A Look Through the Ages - Reminiscing on Diablo 3
14 giorni fa
Remembering at Journey's End
Season 29 of Diablo 3 has been unleashed upon the world, and with it marks the beginning of the end of an age. Eleven years have passed since we set out with our heroes to investigate the mysterious Falling Star. With the help of our allies and the strength of the Ancients, we have felled demons uncountable in our never ending quest to end the Eternal Conflict and preserve the sanctity of life on Sanctuary.
Diablo 3 Season 29 Visions of Enmity is Now Live!
Those of us who have been there from the start may perhaps remember Diablo 3 in a light not so fond, as the initial journey was rather rocky and hope of the game reaching a good state faded fast. But after many years, trials, tribulations, and broken promises, Diablo 3 finds itself a fan favorite for many at the end of its days. Let us take a look back through the ages and remember, lest we forget. For the road ahead of us is surely a long one.
A Disturbed Development
In June of 2008, Diablo 3 was announced at the Blizzard Worldwide Invitational to a cacophonous roar from the audience. It had been eight long years since the release of Diablo 2, and fans were ravenous for any hint of a sequel. Little did we know by that point, the development team was already entrenched in their own personal hell. The game had been scrapped and rebooted numerous times and to the dismay of many, and Blizzard North closed down with many of the team's veterans departing the company entirely. This left Team 3 of Blizzard South to carry the torch of Diablo 3's development. But with little to no experience in developing games of the genre and only a scant few of the remaining Blizzard North developers at their disposal, the team suffered from uncertainty in their direction.
Team 3 of Blizzard South faced a cruel reflection of the troubles Blizzard North dealt with, only magnified due to their inexperience. The amount of systems, content, art and the like that were removed and redesigned was absolutely staggering, with many seemingly entirely complete and well made. Some of these systems would go on to live in other forms years later in Diablo 3's life cycle or in Diablo 4 today.
The developers also faced no shortage of backlash from the community for some of their decisions during this time either. One such controversy was of the art style of the game. Many publicly claimed the art style to be too bright and colorful for a Diablo game, with some calling it 'cartoonish'. Many even went on to start and sign an online petition to convince Blizzard to change the art style. The developers defended their art and ended up mocking the angriest of the fans by making cute, colorful Diablo 3 designs for shirts and such. This ultimately lead to the creation of the Whimsyshire level easter egg as a means to once again poke fun.
Diablo 3 launched on May 15th, 2012 and fans were clamoring to get their hands on the game. Many people took vacation days off from work, called in sick with the "flu", and put the world on hold to shutter themselves indoors with pizza, snacks, and drinks. Millions were soon horrified though, as the game servers did not have a queue system, so when the fateful hour arrived and everyone attempted to log in simultaneously, the servers could not handle the load and began to have massive issues. This resulted in the shared nightmare of "Error 37". Players found themselves unable to log in for extraordinary amounts of time, wasting precious vacation days from work for many. This merely marked the beginning for many such problems that would arise for players.
The Auction House of Diablo 3 was launched not long after the release of the game, which sparked many debates, controversy, and in some countries like South Korea - prevented the game's release entirely until the Auction House was removed from their version of the game due to gambling laws. The Auction house was split between two versions, one that used in game gold and another that used real world money. Players could also turn real money into gold and gold into real money. The Auction House originally was implemented as a means to provide player with a safe means of trading items over potentially dodgy trade websites and to protect against scammers. However, many people felt that using the Auction House was mandatory to their detriment.
The loot drops in the game post launch were considerably sparse, with legendary and rare item drop rates being very low. At times you could go several dozen levels without even finding a single legendary item. To make matters worse, due to how the affix tables worked for items and the drop table overall, there was a decent chance that most gear you did manage to find would not even be usable by your class. While not necessarily an issue in and of itself, it compounded into a much larger problem due to the aforementioned drop rates and need for higher end gear to advance through Inferno Difficulty which only dropped in Inferno Difficulty. Itemization was another large pain point for many, with many Legendaries and Set items being underwhelming and even worse than many Rare items. This all meant that the best solution by far for many people was to take to the Auction House and throw gold or your credit card at the problem. Some players abused these circumstances and used their economic know how to make substantial sums of gold and real world money. All these issues culminated in a perfect storm which was the catalyst for one of the most expensive sales of a video game item in history. A near perfect Echoing Fury Mace sold for $9,700 USD or €7,500 Euros.
