Diablo 3 beta – or: Why I preordered Torchlight 2 instead

Let me start by saying that I truly enjoyed what I’ve seen about Diablo 3 per se. Neither bookahnerk nor I have found any bugs so far which just seems to be typical for Blizzard. Their betas are usually rather polished already (at least, from what I’ve heard and seen so far). One flaw, however, is that we didn’t see the intro video. I looked for it and then played it and it does help explain a few things. For example, why they’re talking about a fallen star. ;) I hadn’t read too much about Diablo 3 before starting the open beta. I’d seen a few screenshots and read about a few changes but that’s nothing compared to what I’ve read and seen about Guild Wars 2 so far. ;)

What I really liked about Diablo 3 so far is some of the game’s sounds. Not the music (although I like the soundtrack as well) but rather the sounds that are familiar from Diablo 2 like the coins that are dropped from dead mobs. It just adds enough nostalgic flavour. And Deckard Cain, of course! Another thing I really liked were the book cases that you can click on. They usually don’t seem to drop anything at all and if they do, it’s a few coins or a healing potion. However, the animation when clicking on a bookcase shows stuff falling out of the bookcase – including a few scrolls that have red and blue bands around them. Oooh, they look vaguely familiar. If only I knew where I’ve seen them before. ;) Unfortunately, those scrolls aren’t in the game. At a certain point in your storyline, you get a teleport skill that you can use whenever you want. And while there are items that need to be identified, it’s just done by right-clicking and waiting until the cast bar went through. I mentioned the music a few moments ago and if you’re looking for songs that sound like Diablo 2, you have to go play Torchlight (1 and 2) because Matt Uelmen who composed the soundtrack for Diablo and Diablo 2 is working for RunicGames now and has composed the Torchlight 1 and 2 soundtracks. Russell Brower apparently composed the soundtrack for Diablo 3 (among others).

The graphics are similar to Torchlight and not what I would expect from a Diablo game. I actually like the gothic look that Diablo 2 had and I would have preferred to have this graphic style again instead of the more comic-looking style that we have now. I don’t think it’s too bright and colourful but… well, a bit more dark/grey would have been great. ;) Despite its not so good graphics quality (and the too tiny resolution for today’s monitors), I found them fitting for the game as everything seemed more mysterious and serious in a way. I don’t mind WoW’s comic graphics but in Diablo, I’d prefer the old Diablo style. Oh well, it’s not like Diablo 3 really had WoW’s comic style. It’s just closer to it. And at the same time, I don’t mind it at all in Torchlight (or Torchlight 2 for that matter). It’s just the different expectations here based on the previous Diablo game. I did upload a few screenshots and I’m sure that if you’re interested in Diablo 3, you’ve had a look at videos and screenshots, etc. already, so this is nothing new for you. ;)

I’ve played the Demon Hunter class and it was lots of fun. At first, I feared that you really just unlock a new skill every few levels and then choose which ones you want to use but the system is a bit more complex than that. You have your left-click and right-mouseclick skill. You’ll get to choose between four different ones for left-clicking and four different ones for right-clicking. They’re unlocked one after another, depending on your level. Each of those skills can also have one active rune (out of 5 each) which again get unlocked the higher your level is. The different runes give its skill an added effect: more damage, a higher number of enemies hit, longer duration, etc. Then you have four action bar skills which in the demon hunter’s case use a different resource than her mouse-clicking abilities. They work the same way than your mouse-clicking abilities: You can choose out of several ones that you unlock the higher your level gets. And then you unlock 5 runes for each of those skills (also more the higher your level is) and can choose which rune you want for which skill and then you choose which skills you want to use. It seems that there’s no respeccing necessary. You can switch skills around whenever you want. Starting with level 10, you also unlock passive abilities (again, you don’t need to do anything. You unlock the first two with level 10 and choose one. With level 13, you get an additional choice etc. up to 15 different passive skills to choose from at level 50. With level 20 and 30, you get an additional slot for a passive skill which means that you can have three passive skills with level 30. All in all, that’s a lot to choose from! And since you can switch whenever you want (I didn’t see any limits here), you don’t need to be afraid to do something wrong. That was one of the problems I had with Diablo 2. While I loved the game, I was too afraid to mess up and having to start over again, so I ended up just not playing much at all after a while. ;)

The storyline seems interesting and I’d certainly want to find out more and play through the story. The classes also seem interesting even though I’ve only played one so far. I wanted to concentrate on one and see what this game has to offer. If I had decided to buy it, I would have had enough time to figure out which class I want to play.

Unfortunately, and now we come to the one big point that makes me stay away from this game for now, it was rather difficult to actually start playing the beta on Friday. The servers were busy and I didn’t get to play at all. I didn’t even realise the “flaw” in this “logic” here, at first. Yesterday morning, I finally succeeded and got online. I played for a bit and reached level 6. Then it happened: I got disconnected and after half an hour, I got back online… to find myself back at level 5. Yay for rollbacks! I get it, they’re basically stress-testing and things like that can happen. But then it dawned on me: This isn’t an MMO, nor is it an online game. I was playing the single-player game. Once upon a time, those were offline games. Once upon a time, there were no server issues and rollbacks with single-player offline games. I remember clearly how I could play Diablo 2 in my room with no problems even though the internet wasn’t reliable in that room, because I didn’t need the internet for the single-player part!

