These forums are a sea of extremes; people either love or hate the game, but rarely work to occupying the middle ground. Sadly from my perspective these opinions seem largely forced, and I will explain why a little later on.
This is going to be a LONG post, so if you're allergic to reading you may want to skip to the parts that you most care about. I have, for want of a better reading experience, applied subtitles where required, so you can easily find the stuff you want to read.
Edit: No seriously. This post if really, really, really, really long D;
Obviously I'm not going to talk about ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING because... well... I don't have an opinion on absolutely everything (Edit: I had a pretty good go though ><). Surprisingly, some stuff in the game is just there... and I don't really take note of it. Maybe it's because it's not that good? Or, more likely, it's because it's not that important to me as a gamer.
And, again obviously, this is just my opinion; I am not trying to represent the masses, which is something I find absolutely detestable in most of the posters that do it on this forum. Anecdotal evidence provided by your three friends that parrot everything you say is NOT good source material to start going, "Yeah... EVERYONE agrees with me about everything I say." Stop doing it; you just look like utter fools. People will agree with you if they agree with you, and they really don't need you agreeing with yourself on their behalf before they've even had a chance to decide for themselves.
>>> The bit at the beginning
Diablo 3 is not a bad game. That's something I need to get out of the way right off the bat. It's actually a pretty good game. I've sunk over 150 hours into D3 across 2 characters, and I can't say that about many games I play these days. The price tag was a little steep, that's for sure, and I would encourage Blizzard to look into rewarding fans with lower premiums in the future, rather than wantonly exploiting us; just because we WILL pay you're "we're Blizzard" 20% premium doesn't mean we SHOULD pay that premium, although this is purely based on my own philosophical inclinations in this instant. I admit, it's subjective.
>>> The bit about how it looks
Diablo 3 is also a pretty game. No, it doesn't enjoy "WTF IS THIS REALLY COMPUTER GENERATED?!" graphics, but Blizzard yet again proves that artistry is not something that has to be achieved through realism. I personally would argue that the opposite is true; the most beautiful games I've played have rarely been those that strive to look as real as possible (and the same, I fear, is true of !@#$)
. Diablo 3 embraces, and excels in, that philosophy. From the claustrophobic dungeons of New Tristram, to the wide open skies of the High Heavens, Blizzard provides a visual experience that is significant enough to notice, yet subtle enough to not distract. I do feel however that ability effects are too understated; I can guess why this is, with an emphasis on multi-player, but when playing alone it's hard to see the power in the effects. This could have been resolved by adding in more vibrant schemas in single player, but it's not something that injures the game to the point of me not playing (obviously).
>>> The bit about what it says... and stuff
The story... is a story. What else can I say really? It was lacklustre, and felt overly lazy. The old-school "good versus evil" paradigm isn't really relevant in today's world to most people, because we've largely come to the realisation as a society that it's all just shades of grey. I was HOPING that Blizzard would explore this theme in Diablo 3, and take things "beyond good and evil" (hurhurhur I'm on my armchair now, boys). I was hoping for an exploration of the idea that Heaven, in all of its shining glory, was not out to aid Sanctuary, and that Tyrael wasn't the "saviour" he (wasn't at all) portrayed to be in Diablo 2. Seriously, that really got to me; this central character that had clearly been portrayed as a meddler and manipulator, an entity with an unknown motivation, suddenly became a decidedly 2-dimensional character, subject to a plot line that destroyed any depth he had enjoyed in the previous instalments of the franchise. Chris Metzen's dry and witless attempts at telling stories is getting old, and it's not because he isn't a good writer or storyteller. I, and most others, never really played Diablo for the story however... so... it's not that important. The story performs the function of shepherding us through the game, and I will credit it as not being tedious at any point (as in, and unlike most games, I have no problem with replaying through each area over and over and over and over again at all; it isn't painful).
>>> The bit about what it plays like, and the stuff I get, and stuff
Diablo 3 through Normal, Nightmare and Hell offers a gaming experience that I thoroughly enjoyed. The mobs are interesting and, as you approach, enter and progress through Hell, the game dishes out its fair share of (random) challenges. Affix combinations take on a level of infamy as move through the game, so that by Hell you love the easy and hate the hard; it's charming though because even the hard combinations don't throw you so much of a challenge as to be near-impossible to overcome, something that gamers of any calibre find endlessly frustrating. And your reward for completing and besting these challenges is loot, the centre piece of the game. We can argue all day about its lasting importance, but loot is "where it's at" and where it SHOULD be at; Diablo 3 - through Normal, Nightmare and Hell - rewards you as often as you like, offering a pleasant surprise around most corners. Even the lesser reward of items you can't use was - at least at the start of the game's life - still rewarding due to the mechanics of the AH, but this has largely diminished at this point due to the way any fixed-level game develops its economy (with the top end becoming the only end).
>>> The bit where I set the stage for more bits
It's a bit of a mixed bag at this point, right? Here's the thing: I'm having fun. The game up until this point has been thoroughly fun, to the point of capturing me for around 60 hours straight and not letting me go. I'm a grown man with some semblance of self control; the days where I will blindly play a game for excessive periods of time are long gone, but Diablo 3 brought me right back to that behaviour. On introspection it's a discredit to myself, but as a testimony to the game... there can really be no higher praise, in my opinion at least.
>>> THE BIT ABOUT INFERNO
And now we get to the bit where I stopped having fun: Inferno. Inferno would have, had I been one of the people that throws extreme opinions around (again, I'll come to this [b]shortly[/b]) (Edit: No, Matt, you won't...), ruined the game for me quite effectively, but I'm not unreasonable. It simply ruined the [i]end [/i]of the game for me ;D
Act 1 Inferno is well done, to a point. It feels like the "introduction" it should be, and offers challenge aplenty without being so hard as to present itself as an impenetrable wall. The rare mobs are really intimidating, but offer significant reward, and it's at this point in the game that you find out whether you know your class or not. If you don't, you die. If you do, you die... but not so much as to dishearten you. And then Act 2 happens...
