Baby WoW

I am about five hours into Diablo 3, and I think I am done with the game.

What’s wrong? Two words: “baby WoW.”

Issue 3: “Baby WoW”

As I was playing co-op with an ex-WoW friend, he uttered “baby WoW” as the description of what these sort of games made him feel like he was playing. And you know what? I’m starting to feel the same. That is kind of the whole schtick of hack-n-slash, of course, the mowing down of corridors of mobs while you mop up the loot debris field in the wake of your passing. It is also tough to criticize spam-clicking in a world of rote ability rotations and the common “strategy” you develop for the execution of the average MMO mob.

At the same time, while I was going through Diablo 3 I could not help but feel somewhat patronized. This Skinner Box lever is completely unadorned. Of course, if you prefer yours fast and loose, then get ready to go to town; I may just turn in for the night instead, if its all the same to you.

That was written about a month ago in my Diablo 3 Beta preview. I am not sure what exactly I was expecting to be different between then and now… perhaps that my perspective would change? As I mentioned in that article, I am a storied veteran of the hack-n-slash genre, so my present disposition towards the gameplay is somewhat surprising. Or maybe it shouldn’t be surprising, given that the bulk of my H&S resume was pre-MMO.

What really drove the point home though, was when I decided to look into the crystal ball and see what my level 16 monk had to look forward to in Inferno difficulty. First, came the forum posts which lamented a blunt non-viability. Then came the Youtube videos.

Compare:

Part 2 (of 4) Monk killing one elite pack in Act 4. It takes him over 10 minutes of kiting.


Witch Doctor in Act 2. Sure looks fun.


Wizard in Act 2.

The reoccurring theme here is kiting. Lots and lots of kiting. Now, I am not here to denigrate the skill it takes to kite properly. I am simply saying: kiting is not my idea of compelling gameplay. Kiting to allow your abilities to come off cooldown is worse. Kiting in a game where by default left-clicking an area could root you in place and attack the very mob you are trying to get away from is worse still. Diablo 3 is not a movement game. This is not an MMO like Guild Wars 2 or (presumably) TERA wherein you have Dodge buttons and position is important.

There appears to be only two distances in Diablo 3: Immune in Melee or Running Away.

You may rightly ask “Why let this bother you?” After all, I just zoned into Act II and am only level 16. It could very well be that I beat Normal mode once and then uninstall. And the answer I would give would be “I’m not having fun right now.” The abilities so far on the Monk are boring to me. Fists of Thunder + Thunderclap Rune was great when I got it… at level 6. Since that time, I am still waiting for something new to “change” my gameplay in a comparable way. And it is looking as though if such a skill exists, I won’t be getting it until well past the end of the game.

So… yeah.

For now, I started a Witch Doctor in the hopes I will have enough fun summoning zombie dogs and spiders and such to last me until the end of the game. I would have started out with the Witch Doctor originally, but when the Skeleton King one-shot my 60 second cooldown in the Beta, I sort of figured that that play-style would not be viable later on. If that is still the case, well, I will be jumping off that bridge when I get to it.

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Posted on May 29, 2012, in Diablo and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. I’ve been incredibly underwhelmed myself. I’m reserving final judgment until I get to experience Inferno first-hand, but the litany of grievances I already have make it very unlikely that it will remain on my “currently playing” list for long.

    One of the biggest turn-offs to me personally was the plot and its delivery, but as you say you’re only partway through normal, I won’t go into that here. I’d be interested to hear your impressions once you finish. It seems everyone with whom I’ve discussed it thus far has been somewhat less than content.

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  2. I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the game, myself. I play a Monk primarily and yes, the Monk’s abilities do get much more interesting as time goes on. I started my Monk not planning to play it much since it was the least interesting class to me, but it quickly became my favorite.

    As far as the “baby WoW” complaints–I’m not really seeing it at all. The “Skinner box” aspect of Diablo has always been present. Unless you think that getting gear, gaining levels and killing enemies make it like WoW, in which case you have a problem with a genre, not a game. You don’t spam click in WoW. Your enemies don’t swarm in hordes or drop piles of items in WoW. You don’t have semi-random areas of linear progression in WoW. D3 doesn’t have talent trees. WoW doesn’t restrict your active abilities or allow you to swap abilities in and out on the fly. WoW has cast times, D3 doesn’t. They’re, honestly, completely different and personally I feel like the “baby WoW” comment is just nonsense.

    Regarding the kiting complaints, you should at least play into Nightmare. Normal mode is too easy to be particularly compelling for experienced players and most people seem to be agreeing that Inferno mode is basically broken right now, but so far in Nightmare I’ve been having a lot of fun. It’s hard enough that you have to play around and fine-tune your loadout as you go along and gear upgrades are very rewarding, but not so hard that you’re kiting to bring abilities off cooldown (at least, this happens very infrequently).

    I don’t know about Hell, but I don’t anticipate I’ll be playing anything into Inferno since all I’ve heard are bad things.

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    • Unless you think that getting gear, gaining levels and killing enemies make it like WoW, in which case you have a problem with a genre, not a game.

      I originally meant the “baby WoW” as a comparison towards how much thought one needed to put into the game, e.g. “move out of the fire” vs “move out of the fire + rotation + buffs + etc,” but after some reflection you are probably closer to the mark. Or maybe it’s because I have zero expectation that any of the loot will be useful (as compared to AH loot) that seeing the loot doesn’t move the needle. Or maybe WoW was the natural evolution of Diablo 2 in my mind, and it’s hard to go back in the same way it’s hard to play 800×600 resolution computer games today.

      Who knows. I haven’t entirely given up yet, so maybe the Monk (or Witch Doctor more likely) will surprise me.

