill in your spellbook has one slot to which you can add a Skill Rune. The Rune then modifies how the skill works. It's somewhat similar to gem sockets in items. There are five different colors of runes, and each color will modify the skill in a different way. Runes have seven ranks, which modify how powerful the effect is. One example they talked about was the Wizard skill Magic Missile. Unaltered, it's just what it sounds like — launching an arcane projectile at a monster. With a rank 1 Indigo rune, the skill shoots an extra missile. With a rank 7 Indigo rune, it shoots seven extra missiles. I'll be blunt: Skill Runes are pretty awesome.

Classes:

The first class I tried out was the Witch Doctor. It's a caster class with voodoo- and necromancer-style magic. My main ranged attack was Poison Dart, which did some damage over time to monsters I hit. Adding a rune, it changed to a fire dart, which did more up-front damage at the expense of the DoT. I also had a skill that summoned pets to help me fight -- up to three Zombie Dogs at one time. They were actually powerful enough that I eventually let them die so I would have more to do. Runes affected them differently — one rune gave them a chance to drop a health orb when they died. Others modified how they did damage. The AI was pretty smart about having them attack the groups I wanted them to, and not go charging off on their own.

The skill I chose when I hit level 10 was Firebats. It functions similarly to the Inferno spell in Diablo 2, only instead of projecting a cone of flame in front of me, it projected a cone of flaming bats. The first Skill Rune I looked at extended the spell's range, trading off damage to do so. That was a bit underwhelming, since I already had ranged attacks, so I went with a different rune that turned the cone into a whirlwind of flaming bats that surrounded me. Another rune added a life-drain effect. It was tempting, but the whirlwind looked too cool to pass up. Finally, the skill that sold me on the Skill Rune system was Zombie Charger, a spell that summoned a zombie, who would shamble a few steps forward and then spray poison in the immediate vicinity. It was a solid, short-range attack. Fortunately, I lucked into a rune that modified the spell to summon a group of zombie bears that charged forward and trampled whatever was in their path. The buddy I was playing with happened to get a rune at the same time that made his Wizard's basic lightning spell change into a massive, conical spray of electricity, and we couldn't help but laugh as we used our new-found power to demolish groups of monsters.

The next class I tried was the recently revealed Demon Hunter. The class mixes ranges weapons with gadgets and dark magic for its offensive power. It bears similarities to both the Amazon and the Assassin from Diablo 2, but feels distinctly different to play. My main nuke, when I started out, was called Entangling Shot. It would do some damage and slow the monsters it hit, and then chain to other nearby monsters. Using Entangling Shot, it was quite easy to control entire groups of monsters. This was supplemented by a skill called Bola Shot, which would send a glowing bola out to wrap itself around the neck of a monster, exploding a few seconds later. It supplemented the slow effect of Entangling Shot nicely; by alternating between the two skills, I could drop big damage while keeping anything from reaching me. The Demon Hunter also had Vault, a movement skill that makes you leap forward through the shadows. It's a good way to get range — perhaps too good.

When I reached level 10, there were some interesting choices for new skills — a Fan of Knives provided area-of-effect damage in a circle around the Demon Hunter; Molten Arrow sends a blast of fire through monsters; Multi-Shot sends a conical rain of arrows that looks more like something out of 300 than the equivalent Amazon skill in Diablo 2. But I ended up choosing Grenades. The Demon Hunter tosses three grenades at the feet of her target, and they explode for huge damage. The cool thing about this skill is that you can bounce the grenades off walls, so you can blow up things around corners or in the back of a group that's rushing you. Unfortunately, I didn't get to try any runes with these skills. Overall, the Demon Hunter felt a lot more dynamic and... percussive than an Amazon.

I got a chance to tinker around with the Barbarian as well. This class uses a different resource system — fury is generated by certain attacks, and is then spent on other (generally more powerful) attacks. It certainly played differently than the range classes. Wading into groups and Cleaving away was standard operating procedure. I enjoyed this class less than the others, mainly due to the fact that fury generation seemed fairly slow, and my skills weren't that focused on damage. One ability, Revenge, was reactive, only becoming available occasionally during a pitched battle. At level 10, I picked up a skill that made him leap into a group of enemies, dealing damage when he landed. The trouble was that I didn't feel like I really had a go-to attack. I'd guess that this would be solved by different skill selection, but obviously the demo build had its limits.

Story, Lore, Art:

The story is handled in two ways: Lore tomes and quests. The tomes are actual loot objects that drop at certain places in the zone. When you pick them up, a voice-over starts that explains a bit about whatever is going on. It comes with a handy little UI box that lets you pause, play, or cancel the recording. The quests we saw were mostly linear. As mentioned earlier, the goal during the fire dungeon was to simply fight our way through, killing a particular boss on the way. Once we got out, we stepped outside into a new zone, and there was a quest available immediately to help the quest-giver track somebody down and take him out. Successfully doing so turned the quest-giver into a vendor for magical weapons.