And this very thing is what will hold me back from buying the game (unless… maybe… its cost is reduced to something like 10€ in the distant future). I want to be able to play single player games whenever I feel like it and not rely on the game servers to be accessible. Especially as I don’t see a reason for why they should do this. Diablo 2 already had the single player part and the coop, the multiplayer and online part. It also had LAN-mode. In that regard, it offered more. But now they took that back and force me to be online all the time even if I just play the “offline” part. And I guess they can’t give me a guarantee that rollbacks won’t happen again or that I’m suddenly disconnected or that I can’t even start the game because I regularly play on weekend evenings when a zillion other players decide to play as well and the servers get overloaded… or maybe I’ll get to stare at a waiting queue until there’s a free spot on the servers for me… to play the single-player game.

We will have one copy of Diablo 3 in this household, though, because I gave bookahnerk a 6 months subscription for a gaming magazine for Christmas and as a special, they added a bonus of our choice (the decision fell on a copy of Diablo 3 once it’s released). And as I said, I’ve really enjoyed the game per se. But I dislike this always-online part of the game enough to not buy the game for 50€ or whatever they want for it on release.

So why did I preorder Torchlight 2 instead? Diablo 3 showed me that I really want a game like Torchlight and Diablo. Torchlight 1 has the problemt that it lacks multiplayer (I don’t use it often but I do like playing with bookahnerk once in a while) and the story… oooh, the story. Not so good. Hopefully, Torchlight 2 will be better. They will have a LAN mode and I can play the game offline. It will also just cost 20€ which is a lot cheaper than Diablo 3. And what I really love is that you have pet companions. Tell me how you can top a ferret companion (watch the video with the pets here)! Of course, the game doesn’t have the gothic graphics. ;) And I do find it odd how often the release date has been pushed back so far. But I’ve only preordered the game, not prepurchased it. So there’s no harm done yet. ;) Of course, there’s also no need for deciding only for one and not the other. If you like both, you can play both. However, I don’t think I would need two such games. Especially if one is considerably more expensive.

I wonder how many other people will decide not to get Diablo 3 because of its policy of forcing you to be online and connected to a server at all times? And how many will not care just because it’s Blizzard and Diablo. In the end, if you do decide to get the game, I think you’ll get a good and solid game… and let’s just hope their servers will be stable (and more stable than Ubisoft’s servers ^^).

8 responses to “Diablo 3 beta – or: Why I preordered Torchlight 2 instead

  1. “I wonder how many other people will decide not to get Diablo 3 because of its policy of forcing you to be online and connected to a server at all times?”

    *raises hand*

    It’s not the only reason of course, but it certainly contributed, and I would count it among the top 3 reasons why I won’t be buying D3.
    #1: I have single player games on hand for when the internet is not available. I live Tampa, Florida (the lightning capital of the United States) and “storm season” around here can get downright serious. Although I’m usually able to maintain power (thanks to pre-planning) I’m not always able to maintain internet connection… so, while I prefer online games normally, I keep a stable of single player, offline games around for times when I’m not able to log on.
    #2: I’ve played, and enjoyed, the Diablo franchise since the beta for the first game, however, they’ve steadily gotten away from the “feel/vibe” that made the first game have such a great atmosphere. Dark, gothic, with the extremely strong “demons vs angels” theme running throughout. I guess a Diablo game without a “paladin” type character (full platemail, holy sword weilding, champion of light) just doesn’t feel right to me. The class options in the third game really fall short for me.
    #3: Guild Wars 2… I hate to put it this way, but the simple truth is, there’s not much point in me spending money on any other online game in the near future because once GW2 goes live, let’s face it, I’m not going to be playing anything else anyway… Had Blizzard gotten their act together and released D3 closer to the beginning of this year then I would have purchased it, and welcomed it as a great way to tide myself over until GW2 came out, but now…? No, I wouldn’t be getting my monies worth out of it, and now that GW2 has begun public BWEs it’s not realistic for me to be spending much time getting involved with a new title.

    Prior to my extend hiatus from MMOs, I had spent quite a few (roughly 10) enjoyable years being a serial monogomist with EQ, Vanguard, and WOW (with a couple of other briefer runs on some other titles mixed in) and I’m really looking forward to once again losing myself in a virtual world that I enjoy obsessively. Any game developer trying to pry my eyes away from GW2 at this point, had better be bringing a serious power-house of a game to market, not a re-tread of a game that I used to like, but which fails to remember what made me like it in the first place…

    • I love playing Torchlight once in a while because it doesn’t require “thinking” and it not having a multiplayer mode means that I don’t need to pay attention to anybody else. So I always love having such a game around for my non-social moments. ;) I did get Tropico 4 a while ago and now also got the addon, so that game can feel the niche. As will Torchlight 2. I guess I have everything I need.

      Still, since we’ll get one version of D3 anyway, I will also have a look at it and may even get a copy later on. But not fot its full price. It comes with too many disadvantages and disappointments for that!

