OPINION: Thanks to Blizzard, I now believe in Diablo

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So last year I bought Diablo 3, and played it a bit. Somehow, though, it just didn’t bite me with the same loot-collecting fever that Diablo 1 and 2 did, and I gave it up after only reaching level 26 with my one and only character, Bane the Monk. It was a snore-fest, very much unlike the first two games, and I was disappointed. Also, for R529.99, I expected a lot more.

The reason for my high expectations hark back to the first games that came out in the late 90s/early 2000s. In 1997, the origianl Diablo was amazing thanks to the kill-loot-outfit mechanic that was, at the time, a bright and shiny thing . And then in 2000, Diablo 2 took everything that was good about the first game and, almost unbelievably, exploded it into something a billion percent better. It was a gorgeous-looking looter’s paradise that had people doing specific “runs” in order to try for special items that only dropped from certain bosses, over and over again until they had what they wanted and it was, first and foremost, a lot of fun.

Diablo 2 was so good, in fact, that despite being twelve years old, people were still playing it when Blizzard’s latest take on the franchise released in March, 2013. By comparison Diablo 3 was, by many accounts (my own included) rather underwhelming, as it failed to inspire that old feeling of satisfaction and loot-lust. Sure, the graphics were nice and the production values through the roof, but somehow, the new Diablo just wasn’t cutting it.

That failure was, in my opinion, because of the Auction House that Blizzard rather misguidedly added to the game. It was successful in their other mega-franchise, World of Warcraft, and clearly someone over there figured it’d be a natural fit with this new Diablo.

They were wrong.

An auction house is, essentially, cheating in a game like Diablo, since it offers you whatever equipment you want for your character, and as long as you have the in-game gold or real-world money to afford it, it’s yours. No run needed, no chewing through mobs for the right drop, no nothing. Just a cold, hard transaction.

And because of that, the new Diablo simply had no soul. No soul means I’m not going to be engaged for very long, and even though many others levelled multiple characters to the level cap despite it, I just couldn’t bring myself to join them. Life is too short to play unsatisfying games.

Of course, I was not alone, and this didn’t go unnoticed by the wizards at Blizzard. And so as work began on the game’s first expansion, Reaper of Souls, Blizzard set out to rectify everything that was wrong with the core game. And boy did they.

Patch 2.0 for Diablo 3 released just prior to Reaper of Souls, and it changed just about the entire game for me. While the visuals were the same, the story hadn’t changed and the monsters were the same ones I’d whacked in Vanilla Diablo, things just felt… different. Better. More satisfying.

The stuff I was picking up was, more often than not, useful. Items had better descriptions that made it easier to see how much better they were than what I was currently using. Potions now gave me 60% health rather than a set number of hitpoints, and there was only one type to collect.

I found myself constantly on the lookout for mini-bosses (those fellows ringed in yellow who tend to drop the more rare items), I would often compare new loot to old so I could boost a specific stat or ability, and I was hooked.

As you can imagine, I felt compelled to play for longer, and while I played the hours simply whizzed by. Clearly, the old feeling of “I’ll just play until I level” had kicked in. This is the Diablo 3 I had been hoping for all along.

Naturally, my opinion of Diablo 3 has changed dramatically as a result of this patch – I now really, really enjoy playing. Best of all, the changes Blizzard has made affect the core game, so you don’t need the expansion to get the benefits.

So now, as I plough through the game with my Monk, who is now much better to play with, I find myself looking forward to first of all finishing the core game, and then moving onto the Reaper of Souls content.

If you’re a fan of the first two Diablo games and you’ve heard bad things about Diablo 3 that have caused you to avoid it like the plague, do yourself a huge favour and reconsider. Today’s Diablo 3 is not 2013’s Diablo 3, and that is a very good thing indeed.

Deon du Plessis

Deon du Plessis

Deon got his first taste of PC gaming at the tender age of 11 when his father bought an 8088 XT, ostensibly to "help him with his homework". Instead, it introduced him to Leisure Suit Larry, King Graham, Sonny Bonds and many more, and Deon has been a PC gamer and hardware enthusiast ever since. He landed his first professional writing gig in 2006 at a prestigious local PC magazine, a very happy happenstance as he got to write for a living about things he loves - tech, PCs, gaming, and everything in between. He's been writing about it all ever since, and loves every minute of it.

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