This outdoor area was short, but led to another dungeon, this time an eerie-looking jail-tomb combination. Another new quest sent us searching through many small cells in an effort to free the souls of the innocently imprisoned. It was a fairly big dungeon, but the quest objectives were easy to find — when you got close to them, there was a glowing circle on the ground that made them easy to see. Once done with that, to escape the prison you needed a key that dropped from the zone's boss. A helpful marker on the map pointed out where he was — the convergence of four high walkways, with deep pits below. As we reached the center, undead began swarming up the sides of the walkways out of the darkness below, surrounding and trapping us in place for when the boss popped out and started attacking. After defeating him and reaching the end of the zone, we got to see the end of the quest — a brief, brutal coda to the story we'd seen so far.

A brief word about the art. Diablo 3 is a visually dense game. There are a lot of things competing for your attention. Player skills get a bit of a priority, since that's what provides a feeling of interaction with the world, but there's always something cool to look at — monsters' spells, death animations, destructible objects that break apart violently, traps in the dungeon, and even just the scenery around you. The outdoor level we saw reminded me briefly of the art controversy that happened when Blizzard first showed off some of its level design. It's a cloudy, rainy environment, not terribly dark, but the colors are muted. When you first see it, it's less visually stimulating than the fiery dungeon you came out of, but soon you'll notice the rain, the billowing mist, the occasional lightning flash that makes colors suddenly pop out at you, and it just works.

PvP Battle Arenas:

I also got a chance to try out the new PvP arenas. I started off with doing some 2v2 as a Witch Doctor. The arena was roughly square-shaped, and small — perhaps a bit over two screen-widths wide. There are pillars placed around the map in ways that World of Warcraft PvPers will be familiar with. You can use them to break line-of-sight and gain a brief respite from a Wizard's Death-Star-inspired laser, or other attacks. Health orbs are sprinkled around the map, spawning periodically to let you regain some of your HP. As a Witch Doctor, I could send my Zombie Dogs off to harass my opponents, detonating them remotely to cause more substantial damage, supplementing them with firebombs and a damage-over-time spell.

The teamwork aspect of the fight made itself obvious immediately; at first I didn't pay attention to what my partner was doing, not recognizing when he was running away, and our two opponents turned and destroyed me. Once we started attacking and retreating in unison, letting my Zombie Dogs and his Hydras occupy key spots on the battlefield, we were able to keep the opposing Barbarian off of us long enough to deal with the other team individually.

Later, I did some 1v1 — a Wizard mirror match, which was a ton of fun. In addition to the aforementioned laser and Hydra spell, Wizards had Teleport (which is on a cooldown), Meteor, a damage absorption shield, and Slow Time, which drops a giant bubble around the Wizard, slowing any projectiles or enemies that are inside. With just these tools, we had some pretty complex, strategic fights for a couple of beginners. Dropping Hydras at strategic positions could cover a retreat or apply some damage on an opponent who ducked behind a pillar. Getting up close and using Slow Time gave an opportunity to drop a Meteor, which took several seconds to land but did massive damage. Even better, I'd pretend to retreat, and when he teleported to keep up with me, a Slow Time field or a Meteor would be there waiting for him. Out in the open, we traded laser barrages, but those never lasted long. The damage shield was on a cooldown, but combined with the health orbs it led to some surprisingly long matches that swung back and forth as we each grabbed temporary advantage. It was a lot of fun.

Misc. Tidbits:

A few neat but minor things caught my attention as I was playing through the game. We didn't get to see the crafting system, but we did have the ability to essentially disenchant items on the fly, which provide crafting materials. You do this by taking up to six items at a time from your inventory and dropping them in your cube, which breaks them apart. The UI is polished — there's not a lot of clicking involved — so it's a nice way to keep free space without ducking back to town every few minutes. The Talisman system is also convenient in that regard; it takes stat runes out of the inventory and puts them in their own storage space. Being able to see monster health bars is another quality-of-life change, as is the ability to resurrect your fallen teammates if you can get to them quickly enough (only works in PvE). The demo wasn't very difficult, but we didn't get to choose the difficulty setting, and I presume Blizzard didn't want people to spend their brief window of time making corpse runs.

Despite the new features and the major changes from a year ago, Diablo 3 really feels like a game, now. It seems like Blizzard has settled on most of the major decisions and is just ironing out the wrinkles while building the actual game content. Some systems, like Traits, still need some work, and it was hard to care about the items that dropped for a character we only got to play briefly. But I saw a lot of Blizzcon attendees finish their 15-minute play period and immediately get back in the 30-minute line. The PvP was entertaining, and hopefully Battle.net can provide good match-making while allowing small groups of friends to log on and battle each other whenever they feel like it. I usually try not to waste energy looking forward to a game that's still a ways off, but Blizzard's making it difficult.

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Almost here now! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34052020)

Only 234325 years left! I'm so happy for my grand grand grand grand grand son!

Obligatory ctrl+alt+del (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34052032)

Three Rules for Coming on My Girlfriend (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34052058)

Three Rules for Coming on My Girlfriend at the Porn Theater First: She has a good idea what she's getting into, which means she plans to stay for at least a few minutes. The duration of her stay will be directly determined by the extent to which the erect-penis-toting men present in the theater allow her to enter with dignity, scan the room for a comfortable spot, and proceed to a seat. If you bum-rush her first step in the door like she's the first woman you've ever seen, the next thing you'll likely see is her back as she scampers out of your fantasy come true and back to the car. Second: It's not dirty talk if your grasp of English is limited to the clinical terms. When you're getting a really first-rate look from three feet away of her slobbering on my cock, the phrase "Eat his semen" should not be your go-to term. Third: I can't stress this enough--if you're going to come on her, you're going to come where she tells you. She likes come on her tits. Not her face, not her pussy, not her shoes. Maybe giving a girl a facial in a theater is your all-time fantasy? Not this girl. If you can't come where she tells you, go jack off in the corner. That's it. Three rules. If you follow them, you'll probably see her there again.

