D3 Beta Woes or Why Borderlands Is Now King
So I just got to the end of the open beta portion of the game and I feel like weighing in on why I think Diablo 3 is not the evolution of Hack and Slash Lootfest RPGS that it should, or perhaps could, have been. I’ve got a lot of gripes, some of them are just “this isn’t Diablo 2!!! QQ”, but a few are genuine upsets and why I’m not picking up the game in May.
Foremost of them is that there is no flexibility in builds. Seriously, you learn skills when the game wants you to, in the order the game wants you to. I mean, yeah, there’s some neat customization stuff going on with the runes, but its frustrating that I can’t power up the skills I’m using because the game insists that I need to learn this other skill. I can’t just put points into Spell A and unlock its runes, I have to wait for a revolving level cap to gain each new piece.
Case in point, Wizard pre-level ten has two Left mouse skills. One is essentially fireball, a linear missile that explodes on the first enemy and does damage. It feels good to use and looks cool no matter what weapon you’re using. The other is Charged Bolt, which for those not familiar with D2 was one of the worse active spells in the game. It casts 3-5 balls of electricity in front of you that move out for a few feet in random directions. For those who know what Charged Bolt is, yes those beetles in Act 2 were fugging annoying and having “cast charged bolt on being hit” was a preety good defensive buff, but it wasn’t the best spell to fight things with is all I’m saying. I’d rather not ever waste a point in charged bolt beyond the one I need to get lightning. But the game was all, “oh hey, you have this other spell now.” “Oh great game, thanks, but I’ll pass. Can I use the skill point for something else?” “No. /trollface” On top of that, you four core stats are automatically decided for you.
Another case in point is that One class is completely dependent on one class of items. Demon hunter ONLY uses bows. “What happens if i equip a sword, game? Do I just melee attack” “No. You just stand there while I complain about your skills not being compatible with the weapon you’re holding /trollface” Even the mage, who can spell cast regardless of what she’s holding, completely ingores the weapon in her hand. It doesn’t buff the Left mouse spell, it doesn’t add on-hit effects like poison or even extra magic–although it does seem to proc spell effects like kills give life and gain hp back for each hit so I’m super confused about that.
Next, so far as I can tell the maps aren’t randomly generated. Granted yes, in this day and age of mandatory grinding and farming, random maps are more of a detriment to a game than a benefit, but it ruins much of the replay value. I walked through the same crypts as both Hunter and Wizard. I knew where all the traps were the second time, where all the epic enemies would be. It was…lame. But I’m willing to hang this one up, so Ball I suppose.
I know this has to be the umpteenth time you’ve heard this, but games like to hold your hand now a days. D3 was no different. That in and of itself wouldn’t be a strike except that every single quest point was not only well documented, but kept on the screen AT ALL TIMES. Whatever happened to “Go to the Den Of Evil and Kill All the Monsters” being in a quest log that you can check when you feel like going along with the plot instead of just wandering around slaughtering zombies? Worse yet, was the fact that it would put markers on the map, even through the fog, to let me know when I was getting close to whatever I was looking for. In a game about finding things. Really.
Beyond the game holding my hand and making sure I didn’t get lost, I didn’t feel challenged at all. Enemies drop free health along with potions. Your resource to cast spells/use skills regenerates stupid fast. Even when faced with big bruiser bosses, I never got below half health. Either because I had a pile of Potions that I’d picked up on the way there and not used because I stayed at full HP thanks to the free heals or because I had a skill that absorbed attack damage. No I’m not joking. Wizards second defensive spell made me invulnerable for 5 seconds, every 15. By time I was to the end of the beta, I was only level ten and could just wade into waves of enemies and blow them up. Maybe the real game will be harder, I certainly hope so, but I’ll probably never know because I’m out after this lukewarm experience.
Now we come to my final point. With the focus on skills instead of basic attacks, you’d think switching between them would be easy, right? Well you’d be wrong. Swapping skills is an unnecessary hassle. I couldn’t find any way to map skills to keys so I could swap them. Instead, I had to stop. Open a menu that blocked out the whole screen. Hope that nothing showed up. Pick a skill and then wait for it to load. WTF? No seriously. What. the. Frack? I don’t have a basic attack and I must use skills to do anything, so why the immersion breaking system? What happened to the quick menu on either side? The F-key maps? Even scroll wheeling through skills? To further this frustration, the game doesn’t save the rune you were using to the skill. So each time you reequip it, you have to repick the rune as well. And if you forget? You have to wait for the skill to load. Just to wait for it to load again. Unsufferable and game breaking, this is the worst strike of them all.
Strike Three. I’m no longer interested.
There’s also a litany of other small things that annoyed me. Items were worth nearly nothing. 2GP per is not the way a lootfest works. Chests didn’t feel rewarding because, even though rare, they hardly ever had anything in them worth more than the gold I was tripping over left and right. Your character, regardless of class can cast identify, scroll free. You get Town Portal for almost no reason and casting it sends you back to town instantly instead of acting as a impromptu way point. I guess they felt the game having check points was the same thing. There is no LAN and no single player. The game is always on-line, always connected. Even your own private game is just a closed B.net session. I mean, it’s supposedly F2P, so that’s something, but there are times where I’d like to play the game I paid for when I’m not online.
So instead of picking up the game I’ve been eagerly awaiting for years, I will be picking up Borderlands 2 in September and enjoy my skill trees, my useful feeling gear, my looting, and my local/LAN play.