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Diablo III - Why Online-Only Play is Not the Prime Evil

Updated Thu, May 24, 2012 by Mem

It has been twelve long years in the making, but finally Diablo III is here. Fans of the game serious have had a full week to experience the fast paced clicking orgy of demon slaughter that defines the game and most seem to be enjoying the experience. However, the launch of Diablo III hasn’t been all smooth sailing. Blizzards decision to make the game an online-only experience has resulted in more than a few problems. With server crashes galore, more error messages than we can count, and claims of hacked accounts popping up more than a few players are railing against the lack of offline play in Diablo III.

Who can blame them? I certainly can’t. In fact, during the first two days after Diablo III was launched, I was right there /nerdraging with everyone else. I spent my time alternating between typing in my password and clearing error messages, all the while cursing Blizzard for forcing their online-only play onto us. I lamented the loss of my precious offline solo play and was positive that all my woes could have been avoided if only this offline option was still available to me. Now, after 60 plus hours of game play I have had time to calm down and realize that Diablo III’s connectivity requirement exists for several reasons that actually manage to make the game better than ever before.

Diablo III - Why Online-Only is Not the Prime Evil

Security
A permanent connection to Battle.net means hacks like Mousepad's Map Hack will likely never be used in Diablo III.

One of the biggest problems with most offline games is that literally everything about the game is stored locally. This of course presents an almost irresistible challenge and sooner than later, the game has been cracked. In a blink of an eye your character is decked out in the best gear available, complete with player states that no legit player could hope to achieve. Pretty soon even the game’s inner workings are laid bare and it becomes a hacking free for all.

In a totally offline game, this is not such a big deal. However, in Diablo II which offered both online and offline game play this quickly became one of the biggest problems the game had to face. Map hacks and super powerful characters ran rampant through the game and woe to the player who tried to remain legit. A permanent connection to Battle.net allows Blizzard to store all character and game information on their own servers, meaning that hacking the game is near impossible. A fact that all players should be able to appreciate.

Character Accessibility

Having the game and character information stored on Blizzard’s huge database also provides the additional luxury of automatic saves. This means that all your hard work is almost instantly saved and can be accessed from any computer with access to the internet. No matter which computer you choose to use, you will log in and be instantly where you left off. Whether it be just starting the game or waiting to defeat Diablo himself your character will be ready and waiting even if your computer crashes and everything is lost.

Seamless Gameplay

One of the most annoying things about Diablo II for me was the fact that finding and playing with friends could be quite the task. Diablo III has changed all that. With all players being permanently connected to Battle.net along with the introduction of the Real ID and BattleTag systems, you can set up a game with your friends with a few clicks or join up with total strangers with just a few clicks. Once you are inside a game, all it takes to catch up with your party members is another simple click and you can be off fighting the denizens of hell together in a matter of seconds.

All characters share a single stash alleviating the need for multiple “bank” toons often seen in the days of Diablo II, making it easy to swap gear from character to character. Not to mention that players can also swap easily from multiplayer to single player with just a few mouse clicks, something that was unheard of in the days of Diablo II.

Social
In Diablo III it is easier than ever to party up with your friends for some point and click destruction.

Diablo II and its multiplayer option were but a taste of the social aspects of the game that Diablo III now has to offer. The permanent connection to Battle.net has let Blizzard introduce to us new features that keep us connected with our friends at all time. No matter if we are playing solo, multiplayer, working the Auction House, or sitting at the character screen we are in constant contact with our friends.

As I write this, I have Diablo III running in the background, waiting for the second I can venture into the world of Sanctuary once again. My Demon Hunter stares at me expectantly, but for the moment I cannot answer her call. While I can’t physically be playing at the moment, I am still celebrating small moments of the game…through my friends. In the chat screen achievement after achievement roll by and I find myself clicking away on those I don’t recognize and mentally fist bumping my friends as they progress.

Along with achievements I can also see which of my friends is playing, which Act they are in down the exact quest, and who they are playing with. I can even view recent players that I have played with that are not on my friends list, which is helpful when I find players I may want to play with again, but don’t quite make friends list status. All of which could not be possible without the permanent connection to Battle.net.