Who Cares! Where is hands on GLEEablo (1)

Rivalz (1431453) | more than 3 years ago | (#34052096)

I'm just saying... diablo 3 I've been waiting for 10 years for.. But GLEEablo i've only been waiting for a week or so.

Dear Blizzard (0, Troll)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#34052120)

Despite your ad campaign on slashdot over the past few days, I am still not going to buy it. I don't care if there's a new "news article" about Diablo 3 every single day, you are wasting your time.

Re:Dear Blizzard (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34052198)

And somehow all screen shots look the same. How many bridges over a chasm do you need for your scenario? This sadly reminds me to an earlier flop (Hellgate London) which started to bore me after half an hour.

Re:Dear Blizzard (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 3 years ago | (#34053254)

Yeah, that's depressing. It was much more varied 8 years ago when I was last working on it.

Re:Dear Blizzard (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34052210)

Good. One less faggot on battle.net.

Re:Dear Blizzard (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34052694)

There would be less if they actually allowed LAN play.

Re:Dear Blizzard (2, Insightful)

Jesus_666 (702802) | more than 3 years ago | (#34052898)

Or allowed bnetd-style local servers.

Re:Dear Blizzard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34052242)

NEWS FLASH! The only one wasting time here is you as you bitch about Blizzard and Diablo 3. Blizzcon just went down. So having a few stories about Starcraft and Blizzard and Diablo 3 is not in the least bit surprising and does not constitute an "ad campaign" regardless of what you think.

P.S. I will be buying Diablo 3 the very first instant I am able to do so and I'm sure I'm not the only slashdotter who'll be doing that.

Dear Dunbal (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34052412)

Despite your ad campaign on slashdot over the past few days, I am still not going to buy it. I don't care if there's a new "news article" about Diablo 3 every single day, you are wasting your time.

We are greatly disappointed to hear that we are wasting our time. We had hoped that by spending millions to set up Blizzcon every year and carefully planting agents at Slashdot to make sure that they reported all our news about Diablo 3 (as well as our other games, just to throw off suspicion), we would be able to convince you, Dunbal, to spend sixty dollars on our game. It is, after all, about you personally, because our success rests entirely on your opinion.

Sincerely,
Blizzard

This game will suck. (5, Funny)

A. B3ttik (1344591) | more than 3 years ago | (#34052186)

Like Diablo 1 and 2, it will be nothing but a clickfest where the player clicks on random enemies until they die, occasionally picking a new spell to cast. And like Diablo 1 and 2, I will play the fuck out of it and be a hermit for 6 months after its release.

Re:This game will suck. (1)

Splab (574204) | more than 3 years ago | (#34052430)

I will probably find me a cheaper mouse for Diablo 3 than my G9 - for the exact same reasons :)

Three Rules for Coming on My Girlfriend (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34052546)

Three Rules for Coming on My Girlfriend at the Porn Theater \

First: She has a good idea what she's getting into, which means she plans to stay for at least a few minutes. The duration of her stay will be directly determined by the extent to which the erect-penis-toting men present in the theater allow her to enter with dignity, scan the room for a comfortable spot, and proceed to a seat. If you bum-rush her first step in the door like she's the first woman you've ever seen, the next thing you'll likely see is her back as she scampers out of your fantasy come true and back to the car.

Second: It's not dirty talk if your grasp of English is limited to the clinical terms. When you're getting a really first-rate look from three feet away of her slobbering on my cock, the phrase "Eat his semen" should not be your go-to term.

Third: I can't stress this enough--if you're going to come on her, you're going to come where she tells you. She likes come on her tits. Not her face, not her pussy, not her shoes. Maybe giving a girl a facial in a theater is your all-time fantasy? Not this girl. If you can't come where she tells you, go jack off in the corner. That's it. Three rules. If you follow them, you'll probably see her there again.

Re:Three Rules for Coming on My Girlfriend (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34052978)

what... the... fuck...

God, shut up about Blizzard already (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34052206)

Is that all Slashdot is now? Shameless ads and flat-out lies?

Re:God, shut up about Blizzard already (1)

halivar (535827) | more than 3 years ago | (#34052578)

Hrumph. Must be another disgruntled AoC fan.

Re:God, shut up about Blizzard already (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34053348)

Shameless ads and flat-out lies

Hey, leave Apple and Microsoft out of this.

Meh, (1)

HeckRuler (1369601) | more than 3 years ago | (#34052212)

How's it compare to Dungeon Crawl? Or good 'ol vanilla Nethack?

Re:Meh, (3, Funny)

nomadic (141991) | more than 3 years ago | (#34053418)

I think the graphics are better than Nethack's.

PvP emphasis (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 3 years ago | (#34052216)

Why the emphasis on PvP??

I was interested in this game for the single player campaigns. I'll probably still play it, but I get the feeling that the single player campaign will suffer at the hands of PvP development resources being used instead.

