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    While skimming our Diablo 2 community forum this morning, I saw a thread about people giving D2 Hardcore a try, some for the first time ever inspired by Xanth’s new Diablo 3 Hardcore column. With that in mind, I was amused to see this blue post on the B.net EU D3 forum.

    So how many of u are on a new character in d2? I made another amazon.
    Zhydaris: I’m trying out the Assassin at the moment, I always preferred non-melee classes in the past, I guess it’s time for a change!

    And yeah, it’s always a good time to roll a new character in D2!

    Could you do me a favor and do a quick (unofficial of course) poll of how many in the D3 team who have played D2 on their spare time (not merely as research) in the last year? Thanks!
    Zhydaris: I cannot speak on behalf of the Dev Team because I’m located in the EU offices, but I saw a lot of people playing D2 recently in the EU Community Team office.

    D2 will always have a place in my heart, as playing Diablo II for the first time when I was a kid made me think “Hey, that’s what I want to do when I’ll grow up”. And I’m pretty sure that every single one of my colleagues here feels the same way. We just love our games, both the old ones and the new ones.

    In other words, even Blizzard employees are finally sick of WoW.


    Elsewhere, a fan voiced the common concern that the early levels of D3 aren’t random enough. We debated this on a story and quests episode of The Diablo Podcast weeks before the beta began, and now that I’ve played the beta extensively, I can say it’s absolutely true. Early on, D3 is pretty much cattle chute. You can not get lost in any area, and you can’t even really take a wrong turn, especially not on the surface areas, since there’s only one exit or objective in every area, and there are usually arrows (on the minimap) pointing you towards it. (And they’re not random in layout, so once you’ve done one you know where to go every time.)

    The dungeon levels are larger and quite randomized — and I’m sure you guys have watched enough gameplay videos of people wandering around the Catacombs to know that. Also, the whole game won’t be like the start of Act One. Surface areas in D3 are always the same in overall layout, but they have significant randomized components, and some are much larger than the one’s we’ve seen so far in early Act One. For instance, the Act Two desert in the Blizzcon 2009 demo was huge and varied.

    The point is, don’t judge the entire game by the earliest portions of Act One. Which is pretty much what Bashiok said in a forum post today.

    The very beginning of the game is extremely linear and guided on purpose. We want anyone and everyone to be able to sit down and begin playing and enjoying the game. That means there’s a lot of thought put into a gentle, guided experience for the beginning of the game. But in all reality if you sit down and play Diablo II you’ll see the difficulty and linearity from the beginning of the game is pretty much the same. The game opens up a lot more later in Act I, and especially in Act II.

    The vast majority of you guys are going to breeze through Normal, and that’s ok, because most of the real character building and customization doesn’t even begin until Nightmare.

    I have to disagree with Bashiok, since he’s wrong about D2 and simultaneously underselling D3. The first few surface areas of D2 were MUCH more open and explorable than anything in the entire D3 beta (the size/randomness of the dungeons is fairly comparable, though) But that’s not to argue that D2 was better. I think we’ll eventually come to miss randomized (layout) surface areas in D3 — in retrospect though, early D2 could have been improved. If you got off the path, there was an awful lot of aimless wandering through the grassy fields of the Blood Moor, the Cold Plains, the Stony Field, etc. Those areas could have been improved by making them a little smaller and more crafted and directed in the presentation. Instead they were just huge rectangles with lots of unremarkable open space, into which quest objectives were randomly plopped down.

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