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Caffeinated Saturday, Episode 04

May 26, 2012

Diablo 3 came out recently, and I picked it up knowing that the price will likely never go down – so I’m not really saving myself any money by waiting, and also because just about every gamer I know was going to be playing.

My short review is that D3 is a decent game but barely worth the $60 and I’m really glad that I don’t have to pay a monthly fee to play it. The campaign and story is decent, feels shorter and less interesting than D2. The quick-join with friends is a great feature, however this game reaks of level-gap-itis, so actually getting to play with friends is often times very difficult. Moreover, everyone seems to enjoy the game at a different pace – some like to bomb through the main quest to get loot, others insist on exploring every inch of every map… as such, I’ve found that most players eventually close their matches so the game is strictly solo – at least for the first play-through. So, you don’t really get to play with friends much during their first play through, and after that the level / gear gap gets far more insane, so you really don’t get to play with friends later either.

Designers have indicated that they will add some kind of sidekicking, but it is not on their list of priorities – that means we won’t see it implemented in the game before GW2 is out and I grow tired of D3. The only reason I don’t regret buying D3 is the fact that I know at some point in time I’ll run into some gamer friend that will want to play some D3 – and I won’t have to pay to do so.

One thing that I definitely do like about D3 is the skills and runes system – it’s not too far removed from Guild War 1. In fact, it’s almost quite ideal, and I really hope that other games copy-paste this system. While I like the skill system better than any that I have played so far (being better than WoW, Rift, or even GW2), it’s not perfect in it’s current form. First off, the amount of skill overlap that makes many skills absolutely redundant or useless. Second, many skills do not scale well with content. Case in point: I play a Witch Doctor, and by the end of the game only 4-or-so skills (out of the +20 skills) are useful at all in the hardest difficulty mode. From what I’ve read, this situation isn’t as bad with other classes – but scaling and overlap issues will likely take some time to iron out. Currently I’m at a point in the game where the difficulty is high enough that I’m relegated to one of a few builds and I spend more time pecking away at enemies from afar than actually doing anything interesting – that is to say the gameplay is already stale and I’ve moved on.

I played through two quickie weekends of Guild Wars 2 beta, and it basically meets my expectations. It’s gorgeous, it runs decent on my machine, and the gameplay is exactly as I expected. What I didn’t expect however, is that being locked into my skillset based on my current weapon would make combat quite a bit bland. I want to give it more time before I really write much about it, but when you can only swap between two weapons, each of which giving you four kind-of-samey attacks, combat isn’t very interesting at times.

An internet acquaintance of mine that I used to raid with in Vanilla WoW went through one of those life-changing breakups this month. I sent him a message, letting him know my thoughts on the issue, and having been through that before I gave him the advice of hanging out with friends as much as possible (even if that means “in game”) to get his mind off of things. One of the things he does is play WoW – so I reactivated my account, got myself a free level 80 Shaman, and a free transfer to his server. Since then D3 came out as well as a bunch of movies, so he hasn’t even been in WoW – but another gamer friend of mine had reactivated his account while drunk and reminiscent one eve, so we started running instances together. It was a great time, until he felt the absolute need to grind to level cap and start running heroics instances – which I can’t do unless I too invest an insane mount of mind-numbing grinding to do. Well, that’s pretty much where I get off the bus, because the level/gear gap that prevents friends from gaming together is probably the single biggest reason that I stopped playing WoW in the first place – I can’t bother to keep up with friends that play obsessively.

I also picked up Gattling Gears, which would have made a 10/10 arcade game “back in the day”. It’s like a mix of Raiden Fighters and Bastion. It’s too bad that the coop never has any players online. <shrug>

I read that the staff that had developed Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning was laid off, amidst a fairly big financial scandal. I have mixed feelings about that. I think that it was short-sighted of the company to want to develop a WoW clone and expect to make a profit, and it was really short-sighted of them to release a single-player WoW-clone, even if the action is good. Yet, I think it’s sad that Todd McFarlane’s first foray into games was an absolute bomb. I don’t even mean “regular flop”, I mean this is probably the single biggest flop that we’ve seen in gaming, and his name is all over the project. I grew up reading Spawn comics, and collected the various figures his company created years later – plus he’s a fellow EWU alum and spent time in my home city… So, it’s sad to know that this will likely be the last time he’ll do anything in gaming.

Apparently there’s to be a new Rift expansion in the near future. I’m not sure if I really care, but I thought I would mention it since I liked the game so much when I first started playing it – and it’s honestly the only real contender to WoW other than SWTOR. Based on what I’ve read, there’ll be nothing added to the game that gets my attention – just raids, crafting shit, a couple souls (sub-classes), and some more levels (which means more skills, but that never interests me really). The lack of sidekicking still stings, since that is the one thing keeping me from actually playing that game actively. It already has free server transfer (no faction transfers though!), so sidekicking would be all I need to sign up again. <shrug>   C’mon guys, how fucking hard is it to add sidekicking to your games? Give me a break. I’m going to learn Java/C# or something, make a very simple  coop multiplayer game, and ensure that it has sidekicking in it… from the start!

Prototype 2 was released on consoles recently… It took a bit of willpower to keep from buying it. If I could actually play my own console, I would have grabbed it on release day (but my girlfriend’s kid basically owns my console). It’s not coming out for PC for a little while yet, and it will be on Steam, so I’m compelled to wait (eagerly!) for it’s PC release. On the other hand, it’s a reason to pick up a PS3, along with Starhawk – a PS3 exclusive that grabbed my attention the other day. I’m going to have to look into the Starhawk vids a bit more before I commit to plunking down +$300 on a new system and game.

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