Re:PvP emphasis (2, Funny)

JorDan Clock (664877) | more than 3 years ago | (#34052900)

Because a company the size of Blizzard couldn't possibly have enough resources to fully develop Multiplayer/PvP and Singleplayer at the same time.

Re:PvP emphasis (4, Interesting)

Machtyn (759119) | more than 3 years ago | (#34053810)

That's not his point, though. It seems that a lot of the moves that Blizzard is making with all of their games is the social, multiplayer aspect. They're probably trying to read the signs of the times - a combination of controlling the multiplayer gaming experience, adding a social experience similar to facebook, and attempting to keep a the feel of a LAN party without the LAN aspect.

In my case, I may be in the minority. I have 4 friends I play WoW with, but mostly I just play WoW as a single player, rarely interacting with all the other dolts out there. I want to play Diablo 3 the same way - single player, occasionally in co-op mode with a friend or two. On the occasion I run into a group that is cool, I hang with them for the rest of the game time that night... never to interact with them again after that point, unless we get lucky and are randomly placed in a dungeon together.

I used to be an excellent, competitive gamer. But that takes a lot of time to hone the skill. I still have the skill, I just lack the practice and don't care to compete or move up the ranks of some random board against thousands of people I don't really care about. Anti-social? Sure, why not ;^)

Re:PvP emphasis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34052928)

There's no PvP emphasis, per se. They simply added a few pvp toys for the people who just like pvp, which is new to the Diablo universe. The team is not considering fleshing out or balancing pvp to the extent of the Starcraft or Warcraft universe. (To abridge from Blizzcon, "We're not making an e-sport out of this.")

More likely it'll be balanced on group progression; I always felt single player got the short shift to make grouping more attractive in the harder difficulties.

Worthy successor to Diablo 2?! (0, Troll)

Markvs (17298) | more than 3 years ago | (#34052236)

Is memory failing me, or is this the same Diablo 2 which got drastically worse with every segment, as was bascially unplayable after the 3rd piece? I recall having to reload a fight after going down a flight of stairs about 50 times to just get a strike in. I also recall the graphics getting worse and worse...

Re:Worthy successor to Diablo 2?! (1)

Fibe-Piper (1879824) | more than 3 years ago | (#34052584)

Is memory failing me, or is this the same Diablo 2 which got drastically worse with every segment,...I also recall the graphics getting worse and worse...

No the graphics got better and better. They went from 800/600 to 1024/768 with the expansion.

As for the game itself; I found that it was the most enjoyable with the expansion, not just due to the graphics improvement, but the items and locales really improved drastically.

The only thing I didn't feel added anything were the new character classes: Druid and Assassin? Riiiiiiiiiightttttt -> the Druid at least was a alternative to the necro which was nerfed at the time, but Assassin? Who the F needs to sneak up on Baal?

Re:Worthy successor to Diablo 2?! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34053216)

How are you able to run the game at 1024/786, LOD enabled 800x600, I don't recall another update.

Re:Worthy successor to Diablo 2?! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34053230)

No the graphics got better and better. They went from 800/600 to 1024/768 with the expansion.

Try 640x480 for Diablo 2 classic the real HD stuff was LOD only 800x600. How far we have come.

Item pick up? (1, Interesting)

StealthPanda (1189933) | more than 3 years ago | (#34052274)

Every time there is a new Diablo 3 announcement, I scan through to see if they mention the item dropping/picking up system. Racing strangers to click the item the fastest was probably the worst thing about Diablo 2, and brought in lots of 3rd-party programs/cheats.

Answered (3, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 3 years ago | (#34052538)

Every time there is a new Diablo 3 announcement, I scan through to see if they mention the item dropping/picking up system. Racing strangers to click the item the fastest was probably the worst thing about Diablo 2, and brought in lots of 3rd-party programs/cheats.

Then perhaps you would find this article "Blizzard Explains Diablo III's New Loot System [gameriot.com] " enlightening:

Yeah, drops for everything, bosses, normal enemies, chests, etc. all drop items per player. If you see an item drop, it's for you. If you pick up an item and don't want it, when you drop it then everyone else can see it.

Basically what you see is for you and you alone. No one else may see or touch it until you drop it. As World of Warcraft illustrated, they learned from that. They learned a lot from that.

Re:Item pick up? (1)

bfandreas (603438) | more than 3 years ago | (#34052558)

Every player has his own drops in D3. No contest there.

Re:Item pick up? (1)

somaTh (1154199) | more than 3 years ago | (#34052580)

I would expect them to implement something like WoW's drop system. Need/greed. Sadly, that only works for honest players. Personally, I like the Guild Wars system. Drops are auto-assigned and you can buy/sell if you feel the need. Of course, it's not as driven by items as WoW/Diablo.

Re:Item pick up? (1)

Sheafification (1205046) | more than 3 years ago | (#34052622)

I believe they have said that major bosses will do separate drops for each player. This was a while ago, and I can't seem to find the reference again, so it may have changed or I might be misremembering.

Re:Item pick up? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34052680)

Every player has their own loot. There's no competition.

Not sure I'll buy it. (3, Insightful)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 3 years ago | (#34052298)

It does seem to be shaping up well, but Blizzard's attitude towards gamers and their heavy-handed use (and, I'd say, abuse) of the legal system makes me really not want to support them. The DRM is absolutely horrible. I know some Blizz fanboys will come in here to burn me at the stake just for criticizing the DRM alone, but I am a brave, if not stupid, man.