Conclusion

I can relate to the fury experienced by those locked out of the game in the initial release. I felt the same fury. However, after spending some time playing, I just can't maintain it. Despite the perma-connection to Battle.net Diablo III has remained true to the series, while adding social aspects that make this game something special. Despite the hesitancy of the fan base to accept it, Diablo III has really, in my opinion at least, changed things for the better. The Diablo III experience is all about the sheer joy of playing games with others who share your passion, much like the World of Warcraft experience, but on a smaller scale. Once you have seen the beauty in this, Diablo III becomes a magical experience that is well worth giving up offline play for.

How do you feel about the lack of offline play in Diablo III? Do you think the new features, better security, and overall feel of the game are worth leaving out this feature? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!


The "perks" are far out weighed by the downsides. LAG, seriously LAG in a single player RPG?

As to offline and online, characters could have been separated so they could not play together so even if there were hacks it wouldn't matter.

They punished the majority of legit players with this DRM.

The game feels unfinished (way to short) and frankly it's far to much like the old game and brings almost nothing new. It's certainly not worth 60 bucks. Wait a few months and get it when it's cheap.

How come this Diablo III-article gets archived in the WoW archive? (tentonhammer.com/wow/opinions/)

...just curious, since I expected some info on wow here...

/TBK

I really think they need an offline version. Those characters can't be used online, but at least allow offline play in some form. I have a friend in the navy that just got D3 and just had to go out to sea. When out there you need some downtime, and D3 isn't an option because it requires Internet connection.

No, you're way off-base this time. People have spent something like $60 to play this game, and they have every right to expect to be able to play it solo whenever they like. Blizzard have already dropped the ball with the server availability and problems continue to this day. This is absolutely unacceptable, and I'm astounded that there are people trying to mount a weak defense of Blizzard's attitude. They could have made a closed-off solo mode, but they chose not to. We, as gamers, should be furious about this. No amount of perks can make this OK.

It's tough to justify online-only, especially with lag, disconnects, repeat-dungeons, etc. I actually have dramatically different experiences depending on whether I'm connected by LAN or Wireless (my adapter sucks).

BUT, I do see his point. I'm mostly a solo player when it comes to RPGs and I don't think I would have had the same social experience if I had an offline option. No longer can my friends and I grind "in the dark", we're always connected, can see each other's achievements, and effortlessly party up. It has basically brought in the social experience that is common with consoles (xbox LIVE) -- one immediate advantage I saw when I bought an xbox.

We all know that Blizzard first and foremost is using this as DRM, but that doesn't mean we should ignore the truly great perks that come along with it. Whether that's worth the trouble...I'm on the fence.

Did you really add security to one of your reasons? This thing was hacked right out the gate. I am sorry online only for a non MMO is BS.

Offline play would great and I think Blizzard just didn't want to do the extra work to create offline only play...and after 12 freakin years of waiting for this game you would think it would take a little longer than few days to down Diablo...and your reward for doing it is doing it all over again!? The game should be long enough that you don't get to Diablo till max level...another shortcut by Blizzard...

Actually, no offline play IS one of the prime evils of Diablo 3. It's the main reason why the game has a meta critic score of 4.4 out of 10 (those "professional" critics don't count as they give anything from Blizzard a perfect score).

As to Blizzards reasoning to the heavy handed DRM, it has already failed. A cracked version of the game already exists which circumvents all DRM methods Blizzard attempted to put forth. Blizz is just screwing over the legitimate customers while the pirates play the game the way it was supposed to be.

Sad really.

if I ever play D3, it'll be a pirated "fixed" version.

Hey Nine Lives, where did you read about this cracked version? I can't find any articles about it on Google.

Sorry, but i'm seriously glad I got the game through the Annual Pass. I would've left my wow account active anyway, so I figured ''hey! A free game''

Honestly if i'd paid for d3 i'd be severely disappointed. And yes, offline play is one of the big reasons behind that. I'm gonna be going offline for a few weeks soon while I move house. It would've been nice to be able to maintain my character without relying on friends to boost me when I get connected again.

