I would also say act 2! Im a huge fan (http://eu4.memecdn.com/Im-a-Huge-Fan_o_93343.jpg) of the egyptian style and the desert landscape too. Also the mobtypes were very cool except the bug hole and the exploding electro scarabs XD.
This was also the act i farmed with my mf sorv there was a good dungen in the lost city (cant exactly remember the name).
It was also quite exciting to find out the backround story about the palace you couldnt enter at first.
Act 2, just drags forever. I normally love desert settings, but it does a really bad job of making you feel like you're in one. The outside zones are big, but not sparce enough, there's far too many corridors. The bug tunnels are a nightmare, with loads of dead ends and those stupid lightning attuned insects. I do like the Sanctuary though, with the stars in the background, but i nearly always choose the correct path last >_
Act 3 suffers from the same faults as Act 2, it's just not open enough. You're meant to be in some hugely dense jungle, but everything feels far too constricted. Sometimes this can be a good thing, but i think in this setting, it dosn't work too well. The temple at the end, feels massive in comparison to the jungle too, which is probably done to show how big it is, but makes the jungle feel like a tiny copse.
Act 4 is pretty good, it definately looks like hell, but is really short. I love the entrance area, with the floating stairs, but over all it's kind of bland.
Act 5 picks it back up though, with the stunning top of the mountain where you fight the three warriors. Even though it's just two images layered together, the depth is great and really does make you think you're up high. Sadly, those bloody seige engines ruin it for me, since they seem to be able to snipe you from a mile away.
Over all, i think Act 1 is designed the best. It's a great tutorial zone and just the right length. By the end of it, you've figured out how to play, what's going on with the story and you've normally got some good loot and your first set of skills.
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"Pull 'em in, den smash 'em up gud!" - Grimjaw, Barbarian Poet
I loved the theatrical feel of Act V. Especially with the music. Some of the best video game score I'd ever heard was in Act V. Okay, so the barricades are a pain but you can run around them if you really want to.
I'd like to say Act I was my favorite, but I hated the Jails and Catacombs so bad. Which is strange cause that part of the game looks most like the original Diablo but it was just way too huge. Needlessly huge.
Never quite understood the complaint about Act IV being too short. It really didn't need to be any longer. And on a regular single player game, by the time you get there the monsters are pretty tough so it's gonna turn into a bit of a grind sometimes anyway and make it feel much longer.
I was so excited when i first time stepped into barbarian highlands. The story, musics, enemy voices, ahh they can only bring good memories. The whole act was perfect. So much new things and epic moments like the ancients. They were tought to fight at first, but later on much easier. And the feeling when you killed Baal first time, it was awesome.
Before expansion, it was Act IV. When time came to kill the final boss, first he says: ''Not even death can save you from me''. It was scary. Fighting against Diablo was a truly challenge but finally when i killed Diablo, that felt unreal after i had died many many times. Only bad thing was the shortness of act, but still it was best.
I also think a lot of people's memories of these acts are not of the first time they played through them, but of all the time they did their multiple replays of grinding and MFing and rushing and grushing.
Cause like, Act 3 for example, I actually really liked. It's definitely not my favorite place to replay, but the first time I played it I totally loved the dense jungles and all the ziggurats. Sure the midgets were annoying but it was a nice reward when you finally got to Kurast and you were fighting what seemed to be corrupt men. And I always complained in Diablo how nice it would be sometimes just to fight regular people who happened to be evil or corrupt as opposed to just the undead and demons.
Act 1 and 5 was most fun. 2 was ok. 3 was boring walking around in the forest and killing pugmees or whatever its spelled.
4? 50-50. Pretty dull area but when ye finally got down to the lava, that was more fun.
Act 1 - Most fun area, simple yet appealing.
Act 2 - Boring area, Loved the 4 way chamber where only 1 was correct, dun recall the name.
Act 3 - Hate it. Deffinitely worst area.
Act 4 - First place before going down was boring, lava was fun.
Act 5 - Pretty Ok place. Loved the siege kind of feel.
