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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?