Compare Blizzard and Valve. Oh, sure, Steam is DRM in a sense too, but the system also adds value by Steam's nature. Blizzard treats players with contempt by removing true LAN play and bans people for using trainers on single player--and no, fanboys, trainers can do more than the game's own cheat system, and the whole achievement argument is bunk when you realize that Blizz's DRM is the reason online achievements is even tied to single player play in the fashion in it.

Even compare how the two companies communicate to gamers. Companies like Valve understand the player base; companies like Blizzard/Activision do not, and they are not made up of gamers. Remember the RealID fiasco on the WoW forums?

Buying Diablo III is just going to set a horrible precedent and tell the company that we'll still pay for all this bullshit.

Re:Not sure I'll buy it. (0, Troll)

mark72005 (1233572) | more than 3 years ago | (#34052396)

Not trying to troll here, but...

If you paid for the game, why do you care about DRM?

Re:Not sure I'll buy it. (4, Insightful)

contra_mundi (1362297) | more than 3 years ago | (#34052642)

Not trying to troll here, but... If you paid for the game, why do you care about DRM?

I take it you haven't bought a game with silly restrictions, like the three installs limit on Mass Effect 2.

DRM only harms the customer, not the pirate. Ergo customers are the people who should care about it the most, don't you think?

Re:Not sure I'll buy it. (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 3 years ago | (#34052776)

Unless they've since removed the restriction, Playstaion Network downloads only have 5 activations as well.

Even though you bought it, you may only download it 5 times.

Re:Not sure I'll buy it. (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34053276)

This is why I have never and will never buy something from there. I had really considered getting the new Monkey Island for PS3, but if I can't get a disc, forget it.

Re:Not sure I'll buy it. (1)

Cinder6 (894572) | more than 3 years ago | (#34053346)

You can download it as many times as you want, but you can only play it on 5 different machines. That's actually pretty damn permissive; I doubt more than a handful of people need more than five PS3s for gaming purposes. Compare that with the Wii, where if you get a new console, you have to send both in to Nintendo to get your games transferred over.

Re:Not sure I'll buy it. (1)

mark72005 (1233572) | more than 3 years ago | (#34052892)

I don't buy a lot of games - I was honestly asking, not trolling (though I knew I would get modded troll :) )

Re:Not sure I'll buy it. (1)

contra_mundi (1362297) | more than 3 years ago | (#34053104)

Well, I hope my reply sufficiently explained why a customer might not like DRM.

Re:Not sure I'll buy it. (1)

mark72005 (1233572) | more than 3 years ago | (#34053134)

I agree that the three installs thing is dumb.

However not being a gamer, I don't understand why any form of DRM at all is a dealbreaker for many on /.

Re:Not sure I'll buy it. (2, Insightful)

derfy (172944) | more than 3 years ago | (#34053234)

Maybe xkcd can help.

http://xkcd.com/488/ [xkcd.com]

Did that help explain things?

Re:Not sure I'll buy it. (4, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34053260)

Because I paid for it. If I buy it I want to be able to install it when I want and play it how I want.

DRM is no problem for pirates, they remove that crap.

Re:Not sure I'll buy it. (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#34053596)

"If you paid for the game, why do you care about DRM?"

Well, you're probably not serious, but here I go. It's because, as a paying customer, I want some degree of control over the product that I bought. DRM limits what I can do with the game, sometimes not allowing me to play it at all. Pirates? They remove the DRM within a few days, making it completely pointless in that regard.

Re:Not sure I'll buy it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34052428)

As much as it pains me, I haven't bought Starcraft 2 for this exact reason.

Glad I play games just to have fun (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34052492)

and not try to make societal statements. I mean, how hard is it to stamp our feet, display our angst on message boards, and not buy a game we weren't going to buy in the first place.

Sometimes this generation depresses me, too many put more effort protesting makers of games than those running their lives.

Re:Glad I play games just to have fun (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34052614)

One, and only one, of the following is true:

1. If you state that you won't buy a game because you don't support the actions of the company developing it, that means that this is the only issue you care about and you spend all of your time obsessing about it.

2. You're an idiot.

Re:Glad I play games just to have fun (0, Offtopic)

seebs (15766) | more than 3 years ago | (#34052650)

I play games to have fun, but I recognize that I am always making societal statements when I spend money, whether or not I intend those statements.

Blizzard's attitude towards Real ID has made it no longer fun for me to support them. I really enjoyed the game in and of itself, but if every time I log in, I'm reminded of all the ways in which Blizzard has been contemptuous of gamers and/or hostile to them recently, it stops being as much fun.

I dunno if I woulda bought Diablo 3. I would certainly have bought at least three copies of Cataclysm (I had three accounts), though. I might have gotten Diablo 3, but the DRM, plus Blizzard's general attitude of late, have made it a definite "no".

Re:Glad I play games just to have fun (1)

halivar (535827) | more than 3 years ago | (#34052812)

If by "contemptuous," you mean, "eager to respond to respond to player concerns with changes implemented within the week", then yes, I agree. They are quite contemptuous.

Real ID rage is getting really stale.

Re:Glad I play games just to have fun (1)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 3 years ago | (#34053302)

Out of concern of people quitting, yes. It was certainly a self-interested move.

