As you may or may not have noticed, Diablo 3 has clawed its way back onto my Currently Playing sidebar.

Actually, that sentence is not entirely accurate on two counts. First, it has not clawed so much as been exhumed. And second, I am “playing” D3 as one plays daily quests – mechanically, and with iTunes going in the background.

I just completed Act 1 of Hell last night and am past the first boss of Act II, having went through the entirety of Nightmare without a single upgrade off of the ground. The problems I had with the Dervishes appears to have been an isolated incident (or things have been nerfed), insofar as my thoroughly literal faceroll tactic has obliterated every other challenger. A link to my build can be found here. In essensce, I hold down left-click to teleport and pummel mobs while an auto-AoE scoures the bones of my enemies to dust. I have not meaningfully changed my build since level 21.

After defeating Nightmare Diablo, I spent 50,000g on the AH and walked out with this:

The resistance means I take that percent less damage from basically everything.

There is something very specific I want to say about this picture. It is NOT a rumination of the overpoweredness of AH-bought gear. It is NOT an invitation to speculate how it would be expected of players new to Hell to have such stat increases. It is simply this statement, originally posted at Penny-Arcade:

[…] What I’m saying is that getting new shit actually is the game.  For us, anyway.  Getting and, crucially, equipping new loot.  The whole AH thing short-circuits the entire idea: the game is, functionally speaking, a pinata.  Right?  Obviously, you could just go buy candy at the store.  It’s not about having candy.  It’s about getting candy.

The fundamental, crippling gripe I had with Torchlight was how I went the entire 20+ hour campaign wearing the exact same level 4 (legendary) amulet. These games are predicated on the stimulating the slot-machine areas of the brain, and to fail at this task is for the game to be rendered pointless at a conceptual level. Dropped items do not excite beyond the promise that I can extract more than their vendor price on the AH, so as purchase actual upgrades from the cash shop AH.

Upgrades like this one, increasing my DPS by 117% with one, 10,000g item.

As much as RNG has always been a part of the Diablo environment, I nevertheless feel a certain perversion of the formula. There is nothing RNG about Diablo loot anymore. Sell what drops, and equip what you buy. This is by no means a novel, late-breaking concern; people have been speculating on this issue from Day 1 of the announcement of the AH. I am confirming that such people are 100% correct.

Still, I trooper on, for various reasons:

  1. Spite.
  2. To say I did.
  3. Get a better, more equitable understanding of the endgame firsthand.
  4. In the off-chance I stumble across an unspoiled pocket of actual fun.
  5. For the Benjamins.

That last one is not entirely serious, although I know two people – one a commenter, and the other a close guildmate – whom have either sold or came upon an item worth $180 or more. The former said he/she sold a ring for 250 euros, in fact, completing the Diablo Annual Pass Challenge in a single stroke. These are level 60 items, of course, but it still boggles the mind a bit.

Many have predicted the RMAH market would be drying up soon, and maybe they are right. However, I predict a truly ridiculous renaissance once the PvP patch hits. Can you even imagine the volume of sales?

Posted on June 29, 2012, in Diablo and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. I’ve done a 180 on my enjoyment of Diablo. I still stand by my opinions that the game is, mechanically, quite good.

    But everything else is awful. It’s exactly like you say: a perversion of the formula that makes these games fun and illustrates a fundamental lack of understanding on Blizzard’s part about what made the first two Diablo games such classics.

    My brother spent a week, 6+ hours a day, farming Act 1 Inferno so that he could move into Act 2 Inferno. He received 0 upgrades. In a week. He quit rather than be forced to spend hundreds of millions of gold or hundreds of real dollars on upgrades.

    Sell what drops and buy what you wear. Are they fucking serious?


  2. “What I’m saying is that getting new shit actually is the game. For us, anyway.”

    I guess it’s possible that some people think this, but it seems rather overstated to me. People didn’t play D2 or D1 because there was loot, they played them because they genuinely enjoyed the games. For my part, I did do some farming in D2, and killed Mephisto more times than I care to admit, but it was never what I enjoyed and was merely a chore that I had to do to get through Hell. The fun of the game came from trying to get various character builds through it.

    D3 is a fun game, but it has a lot of little annoying things that add up. My problem now is that gear to progress past Act 1 inferno is too expensive, and farming it up is going to take more time than I am realistically going to be able to spend. The latest hotfixes that increased droprates have given a glimmer of hope though.


    • People didn’t play D2 or D1 because there was loot, they played them because they genuinely enjoyed the games.

      Yeah, but… enjoyed how?

      Let’s be honest here, Diablo is not so well-known for its vastly innovative control scheme or ability combinations (although D2 did popularize talent trees). It is well-known for loot explosions and training people to kick every explosive barrel because there could be a legendary/set-piece inside. The quality of the actual fight mechanics is what separates it from similar dungeon crawlers, but the loot is what places it in this genre to begin with.

      Because let’s face it: there are better games with better mechanics out there. There aren’t games with better casino-like reward systems.


  3. Look I’m sorry to say this but you don’t seem to have played sufficiently. Upgrades don’t come every 5 minutes. They do at the very beginning but the better your gear gets, the less worthy upgrades you will find. I have 3 lv 60 characters and I have found numerous upgrades for them even at level 60, not to mention 3 legendaries that I sold for real money. Even at 60 when most of my gear is decent, I still manage to find pieces that are better in every way than what I already have. So I think it’s a matter of playing the game for long enough that statistical anomalies will even the odds out. D2 was exactly the same. Upgrades came once in a blue moon and trading was waaaay harder than in D3.


    • “Played sufficiently?”