Act 2 ISN'T the step up in difficulty that it should be. I can entirely understand Act IV, or even ACT III, presenting an unrelenting challenge to me as a gamer, but my opinion of difficulty progression is that it should be as smooth as is possible. The step from Act 1 to Act 2 should be noticeable, but it shouldn't be the defining factor of the jump. You shouldn't, for example, entering Act II from Act I (where you've got the hang of farming at least some of the rare mobs) just to die in a haze to white mobs that seem to hit you for 1/3 of your health. Yes, that's difficult but it's also disheartening, and it's certainly not enjoyable.
Another thing that shouldn't happen is: being 1-shot by rare mobs. I was under the impression that the difficulty presented by damage was in MANAGING it, but Inferno seems to point to the idea that it isn't. I can't manage damage that hits me for my entire health pool. Obviously this is being addressed in 1.03, and I wait to see what Blizzard does to remedy this current problem.
Without whining for too long (Edit: That, readers, was a lie), the problem with Inferno isn't necessarily that it's "too unforgiving" but that it's just not presented in the way that I think it should be. The entire point of Diablo is loot - getting loot, finding loot, equipping loot - to get perfect stats. The compulsion to carry on is for that goal, and it's a compulsion that ALL people playing the game feel. What we are told is that Inferno is an extra difficulty level for the "die hard" players, but I would suggest that it isn't presented at all like that: if we accept that the idea of the game is to get better stats, that the longevity of the game is in that pursuit, then we also accept that any method of getting better stats becomes a central element of the game at its core. At this point Inferno becomes a necessity and less an "extra challenge" to the fundamental goal of every player.
So how can this be remedied? In my opinion, and you'll all hate me for this, the WoW team had the best idea when it came to "adding extra challenge": challenge mode. Challenge mode in MoP will be a timed, flat-stat difficulty that will be HARDER than standard group and raid content. It WON'T reward stat items, but instead will reward special item appearances that can be applied to the gear the player has. It is a true manifestation of "adding extra challenge", and does not compromise on the core drive of the game. In my opinion, Inferno should be rebalanced to offer a reasonable, and stressful, challenge to gamers, and an extra setting added to "buff" the mobs to an added stat level for those that REALLY want to test their metal. Their rewards: achievements, banner additions and, possibly, a similar "custom appearance" system added to the blacksmith that would allow them to "show off" their talent and ability through a visually significant medium in PvP.
The idea is simple: those truly looking for added challenge do so for the challenge, whilst the loot is largely superfluous. I've had the pleasure of being in a world first guild (or two), and for most of us the pleasure was in getting world firsts (or as near to as we could) and not in the loot. The loot was a means to an end; I know, from talking to old guildies as well as those I know from other guilds of the same calibre, that we play for the challenge and could really do without the loot. I've also competed in sport at a national level, fencing to be precise, and I did not relish it because I got a better sabre drop from the people who I was competing against. The boons were nice, but they certainly weren't required.
>>> The bit at the end
Diablo 3 is a really good game up until Inferno. Inferno doesn't, to me, represent a optional challenge and more a brick wall you're required to smash through. As a gamer, someone who's looking for entertainment, I do not like to hit brick walls... and I especially do not like them when the motivator is the same as the motivator for me to play the rest of the game. As I've said it doesn't represent added challenge, but required gruel and frustration.
All in all I will carry on playing Diablo 3 for a while yet. There are several classes for me to enjoy, and the promise of PvP in the (hopefully) not too distant future. As it stands now Diablo 3 is a more than worthwhile wastage of my time.
For want of a better metric: 7/10 (which is like... a 9/10 score on IGN).
2 for nailing the general feel. 2 for graphics. 2 for game play. 1 for story. 0 for Inferno.
>>> The other bit at the end
So at the start of the post, and somewhere in the (what-I-thought-at-the-time-would-be) the middle bit I mention these people:
People either love or hate the game, but rarely work to occupying the middle ground. Sadly from my perspectives these opinions seem largely forced, and I will explain why a little later on.
What do I mean by that? Well... let's take a look at Mass Effect 3.
Mass Effect 3 was, for the most part, a pretty entertaining game. Whilst it certainly wasn't perfect, and wasn't what I would call an RPG, it was - for whatever it was - a pretty good take on whatever it was. Right at the end there's this bit though where everything you've done for the rest of the game is undone by an explosion. That is to say that, no matter what you chose, how you got to the point where you chose, you always get an explosion that results in PRETTY MUCH the same ending right across this "non-linear" storyboard. There is no variety, nothing personal to it. It is the gaming equivalent to the spam sketch by Monty Python, although not nearly as funny (because nothing is funny when the joke is on me).
No one can argue that, for a "non-linear, choice driven" game like Mass Effect 3, that particular resolution was good. It was immersion destroying, and undid a large part of what you were doing when you were playing the game. Your goal with the dialogue system was to end at a particular point of your choosing, and that was rendered impossible by the pretty much static ending.
The question is, however: did it ruin the REST of the game? The answer is: mostly not. Yes, it undermined the story (to a degree, although this is highly debatable), but it didn't undermine the brilliant combat, or the brilliant characters, or the great multi-player, to name but a few.
There are those who would allow something like the above to ruin the rest of the game for them. To them I say this; it's on your head. You chose to let it ruin the rest of the game for you, but it doesn't. It doesn't diminish the fun you had playing, or the fun you had making the choices, and the idea that it does is something you've constructed in your own head.
And this is what I mean by "these opinions seem largely forced"; they are.