  2. sketchbookgames

    Interesting review, I’ve played Torch Light from a Humble Bundle, it’s pretty good, but i really prefer online play for this type of game. Torch Light2 supporting online play is good news.

    I’m a little drawn away from Diablo 3 because it is a lot like Torch Light and other games, I had expected Blizzard to set the bar higher in the same fashion as Diablo 2. I still intend to pre-order Diablo 3, and hope the later difficulty in the game makes it worth while. Perhaps i will really like it later in the game, i only made it to level 10 in open beta.

    (SC2 was right on the nose for raising the bar, I only have 2 complaints about it, no LAN/brood, and map ratings seem to be limiting map developers.)

    “I wonder how many other people will decide not to get Diablo 3 because of its policy of forcing you to be online and connected to a server at all times?”

    StarCraft2 was the first Blizzard game to surprise me with this policy.
    I suspect the policy will be a little different than you experienced in open beta.
    SC2 suffers more from no LAN support than D3 will. Since LAN was required for the nature of the SC competitions over seas.

    SC2′s policy of internet required for single player is designed to give you a 30 day pass for offline play after you have connected to the server. It was a bit spotty when SC2 first came out but i suspect it is better now.

    D3 is likely to have the same plan for offline play, If i were blizzard i would not support this for open beta at the chance that someone would take a 3 day weekend pass and end up with a 30 day offline pass. There is 1 tiny reason the offline play for D3 might be different than SC2 and require constant connection, and that is the Auction House, which I’ve heard is available even to offline players. since the Auction House sounds like an optional feature, i suspect there will be a “server is not available, play offline?” option like there is in SC2.

    • I’m sorry for not having replied sooner, I thought I had. O.o

      You mean “online play” as in “playing with others”, I assume? I like both modes. Playing offline and single-player mode, so I can be non-social. Or playing with bookahnerk or a friend once in a while. But when it’s about playing through the story, I prefer doing that on my own and in my own pace.

      This 30 day pass sounds a bit complicated. It would be great if they gave you the choice of playing offline when the servers can’t be reached. That’d help a lot for those moments where you just don’t have an internet connection and it does happen, after all. ;)

  3. ive completely flagged Diablo 3 , 1:> the price. The price didnt match what i saw for a start,at the end of it all it offers barely anything more than torchlight 2, it offers LESS, i can completely create my own character in torchlight 2 and i have an awesome companion that transforms into what he eats !!!! 2:> The beta made me feel i was playing a Kingdoms of amalur hack and slash game in topdown view, not a real gritty extreme savage world that diablo 2 was. I didnt get the feeling of the harsh environments Diablo 2 had, The blood and gore and twisted evil diablo 2 was, is what i was after and i found Diablo 3 just wasnt that. It was kind of like a pretty cartoony version. The pacing was a bit off in Diablo 3 also. 3:> no offline mode so i cant just have fun offline. Thats a complete deal breaker. I either get a crack for that game or i wont be playing it , its that simple.

    The only thing that has made me question Torchlight 2. (Not the artstyle, because thats just the style they are going for) is the varied environments, will they be that varied?. Diablo 2 wasnt that varied but somehow still felt varied, i hope torchlight 2 tries and does that. If all the environments do truly feel a little different from each other and random everytime, i think torchlight 2 will at least be just as good as diablo 3, if not better. Also i think you can have 8 people playing.

    Diablo 2 wasnt as varied as you think. People make out that it was really varied. Well the armours were pretty much the same except for thier values, until you got to the next acts. Thats the only time they really changed. I dont know why people go on about how varied diablo 2 was. The reason that game was so awesome , WAS its hardcore gothic twisted universe and everything just felt awesome and it was tough and on hardcore mode you had to make choices that you didnt know you really wanted later on, I LIKE THAT. Now, you can cahnge skills whenever you want, so that feeling is completely null and void. Which is a shame. It also wasnt cartoony. Diablo 3 felt cartoony to me.

  4. P.S Yes i know torchlight 2 is cartoony(i dont mind that at all), BUT i was hoping Diablo 3 was going to go far away from that and not be anything like the artstyle we have today. I was hoping for a more Diablo 2 look to it, but with much MUCH better graphics.

    • I don’t mind cartoony in general (I did play WoW, after all ^^). But it seems out of place for Diablo. It’s really too bad they went away from that style for their game. Maybe after playing it a while, it’s not bad, but the graphics didn’t give me the feeling that I was playing Diablo. It gave me the feeling that I was playing a game like Diablo made by somebody else.

      I’m curious to see more of the games, both Torchlight 2 and Diablo 3. But for now, the price of Diablo 3 is what makes me not get it myself.

  5. TL 2 is my new butthurt. I was never waiting for game and suddenly played TL1 (which was occasionly bought on steam sale), then i played like 30h overall in 3 days and now waiting for TL2 to comeout (alrdy prepurchased)… OOhhh god. Why am I talking all this? Well, Diablo3 didn’t ever exist for me. Runic, shut the fuck up and take my money.

    Also good post, buddy.

    OOOOOHHHHHHH GOOOOOOOD

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