Blizzard Entertainment’s Diablo III has, in many ways, been somewhat of a disappointment since its launch mere months ago. Despite the fact that the game shattered many a modern-day sales record, critiques have been pouring in since the day the servers opened—many of the negligible variety, but just as many with validity. Blizzard appears to have taken this criticism to heart, and plans to roll out a mammoth patch in about a month’s time to address some concerns.
So what are some of these notable issues that plague Diablo III? The list is long.
1.) The plot is predictable and shallow, with little to no characterization along the way.
2.) Too much emphasis is placed on the Auction Houses in order for players to acquire proper gear to advance in the game, which leads players to spend half their time in-game watching items and bidding instead of actually playing. This also caused a significant number of players to accuse Blizzard of purposely building the game around necessitating Auction Houses in order to increase their own profits. (Blizzard takes a 15% cut of any items sold.)
3.) The presence of the Auction Houses also focuses the spotlight more intensely on the discovery of character exploits and bugs, which can be incredibly beneficial to those select few who discover them and throw the game economy out of order.
4.) The game’s endgame is commonly seen as unsustainable and, perhaps most damningly, simply not fun.
5.) Character classes are unbalanced, with only a couple of the game’s five classes being reasonably sustainable in Inferno difficulty.
6.) Legendary items, the hardest items to find in the game, are by and large woefully inept and underpowered.
So... what’s Blizzard going to do about it?
Their upcoming patch, 1.0.4, acknowledges and attempts to remedy several of these weaknesses. While nothing can be done about the storyline at this point, it’s open season on the gameplay fundamentals.
Blizzard plans to nerf the difficulty level of the current endgame, Inferno difficulty, to make it more manageable for max level players. This includes reducing the health of magic and elite enemy packs and lowering (or, in some cases like “Fire Chain” or “Invincible Minions,” removing) their special abilities, which means players will be able to proceed further without needing to rack up expensive gear from the Auction Houses.
Furthermore, specific skills for certain character classes are receiving major upgrades in order to make them more competitive and viable in the game’s endgame. This, in conjunction with planned increases to weapon damage, could go a long way toward bringing competitive balance to the masses.
Finally, item drop rate will be improved, giving players a better chance to find useful items instead of having to buy them, and the stats of legendary items will receive significant buffs.
These upcoming changes may not fix Diablo III entirely, but they do, at least, show that Blizzard is listening to the community and is willing to take steps in the right direction. We’ll check back in on Diablo III post-patch and evaluate Blizzard’s success (or lack thereof — whatever the case may be).
In other gaming news this week, BioShock Infinite drops multiplayer, Final Fantasy VII re-launches for PC, and Assassin’s Creed III shows off a spectacular new trailer. Read on!
- According to Kotaku, BioShock Infinite is losing multiplayer gameplay, choosing instead to focus their resources on the single player campaign ahead of their scheduled release date of February, 2013.
- Final Fantasy VII has officially been re-launched for PC by Square Enix. Get your fix now for $9.99. The game was briefly available for purchase a few weeks before being quickly pulled by Square Enix. Users who purchased the game during that time and were unable to play received the game for free.
- Players of Blizzard games: as I’m sure you are aware by now, Battle.net was hacked last week — specifically, North American servers were compromised. If you play anything by Blizzard on a North American server, you would do well to change your password, stat.
- Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit gets a mention for its upcoming release on PSN, Xbox, and PC in September/early October simply for having one of the best game names of the year. Kudos, Sega.
- If you’ve ever wanted to make a video game kill by summoning, then possessing a gigantic army of rats and devouring your hapless victim, you need to play Dishonored. Shack News brings you a preview from QuakeCon.
- Guillermo del Toro’s pet video game project, Insane, announced in passing at the Spike TV Video Game Awards a few years ago, was recently shelved and shut down by developers THQ. Del Toro is free to retain all rights of the game IP for future development or translation to the big screen, if he so chooses.
- Finally, there’s a new Assassin’s Creed III trailer on the loose, featuring ridiculously awesome-looking naval warfare.