I see some people here trying to argue D2 Vs D3 using all sorts of "justification" to why D3 is the greater game. Especially using the "sold much more" argument. Its quite funny…
D1 was a masterpiece and genre defining game. It has sold 2.5 million copies out of thin air in '96 (on a VERY 'pirated' world due to no "online only" restrictions);
D2 was a revolution to a masterpiece. A true successor. Between years 2000 (D2) and 2001 (LoD) it has created, expanded and established the biggest core foundations to any aRPG genre up until now. People seem to forget what those pillars were:
· Loot: itemization is a pillar for Diablo and the greatest system used in the series until now was the one in D2: runes, charms, runewords, core items (entire builds created around one or two core items in mind). What was loot in D3 launch? Yes, lets forget that disaster for a moment. What is D3 loot right now (after 8 years of constant iteration)? Set items that outperform all other items and, on top of that, you can farm the entire set within 6-10 hours from the start of a Season. After that? Infinite grinding to farm the “good” version of the SAME item. This is not good itemization design, period.
· Character: character building plays a great role in a Diablo game, it is the player identity and the decisions must matter, when choosing a skill, when choosing an attribute, when choosing a talent… and this adds greatly to replay value as well. Every time you choose these values, you must think about it. Am I saying that everything should be set in stone like “you’ve made a mistake with these points, now delete your 300-hour character and create another one from scratch!”? No that is also bad design, and the D4 team must find a good balance between rewards and mistakes, but again player decisions must matter and D3 completely removed this aspect. Quick ideia: what if instead of lv70 + infinity paragons levels we have a fixed but broader lv system (like lv99 from D2) + a similar paragon system that grants respect points (a talent costs 5, a skill respec costs 10 etc) or magic find %? You got it.
· Atmosphere: Diablo is a horror game. Whether you like/care or not, it is one of its fundamental pillars. And it is very iconic: the Butcher in D1, Duriel encounter in D2, the sense of despair within Sanctuary, the tone used while reading the tomes, the great 'Halls of the Blind' poem, the incredible sound design and music from Matt Uelmen etc. There is a reason to why games like Path of Exile and Grim Dawn tried to mimic that atmosphere established by D1, D2 and LoD. There is a reason to why D4 directors Luis Barriga and John Mueller emphasis a hundred times things like “return to darkness”, “darkness, world and legacy” etc.
· Gameplay: D2 transformed the way aRPG should be played with dozens of new ideas from D1 inspiring games for decadas. Fast paced, visceral gameplay with hundreds of ways to destroy demons and, a true form of end-game: PvP. Although there is no PvP in D3, it did a very good job as I find the gameplay very satisfying specially between patches 1.06 ~1.10 (generator monk was amazing!). Now, unfortunately, all aspects of all builds focus on 'speedy' due to the poor design of current end-game: farm paragon levels and farm GRs. Between D2 and D3 gameplay, I prefer the later but I'm not willing to sacrifice the other pillars mentioned for it.
D3. Let's leave D3 vanilla out of the discussion for a minute. Is D3 RoS a bad game? No, I have over 6 thousand hours of gameplay across my PC, PS4 and Switch copies. The gameplay, although limited by poor item design (im looking at you +10k% stats), is very satisfying and fun. Lastly, is D3 the true successor to the Diablo franchise? No.
Still think D3 is the “better” Diablo game because it has “sold more”? Ok, let's dig some facts from Blizzard perspective now:
· D3 launch was a disaster;
· D3 AH was a disaster (they had to shut it down and do a blog post to apologize to the public);
· D3 itemization was a disaster (they even had to bring Travis Day – WoW designer – to try to fix that mess and again… another blog post to apologize);
· D3 was never critically praised as D2 was (by fans and media in general). Not even close;
.D3 former director Jay Wilson decision to leave Blizzard (I bet things were not great for him at Blizzard);
D3 last director Josh Mosqueira left Blizzard (had his second planned expansion for D3 suddenly shut down by Blizzard executives);
· D3 is not saw internally as a successful game due to all the controversial facts already mentioned and they WANT to fix this general perception with the player base – they are even trying hard collecting feedback from the player base directly and posting Quarterly update such is the damage caused by D3 to the Diablo franchise. They want to regain our trust. If you still need more evidence go check Jason Schreier (Kotaku) leaks for the reasons to “Why there were no more D3 expansions in the works since D3 sold immensely well – does Acvision-Blizzard likes to “lose” money?”;
· D4 core pillar is “embrace the darkness” from D1 and D2;
· D4 is basically a modern D2: no more ridiculously powerful set items, cartoony art, more tactical gameplay with no diminishing returns on CC; proper elemental effects; re-worked loot in general, runes / runewords, proper atmosphere… Why would they embrace D2 so much if D3 is the better game “in general”? It is not.
I believe it's important to understand why D4 team is doing what they are doing now by truly embracing the franchise legacy established by Blizzard North and also some of the good aspects from D3.
Now that we moved these out of the way. Do I want a D2 reskinned from D4? No, I want a proper revolution to the Diablo franchise (and aRPG genre in general) the same way D2 did for D1 and really hope they pull it off with the vast open world, world bosses, mounts etc. But… would I prefer to play a reskinned D2 over D3? A thousand times: YES.
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