Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Ten Best of 2012: Diablo 3

About a month after its release, I was ready to call Diablo 3 the game I regretted buying most. Having never played either of the previous two Diablo games, I was swept up in the zeitgeist of release, looking forward to playing hours of what I essentially viewed as a single-player MMO.

Release day came, and while Error 37 was frustrating at the time, it was inconsequential to the amount of actual playtime. After a little more than 25 hours, I completed both the normal and nightmare difficulties and had a level 50 Monk. At that point I asked, what else?

Even going through the campaign a second time was irregular for me. With few exceptions, I rare complete a game more than once. Usually only games that feel completely different based on choices, namely BioWare games.

However, during the midsummer drought, I jumped back in and started leveling a Barbarian. With some help from friends in co-op sessions, I quickly surpassed my Monk, hit 60, and started playing Inferno difficulty. I tried out different combination of skills, from the pinnacle of efficiency build of Whirlwind and Sprint, to a slower tank-like Revenge build. This experimentation led me to starting a Wizard, quickly leveling her to 60 and trying out different skills.

By the time I felt like I exhausted my options, I racked up over 125 hours in just under a week. It’s hard to call a game played for now over 160 hours as my most regrettable purchase. The overabundance of clicking is still an issue, but I found ways to bypass it for movement at least. The story is derivative with only the hooks for an expansion being interesting, but it’s hard to argue with when the polish of gameplay, animation, and sheer number of enemies on screen at one time all hit their mark.

I still haven’t hit my goal of selling at least $20 worth of items on the real-money auction house. Hell, most of the time my items sell for a pittance on the gold auction house. But I keep looking at Diablo 3 like a single-player MMO using the Guild Wars buy-to-play system. Buy it once, and play it forever. Expansion will come in time, but I can take a break and come back at my own leisure without worry of falling behind the curve.

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