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      • That makes more sense, but doesn’t really change the fact that it’s a problem you apparently have with this genre, not this game. As you suggest, it’s entirely reasonable that Diablo 3 is a natural evolution from WoW which was a natural evolution from Diablo 2. If you don’t like “staying out of the fire”-type gameplay, then maybe action RPGs aren’t really your cup of tea. Then again, I generally hate most WoW raid PvE and I’m getting along with D3 just fine.

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  3. Wait, you’re talking about Act II on normal difficulty? Can we consider you really played the game at this difficulty? A player who is as veteran as you with games shuold be challenged. Normal is storymode for children, like Wolf3D “don’t hurt me daddy”. Nightmare is easy mode. hell is normal. And inferno is hard. Go zerg through the former two (enjoy the story at normal, put on elective mode and start with your build on nightmare) because the game starts at hell. By then you should be familiar with your class abilities, and you will be challenged to put them to use. Of course, if it does not seem worth it to you when you see the videos then don’t do it. Just complete normal for story (if you at least enjoy that) and quit. If you don’t enjoy your class, reroll (you did, GJ).

    I have been having a lot of fun both single and coop up till inferno and beyond. The fun of Diablo 3? The talent system, hands down. Finding the right build and adjusting it (on inferno with the twist of the mf/gf buff), or playing with friends coop on voice chat. Getting that rare (not literally) drop and putting it to good use (give to friend, sell on AH, or use yourself). Doing the maths behind the stats of upgrades (be a lootwhore with your wowfriends because now you can; all have their own drops).

    Also, you don’t need CDs for the skeleton king even on inferno. He just hits harder (maybe your gear was low tho). You only need to move away when he does his charge, and kill the adds (or kite them long enough). If you needed a CD and he oneshot you in beta then you did it wrong because you took damage which was avoidable. That is part of the game: learning to avoid taking damage. If you start learning that at low lvl you will only benefit from it at high level (tho sometimes on low level you can just zerg and stand in the shit leading to more damage done leading to quicker leveling).

    As for inferno lets just say there are a lot of whiners on the internet who’d like to faceroll and one shot everything. When they get challenged they complain, stuff should be nerfed. Heck, I have complained too after I died the umptieth time to a hard yellow, but at least I recognize I am complaining and that other classes and/or builds have difficulty with yellow I have easier time with. Kinda same for bosses. If you enjoy the challenge and finally progressed and beaten something, it just feels great. Especially if you get shinies for it.

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    • The Skeleton King didn’t kill me, he simply one-shot all of my Zombie Dogs right at the beginning of the fight in the beta. And again, last night, actually. If I enjoy running around with hordes of summoned dudes (as I did with the Necromancer circa D2), it doesn’t particularly bode well that the Zombie Dogs were a 100% useless talent in the very first boss encounter in the game.

      You are correct about the difficulty of Normal, of course. Thing is, just like leveling rogues in WoW, the game shouldn’t be boring until Cheap Shot. I had fun with the monk after getting the Thunderclap rune, but 7 more levels without another fun button to push is not something I’m particularly willing to tolerate anymore. I have too many other entirely fun games to play.

      Aside from the Zombie Dog boss issue though, I am having a much more enjoyable time with the Witch Doctor thus far.

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      • It is a progression problem in games like this. I have the same issue with WoW/SWTOR (tho they’re MMOs), but you can level up via PvP there (less boring, more challenging; esp in SWTOR). In Diablo, for first char & first time I wanted to solo everything and enjoy the story. It was boring at start, but I just tried to zerg through it which obviously started to get less effective while I was lvling up. I’ve done some powerlvling and coop lvling on alts; more fun. The fun lies in the efficiency: as you try to be more efficient you become overconfident and lose. Then you improve.

        My WD is level 11. I also found my dogs die a lot. My friend has a level 57 WD. He had a monk before his WD, but did not enjoy. He plays a hpala in WoW. From what I heard from my friend talking about WD (he thoroughly enjoys it): you get your “tank” minion at level 19, and later on the dogs die less quick. His big tank doesn’t die much during soloing (but gets hit harder in coop). When we play together he usually runs around with his what I refer to as “zoo”.

        (Sorry I posted reply wrong below.)

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  4. Oh well, I remember the early days of the D2 summoner necro. It was aweful, your minions didn’t survived anything. Only later (1.08 I think?) he became viable and the beast I loved to play. I guess D3 also needs a few itterations to get things right, it feels more or less like a glorified beta right now.

    And that kiting thing? Well, if you want to farm stuff for which you are heavily undergeared, prepare to move a lot. Act 1 Inferno mobs oneshotted my barb the first time I was there. Now I can bath in everything the mobs are throwing at me, I don’t even care about boss abilities. Same with Act 2 and I guess it will be the same even with Act 4 when you finally collected enough godly op equip.

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  5. It is a progression problem in games like this. I have the same issue with WoW/SWTOR (tho they’re MMOs), but you can level up via PvP there (less boring, more challenging; esp in SWTOR). In Diablo, for first char & first time I wanted to solo everything and enjoy the story. It was boring at start, but I just tried to zerg through it which obviously started to get less effective while I was lvling up. I’ve done some powerlvling and coop lvling on alts; more fun. The fun lies in the efficiency: as you try to be more efficient you become overconfident and lose. Then you improve.

    My WD is level 11. I also found my dogs die a lot. My friend has a level 57 WD. He had a monk before his WD, but did not enjoy. He plays a hpala in WoW. From what I heard from my friend talking about WD (he thoroughly enjoys it): you get your “tank” minion at level 19, and later on the dogs die less quick. His big tank doesn’t die much during soloing (but gets hit harder in coop). When we play together he usually runs around with his what I refer to as “zoo”.

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