Most of the discussions I’ve heard (or taken part in) about Diablo III’s story and plot have praise for the game’s storytelling tools, much of the dialogue, and the background and world lore, which is deep and rich and interesting. The criticisms are more focused on the main plot, which feels dumbed down and predictable in a Hollywood-style, and especially the in-game cinematics which feature such treats as Cain’s utterly-anticlimactic death, Zoltan Kulle’s infuriating impression of a birthing coach, and about 10 more lecturing nagging holographic visits from Azmodan and Diablo than anyone wanted or needed.

    Thus it’s kind of ironic that this blog post about Diablo 3’s story, written by a Hollywood writer, says nothing about the overall game story and focuses instead of the individual character interactions and the NPC dialogue tools that drive most of the game’s narrative. Thanks to Malaya for the news tip.

    The sepia-toned character interludes feel like band-aids.

    At several moments in the game — generally at Act breaks — the game goes to a completely different animation style. Your character gives voiceover to recap what’s just happened and where they’re headed next. It’s oddly repetitive and tacked-on.

    My hunch, though I have no proof, is that these interludes came very late in the development of the game, when someone at Blizzard realized that the player/plot relationship was non-existent. It very much feels like voiceover added to a movie that’s not working.

    To be fair, I liked a few story and character elements.

    I dug the character introductions, which are done in that same sepia style. No matter which character class you choose, your hero is racing to get to Tristram to investigate a falling star. I love characters who run towards danger. Their backstory details are interesting and specific — and sadly irrelevant, because you’re never going to refer to them again.

    I liked the environments — although I wish more interesting things were happening in them. Fairly late in the game, there’s a spider queen who tortures chained giant somethings. Are they gods? Titans? I wish they weren’t just set dressing.

    I played through the first boss with each of the character classes before settling on the witch doctor. To their credit, each of the character concepts felt distinct, with nice voice acting and interesting animation. I liked the female barbarian a lot, and if I decide to keep playing, I’ll probably give her a shot.

    I think I agree with him on the sepia-toned segments, though they’re far from what I’d single out for comment if writing about the game’s story. The opening one that each class/gender gets is nice and sets the tone and I often rewatch those when they reload when one of my characters progresses into a higher difficulty level — they’re pretty, they’re short and to the point, and they set the scene nicely. But all the little segments dropped in, in 20-second tidbits, throughout the acts… meh. I pretty much skip all of those, at this point.

    What do you guys think? It’s universally known that aRPGs are tough to tell story in, since players just click through everything after they’ve played through the game a few times. With that in mind, after 2+ months, are you still experiencing any elements of Diablo 3’s story? Do you listen to some of the dialogues, or the lore books when you play a new character? Do you miss the books and tomes and in-game lore when you’re playing with an Inferno character who has already seen them all?

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