Oh, and two words: LAN play.

Re:Glad I play games just to have fun (1)

halivar (535827) | more than 3 years ago | (#34053378)

I might buy that if WOW membership wasn't continuing to grow by leaps and bounds. They could have lost every Real ID griper and not even noticed it. Also, unlike EA and SOE, they are constantly fixing minor nits in the game in response to player desires. They are certainly doing more than their fiduciary responsibility to investors would require.

Re:Glad I play games just to have fun (2, Informative)

contra_mundi (1362297) | more than 3 years ago | (#34052920)

You don't care that game publishers are gradually trying to take our rights away (first-sale doctorine for example)?

I guess you'll have fun for a while and then it'll dawn on you that you can no longer play until you submit to a cavity search by the anti-cheat robot and pay for the priviledge.

Everything you do is a social statement, whether you like it or not.

Re:Glad I play games just to have fun (1)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 3 years ago | (#34053068)

You don't care that game publishers are gradually trying to take our rights away (first-sale doctorine for example)?

Whether or not he does, 99% of people who buy the games don't.

As long as that's true, and I'm not saying it always will be but I'm not seeing how it would change at this point, the publishers would be stupid to care.

Re:Glad I play games just to have fun (1)

contra_mundi (1362297) | more than 3 years ago | (#34053226)

You don't care that game publishers are gradually trying to take our rights away (first-sale doctorine for example)?

Whether or not he does, 99% of people who buy the games don't.

As long as that's true, and I'm not saying it always will be but I'm not seeing how it would change at this point, the publishers would be stupid to care.

Apathy will solve nothing, however.

Re:Glad I play games just to have fun (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#34053722)

He's just giving the facts. There's not much else you can do besides attempting to educate people about DRM and why it is bad.

Re:Glad I play games just to have fun (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#34053684)

"Glad I play games just to have fun"

I wonder how much fun you'll have if you find out your game isn't working because of the DRM, either immediately or eventually.

"display our angst on message boards"

I believe that they are trying to educate people about the risks of DRM and the problems that arise. Nothing will likely change if the majority remains uneducated.

Re:Not sure I'll buy it. (2, Insightful)

halivar (535827) | more than 3 years ago | (#34052652)

Blizzard changed RealID in response to player concerns. That example does not support your argument, at all. In fact, it shows a company that cares about having happy players. And it's working.

As for their DRM, I rather like it. I can download my games to any computer I might be at, as opposed to EA and Sony's ridiculous one-computer, one-install DRM that kills the game's replayability.

Re:Not sure I'll buy it. (0)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 3 years ago | (#34053282)

Blizzard changed RealID out of player concerns out of concern of their own bottom line, as that particular action was the worst thing Blizzard has done yet. They were pretty much forced to back off because of the backlash.

Blizzard's DRM is far more strict and RESTRICTIVE than Valve's/Steam's DRM.

Re:Not sure I'll buy it. (1)

halivar (535827) | more than 3 years ago | (#34053454)

How? Both let you download to as many computers as you like, as many times as you like. On the spectrum of DRM solutions, Blizz and Valve occupy the same space, on the other side of SOE and EA.

Re:Not sure I'll buy it. (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#34053762)

"As for their DRM, I rather like it. I can download my games to any computer I might be at, as opposed to EA and Sony's ridiculous one-computer, one-install DRM that kills the game's replayability."

So in other words, it's good because it's better than some of the other worthless, harmful DRM schemes out there? It could be worse, so you should just accept your fate? No, sorry. Any DRM is bad DRM.

Re:Not sure I'll buy it. (1)

somaTh (1154199) | more than 3 years ago | (#34052672)

If you're looking for an amusing Steam alternative, I'd recommend Torchlight [wikipedia.org] , although multiplayer won't be available until the next game (which is due out in early 2011 [wikipedia.org] ). I'm really interested to see how they implement it.

Personally, I'll probably still buy Diablo III. I'd like to know where the story goes.

Re:Not sure I'll buy it. (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 3 years ago | (#34052940)

That's a major thing for me with Torchlight. I bought it and put time into building up my character, but it just feels like a waste without being able to play with a friend. The story isn't all that compelling and sharing screen shots of items we found is useless.

Re:Not sure I'll buy it. (1)

timster (32400) | more than 3 years ago | (#34052896)

BTW, I don't really understand the argument about single-player cheats. Ok, hacking the game lets you do more, but what's the interest or reason for that? Do players really find the single-player on Easy mode so hard that even the built-in cheats aren't enough?

Because what it sounds like, is someone hacked the game and developed a cheating tool that works in both multi-player and single-player, and Blizzard banned some people who used the tool but only used it in single player. But why did they pay for the tool just to use it in single-player? I don't get why anybody would need or want to do that.

Really I feel like a lot of this is revenge PR from the company that made the cheating programs; I suspect that the players who were banned fully intended to cheat at multi-player eventually.

Re:Not sure I'll buy it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34053034)

"Really I feel like a lot of this is revenge PR from the company that made the cheating programs; I suspect that the players who were banned fully intended to cheat at multi-player eventually."

Punish someone when they do something wrong. Not when you think they might eventually do something wrong.