Act 1 was my favourite, cause when i walked in to the Cathedral it brought to me the memories from the first Diablo...and the Butcher :D. I hated act 2 cause of the damn scarabs and maggot lair, but the tombs in the end kind of compensated it. Act 3 was pain in the ass in the beginnig in those damn jungles, but i really really liked Mefo and the high councils. Act 4 - what to say but - Lord of Terror ! Act 5 was nothing special, except for the Ancients - this is probably my favourite quest in the whole game ;). That's how i see all the acts, but Act 1 was my favourite cause the familiar atmosphere of the original Diablo.
Many years ago, I'd have said act 2 and added an "of course". Don't know why, but it just seemed to be far and away the nicest place to enter and the saddest place to quit. Most people used to agree, just as they did about act 3 being horrible. These opinions were based on the first single player playthrough. Sure, a2 had the Maggot Lair, but that was nothing compared to the legions of flayers.
Now that I have spent several more hours with the game, I vote for a4. It's hell and that's what it should be. Izual, Hephaisto, Lord de Seis, brutal and rewarding. Act 5 was a decent addition, but all those random mobs just didn't fit and Baal's freak show, while a nice idea, just didn't have the hellish flair. And this act tended to produce simply unfair settings. Like multiple packs of Black Souls being instantly resurrected as Baal's second wave entered the field ;)
Oh and I really liked to see people actually name a1, didn't expect that, but it was just a perfect start into the game. Killing stuff in your average green areas, Tristram too.
I used to hate Act III, but it's since become my favorite. I've written several fanfics set in Kurast--I just love the idea of a proud city fallen for the wickedness in men's hearts, then overcome by nature. Destroyed. Alone. It had some of the most vivid and brutal displays of grisly carnage in the entire game. And, I love the idea of Mephisto and his soulstone--how it was broken apart and given to multiple humans. It's just interesting, and it felt unique. Even the windy, twisty layout started to make sense after a while. It is a frickin' jungle, after all.
Edit: Erp, forgot my least favorite!
Act II. It was always the place I'd get stuck. Certain quest mechanics and monster attributes in that act sometimes made it very annoying to get through, especially when I'd start from nothing again and have to work through it. I think what most people don't realize is that unless you're exactly level 15 when you get there, you can get your ass handed to you on the first quest, by those damn archers. No life steal, missile damage, ranged. Sometimes with elemental damage. I'd have to port every two mobs just to survive.
Beyond that, it was one of the most visually repetitive places in the game, with the exception of the harem and the arcane sanctuary, the idea of which I loved and whose implementation was too simple.
Act 2. I enjoyed searching for the cube and staff pieces. Then journeying through the arcane sanctuary, then finding the right tomb that matched horazins journal or whatever. Act 2 (despite the flavorless deserts and scenery) felt the most "complete" to me. It really felt like an epic quest.
Act 4 and 5. I loved getting to act 4 (before the expansion obviously) and being able to think "This is it, I'm almost there" The fight with diablo was superb as well. I remember trying to kill diablo and getting through the portal to go back to town with 1 health left. I love the pandemonium fortress as well, it looks so heavenly, and the armor the NPCs wear looks fantastic as well. Every now and again you would see Jamella drawing signs in mid air with what seemed like some sort of arcane magic. It was just perfect in every way.
Act 5 was also a blast, the way it progressed was nice, and I loved snowy areas. Plus the music was amazing. The fight with the ancients was bar none one of my favorite fights ever (partly because it gave like 8 levels at once before that was patched down to 1), and partly because you felt high up. You felt as if you were progressing, and you were almost there.
I've always been a fan of desert zones, so my favorite act by far is act 2 (best soundtrack aswell).
Actually, that's probably what spawned my love for desert zones.
And the desert zone(s) in D3 looks absolutely amazing judging by the screenshots, really looking forward getting there!
I loved the Arcane Sanctuary. The feeling of emptiness and the sky underneath the walkways was just so cool. Maybe not today, but it was definitely awesome my first play-through. Lut Gholein was also the best town to play hide & seek in, which consumed a good portion of my playtime on the game. :P
Act III is a close second. I loved the zone but hated most of the enemies there.