      1) Going an through an entire 12-hour play-through (i.e. Nightmare Acts 1-4) with zero upgrades is unimaginably dumb. There is nothing statistically anomalous about that. You are arguing in favor of Torchlight’s “wear the same level 4 amulet for the entire game” design, which is simply bad.

      2) More to the point, whatever you do happen to find off the ground is 100% irrelevant. Yeah, no doubt things change in Inferno since the item pool is deeper at that end of things. But on the way up to Inferno, there is no reason whatsoever for you to equip shit off the ground even if it is an upgrade – there is always going to be a cheap, superior replacement two clicks away in the AH. And not even 1,000,000g upgrades, but regular, run-of-the-mill 10,000g upgrades.

      I don’t know why people keep assuming I never played Diablo or Diablo 2. If you don’t feel as though the AH has changed the nature of the game, then… congratulations? This barely feels like a Diablo game to me at all; mobs may as well drop gold only, since that is effectively what they do now.


      • I think that what you perceive as lack of upgrades is simply the fact that until Hell or so you level too quickly for most items to be considered upgrades. There’s a lot of luck involved here but personally I have always got some of my upgrades from drops. In any case, for me it makes a lot more sense to buy dirt cheap items from the AH because I can progress faster and get to the endgame quickly where all the fun is.

        Like the other posted said, you don’t play it solely for the upgrades. You play it because the gameplay appeals to you. While items play a part in that, there’s so much more to Diablo. It’s the combination of a vast number of builds, various item setups and random monsters that makes up the experience.

        Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to be an apologetic. There are plenty of things I don’t like about D3. In fact I rant about them on my blog on occasion. But overall I still enjoy the game. If these things don’t appeal to you then you either need to take a break and chill for a while, or try a different build. Also, buying some nice upgrades for very little gold from the AH can greatly enhance your gameplay. So what if monsters become trivial? In this game I love the feeling of being overpowered. And even if you are overpowered while leveling, you’ll find out in Hell and especially Inferno that the AH won’t help you so much, unless you have tens of millions of gold at your disposal.


      • Darth:

        Like the other posted said, you don’t play it solely for the upgrades. You play it because the gameplay appeals to you. While items play a part in that, there’s so much more to Diablo. It’s the combination of a vast number of builds, various item setups and random monsters that makes up the experience.

        No, Azuriel is, shall we say, right on the money on this one.

        Replayability to experience ‘vast number of builds’ may have been true for D2, because you were given a limited number of ‘respecs’. In D3, it takes a few minutes to switch skills around and another few to test them out with definite conclusions. There is certainly no incentive to level a new, better barbarian from scratch, armed with the lessons of your first one. All you can do is give your first one better gear.

        Besides, there is nothing vast about the builds. There is very little room for creativity and improvisation on Hell, let alone Inferno. It just took a little while for the handful of optimal builds to be sussed out.

        The basic pleasure of hack and slash was present in D2 because the emphasis on outdoor elite packs was minimal. You killed bosses for your loot. So, the option to zone out and farm the open world in safety, the equivalent of a penny one-armed-bandit, existed. In D3, you have to be ready for mad prefixes dropping on your arse anywhere. If you find those relaxing, then you have made the AH central to your gameplay at some point.

        In D2, the level cap (99) was very difficult to attain, and completely unnecessary to beat Hell Baal or any other encounter in the game. For most mortals, just playing the game offered a constant power increase independent of gear. In D3, you’re expected to get to 60 quickly, where, as you say, the real fun is. Gear-centric fun.

        This iteration of the franchise does not swerve for fact or jest. It is grimly and efficiently streamlined to make you desire the food pellet, i.e. gear.


      • Well, there’s always hardcore if you think normal mode is too easy. But regardless, I think people have different reasons for playing it. Some play it for the items, others for the skills, others for the… whatever floats their boat. Personally I don’t think that D3’s core gameplay strayed too far from the Diablo series as a whole. The basic formula remains the same: kill zillions of monsters for a small chance of getting better items.


      • The basic formula remains the same: kill zillions of monsters for a small chance of getting better items.

        …except now you kill zillions of monster for gold to buy better items from the AH.

        I just killed Hell Diablo. Outside of the weapon upgrade in the post above (which I bought), I did not bother upgrading my level ~51 gear like I normally do (usually after gaining 2 levels). I have obtained zero upgrades. This makes two entire playthroughs with nothing. And not just nothing, but zero expectation of anything. I get excited by yellow text simply because I wonder if I can sell it for 10,000g instead of vendoring it for less than 1000g.

        It could be D2 was just as bad, although I do not remember it as such. It could be that buying upgrades from the AH invalidates what would have been upgrades off the ground. But that is my point. The formula has changed, and this New Coke tastes terrible.

        Can’t wait to see how much fun I’ll have in Inferno.


      • Now let me ask you something. Do you play a single class? I play all of them and even if I don’t find upgrades for the class I’m playing at that time, I do find tons of other stuff for my other characters. Stuff that makes them a bit OP for their level… well, at least until they hit 50 or so.


  4. Don’t make me laugh with all that nostalgic nonsense. I barely played D2 but I read Sirlin on it. Apparently you were not even to respec in Diablo 2 until 9 years after the game was out. Get real, that isn’t replayability. That is grindy crap thanks to a shit game mechanic.

    Affixes are random, and your build has to deal with all of them. Boss mechanics are not random at all, so Diablo 2 is far easier in this regard. You cannot respec for affixes in Diablo 3 during farm since it’d remove your NV stacks. During progression it does work though.

    And indeed you do play Lootwhore 3 for 2 reasons: to beat Diablo 3 on inferno or for loot. There is no other, viable reason.


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