Players were also visibly upset by the lack of endgame content. Outside of the campaign, there was simply nothing to do. Paragon Levels were introduced as a means to add more game time by grinding out more levels, but it was seen as a quick and dirty fix. To make matters worse, Arena PvP was canceled entirely due to the developer's inability to balance the game mode. By this point player count had hemorrhaged to dramatically low numbers, and players were losing all hope in the game's future.
A Turning Point
In early 2013, Jay Wilson was replaced by Josh Mosqueira as Game Director. Later that year on September 9th of 2013, Diablo 3 released on consoles with some peculiar changes that were different from the PC version at the time. No one knew at the time however, that these were the first of the massive sweeping changes to the game that would take shape in the form of Patch 2.0.1.
Patch 2.0.1 released on February 25th, 2014 with an
absolutely monstrous amount of changes to the game.
This patch alone did an incredible amount of heavy lifting to bring the game back to life. This patch implemented the famous Loot 2.0 and Smart Loot, large itemization changes, the overhaul to the 2.0 Paragon Level system, changes to crafting, rebalancing for every class in the game with all new runes and effects for many, the replacement of Inferno Difficulty with the Torment Difficulty we know today, many changes to Elite Monster affixes and boss mechanics, and the introduction of Player Communities and Clans. Many players praised these changes as the saving grace that the game sorely needed. This only served to make players anticipate the upcoming release of the Reaper of Souls expansion all the more.
The Redemption of Diablo 3
The strained patience of Diablo fans worldwide was justly rewarded on March 25th, 2014 exactly one month after Patch 2.0. This expansion was a smash success, elevating Diablo III to what many fans were wanting out of the game since the beginning and more.
Here's what IGN had to say in their initial review of Reaper of Souls:
"With Reaper of Souls, and the recent round of content patches, Blizzard has transformed Diablo 3 into something far more akin to what long-time fans like me wanted all along. It still requires that annoying always-online connection (which has behaved itself), but it’s more sinister in tone, more rewarding to play, and more maddeningly addictive than it’s ever been. I’m looking forward to many more hours in search of that perfect legendary drop."
Reaper of Souls introduced many new systems that completely changed the landscape of how the game was played and still is today. The Crusader class was made playable, which provided a Strength based alternative to the Barbarian and filled the role of the much requested Paladin class. There was also the addition of Act 5 which carried a darker style, the addition of the Mystic Artisan which allowed players to reroll a stat on an item and to transmogrify the appearance of their items, and new player skills to go along with the level cap increase to 70. Beyond this, there was also the introduction of new end game activities. Adventure Mode was added which opened up the world of Diablo 3 to traverse as you pleased, completing Bounties for caches of loot and materials for crafting. There was also the introduction of Nephalem Rifts and Greater Rifts which were randomly generated dungeons with large bosses at the end providing experience, gold, and lots of loot. In the Greater Rifts you could even gain access to the new Legendary Gems that would offer powerful bonuses.
The improvements never stopped there either. With Reaper of Souls also came the introduction of Seasons, which provided regular balancing changes to classes, new Legendary powers, new Sets and Legendary Gems, cosmetics, new limited time content and much more. Over the years new permanent systems were also added such as the Follower revamp with Emanating Legendary effects, Echoing Nightmares, the Altar of Rites, and the Necromancer class.
A Lasting Legacy
Diablo 3 has had a tumultuous life cycle, going from broken, shallow, and underwhelming to one of the most cherished of the series by many. What started out with a deeply troubled development has reached the end of its road as a shining example of an action game and the result of dedication to redemption to atone for past failures. The series has since passed the torch onto Diablo 4, which also is seen by players as plagued by many of the same mistakes as its predecessor. All that remains to be seen is when Diablo 4 find its redemption as well.
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