Friday, 29 June 2012

D3: Dumbing Down Diablo

Diablo II may not be perfect, but it was a great Adventure RPG
Diablo II is arguably one of the best Adventure RPG's of all time. In fact people still play it because it is just that good. The fact that Blizzard took almost 10 whole years to make Diablo III should make it a masterpiece right? Not quite. Diablo III is a great game, but it is far from perfect. Its fun to play, but it seems to be losing that adventure charm Diablo II had.
While Diablo III is a good game, it has been stripped down to make it a stroll in the park for anyone. With each update the game seems to be getting easier and easier, but maybe that's just my perception. Lets talk about the main thing that went wrong; Auction House.
Diablo II was a struggle(at least for those of us that didn't use the item creation hack). Wandering into the Stony field or the Valley of Snakes, making your way through The Halls of the Dead or Canyon of the Magi. These weren't just places you went through, but adventures. Every time you ran into a rare enemy it was a fight for survival and in the end you were rewarded with an item which could very well make or break your day. The loot in Diablo II was hard earned, every item was valuable to the mighty adventurer. Having to weigh the pro's and con's of every item, having to decided between attack speed and damage and so on. Each item had some worth, you might need one at one point and the other 5 minutes later. Diablo III just put a price tag on everything. There is no adventure, no struggle, no sense of achievement. Everything in the game leads back to one place; So deeply integrated into the game that its almost impossible to ignore. The Auction House.

The one stop solution to all your problems
Completing Diablo II on nightmare and hell was an achievement because it was actually hard. You had to look around for items, sometimes even pray a little and with some luck you would find something useful. But now every time you think your item is doing just a little less damage than you like, BOOM Auction House. Did the last enemy hurt you too much? BOOM Auction House. Want to be OP? BOOM Auction House. Everything revolves around it.While Diablo III is a good game, its lost the sense of adventure and achievement playing Diablo II gave. Its more like playing a salesman rather than an Adventurer.

Blizzard's attempt at keeping the adventure of the game alive by keeping the hardcore mode is pretty much at odds with the addition of the auction house. For those of you that dont know, if you die in hardcore mode your character remains dead, its game over. But its not as hard as it sounds. Play through the game and farm with a regular character and then hit the AH to equip your hardcore character. In theory your only concern in hardcore should be your internet, that's one thing the Auction House can't fix. So despite having different difficulty levels, Diablo III isn't very hard. The auction house is your one stop solution for anything the game throws at you. Blizzard tried to make the game more challenging by scaling repair costs in a recent update; while it does make it annoying for players starting out it really doesn't bother you much in the long run. The other day I made over half a million gold selling just 2 items and my repair costs for that 5 hour session were just about 50k. Doesn't really burn a whole in your pocket.

After reaching Inferno with my Shopaholic Hunter I realized the game wasn't fun anymore, there was nothing challenging despite having scaled up in difficulty; only minor speed bumps which were fixed by a quick trip to the auction house. So I sat down with a bunch of friends and made a pact, we're not going to use the auction house anymore, at least not for the my other 9 characters(the first one is going to be my PVP character, and lets face it I'll get whooped without the AH). Took me just under 3 hours to finish act I on normal with a friend without using the auction house at all. I never did at that level anyways, but it feels good knowing the loot I'm picking up isn't just some useless trash that ill salvage later. We're constantly comparing and trading items to make sure we can get the best out of what we have and its a whole lot more fun than saying brb I'm going to the auction house. It's almost like playing Diablo II again, minus the potion and teleport spamming. You should try it, It's much more enjoyable and a lot less monotonous.

If you really want an adventure, try playing the game without the Auction House

Thursday, 14 June 2012

The end is nigh.

Blizzard's games are addictive, this is a fact. Starcraft is pretty much an accepted profession in some parts of the world, World of Warcraft parties will soon replace actual physical geek parties and now we have Diablo III. A game that took ten years in the making and will probably take up the next ten years of your life. Why you ask? well its called auction house.

World of Warcraft items are so coveted that people end up selling them for real money on ebay or whatever. Poor old Blizzard get nothing, here's a quick fix- Lets add a real money auction house to Diablo III. Probably the smartest move ever, while other developers are out there wh*ring their IP's with a game every year, Blizzard gives players a reason to play their game forever. This coupled with the Unique randomized loot system really does add a lot of value to in game items for players that are serious about completing inferno or the upcoming PVP update. A win win for everyone right? Not really. If you use Paypal to get your 'hard' earned cash you will only get about 60% of it after Blizzard and Paypal take their cut(all depends on what type of Paypal account you have). That's not all that bad considering you're still making money playing a game.

Here's when your life ends and Blizzard wins. Not everyone has a Paypal account, so Blizzard also lets you redeem the money on your account at the Blizzard store. So all the cash you earn can only be spent buying their games, subscriptions and special items and whatnot. Basically all the money ends up with Blizzard. Its not all that bad you get to buy Starcraft 2, World of Warcraft, The older Blizzard games. A fair trade in return for your time, effort, Job, Girlfriend, family ; pretty much your whole life will be on hold because you will have all these lovely games to play without spending a dime.

