So, Diablo 3 will soon be out for three months. During this period, a large number of critics have appeared, and a group of people went as far as openly considering the game as a failure. In this article, I'll deliver my point of view on this, and I'll try my best to explain the reasons of such hatred for one of the most popular game of all time.
Before you continue reading, Be warned that this article contains minor spoilers about Act 2&3.
The wait, the popularity, and what it entails
One of the main reason Diablo 3 has been overly criticized and judged by a lot of people is simply its popularity : It is one of the best-selling game of all time, and it is certainly hard to consider 6million copies sold for $60 a failure. It is important to add to that that Diablo 3 has been announced in 2008. Four whole years before the game came out, raising a lot of expectations, especially since die-hard fans of the serie have been waiting it ever since Diablo 2 came out, twelve years ago.
I believe that one of the reason people were quick to reject Diablo 3 is partly explainable by the same psychologcal mechanics that create the horribly annoying Buyer's Remorse ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buyer's_remorse ). Basically, for years, a lot of players have been day-dreaming about how amazing Diablo 3 would end up being, how awesome it would be to relive those countless hours spent on its precedecessor, and attributing way too much goodness to a game that they didn't know anything about. This delusion certainly helped to instill the feeling of "Wow.. All this wait for THAT ?" in the minds of people that loved the 2 and were hugely disappointed in the 3. It is also important to remember that gamers seem to feel a lot more entitled nowadays than they did back when Diablo 2 was the game you'd spend hours of your teenage years on. Does it make Diablo 3 a bad game or failure ? No. Does it explain why some people consider it to be one ? Probably.
But let's jump to the following topic : why Diablo 3 progression&endgame feels lacking to some.
The Progression, The Endgame, and why it felt lacking.
Diablo 3's progression system is certainly lacking in some department compared to the previous iteration of the game.
My first point will be mostly anecdotic, as I have heard far less complaints on that point than on the others. Still, I feel like I should at least mention it quickly. To some, the 4 difficulty mode Blizzard chose to follow feels too slow. It appears that the Nightmare mode is sometimes considered as "overkill", and people would prefer three difficulty modes : Normal, Hell and Inferno.
The second point however, is, in my opinion, an error on Blizzard's part. The level cap is reached rather quickly. Sure, there's a lot to do once you're level 60. But you have to keep in mind that the player, or rather the player's brain, likes to be rewarded. In Diablo 2, a farming session, even if it failed at bringing you good items, would still reward you with experience, and ultimately level ups. In Diablo 3, an unsuccessful farming session brings you nothing but some blues you'll be selling to the merchant for a few golds. As anecdotal as it may seem, the action-reward system plays a great role in making a game addicting, and the fact that hours-long farming sessions may reward you with virtually nothing can deter some players.
The third point concerns a major topic, a feature that should be in the game Soon : PvP. This isn't something unexpected as Blizzard made it clear that PvP would not be shipped in with the game and would come soon afterward in a patch. However, while a sizeable part of the community doesn't care about PvP, many also see it as the most fun-inducing part of the Diablo games, and the lack of it is likely to make those players decide to stop playing the game for a while, until it is added. Additionally, Blizzard confirmed that this feature would come in with the 1.1 patch, while the 1.0.4 patch hasn't even been released yet : some could see it as a sign that they won't be able to duck it out with strangers for a long time.
A fourth point is not gameplay related, but It's mentioned often enough to find its place there : Diablo 3 is poorly written. The scenario feels like an obligation to go and click on demons to destroy them. That's fine, we're playing a Hack n' Slash, not a RPG. But it still leaves a bad aftertaste if you think about it. Belial, the master of lies, is so good at lying that it takes about ten minutes to guess his "secret identity". Azmodan, best strategist of Hell someone thinks that explaining his strategy to his nemesis step by step is a good idea. Maghda is a character that feels out of place, but we can at least understand her plot-relevance. Oh well, this isn't the most important thing in the world, but I still felt like I needed to mention it.
My last point would be way more subjective one, feel free to skip it. Diablo 3 endgame is very frustration inducing. Combined with some other elements, it can make a person simply decide to stop playing for a while. Small things can add up sometimes. For instance, imagine being advancing through Inferno, slowly but surely, and suddenly... Nightmarish Extra-HP Reflect Damage Horde Soul Reapers. I'm fine with difficulty and randomization, since those two things are the point of this game. However, seeing such gaps between mob packs can and will get on your nerves. The same can be said for resplendescent chests, who have been nerfed to the ground to avoid botters farming them all day, but in the same time removing the fun of discovering a shiny potential ilvl63 chest. Right now, it feels like chests are there to decorate.
And now, the next (and last) part.
Oh Diablo 3, what has modernity done to thee ?
And despite all that, I'll tell you that Diablo 3 is not a bad game.
It is enjoyable, it is fun, it has a lot of players happy to throw hours at it, and it has sold 6,3million copies.
Then why is it so hated, why does it have so many players jumping on it just for the sake of hating it ?
In my opinion, it comes from two reasons. The obvious one being that the Diablo serie has always produced top-quality games, and the last one came out twelve (or eleven, if you count LoD) years ago. We all know people love to enhance everything they loved when they were younger with nostalgia. Thus, some people are still seeing Diablo 2 as "THE Game". Add to that the extremely long development time, and it is easy to understand why D3 has a very hard time living up to its hype : it is arguably one of the most over-hyped game of the year. Some have even been waiting for it as the "Messiah of Gaming", and well, it isn't. But it is still a good game, a not so flaw-free good game, but a good game nonetheless.
The second reason would be the advent of mass-comunication. For all we know, 6 million players could be silently playing the game all day and enjoying every minute of it, while a vocal minority bashes heavily on the game on every single imaginable forums. Back when D2 came out, forums were way less developped and popular, but nowadays you can spread your complaints to the entire world in a few minutes.
That's it, here's my take on Diablo 3. I may be biased, but I still think that it is far from being a bad game. While it arguably not a perfect game and a lot of complaints are justified, it is quite obvious that the game has been hyped to a point where living up to the hype was simply impossible.
I sincerely hope that you've enjoyed reading this :) .