Diablo III Anticipation
With just two weeks remaining until Diablo III becomes a reality, many gamers are getting really anxious.
For anyone old enough and geeky enough to remember the release of the first Diablo in 1996 it was an epic moment. Blizzard once again had released an amazingly polished class defining game. Like Warcraft: Orc vs. Humans had defined the Real Time Strategy (RTS) genre, Diablo immediately defined the Dungeon crawl genre. There was just something about the eerie music, the dark foreboding dungeons, and the truly evil back story. Nothing else was out there even close to it.
Then four years later in 2000 we were all blown away yet again when Diablo II was released. The game was bigger, better, and longer than before with full online playability. It became an instant smash hit and was so successful that it is still played even now 12 years after its release.
For many of us long term gamers, Diablo is one of those franchises that just must be played. This is very clearly shown by the demand that is there for this third chapter in the Diablo series despite a 12 year lapse since the last major release (11 years if you count the Diablo II: Lord of Destruction expansion released in 2001).
Ok, so enough history about the series itself as many readers have probably never played the original two games. Many players are two young to have been around when they were originally released. Why should anyone who was not around for the first two versions get excited about Diablo III, what is it about the Diablo series that makes it a must play title, why should you care about it?
For me this was a huge part of the Diablo world. Even now, many years after playing Diablo I can still remember the music from the game. It just oozed atmosphere and character and no other game of the time came anywhere close to replicating it.
From the opening strum of the guitar strings that sounds slightly off-key and reverberates strangely, you can tell something is different. The music is not the normal flowing and harmonic music that you are used to in a game. Something about it is oddly haunting and makes you listen and pay attention to it. It is also instantly recognizable, it doesnt matter how long it is since you have last heard it, as soon as the opening cord is struck you are brought back in time to the first time you stepped foot in Tristram Village in Diablo.
Despite Blizzard always having top notch music in their games, I know of no other single video game that is as memorable as this one for its music. Amazingly from what I have seen and heard of the music coming to us in Diablo III it looks to be even more of the same high quality stunning music. You can see and hear a sample of the new music here: Diablo III New Tristram Theme Live - Blizzcon 2011.
The storyline is a big reason that players were so drawn to the first two games in the Diablo series. The basic background is that the forces of Heaven and Hell have fought a war for eternity before mankind arose. The angels led by Archangel Tyrael got a group of Magi to imprison Diablo and the other two lords of Hell into soulstones and buried them.
The first Diablo game revolved around Diablo having escapade his prison and possessing a king. Players are forced to fight their way through the catacombs below the cathedral in the town of Tristram to find the source of the evil infecting the area. In the end your hero has to find and defeated Diablo. However to contain Diablo in the crystal after his defeat the hero embeds the crystal in their skull.
In Diablo II you find out that Diablo had planned his defeat and ends up possessing the hero that the crystal was imbedded in. The game and the expansion to it revolve around finding and defeating all three of the prime evils (Diablo, Mephisto, and Ball). However while the three prime evils are all defeated the Worldstone that you sought to protect is corrupted and must be destroyed. This will have consequences later but they are not yet known. Given that the Worldstone was the centre of the universe and had untold power over it, the result can not be good.
As you can tell from this very brief rundown the storyline is epic in scale and dark in nature. Looking at the ability for man to be both good and evil, to fight through his fears and be valiant and brave, and yet still be corrupted and turn to evil. The world of Diablo is very dark and grim, yet very compelling to play through. Players have been waiting over a decade now to see just how the story continues.
This is one of the things that really shined with Diablo and Diablo II. Because is was a fast paced game with semi-randomly generated areas it had a huge replay factor. You can pick up the game at any point with any character and just play and have fun. While some of the randomness was not that random and many things came out looking pretty close to the same, it was still different.
In addition having several different classes that played differently from one another made even the same area feel different. As a barbarian you looked to get close while limiting the enemies ability to surround and overwhelm you. As an Amazon you looked for choke points to group the enemies up and keep them at range. Due to these differences the areas played very differently as you positioned differently in them.
Another feature that was very popular and not seen in many other games was the Hardcore mode. This mode also added significantly to the replay ability of the game since you were extremely unlikely to finish the game the first time through (or ever) if you chose this mode.
This mode was a favourite for many gamers looking to prove that they were better than the rest. This was because when you play in hardcore mode your character really is mortal. This means that when you die, you are dead. No resurrections, no rewinds, no do overs, dead = dead, just like in real life.
Therefore if you ever screwed up for a minute, if you ever lost focus and did something foolish, if your wife ever came in to complain about taking the garbage out (or changing your sons diaper), you in all likelihood ended up dead. When that happened you had to start a new character and start the game all the way back at the beginning.
In these days of absolutely no death penalty in a game, where screwing up or lacking focus doesnt really matter, this is a feature that many players are looking forward to once again prove that they are something special.
Online Real Currency Auction House
This is a controversial one, but one that many players are really looking forward to, even if just to see if it succeeds or fails. Sure there have been other games where you could spend real money to get in-game items through the company, but none as big as Diablo III will be shortly after its launch.
I remember back in the Diablo II days the thousands of players that essentially made livings off of the game buying and selling items online to other players. Sure this was frowned upon, but there was no real way to stop it. Now that this is going to be sanctioned by Blizzard and officially part of the game.
I can only imagine that this will be a huge success and a huge controversy. For players that are lucky enough to find ultra rare items they will be thrilled as they cash in on a sale. On the flip side, players that are looking for that item may get extremely frustrated when it never comes up for sale for gold, but is only listed for real world currency. I can see big benefits to allowing it as it makes it controllable by Blizzard instead of an inevitable grey or black market forming outside the game. I can also see a downside as we all may be forced to spend real world cash to get a hold of the items that we really need to proceed in the game. I am very curious how it will all play out as I am sure most players are.
On a side note, if this is a huge success it could usher in a wave of real currency auction houses in other games by Blizzard or other companies.
You can find out even more about this feature at Blizzard's site here: Diablo III Auction House .
Pure Simple Fast Paced Hack and Slash Fun
Probably the best reason to be excited about Diablo III is that it will offer a return to the pure simple fast paced hack and slash fun that is the Diablo series. It is a game that while it is a lot of fun and has in depth elements is also just pure fun. You dont need to know the nuances of it to enjoy it, you can just pick it up and go.
Pick any character and start slashing or casting your way through enemy after enemy as they pour forth in an unending stream from the mouth of Hell. There is something about the simplicity of the Diablo point and click interface that just lets you enjoy the mindless violence of the game. Sure you can plan and perfect and worry about every little detail and you will be better, or you can just blast through it with reckless mayhem and still have fun.
While games have changed a lot since the original Diablo was released, some things still stay the same. Sure games have better graphics now, sure they are more complicated now, sure they can be larger now, but do any of those things really make a better game?
Pretty graphics might be cool to look at, complication can add some fun as there is more to figure out, and a longer game means you get to play it for longer, but none of those make a better game.
The core things that make a game a good game, or a great game, is the story line, the game play, and the ability for it to get you emotionally involved with the characters. Few games out there have done that as well as Diablo and Diablo II did, and they did all of those things while still being a simplistic hack and slash dungeon crawl.
You can probably tell I am more than just a little excited about the impending release of Diablo III. Hopefully I have gotten across just a few of the many reasons that I am anticipating this title, and hopefully they are good enough reasons for you to try it out as well.
Even more hopefully Diablo III will live up to the hype and expectations that millions of fans have built up around it over more than a decade. No pressure Blizzard.