Diablo 3: 230 Hours In

Restoring Heaven just means it’s ready to be destroyed again

We started playing Diablo 3 at the beginning of July, Spode, Stingite, Calrain and I. We finally finished killing Diablo in Inferno mode last Sunday. In between we all played a bunch of classes, played a lot of solo stuff, did hardcore, did the auction house, did Whimsyshire, and killed Diablo so, so many times.

Blizzard kept changing the game as well, adding things like Nephalem Valor, Paragon Levels and Monster Level to keep the game challenging. I never did finish the Hellfire Ring from the Infernal Device in Act II; every time I’d run through the Device, I’d gain another level, and I was really trying to not get that far ahead of everyone else (though once we all hit 60, Spode and Sting moved way ahead on Paragon levels). The forthcoming patch 1.0.7 introduces PvP, buffs my class (wizard, and may I say, finally?) and fixes reflect damage so that it isn’t a sure-fire way to kill a wizard character.

Okay, maybe I’m taking this stuff a little personally.

Diablo 3 is not a game about killing the demon lords you didn’t get to in the first two Diablo games, as well as Diablo himself once more. That’s what you DO. That’s not what the game is ABOUT.

The game is about playing a number of mini-games. Introduced into Diablo for the first time is a WoW-like auction house, which was meant to be a driver for the longevity of the game. Players would farm gear hoping for a good stat roll, then sell that thing for real money to another player. Everyone gets rich as long as they want to put in the time. This replaced the Diablo 2 mechanic of joining a public game where some guy would drop piles and piles of gold on the ground, as well as all the most valuable items in the game. That ruined the game for me, because I could not NOT pick up that gold and those items, though I really had joined the game just to go kill stuff.

Diablo 3 doesn’t let you drop gold on the ground…..

Anyway. Opening up the Achievements list listed any number of things to work on, such as speed runs of acts, or killing things with certain handicaps, or exploring absolutely everything, or sitting around listening to some old god spit nonsense from inside a barrel, or taking different companions out for a spin.

The story itself never changes, but the story itself is not the point. By completing the game in Inferno mode, we’ve finished the main game and are now ready to get started on the other 90% of the content. Team Spode could spend another year just doing the achievement challenges and have a lot of fun doing it because playing with friends is the most important thing about any of these games.

How does Diablo 3 stack up against Diablo and Diablo 2? I found the original game a really atmospheric hack and slash game. It was small enough to be fun for a weekend, and I enjoyed it but didn’t play it all that long. Diablo 2 I played through twice; once as a Sorceress (and this is the character that was ruined by greed and a public game), and once as a Druid when that expansion came out. I only did normal mode; played through the story once and moved on. My son was really into it, though — he made it to the highest level, led cow level runs, “boosted” levels for friends, got his account hacked and stolen, restarted, hacked and stolen, restarted and so on. He played it for a long time.

Diablo 3 is a “grown up” version of Diablo 2. The grouping is better, though it has an issue with not being able to find groups for specific achievements, only specific quests, which I feel is missing the wider point of the game. The auction house is a necessary evil, but one that Blizzard is trying to deal with by making crafting more important (it is currently a waste of money to craft new items, which, unless you have a legendary pattern (and even then) are well below what can be found cheaply in the auction house).

The story pacing is wildly uneven, with Act I taking as long to complete as the remaining three acts together. Act IV goes by so fast that we got the “speed run” achievement the second time we did it. Diablo himself being the easiest boss in the game was also a little backward. Champion mobs often took more time to kill than it took to kill Diablo.

I don’t think any of us did not have fun in the game. Even though we played this game for half a year, it didn’t overstay its welcome. It’s time to move on while we’re still having fun with the game. I don’t think it will be leaving any of our hard drives any time soon.

In particular, I’m going to be back, solo, on my wizard as soon as the patch goes live. Looking forward to a return to my former uberness….

D3: You’ve Defeated Diablo III

You’ve Defeated Diablo III

As hellspawn go, Diablo has to be feeling pretty useless. We didn’t beat Diablo 3 last night; we beat Diablo #412. He dies so often, and it’s not exaggerating to say that he was the wimpiest boss we faced in Inferno mode.

Once we dropped to Monster Level 0, the run was no different than it had been in Normal, or Nightmare, or Hell — it’s always the same game.

Stingite and Spode will likely keep playing, trying to grind their Paragon Levels to 20 or more. Hardcore D3 players consider that the game really starts once you finish Inferno and begin the Diablo 3 metagame, farming to get better gear so you can raise your monster level and farm better gear and so on, until you’re getting legendaries and set pieces you can sell on the real money auction house and get rich selling stuff to other people who are farming inferno mode, grinding paragon levels, to get gear to sell on the real money auction house.

I guess someone must be making a decent living off of D3, but I’m guessing that someone works at Blizzard.

This is how we ended the game; Sting and Spode at paragon 9, me at 7, Calrain at 5.

Since we only had the spider lady, Azmodan, and Diablo to kill last night and that only took about an hour, we had time left over. Sting got us playing “The Realm of the Mad God” for a bit. This is a permadeath retro-looking MMO, where you level as fast as you can before you die, unlocking things along the way for your next incarnation.

I also upgraded to the final level of the Staff of Herding, allowing me to play Whimsyshire in Inferno mode. THAT cost a cool 1.1M gold, but what else was I going to do with all that money? Upgrades cost upward of 10M gold on the auction house, and there’s just no way I’m going to pay that much for a marginal upgrade.