Re:Not sure I'll buy it. (2, Insightful)

timster (32400) | more than 3 years ago | (#34053444)

I get that, but I think my point is that the GP is going on about "Blizzard's attitude toward gamers" as if the cheaters are some sort of innocent victims. Nobody's speaking up for the players who want to play fair.

Maybe "Blizzard's attitude toward gamers" is that they want the gamers who pay for the product to have a good experience. Such as, I don't notice the DRM except that I have to type my password. And it's great that I can play on any computer, and I don't need the DVD, etc.

And maybe Blizzard doesn't want to fight cheaters one-at-a-time, searching through the server logs: "was he cheating in that multiplayer game? Did he have the cheat installed but not use it? Did the fact that he had the cheat available to rebuild his economy if needed affect his strategy so that he could win that game without it?" Why should someone playing fair have to lose to a cheater before they get banned, anyway?

Cheating is the great scourge of Internet gameplay, and Blizzard has plenty of experience with that. Cheaters drive out paying customers. There's no reason to treat them lightly.

Re:Not sure I'll buy it. (0, Troll)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#34053846)

"And maybe Blizzard doesn't want to fight cheaters one-at-a-time, searching through the server logs"

Right, so ban innocent players who haven't even hurt others from play altogether simply because they could, potentially, cheat in multiplayer.

"Why should someone playing fair have to lose to a cheater before they get banned, anyway?"

Might as well range ban everyone, then.

Re:Not sure I'll buy it. (1)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 3 years ago | (#34053242)

PR from the company? Are you serious? I've never even played Starcraft 1!

Why do you assume everyone paid for the tool?

Some people use trainers just to mess around after completing the campaign. What, you seriously never used a GameShark during the console days...? Are you kids really that young?

Re:Not sure I'll buy it. (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#34053798)

"Ok, hacking the game lets you do more, but what's the interest or reason for that?"

Perhaps they have fun hacking the game? This is in single player, so there's no reason to ban them. Why do you like the game? Is it just fun to you? It's the same for people who like to cheat in games. It can, at times, be fun.

Re:Not sure I'll buy it. (0, Flamebait)

moeluv (1785142) | more than 3 years ago | (#34053100)

Why even bother gaming if you are going to use an automated "trainer"(read bot). How fucking lazy can you be to not even truly participate in your leisure activities.

Re:Not sure I'll buy it. (2, Informative)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 3 years ago | (#34053202)

Many people will do so particularly after completing the single player by themselves, for fun. Additionally, trainers are not bots.

Re:Not sure I'll buy it. (1)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 3 years ago | (#34053126)

Blizzard treats players with contempt by removing true LAN play and bans people for using trainers on single player--and no, fanboys, trainers can do more than the game's own cheat system, and the whole achievement argument is bunk when you realize that Blizz's DRM is the reason online achievements is even tied to single player play in the fashion in it.

The argument's not bunk, because it's pretty clear that a lot more of the people who bought Starcraft 2 care about people cheating to get achievements than care about not being able to run extra cheats in single player.

It's not an argument that persuades you, and personally I couldn't care less if someone's cheating the achievements, but it's what their customers want.

In other words, you think Blizzard is a shitty company for giving their customers what they actually want, instead of what you think they should want.

Re:Not sure I'll buy it. (0, Redundant)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 3 years ago | (#34053184)

The achievement system being linked to single player is part of the inherent design of Blizzard's online-based DRM.

Re:Not sure I'll buy it. (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#34053878)

"In other words, you think Blizzard is a shitty company for giving their customers what they actually want"

They had a majority vote that included all of their paying customers, or something? If not, then I don't see what you're basing this information off of. Did you survey every single one of their customers and use a lie detector or something?

Re:Not sure I'll buy it. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34053128)

You're right, Blizzard is aweful with their DRM. But hey, so was Valve with Steam. They're both terrible. Just give me the game, don't connect the internet unless I play multiplayer. What's so difficult? And it's just not for ideological reasons. I am presently in Iraq and they have a large display of StarCraft 2 boxes. I thought, I am pretty busy already, so I shouldn't buy it. Then I thought, ohh, I'll buy it but just play a little. Then I check the box and it says "Internet Connection Required." I was like, WTF? I don't think Blizzard meant to tease me, it was probably the store's fault. But c'mon, if I don't have an internet connection let me play the stupid single player scenarios (free 4 buildings, kill all bad guys with one super unit, etc), and let me play against the computer. What is with people these days?

Re:Not sure I'll buy it. (1)

Norsefire (1494323) | more than 3 years ago | (#34053264)

If you want to use trainers put the game in offline mode (Play as Guest from the login screen). If you want to cheat by unlocking achievements on your Battle.net account in singleplayer-but-still-online mode you can rot in hell.

Re:Not sure I'll buy it. (1)

rubypossum (693765) | more than 3 years ago | (#34053294)

I'll probably buy a whole new gaming computer just to play this game. And I will probably only play the game once some nice cracker cracks it. Because I don't support gaming companies that support DRM.

Re:Not sure I'll buy it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34053370)

Real ID rage? You mean that time where they discussed implementing a feature, saw that players didn't like it, and announced they weren't going to implement it due to player feedback?

Yeah, that was -REAL- disgusting by them. If you're an ignorant fucking retard, that is.

