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This game will be good. It will be hot. It might be the new black! It will be hard to beat, and a AAA title for sure. I wouldn't want to bet on box sales or broken records, because this game will redefine dungeon crawlers for years to come.
That said, it won't be a diablo game at all, and this truly lets me down. There will never be a "true" Diablo 3 in my mind/ heart, and the game we are seeing will just be a grown up dungeon crawler based on WOW.
The game is missing many, perhaps ALL, of the core elements that drew us original fans to the series. If you weren't into PC gaming in the 1990s playing Diablo 1 and 2, and perhaps Stonekeep and Warcraft 1, then you probably won't fully understand the following points. I love lists, so here is my list of what makes a Diablo game:
#1 Labyrinthine Hellishness
Diablo 1 was a game in which you would descend into dark dungeons, layer by layer, until you emerged with the power kick the crap out of the devil himself. The descent through the rings of hell was a parallel to the classic Dante's Inferno story. Dungeons throughout the whole game were randomly generated. Yup, for those who have not played, a game created in the 1990s had 100% random generated maps. There were no step-by step walkthroughs. It's good to see that this returned (mostly intact) to Diablo 2. Diablo 3 seems to have static dungeons. What a joke.
#2 Gear generated on the spot.
This is where WOW loses me. Sure they have things like The Deadly Bow of Snakes, but the items are created and detailed like that ahead of time. WOW did not use an item creator where items where (random prefix) + (random item) + (random suffix). It looks as if "Diablo" 3 may be going the WOW route, even down to detailing the BEST items in game. "Best In Slot" was never a term to be used in this series, and the fact that they're going this route kills me. I'd rather not have the game balanced at all, than lose my random items. Perhaps I will have to play Borderlands for my Diablo itemization fix?
#3 Demonic Themes
Pentagrams, burning upside down crosses, lakes of blood. Mutilated corpses. Basically, think of the Doom series when you do your tilesets, and you are on the right path. I've yet to see anything demonic in Diablo 3 though.
WOW is not the series that invented skill trees. Skill trees were more a part of Diablo 2, but Diablo 1 did some things better than Diablo 2 IMO, because you could learn skills outside your base class. Nevertheless, Diablo 2 was the first game to feature skill trees that resemble the talents you see in most MMOs today. It was good to see this in WOW, but now it's gone from Diablo? This gets a massive WTF from me.
#5 Dark themes
Diablo 1-2 were gothic at the very heart of their artwork. The mixture of Doom-style and Medieval-goth was a sure hit back in the day. D3 doesn't exactly look like WOW IMO, but it does not match these old elements. Sometimes Diablo 1-2 would get so dark, that players would search out items that generated light. In some dungeons, you never knew what lurked beyond your tiny field of vision. This was also true of the Warcraft series of old, although it had a much more whimsical "fog of war" thing going on. In D3 it's gone.
Edit: So, what we have here is a top-notch dungeon crawling game. It has all the crucial elements to make it successful, even my beloved "visceral action." However, the apple has falled far from the tree, and I wouldn't call it Diablo at all. I'd probably call it "War for Tristram" and label it as a spinoff, as it will never truly be a Diablo game in the hearts of original fans...
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