In light of the wave of hate and invective spewed out towards Diablo 3 and Blizzard following release, I thought I would share my experiences playing the game.
This, I realise, changes nothing and is but a small counter to the many threads and posts about how the game is broken and how Blizzard has destroyed the franchise. However I hope that someone may read this and see another side to the debate.
My first character, after much thought and internal debate, was a Wizard. I can't rightly explain why I eventually decided on the Wizard, but it was a toss-up between that and the Barbarian.
I, like most people, had a lot of trouble logging in on release night, I persevered and eventually was able to play. I had been lucky enough to win one of the Facebook/Twitter competitions and had played the Beta exhaustively and so the first 13 levels were nothing new to me and everything upto the Skeleton King was well trodden ground.
This did not diminish my enjoyment however, as I knew that just around the corner, new areas, spells, story and enjoyment lay. So I played through, eagerly anticipating the new zone unlocked after I killed SK and once I had disposed of the undead monarch I moved as quickly as I could through to the new zone.
Shock and Awe
From then on, every bit of the map I uncovered kept me on the edge of my seat. The enemies, the scenery, everything about it was fantastic and I explored every inch, hoping to find as many of the events, and random lost satchels and bits of lore I could find.
At this point in time I thought Blizzard had delivered a masterpiece, and I was almost giddy with excitement that I had barely explored 5% of the game.
The way my spells looked, the runes that changed how the spells worked and how I played, the monsters and NPC's, the dialogue between me and the Templar, meeting the Scoundrel (who became my favorite companion), the beauty and detail that the environment contained, everything shouted out to me that Blizzard had delivered everything I had been hoping for.
As I progressed through the campaign and unlocked all of my spells (Archon and Hydra <3) I got used to my character and found that normal, while providing an amazing story, didn't really provide a great challenge. This however didn't really bother me, I was in normal for the story, to see the game as Blizzard had wanted it to be seen, so I kept playing. Eventually though, I succumbed to my body's desire to sleep, and went to bed.
Luckily I had nothing but time for the next few days and was able to play as much or as little as I wanted, and so I ploughed ahead, eagerly anticipating every new piece of storyline and every new zone, dungeon and encounter.
I completed the game, and considered the progress of my character, the story, and the surrounding minutia, and I had decided that the game had lived up to all my expectations, and had exceeded them in a lot of ways.
The zones and dungeons, events and dialogue had been fantastic, and far more immersive than I had thought they would be.
The cinematics were amazing (the end of Act 3 cinematic is my favorite clip from a game EVER) and conveyed the story in a way that was not overbearing and did not diminish the time spent in game ( I didn't long for the game to look like the cinematics, which I tend to do with most other games).
Nightmare and Beyond
After finishing normal mode, I got stuck right into Nightmare, and pretty much immediately I saw the difference, Champs and Rares with 2 affixes provided more of a challenge and I died on more than one occasion.
However as I levelled my Wizard, I started to get bored, not with the game, but with the class. There was something lacking, in my opinion. I carried on playing, wondering if my malaise was due to having just played through the game on normal and it was just the story that wasn't new to me.
I completed Nightmare and enjoyed the increased challenge and so moved onto Hell. This is where I really started to notice a difference, Champs and Rares would kick my ass up and down the map and tactical play really started to make a difference.
But even as that sunk in, my enjoyment was waning, the Wizard just wasn't providing the type of gameplay that could keep me hooked. I got to level 53 and decided to change to a Barbarian.
This turned out to be the best decision I ever made.
Barbarian, the most polished class?
I have played every class to level 30 and from what I can tell, and from my own experiences, the Barbarian is the most polished and thought-out class.
The range of his abilities and the multiple playstyles he embodies seems missing in every other class.
Perhaps it is just my take on things, but when I play the Barb, I feel as if I can play multiple characters with just one class. I haven't found that with any other class. Wizard to me felt gimped in Hell, simply because there was no way to effectively keep mobs at range and really fulfill the role a Wizard should embody. Demon Hunter to a lesser extent also had this problem. The Monk, while closest to the Barbarian in terms of just being melee, also felt like it had had less attention payed to it and the flow and ebb of its combat prowess, and the Witch Doctor just felt completely out of place.
So while my experience with the story and major elements was amazing and fantastic, the actual feel of the classes in comparison to one another was majorly skewed.
The Barbarian to me, feels like it had the most attention payed to it in development and the other classes were on a sliding scale.
With the Barb I felt that I could literally change my entire playstyle and still fight effectively, where as with the other classes, I always felt like I was playing the same way, just with different abilities (I realise the distinction is kind of hard to convey, but for those of you who get this far through my diatribe and understand, bravo).
Diablo 3 was everything I hoped it would be. It was immersive, amazing, challenging, funny, sad, emotive and above all else, fun as hell.
However in my opinion, the classes feel unfinished and definitely feel like more attention has been payed to some rather than others.
I can't wait to see what direction Blizzard takes the game in the years to come, and I am by no means bashing the game, nor do I expect perfection within a few weeks. This game is barely out of the womb and has a massive amount of time to grow, mature and develop and I can't wait to see where it goes and how it changes.
If you got to the end of all this and don't want to poke your eyes out with boredom, I salute you and I thank you for reading