What a blast! 20 days into Diablo III and I have clocked in 80 played hours. On top of that, Ihave finally defeated the ultimate evil for one of my five characters. One down. Four more characters to go. And then onto the next difficulty level.
Note: Did you know the Diablo III runs in both PC and Mac platform? Once you purchase a game key, you can download and install the game to either platform as many times as you wish. Do check minimal system requirement though. To purchase the game, click here to create an account and head to Blizzard Store. If you are a Android or iPhone user, don’t forget to download the free Battle.net Mobile Authenticator app (or you can purchase a physical one online at Blizzard Store). Also, you may wish to turn on the SMS verification feature in your account management for extra security.
“You dare to judge me?!”
Games are certainly more fun played with friends. In general, that is true – physical and virtual world alike. So I have played with Cynthia mostly, when she is online. Sanctuary seems less lonely that way, and less scary for sure. She can go head-to-head with the mobs at the frontline while I, well, I heroically shoot the enemies from a safe distance. Now you know who wear the pants at our home. We have played with our real life friends too. It is mindless zerging, destroying all things that move, all things that don’t. It is an insane fun, in a therapeutic kind of way. Though at times I wonder if we are holding our friends up by too obsessively exploring every corner of the map and smashing every jar we see (there is an achievement for 1,000 jars destroyed for the OCD ones, like me). At times, we join the public games just to repeat some of the memorable boss fights. Getting a random group is super fast compares to, say, World of Warcraft. In that online game, we could end up waiting for up to half an hour or more for a group to be assembled. In Diablo III, it is instant. As our party size increases (up to four), so is the strength of our foes. When one is leaving, no problem. Our foes will scale down accordingly. I like this dynamic aspect. It keeps the encounters challenging and from the social interaction point of view, the more the merrier. Almost always.
The game in Normal setting does not require 30 hours to beat, which we eventually did. Typically, it can be done in 20 hours, or even less. Cynthia and I are the thorough ones. We enjoy opening up unexplored areas to hunt for treasure and face the seemingly formidable foes. I take one step further that drives Cynthia nuts. I listen to all the dialog, again and again. My only complain with the public games is that most random players would choose to skip the cut scenes and dialog. That is totally understandable. But as for me, I am in for the full experience. Discovering the little stories my in-game companions have to tell, pieces of lore, trivial dialog that keeps the game alive, and more. To that end, I solo the contents as well.
Scoundrel (my rogue companion in-game when I have no one to group with): Sometimes I wish that when we’d met, you’d taken one look at me and fallen desperately in love. But then I think of all the gold I’ve gotten with you.
Kasumi (my demon huntress): You know that that it won’t end that way, right?
Upon completion of Normal difficulty setting, characters are typically around level 30. After which, the entire game play can be repeated in a higher difficulty setting called Nightmare. That boosts character level from 30 to 50. To reach the level cap of 60, Hell difficulty awaits. Beyond that is Inferno setting that is tailored for those who demand the ultimate challenge. If you are seeking for a deeper thrill and a sense of purpose, Diablo III offers a Hardcore mode whereby all deaths are permanent. That is pretty hardcore. It is like play Tetris with one life and you want to see how far you can go before getting beaten. My goal is to reach the level cap for all my 5 characters covering all 5 different classes. Inferno is likely not my cup of tea. If and when I reach there, I would love to take a holiday for a well deserved break. Hawaii would be nice. How many times must we save Heavens and Sanctuary? As many times as we defend Azeroth from Deathwing I suppose.
“Cartoon-ish? Perhaps. But the level of detail is astonishing.”
Some asked me if this game is any good. It is an incredibly easy game to pick up. In the initial stage of the game, you can simply hack and slash your way using the two mouse buttons. As you progress, you can use the four extended skills that are mapped to the numeric keys 1 to 4. 6 buttons are all you need to master this game. You get to choose 6 active skills from a total of 22 at any time of your game play. Each skill can be augmented with one of the 5 different runes (6 if you count the no rune option). That in turn changes how the skill works. On top of that, you get to pick 3 passive skills from an array of 15. You can do the mathematics and work out the potential number of combinations. It is rare to see two players picking up the same configuration. Individual build shapes one’s play style. Coupled that with the individual’s gear stats preference, there is much depth in Diablo III. Now, while I cannot vouch for what happens in the Inferno setting, I am pretty sure that it is Blizzard’s interest to avoid cookie-cutting builds that make everyone alike.
If you are into or open to hack-and-slash role playing games, Diablo III is the benchmark. The game play is fluid. The artwork and soundtrack is beautiful. Each time you level, you feel more powerful as more skill options are available at your disposal. Within the virtual world of Diablo III, you are always gold hungry, loot hungry. All items’ stats are randomly generated making it unlikely that two gears are identical. Blizzard, unlike other developers, continues to improve the game based on community feedback. Other developers more often than not de-prioritize the fixing of their games after they have taken your money. Instead, their first priority is to build new DLC (downloadable contents) and new expansions. Not Blizzard.
In this new era, no man is an island. Collaboration and trading for mutual benefits trump working on your own. You may hate the concept of the in-game Auction House that facilitates the trading of game items using either in-game currency or real currency. But it is a good way to help each other in order to fasten the pace and overcome challenges. Items that you no longer need can be offloaded into the Auction House so that someone else may find a use of it. Or you may pick up an item from the Auction House that others do not need. If you are not the type who spends real currency to acquire virtual items, you can stick with the in-game currency. If you do, Blizzard provides a safe environment for real money trading to occur. Is Blizzard charging too much as a middle man? I do not have a benchmark for comparison. Besides, I hope Blizzard can continue to make money somewhere so that the servers can be funded – free of charge for us folks – for many months or even years to come.
Any downside? Sure. It is called weekly scheduled maintenance that happens during our prime evening hours. Something some of us have been bearing since the launch of World of Warcraft. It is worse than Error 37 if you were to ask me.
To continue reading my adventure of 140 hours with the game, click here.
“You still haunt my sleep.”