Since the days of the original Diablo, I’ve always been somewhat invested in the cooperative hack-and-slash RPG dungeon crawler genre. Filled to the brim with all manner of meaty loot, ludicrous quests, hellish monsters and over the top abilities, it’s a tough genre not to like. Unfortunately, Diablo III’s rough road contributed to a less than desirable reputation within the community and now with a newer, better version out on consoles, the popular series is even more polarizing. Wait, the console version is better than the PC one? You better believe it.
Our recorded debate on the subject!
Your Opinion Is Wrong is a new feature on Leviathyn that focuses on a very specific item with a widely accepted belief, such as the first Mass Effect being the best of the series. One of our writers dissects the information surrounding the subject and explains why the popular opinion, to the individual, is wrong. Expect controversial, flame-worthy topics many will not agree on. Just remember: the purpose of this feature is to expand the limited horizon and present a different view on a clash-worthy topic. Oh, and expect spoilers within as well!
I was a day one purchaser and player of Diablo III on PC. If you would have told me that the launch of one of the most anticipated games of all time would be botched and the gameplay itself would be lackluster, I probably would’ve heartily laughed and pole-vaulted somewhere distant. No one foresaw Diablo III’s issues and how could they? Even Blizzard publicly apologized for the travesty on launch day, but what they couldn’t do was ask for my forgiveness for the rest of their decisions. Diablo III will be forever unclean.
Innately Diablo III is a decent, fun game many can sit back and enjoy. However, the game’s brand new feature, the real or in-game money auction house, didn’t just turn the title upside down, it bastardized the classic, addictive gameplay. By significantly lowering the drop rate of anything substantially useful, Diablo III’s goal was to make you grind for the things you needed. Now, you’re probably saying, “Hmph! That’s how these hack and slash festivals of loot work, Andrew! You replay sections time and time again, killing the same monsters and bosses for a CHANCE to get something better!” You’d be right, of course.
The problem lies with the way Activision Blizzard went about altering the system. If you’ve played Diablo or Diablo II, useful magical items, rares and even uniques would drop fairly often after slaying a semi-powerful opponent; items that would immediately make an impact. The point is, instead of replaying each section time and time again and turning up with the rock at the bottom of the treasure chest, you’d progress with the feeling of actually benefitting from going through each act. Players were rewarded for netting a higher quality kill, something Diablo III omitted. By not receiving anything beneficiary, players were forced to turn to the auction house to buy their own upgrades, whether it be from in-game currency or real money. Brings new meaning to ‘pay to win’ doesn’t it?
I was one of those players who refused to use the auction house, not because I thought it was a bad feature, but because I wanted to earn my way like I did for the thousands of hours I poured into the first two games. Eventually I hit a brick wall, got sick of playing through entire acts only to find everything I didn’t need and was forced to throw my gold into the auction house. At first, I was pleased I could finally progress without incident but then it hit me – I’m paying somebody else to find items for me. Needless to say, I wasn’t thrilled at that prospect.
It didn’t take long for me to hang up my Diablo III jacket for good. Thanks to the lackadaisical gameplay and too intricate for its own good narrative, Diablo III’s entertainment wore itself out. By the time I got to Hell difficulty, the game that predicates itself on addictive grinding simply felt like busywork; the worst kind of grind. Fast forward to now, the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions of the game are out and that grind I was just complaining about? It’s gone.
Why is this? Largely, that’s attributed to the complete absence of the auction house on the console versions. Assuming the details were too difficult to iron out with real money as well, Activision Blizzard opted not to bother with the controversial auction house. With one of the PC’s biggest features gone from the consoles, that meant drop rates and ratios had to be increased. Without amending the numbers, console players would’ve eventually run into the same issues PC players had, only there’d be no auction house to assist them. Imagine that for a moment.
There’s obviously a plethora of other changes that make the console version of Diablo III extremely playable, but the number changes alone stealthily transformed the game into what it should have been for the PC, unbeknownst to console exclusive gamers. Drawing praise for its high quality release, Activision Blizzard took another look at the faulty auction house and recently posted an official notice that they screwed up. Officially, the PC’s auction house will close its doors forever March 18, 2014.
Amazing as this should seem, it’s all come too little and far too late. We’re well over a year after launch and now Activision Blizzard decides to remove it from the game? Diablo III was a decade in the making and while I understand there can be issues with any kind of launch, no matter the window, this is inexcusable. We live in an age of DLC, where day one patches run rampant and constant change floats on the digital winds of our gaming machine of choice. Activision Blizzard may be infamous for the amount of patches and changes they pump out but they sure do take their time with the bigger problems at hand.
Unquestionably, the removal of the auction house is the right move but it shouldn’t take a multi-billion dollar organization that sold 6.3 million units in its first week almost two years to figure that out. It’s fantastic that the consoles finally have a good game in a genre that was lost to the platform, but Activision Blizzard made a huge error that they shouldn’t be praised for. By continuously supporting the game through microtransactions and future expansions, we’re essentially telling this massive corporation to continue doing what they’re doing because, hell, we’re going to buy it anyway! That never sits well with me.