I already worked in video game studios and I am now in training to become a Level Designer for AAA. I listen to hundreds of hours of interviews, podcasts, conferences, etc. from former devs and current devs and it's amazing how insightful it is.
I finally decided to listen to D3 stuff, knowing it might shock me. And it did. I couldn't disagree more with what the devs said, especially after listening to hours of stuff from the original creator of Diablo. Here are some of the main points that triggered me:
Blizzard nailed down the Diablo franchise and what to do with D3 to these 3 pillars :
- The player plays an overpowered character that can kill anything that crosses his path.
- Epic loot. The game is about killing monsters and getting epic items that feel powerful.
- The multiplayer experience must matter and be meaningful.
With a quick glance you may notice it is missing one of the core elements of Diablo : the gothic/dark/gore feeling. It should have been in there and it in everything I listened to, it was never mentionned once, except by David Brevik who explained how much it mattered for the Blizzard North employees.
Another important point that ruined the core experience in D3 for me is making the player overpowered. I have absolutely no idea where they got that idea. To many players, the first Diablo memory they have is about the Butcher. You encounter him extremely quickly and he is just super strong (plus his chamber is really disgusting). He sets the mood for the entire game and sends a powerful message. You actually feel underpowered, in a conflict beyond yourself. I played years of D2 and in no way I really ever felt overpowered, except maybe after an incredible amount of work to get there. Hell was good enough. D3 is the opposite of all of that. Being a champion is one thing, being a godlike character is another. I really disagree about this being the first pillar of the Diablo franchise.
It was also stated that one the biggest mistakes they made was trying too much to follow Diablo 2, while Diablo 3 should be its own thing. They said Diablo 2 was all about playing the game over and over again. Which led to : "Even if the game has a very solid story telling, after playing it a few times, events like Cain's or Leah's death are bound to become meaningless and you eventually think they are rather silly" (or something close to that). This made me facepalm so bad. Diablo 2 was never scripted and limited like D3. It did not have silly and poor dialogs like D3. Cain's death was extremely stupid the first time. Don't blame it on the fact that we saw it again and again. It's far from D2 and I have no idea why they said it was too much like it. During the beta the memes about the dialogs were already countless. That speaks a lot.
Something else that really bothered me is that they said they are absolutely against trading and it has no place in Diablo. It ruins the game and the fun and nobody should have to interact with another in a such a way. This, I could not disagree more. Trading was an important experience in the D2 multiplayer. It made the multiplayer matter too, which failed for D3. And trading helps with many problems they stated themselves. For instance, they said one of the problems in Diablo is playing a barbarian and finding a very good quiver. Instead of being happy, the feeling is disappointing and not rewarding. That is true for me in D3, but not in D2. Finding any unique item was a great feeling, especially knowing it had value and could be exchanged for something else. I understand in a single player game it should not be an essential mechanic, but in a game that is online only, they certainly are quick to reject such interactions after saying the multiplayer should matter.
I had other points to discuss, but I think already made this long enough. I just really wanted to point out that I believe that they are off track about what made the Diablo games Diablo and that is why we will not see another game with the classic experience. Diablo 4 will be like Diablo 3 and not more like Diablo 2. When a dev says "we failed with d3" I was expecting him to say it should been more like D2 and the fans listened to. Instead, it's said that D2 is not the way to go and many of its mechanics are to be erased for new ones.
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