I was meaning to write this short article a while back, but always something more important came up. But very recently, Blizzard has announced the fifth class in Diablo 3 - the Demon Hunter. And I think that's a good time to tell you what I think of what I've seen of the game until now.
As you probably know, I'm a big Diablo fan. I played Diablo for the first time around 1998 or 1999 I would imagine, and seen it earlier than that - and was very impressed. When Diablo 2 came out I started playing immediately, and never really stopped for longer than a year or so. Diablo 2 is possibly the game I played THE MOST out of all the games I ever played, just because of how often I came back it in the last 10 years. So when Diablo 3 was announced, I was hyped. The hype, however, withered away immediately after me seeing the first gameplay trailers, and was replaced by cautious optimism.
I had the same gripes with what I've seen you probably heard many times now. The graphics were too colourful. The light effects were too colourful. The enemies seemed like coming from another, less gritty and gothic, and more high fantasy universe. Weapons has glowing spheres around them, and nearly all special abilities had lightning effects to them that simply didn't fit. The Barbarian wasn't that bad, but I despised the Witch Doctor - not only does he have skills that used to belong to THREE different classes (Necromancer, Sorceress and Druid), and some of those are simply put, very silly (undead wall? Please.), but he also simply doesn't fit in with the rest of the world.
Then came the Wizard. This class isn't bad, it's just too over the top. Desintegrate allows you to emit a killing ray... Really? Plus, some abilities really look pointless (Slow Time is one, and Teleport... who's going to run away from enemies in this game?).
And then, the Monk... Do I really need to say anything? What good could have come from adding a Street Fighter / Dragonball character to Diablo? His presence in the game is a thorn in my side, because this basically meant that Blizzard decided to throw away what was left of the great atmosphere and ambience of Diablo 1 and the somewhat thematic Diablo 2. Instead, they opted to cater for the needs of the console crowd (I'll get back to that in a minute) and twelve year old anime fans who, when they see a Monk beating the crap out of deamons and zombies with his bare fists can only say 'Awesome'. But it's really more like 'Lame'.
And finally, Demon Hunter... again, in an attempt, apparently, to do everything bigger, more shiny and more over the top (without actually thinking if it's a good thing for the game), they gave the character some abilities which just look plain silly. The fact that the class can shoot crossbows as if they were machine guns. A skill which allows you to throw a bola which sticks to the enemy and then explodes... and the one which simply boggles my mind - Fan of Knives. If you played Warcraft III, you should remember this skill's spiritual predecessor, as used by the Night Elf Warden. There, even on the highest level of the skill, it still looked like the character could potentially have all those knives underneath her cape and throw them all around. And that was bloody Warcraft, a game which doesn't have to care for her feel and atmosphere, because it's high fantasy - plain and simple. And in Diablo 3? Visit their website to see why I think that ability is absolutely out of place. I don't even mind grenades, though that's an obvious 'inspiration' by the Assasin character from Hexen II (who also had a crossbow, and grenades). I don't mind that the Demon Hunter looks more like a Warhammer 40K character than a Diablo character. But the over-the-top abilities which make the whole affair silly, I do mind.
I mentioned catering to the console crowd ealier. As you might have noticed in the videos, orbs pop out in the game which regenerate health and mana. Will this mean that Diablo 3 will do away with mixtures, a vital element of the hack&slash genre since the original Diablo? No, apparently they stay, but will not play as big a role as earlier. And the whole graphics revamp so that it looks more like a jRPG than a dark, gritty and gothic euro RPG as it should?
Of course I will still play the game when it comes out. I would be silly not to. What I'm saying is that the direction they took with this game is crap. It may be a good, even great, hack&slash game, but it's probably going to be a very shitty Diablo game.
I will still pay attention to announcements, to see how the game wants to innovate, and how it wants to be played. But I can't stop from feeling dissapointed that after more than 10 years the sequel we get is going to be something so alien to the last two parts of the game that it barely feel right. Hopefully they won't do the same to the franchise as Rockstar plans to do to Max Payne 3... but that's another story.