Now I have a few friends who already have Starcraft 2 in their sights or have downloaded the WoW client after claiming to never play such a game, this won't end well for anyone(who says no to anything FREE). So before you decide to jump in to the real money auction house, think long and hard whether you really want to do this. If you do then get a PayPal account because getting money on the Blizzard store is like digging your own grave.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

E3 Ahoy!!!

Arguably the most exciting week of the year for a gamer. The few days before E3 are just as mad as the conference itself, with small teases and trailers being released left right and center. The perfect way to get EVERYONE twice as excited about E3. 

This year's E3 promises to be as exciting as ever, with last year's Halo 4 Bombshell hopefully fans can now get some solid information and maybe even some gameplay footage. Halo 4 is probably the one game I'm most excited about, i mean come on THE CHIEF IS BACK!!! OORAH!!! The forerunner trilogy has been leaking information all year round, with only 6 months till release i hope there's some campaign footage and of course the beta info.
There was also the teaser for the new gears; Gears of war Judgment. All we know for now is that its a prequel to the current Gears trilogy and will follow Kilo Squad - Cole, Baird, Garron and Sofia who are all being charged with treason. Personally i feel Cole and Baird lack the depth to be protagonists, But we'll know more come monday. Halo 4 and the Gears of War Judgement(seriously 4.0 here i come!!) seem to be the only thing on Microsoft's agenda as of now. I cant help but feel there will be more Kinect related releases and projects that they will talk about (yawn). However i am excited about Dragonball Z Kinect. I've always wanted to do a real Kamehameha, i just hope it doesn't turn out to be a disaster like my life long dream of always playing a game with an actual Lightsaber. Lets be Honest, Kinect Star Wars was a bit of a travesty.
hubba hubba
Other than that the past few days have been riddled with trailers and teasers. The most intriguing being Hitman Absolution. Sexed up Nun Assassins , a whole bunch of them that is. Now there's something i didn't expect the original Assassin t be involved with. Color me interested. Another recent announcement was regarding the new NFS game; Need for Speed : Most Wanted which is being developed by Criteron. A good moving judging by the success of Hot Pursuit and the poor reception of NFS The Run. It's time the NFS franchise took a new direction.

Despite getting Pushed to a 2013 release there is also the mind blowing trailer for the Tomb Raider reboot. The game takes us back to when Lara Croft was a relatively ordinary woman and her transformation into one of the legendary treasure hunters of all time. The game is shaping up to be a Gritty adventure riddled with set pieces, chase scenes, stealth missions and loads of moans and groans. Probably the only Tomb Raider game i have ever looked forward too, March 2013 is way way too far for my liking.

Throughout the year we've been getting Sim City updates and game mechanics video's and boy does it look great. I think its time they showed us something concrete . A little about the new features and  Abilities we'll have. Can't wait to get back to the graetest city building sim EVER.

Now we come to the part where i get sad. Last of Us, a PS3 exclusive post apocalyptic survival game. My favourite type of game on the other console sigh, i guess ill have to dish out the cash for a PS3 . Back to the game, it looks like a HUGE world but i think its going to be an uncharted type game in a world full of zombies and cold blooded survivors. Heck the protagonist even looks like Nathan Drake. Either way it looks awesome and i cant wait to hear more.

I'm not much of an Assassin's Creed fan, but that doesn't change the fact that it is easily one of the most anticipated games at E3 this year. The game Follow's Connor a native american who is the voice of justice in a bloody war. The game will go from Elaborate Cities and to vast forests. Did i mention you even get to fight bears! So to sum it up we have American Revolution, Tree Climbing, Tomohawk Wielding, Bear Fighting and everyone's favorite Leap of faith, can't see why i shouldn't be excited.

However these aren't the only games that are going to be on display at E3, here are some of the other Title worth a mention.

2K GAMES Borderlands 2 (360, PS3, PC) 

Call of Duty: Black Ops II (360, PS3, PC) 

The Elder Scrolls Online (PC) 
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim -- Dawnguard (360, PS3, PC) 

Resident Evil 6 (360, PS3, PC) 

Crysis 3 (360, PS3, PC) 
Medal of Honor Warfighter (360, PS3, PC) 
Need for Speed Most Wanted (TBA) 
SimCity (PC) 
Dead Space 3 (TBA) 

Rock Band Blitz (XBLA, PSN) 

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (360, PS3, PC) 

Halo 4  (360) 
Gears of War : Judgement (360) 

Star Trek: The Game (360, PS3, PC) 
Dragon Ball Z for Kinect (360) 

The Last of Us (PS3) 
LittleBigPlanet Karting (PS3) 

Hitman: Absolution (360, PS3, PC) 
Tomb Raider (360, PS3, PC) 
Sleeping Dogs (360, PS3, PC) 
Kingdom Hearts 3D Dream Drop Distance (3DS) 

Darksiders II (360, PS3, PC, Wii U) 
Metro Last Light (360, PS3, PC, Wii U) 
Company of Heroes 2 (PC) 

Far Cry 3 (PS3, 360, PC) 
Assassin's Creed III (360, PS3, PC, Wii U) 
ShootMania Storm (PC) 

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (360, PS3, PC)