Realm of the Mad God

Ding 9 in Realm of the Mad God! Pretty sure I just killed a dragon….

Next week: we start DC Universe Online. Calrain is already level 7 or 8. Spode just started downloading the game last night.

Diablo 3: It’s an Inferno out there!

At the Start of Act II

Our Barbarian was missing again this week, leaving us a Gang of Three as we moved into Act II, Inferno, Diablo 3. You may remember that we’d flown through Hell mode in Monster Level 10, which made the game just a little more difficult, while adding loads and loads more loot and cash to the monster drops.

This being Diablo 3, the vast majority of the loot was trash, differing really only in the background color (clear, blue, yellow) that determined how much it would sell for to its only buyer, the merchant at the camp.

The auction house in game is nearly dead now; items that used to sell readily now no longer sell at all, and a bit of the fun has gone out of that part of the game. I ended my auction house career with about 2.5M gold in the bank, but all upgrades cost many, many millions of gear more, clearly put there by those brave few who still think they can make a killing transferring gear to and from the real cash auction house.

Too bad. I can’t even access the real cash auction house because I haven’t gotten an authenticator for my account. Not that I would ever spend real cash on Diablo 3 items.

Anyway, ML10 on Hell was fun and added a little necessary challenge to the game. ML10 on Inferno was so bad that it took us fifteen minutes to clear the introductory trash mobs before we got to the first NPC in Act I, Inferno. We dropped the difficulty to ML3 and continued on, getting some decent loot for the first time — some legendaries, even.

As we progressed through the first act, though, we started dying a lot. Down we went to ML2, still died a fair amount, but we made progress. When we came to the Butcher fight, the boss of Act I, we had to step it down to ML1. That wasn’t quite enough. We removed it entirely, and the fight was easy.

I did finally have a reason to change my spells from a Disintegrate-based build to an AE Blizzard-based build. This was a suggested build from the forums, but I was happy sticking with the all-destroying Disintegrate laser beam as long as it worked.

Let’s zoom in a little

Spode was gleeful over how much more green his witch doctor was; she now even had green smeared over her thighs!

Yeah, pretty icky, but speaking of thighs, OMG, LOOK AT STINGITE’S LEGS! His monk must be more than a little bit FROG.

He could squeeze Volkswagens to death between those thighs. And so that was the theme of the night, as Stingite took the lead, crushing whole groups of monsters to glowing ketchup between those massive thighs of doom. Stingite, Lord of the Thighs.

We talked about raising the ML up to 1 or 2 again, but in the end decided to leave it at zero and just finish the game. We did the complete Act II — we’re so damn good at this game, now. We’ll probably take the standard two weeks to finish the game, and then move on to the next game.

I THINK that might be DC Universe Online. It’s one of a number of F2Ps under discussion. (And I should remember to add The Secret World to that list, now that it’s F2P). People have suggested cool games like Planetside 2, but there’s not much of a plot progression to that; can’t really claim to ever come to an end of that game.

Though we never did come to an end of the plot in DDO; we just stopped playing it when Diablo 3 came out, which was always the plan.

Diablo 3: Spode’s Inferno

The Fab Four and the 70,000,000 hit point trash mobs

We’ve been trundling forward with Monster Level set to 10 for awhile now. This gives the most monsters with the most hit points, but it was doable, and so much loot dropped that we were skipping picking up blues and only picked up yellows, and were still forced to return to the Bastion to sell every few minutes.

Even at the maximum power, neither Azmodan nor Diablo gave us much trouble, though with our paragon levels, monster power and max stacks of Nephalem Valor, you’d have expected one of us would see a legendary or set item, but no. Diablo 3 was tuned to give you piles and piles and piles of useless loot. D2 would give you the occasional set item, but I am absolutely unsure how so many set items and legendaries can be on the auction house when we have been playing throughout the entire game, normal, nightmare, hell and now inferno, and not one has dropped during our regular sessions over the past six months or so.

Anyway. We started Inferno right after we finished off Diablo in Hell mode and watched the movie. We usually just kill right through the trash mobs at the beginning, open up New Tristram, and sell and repair and stuff.

Good luck with that on ML10 Inferno. The trash mobs all had north of seventy million hit points. I play the wizard, the highest dps in the group, and I only put out 62K a hit. It was taking us several minutes to clear each encounter — each TRASH encounter.

We FINALLY made it into New Tristram and ended for the night.

Spode and Stingite did some tests, and it looks like the difficulty curve goes exponential at Monster Level 3, so we’re going to run at ML2 for awhile. I played a bit at ML2 and it seems easy enough. Maybe we can adjust this up a couple during this, our last run through the game.

I don’t see us hitting a tenfold increase in power during this run. We’ve all been level 60 for awhile. We have some paragon levels. I’ve seen what’s on the auction house, and there’s not going to be a lot of DPS improvement. People get excited about gear with resists and other important stuff, but we’re where we’re going to be, dps-wise, for the foreseeable future.

With ML set low, the loot spigot has been turned off. In my run through the first few quests in Inferno at ML2, I only got a few blues, not the bags and bags of yellows we’ve become accustomed to. Less of a chance for finding an upgrade for any of us.

I can maybe get some more dps by experimenting with my build, but I think the higher monster levels are out of our reach. But I do like that Blizzard put monster level in. It made Hell mode a lot more fun. Put some challenge back into a game which was mind-numbingly easy without it.

I’m going to miss it.