Original Diablo (1)

Melted_Igloo (1482045) | more than 3 years ago | (#34052300)

I hated Diablo 2, the story was too far fetched and over complicated compared to the original The first Diablo was perfect and Diablo games are only going to get more and more messed up as they keep tacking on more junk

Re:Original Diablo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34052408)

The original Diablo, with demons and skeletons and people shooting shit out of their hands, was more in line with reality?

Re:Original Diablo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34052646)

haha ^this

Re:Original Diablo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34052484)

The first Diablo was perfect

Fondness grows with age, perhaps?

In random order:

o Mob AI was stupid. You could close the door (or block it), cast Firewall repeatedly just behind the closed door, and hear all the mobs die.

o The only skill you needed was Fireball, for ANY of the three character classes. (Literally.)

o The BNet version of the game was hacked beyond belief.

o Diablo 1 resulted in far more RSI than Diablo 2 did.

Diablo 2 was a far more interesting and complex game than Diablo 1. What I really didn't like about Diablo 2 was that it was still haven for min/maxers, even with the logarithmic return on some skill point investments. I'm hoping that Diablo 3 addresses this, at least to some extent - it'd be nice to have a game that requires you to choose both survival and damage talents to succeed easily. (I'm looking at you in particular here, World of Raidcraft, as being the most egregious offender.)

Re:Original Diablo (1)

viking099 (70446) | more than 3 years ago | (#34052542)

You didn't even need Fireball. Just hunt around until you get an Apocalypse staff and run around nuking people behind walls. Recharge the staff when you're done.

I was able to kill everyone except for Diablo in D1 without dropping the walls, and even the big guy himself only took a few pops to drop.

What I hated the most about D1 was the fact that if you died in multiplayer, some joker could rush over, gank all your gear, and you're left with nothing.

This is not Diablo, this is B.Netablo (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34052302)

No LAN, no buy.

Fuck you, Blizzard.

Re:This is not Diablo, this is B.Netablo (1)

halivar (535827) | more than 3 years ago | (#34052738)

How did you comment without an internet connection???

Re:This is not Diablo, this is B.Netablo (4, Insightful)

splatter (39844) | more than 3 years ago | (#34053604)

No LAN, no buy.

Fuck you, Blizzard.

No LAN play, obtrusive DRM, lawsuits bans against players. No Buy!

I agree screw Acti-Blizzard. Long time fan but no longer.

I want it (1)

ciderbrew (1860166) | more than 3 years ago | (#34052318)

I want it and I'm sure I would go out and upgrade my machine if it needed it.

However, and as always, there will be some form of DRM that means I will not part with my money to be made to feel like a criminal. Put the DRM on the copied games not on the ones I pay for (not too sure how they'll do that).

It does look good. Hmm, Avernum needs some new artwork.

Re:I want it (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#34053500)

Ironically enough they'll probably have more piracy on their hands due to their pointless DRM schemes.

clickclickclickclick (3, Funny)

mark72005 (1233572) | more than 3 years ago | (#34052372)

And millions of left mouse buttons screamed in terror

Re:clickclickclickclick (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34053048)

Incredibly, I never lost a mouse to D2.

I did, however, lose a mouse to getting 1750 in EQ tradeskills when that was the cap. (Planes of Power)

Re:clickclickclickclick (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#34053358)

You know you can just hold down the mouse button, right?

But... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34052390)

I don't give a shit.

Blizzard Announces New Merger (2, Funny)

Rivalz (1431453) | more than 3 years ago | (#34052864)

Blizzard has recently announced Diablo 4 will feature MINECRAFT and Monsters

hah (1)

oic0 (1864384) | more than 3 years ago | (#34053072)

I played diablo for YEARS. It had far far far far less clicking than WoW. In diablo you could hold buttons down and have the skill repeat. WoW, blizzard is intent on causing global scale RSI.

thx for the review/knock it off with the comments (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34053314)

Thanks for the excelent review.

I am surprised so many people are spitting garbage about this new diablo game without having even tried it yet...

Looks like it's going to be another super-seller game.

Cool (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#34053488)

Looks pretty cool. Too bad it's made by a company who has shown far less consideration for its customers than many others and will likely have some sort of DRM that comes with it. It's a shame that they have to ruin what would be an otherwise great game with things that don't even really affect the gameplay itself. Oh, well.

Ok... (1)

Korveck (1145695) | more than 3 years ago | (#34053598)

It seems D3 allows much more customizations of character builds with the new tech tree system and skill runes, but I have my doubts that this will actually work. Gamers typically take very little time to figure out what combination of skills (+runes) work best. Most of the skill rune combos will not be attractive options and we end up with few overpowered builds. In D2 each class had few viable builds that could survive hell difficulty, and had half of their skill tree virtually unused. If the skill balancing and specialization are not well planned out, all the new skill systems will be in vain.

Another problem is the necessity of grinding to get mid-high end items. Most D2 players made a sorc just to run Mephisto over and over, and perhaps other builds to specialize at one single dungeon. There is no mention of how D3 will be different.

My last complain is the new classes look like simple mix of D2 classes. I'm not saying the play style will be similar, but something unique would be very welcomed.

What's wrong with the screenshots? (0)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 3 years ago | (#34053740)

They're .png files, but they look like horribly compressed .jpg. Or the game really looks that bad?

A higher resolution wouldn't hurt either. It's been ages since I played anything at 1024x768.

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