But even aside from that, where's the actual motivation to move through the difficulties? Bragging rights? Is that the ONLY reason you would play inferno? Because honestly when it's a question of just getting gear to run through the same mobs slightly faster, i've just got no interest. It's why I don't push hard modes on wow either. Although, doing so at least sets you up comfortably for the next tier. D3 is a different beast, with literally nothing to do but wait until the expac drops after you hit max level >_>

EDIT: MKstalker, i've not seen it myself, but I heard from a guild member in wow that a crack was available to play single player early. He claimed he was using it, and hasn't been seen online via real id since. We presume he was banned by blizzard, being online only and all...

why I think blizzards "always on DRM" model is a load of cow king manure:
1) I have been an mmo community member for a while so I know from exp u can't pvp or coop if u live too far frm server farm. then whats the point of being online?
2) Ever so often the servers would shut down for maintanence and all the players were kicked out even when u were on the verge of killing a rare boss pissed me off...but that was a free to play mmo. I should go friggin tim mcveigh on blizzard's collective asses for making me pay 60 bucks for the same shitty service.
3) Anyone who played diablo 2 would tell u the most fun part of the game is designing different character types and testing them out in the game such as an ice user mage or a summoner type necromancer. Now anyone who has played mmo will tell u when playing in a community u are not allowed to make a character as u please unless u want to be everyone's punching bag (I will leave out the B word for now). U pick a character that can do the most damage in the shortest amount of time or one that can last longest against an enemy. So if an mmo had say a beserker and a witch doctor.... in roughly a month the entire server would be a sea of beserkers.
4)Blizzard was well aware of the backlash when they were going to get hence a month before release they said "O did I forget to mention u need a constant internet connection". They deliberately kept the info hidden in hopes of nabbing a few shmucks in the pre-order stage. It would have gone well if they had anticipated the server crises (well there was a super famous not always online diablo 2 that was so famous a lot of ppl wanted to know what D3 had to offer....too many on the server?).
5) Only complete computer N00Bs (sparing the M word) would actually pull up security as a reason always online is a good idea. Here's computer history 101 "for every security system that ever existed someone out there created a crack". That is just considering standalone systems. Network is a security nightmare in comparision. Blizzard would have had less hacking incidents if they had stayed out of the cyber sea. All they can do now is hide the fact that their "fool proof All- American online security" was hacked by a bunch of Taiwanese snot nosed high school brats. Gotta give those far eastern gamers credit for making blizzard pros look like idiots.
6) Even as I write this down someone out there is designing an offline fix for this crap blizzard pulled. A full version may be available in another month or so. OFC I hear the game is so short that it will be forgotten by that time a fix arrives. I wonder if blizzard thought of that b4 buying extra servers cuz as it stands an mmo that has no cutting edge graphics like tera does (Tera online is an mmo, this is just a curiosity on the side) no new game system like vindictus which is a grinding game but far more stylized then d3 (and guess what it is nearly an year older then d3 and still the bomb).
7) Diablo as it is now is nothing more then a graphic novel u are better off reading on wikipedia for free rather then wasting money and hoping for a silver lining. Fans of the game loved diablo for the wide berth they were given to imagine and post novels about the world of sanctuary and the great wars. It was incredible to read some of the stuff ppl posted when diablo 2 was released. D3 on the other hand was a disappointment. The story was drawn out into specifics leaving no room for imagination the release was rather unceremonious (not to mention an embarrassment for mmo's everywhere) and by my estimate a game that rose to the top on the shoulders of it's true fans will fall in under an year abandoned by the new gen they failed to impress at the expense of their fans.

It is absolutely true that this games is one of the most awaited game of the year, now most games can be downloaded from a site but you should check out their security policies before downloading it.

Almost every new technical trend brings with it pros and cons, sometimes the cons outnumber the pros and then it becomes a problem, just like cloud is this true that cloud environment unsafe?

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