One of gaming's more recent gee-whiz-it's-probably-magic trends comes with a pretty thick string attached: your saves, your character, your mountain of collectable doodads for that precious achievement – all of them are imprisoned inside a server on a desert island or in space or something. You're playing a high-stakes game of rental roulette, and everything you've worked so hard to build could go poof in the blink of an eye. What trend am I referring to? Did you say, “cloud gaming”? Private Obvious, I'm sure your Captain is beaming with pride right now. However, while your answer's technically correct, I'm talking about MMOs.
It's interesting, too, because gamers have been largely a-okay with this aspect of MMOs for years – at least, so long as their game of choice hasn't met an untimely end. But should we be? After all, cloud gaming's certainly risky in that we don't physically own our games, but in MMOs, we don't own the experience.
Ask a PC gamer about Diablo III's recently announced “always connected” requirement, and they're liable to start hurling old CRT monitors at you and barking furiously. Yeah. To say that Blizzard's decision was an unpopular one is a bit of an understatement. So then, united we stand, divided we find creative new uses for our old monitors, right? Not entirely, it seems. RAGE creative director Tim Willits isn't just putting up with Diablo's potentially diabolical DRM; he's embracing it.
We've seen quite a wide range of opinions concerning Diablo III's newly revealed auction house, but it came part-and-parcel with another dark cloud that completely lacks a silver lining. See, plenty of games get released sans official mod support, but Diablo's devil is in the details. Diablo III mods, says Blizzard, are “expressly prohibited.”
The last time we checked in with our skeleton-raising Diablo 2 necromancer, the blood of the three Prime Evils – Mephisto, Diablo and Baal – stained the hands of our summoned golem and the world had been saved from sure destruction yet again. That was way back in 2000. Now, over a decade later, we're beginning to hear some solid facts about the upcoming Diablo 3. Or at least facts about in-game transactions. Apparently Blizzard doesn't want to let the item-selling money train plow on without them; the company just announced that a couple of item-selling auction houses would be built right into the game.
Our desire for Diablo III has been well-documented, but – for the uninitiated – we would do terrible, terrible things to obtain it. Talking during a movie? In a heartbeat. Eating food that someone's clearly claimed with a Sharpie scrawling of their name? Without a second thought. We might even change lanes without signaling, but frankly, we're not breaking that glass unless an unlikely Skyrim delay emergency pops up. At any rate, the Diablo III beta's now just around the corner. Join us in rejoicing.
We have nothing but admiration for Blizzard's dedication to blinding polish, but we counter it with this incredibly poignant argument: “We want Diablo III nooooow.” Last we heard, Blizzard was hoping to grant our wish within 2011's chronological bounds, but with the caveat that “when it's done” still rules the day. Fortunately, there now seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel – dim though it may be.
Diablo III's been in development since 1864, but the end is nearly in sight. Or is it? Blizzard's been hinting at a 2011 release date for a while now, but if we've learned anything from the PC powerhouse's track record, it's that the company's evil lair probably has two buttons: a giant red neon-emblazoned one that says “DELAY” and one of those indented things you have to press with a pencil point that says “release, I guess... if you feel like it.”
If you've ever played a Diablo game before, you pretty much know what to expect from Diablo III. There will be hacking. There will be slashing. Enemies will drop piles of gold upon death because apparently hell doesn't have a bank. Been there, done that. Shamefully walked into Hot Topic and bought the T-shirt.
When we went to BlizzCon, we were pretty much in the same boat. But the devil's in the details, and Diablo III's newly announced PVP Arena system is a detail the size of the big red guy – no, not the Kool Aid man – himself. Better still, in some ways, it legitimately surprised us. How? Well, let's run down the list.
1. The chaos – Sure, we expected three-on-three Diablo matches to be pretty wild, but we were still a bit taken aback when our tiny four-sided arena exploded into an ocean of fiery wizard magic, witchdoctor hell hounds, and barbarians hopping around like steroid-fueled, axe-wielding bunny rabbits. Basically, there were more than a few moments when our character keeled over, and we just paused, blinked, and said, “wait, what just happened?” However, confusing though it may occasionally be, it's also wildly exciting. Matches have their share of tactics, sure, but this is no chess match. If you get bored while playing this game, you might want to check your pulse, because you're probably dead.
Have you ever listened to yourself talk and/or think while you're playing videogames? We like to think it's akin to hearing William Shatner read a comment on any given Internet message board: it comes at a breakneck pace and doesn't make a lick of sense. And if it's a game or level you've never played before, turn that into a crowd of William Shatners all reading different spam emails simultaneously.
So, while taking Diablo III's brand new Demon Hunter class for a test drive during last weekend's BlizzCon, we decided to play Rosetta Stone and translate our sleep-deprived, caffeine-addled spill of Brain Soup into a real human language. The results were... amusing, to say the least. Also, surprisingly informative! 1. “Sh** sh** sh** sh** sh** sh**!” – The Demon Hunter – battle-hardened and thick-skinned though she may seem – is actually quite squishy. She's a ranged fighter, after all, so she doesn't take too well to pointy objects making shish kabobs out of her internal organs. As a result, seeing a horde of bulky demons, shambling zombies, and other hell-born riff-raff booking it straight for your Demon Hunter will have any number of four-letter words spewing out of your mouth as you make the necessary split-second precautions to intercept them. On the upside, it's utterly thrilling to be constantly walking such a thin line between life and death. On the downside, though, make one misstep and you''ll probably go splat.
Hey everyone! We’re at BlizzCon, by which we mean we’re playing as much Diablo III as our broken, caffeine-riddled bodies will allow. However, some angry, impressively large-looking Blizzard people just approached us with looks in their eyes that basically said, “remove your hands from that demo station or we’ll remove your hands,” so we decided to graciously allow others to give the game a try.
So now we’re writing, because we suppose that’s our job or something. Anyway, BlizzCon! Stuff happened. Find out about that stuff below. Diablo III “way over half-way done” – Sorry, folks. No release date this year. Fortunately, just as we prepared ourselves to walk away from the convention information-starved and tail between our legs, Blizzard threw us a bone. See, Diablo III’s “close” to launching its friends and family beta. And according to the developer, when that beta churns to life, Diablo III will be “close” to completion. So close, yet so far away.