It's been a while. Sorry, I'm bogged down with work. And tired, so I don't really feel like writing. But, here I am.
Diablo 2. There comes a time every month, or two months or so. "It's Diablo 2 time.", I can feel in the back of my head. Time to kill some monsters to take their stuff to fight stronger monsters and take their stuff... Only now, it's different.
See, I've been playing the game since it came out (2000, that's 10 years!). That means Diablo 2 is most probably my most played game of all times, one that I not only come back to the most, but one that I played the longest amount of time, if you count the hours spent playing. This is probably true for many people, but my relationship with the game is a tad different. I only recently got to the Hell difficulty level, despite, as I mentioned above, playing the game for 10 years on an "at least once a year" basis.
That's because Diablo 2 is everything I hate about games. It doesn't have a real "save" option, it's dedicated to multiplayer, has many irritating features, has virtually no plot (though the background is quite rich, even if silly at times)... but I love it all the same. How this happens, I have no idea. To date, I have finished the basic difficulty level at least four times, with a god-knows-how-many characters created who never got past Act 2.
But I do long for something new. A different Hack&Slash to help me forget the hundred times I heard Warriv speak his text in the Rogue Camp. I tried Loki, I tried Titan Quest... both were good (though TQ is way better than Loki), but none of them scratched the right itch. It seems like the only thing that can really serve as an alternative to Diablo 2, is... Diablo 2. And I can't see why.
Titan Quest is a game superior to Diablo 2. Everything it does, it does better than Diablo 2 - you can modify your character and create interesting builds in many more ways than in Blizzard's game; there's a greater number of things to find; it has more quests; newer, fresher graphics... So why isn't it altogether more gripping than Diablo 2? Does the Lord of Terror feed you drugs the first time you put the CD in? Maybe it's the setting (which is very thematic, unlike the one from TQ which is simply bland and uninspired), the characters, the old but dark graphics? No idea what it is, but playing Diablo 2, even for the hundreth time is still more fun than the, theoretically superior, Titan Quest.
But that's the thing. I got to Hell level with my lvl 70-something Barbarian. And I can't possibly proceed. Even though I'm now lvl 75, I still barely defeat Blood Raven, and most of the bosses kick the crap out of me. I have to get back to Nightmare difficulty to collect cash, because I run out because I have to restock on mixtures and ressurect my Rogue companion time and again. Not to mention that my frequent deaths mean I barely make any progress (each time you die on Hell, you lose experience). To be honest, I'm sick of that difficulty and I can't see any chance of proceeding. But on lower difficulties I would have to grind a lot, and that's not fun, it's a chore and the sole thing I hate the most about any game - repeating the same location over and over again to be able to progress.
So I'm at a crossroads. Sure, Nightmare and Hell have proven to be quite fun, especially when I get drops which I never seen in my life, get to collect very rare Runes or get a sick amount of gold from a Champion. But where to now? I've got a Druid in Lut Gholein. He's a nice chap, but not as fun to play as my Hrothgar. I could try to play with one of the classes I never got, like the Necromancer or Assassin (had one, quite successful, but only to a point), but going through the first Act again is just tedious. And when I hear the call of Diablo 2, I play Hrothgar for a few minutes, after which I turn the game off so I don't start cursing on regular monsters killing me with two shots - frequently before I'm able to react at all. It's still better now than when it was when the Knights in Hell had the Iron Maiden curse (oh, how many swear words I created just in these moments...), but the VERY steep difficulty level makes me hate the game every time I play it now...
Diablo 3 is on the way. My thoughts on that another time though. I should also tell you why I feel the first part of the game is superior in some regards to the second... But not today.