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Friday, May 23, 2014

Downfall of the Diablo franchise?

(This is from my personal blog I did awhile ago. Potsing it here because I will be following up on the article in my next post)

I have been wondering what I was going to write about for this weeks Ragetrippin' with Psilocybin Rain blog. I always have so much to talk about yet if you sit me in front of a blank page and ask me to write up a blog post I always draw a blank. Mix that with the fact that I've been known to lose interest in these types of things fairly quick, and it is kind of a recipe for disaster. However, lately I've had a lot of subjects run through my mind that I am very passionate about. So my delima this week is not that I have nothing to write about, but instead that I had to choose one thing. One issue that has been on my mind are games that have come out to a rocky release, or came out universally panned by the critics, only to turn that product around and become surprisingly good titles. I guess the reason for my thoughts on this subject is the upcoming release of the Diablo III: Reaper of Souls expansion due to drop on March 25th.

This is a touchy subject with me, being a HUGE Diablo II fan for many years. Diablo III may have been the biggest let down in a gaming sense, that I have ever experienced. Now, why was Diablo III so bad, and such a let down to most everyone who played it? Well the first major issue with Diablo III was the horrible release. While issues at release is expected with major titles, it seemed as if Blizzard hadn't learned from it's many high profile releases in the past. The servers were completely overloaded. This wouldn't have been a big deal, other than the fact that it lasted much longer than it should have. While this didn't bother me all that much, being a person who understands that "shit happens", it did disturb a lot of gamers, who got errors continuously when trying to log in.

The second reason, and a much more valid reason.....The Auction House. The Auction house was ALWAYS a controversial topic, met with mixed feelings from gamers. It had some hardcore support from some gamers, but the majority of Diablo fans hated the idea. True Diablo players hated an Auction house in general, but were even more outraged by a real money auction house. We now know that with the release of the expansion, we will see the end to the Auction House in Diablo, as the team has publicly stated that it was a bad idea.

Once you got passed the Auction House, the game was The Story kept me entertained, I enjoyed playing my class even though in true blizzard fashion, they completely dumbed down talent tree's. Despite that, the game was enjoyable.........until you hit the dreaded "inferno" difficulty. Don't get me wrong, I love a hard, and challenging game. But I find what Blizzard did with Inferno was nothing more than lazy design. Instead of creating mechanic based encounters, and adding difficulty through mechanics and "skill". They simply gave mobs insane health, insane defense, and even more insane damage across the board without balancing characters to be able to strategically deal with this. Now I know some of you will say "Well my Wizard or Demon Hunter could SOLO inferno no problem!!!" This is true. But it wasn't because of your skill level, but because you found ways to "work around" things. Your range came in handy. The fact is, you CANNOT simply up a mobs damage, health, and defense to obscene levels. It became so bad that any Melee class, even the legendary "Barbarian" class would have to approach a blue pack with the mindframe " if I do this perfect, I'll only have to die 4 times before I get this pack down." This however was slowly fixed, but not in a way I like.

Instead of fixing their mistakes by making it difficult through mechanics, and balancing character abilities to deal with things, they took the lazy route again. Only this time, it seemed almost spiteful. Like the Dev team were annoyed that the community spoke out against Inferno, so they dumbed it down to a point where it almost feels "too easy". Other issues included PVP not being ready at launch, and infact didn't come out until long after launch, a flawed loot system, and the annoying rubberbanding issues to name a few. All in all, Diablo III had TONS of problems for quite some time. However they let Jay Wilson go, and began to fix a very broken game. Don't get me wrong, I don't think Jay Wilson intentionally tanked the game, I just think he was in far over his head and made very bad decisions. I'm actually somewhat optimistic about the expansion, and the coming changes to the game. I think a lot of true Diablo franchise fans will at least give it a fair shake. I think true Diablo fans are still bitter since we had been waiting for that game for a decade....but I do not think all is lost. I think the recent fixes, and changes since Jay Wilson left are signs that they are truly trying to fix things, and I hope deep down that they do.

Another game that released with decent hype on the internet, but was plagued with tons of problems of it's own is a similar Action RPG experience, and has a LOT in common with Diablo....that game is Marvel Heroes. For those who don't know, Marvel Heroes is a product of Gazillion Entertainment, lead by David Brevik. If you don't know who Brevik is, he was head designer on the Diablo II project. At launch, there were a lot of issues with Marvel. No Trade System (Still not there), No real economy (Trade Economy is beginning to pick up now), The only way to get new characters was from purchasing from the cash shop, or SUPER rare drops (Now there are ways to purchase any character through in game currency), and no real end game to speak of. All of these issues have either been fixed, or are in the process of being fixed.

I personally really enjoy Marvel Heroes at this point, and play it quite often. My favorite characters to play are Deadpool (who is my current main), and Ghostrider (who I just got and love). End game gets better and better all the time with the release of Midtown, X-Defense, Cosmic Terminals, and coming very soon will be "Raids". While I will freely admit that Gazillion STILL makes mistakes, prematurely releases heroes with glitched abilities, etc. They work to fix any issues, and actually listen to the games community (sometimes to a fault....). Every month, a set of heroes go up for the "52 Review", where devs take a look at the character, and decide how to improve them, and make them more fun to play. Reviews, and even COMPLETE REWORKS happen regularly as the team continues to try to balance characters which is a hard task with super heroes. Some characters do desperately need reworks......Hulk and Daredevil instantly come to mind for me as two characters that aren't very fun to play, and don't really "feel" like they should when playing them.

But the fact remains, both of these games were ripped apart at release, but are fighting back. While Marvel is strides ahead of Diablo III as far as getting back on track is concerned, I truly believe that with hard work, and dedication from the Diablo III dev team that they can bring this potentially amazing ARPG back to where it needs to be, as I still believe that Marvel Heroes is good game, and insanely fun experience that is constantly getting better with every update.

What do you guys think? Do you think Diablo III: Reaper of Souls is going to be good?.....Also, even if it is, do you think it's too late? Do you play Marvel Heroes? Have you checked it out? If so, what do you think of it? I'd love to hear your point of view on this subject, and these two games that have been hanging in Limbo for some time.

Thanks for reading. I'll see ya in game!
Psilocybin Rain


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