Diablo III Beta First Impressions

A couple of semi-journalistic takes on the DiabloWikiDiablo III beta today. The first comes from site reader YOUR and has been posted on his blog. It’s a practical write up of the beta experience, with a balanced take on the pros and cons, and lots of screenshots. Informative and practical.

Naturally, in this post I’m going to focus more on this rabble-rousing and somewhat-misleading piece from The Daily Beacon, a student newspaper from the University of Tennessee. Some choice quotes:

…The first time I launched the game I was actually shocked at how outdated the game looks. The character models in the class selection screen look like they belong in a PS2 game.

…The opening level is a foggy cemetery which is easily the ugliest environment in the game. The fog effects wash out the screen and look more like your monitor’s brightness is set too high than fog.

My first hours playing the game didn’t do anything to improve my opinion of it. They consisted of clicking on people with exclamation marks over their head, then trudging through dungeons filled with slow-moving monsters that provided absolutely no challenge. All that was required to defeat the waves of oncoming attackers was to hold the mouse in their general direction for a couple of seconds. …I started to wonder how “Diablo II” had possibly achieved such a revered status, because I was extraordinarily bored.

I say misleading because while the article starts off by crucifying Diablo III on numerous levels, it loops back halfway through and winds up actually recommending the title. It was probably a clever approach though; the hate hook landed some coverage here, at least.

The author states that he’s never played any Diablo games before, and that he has very little ARPG experience. He is therefore right in Blizzard’s “casual-friendly” target audience. Unfortunately, since he’s an experienced video gamer, as I’d guess 98% of possible Diablo II buyers are, he found the early going boring, even on his first play through.

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34 thoughts on “Diablo III Beta First Impressions

  1. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – good game design should start with a bang, something exciting and memorable to grab you right off the bat. Not something slow and dull and mindless. I suspect D3 will lose many, many, many potential fans who just get plain bored by the extreme easiness of the first several hours. (This happened to two friends who I tried to introduce to D2.)

      • It isn’t about hating a game for no reason. It is about trying it and then not finding it fun. If a game takes 3-5 hours to start being “fun” most people stopped playing a long time ago.
        Personally I like the difficulty scale of D2. It is hard to judge D3 on what is basically the equivalent of getting to Blood Raven in D2, maybe a bit further. The Skeleton King is just a miniboss afterall.

        • I think the beginning of D3 is just fine.  Applying your logic, there isn’t any difficulty or anything intriguing at all about Act I of D2 up to Blood Raven.  I didn’t even use a health potion until I stumbled across Rakinishu’s lightning enchant status, and I remember wondering what the heck was going on with the outdoor environmental repetition (read: why is there only one tileset) until Tristram and the Countess.  D2 did anything BUT start with a bang.  Want proof?  Everyone rushes straight to Hell runs, there is your proof.
          It is hating on a game for no reason because D3’s beginning is much more novel than D2’s we just don’t see that because WE HAVE ALL WATCHED/PLAYED 100 HOURS OF THE BETA.  Of course it’s lost it’s charm.

  2. He’s just saying what some of us are thinking. I thought the same thing when I first played the beta, the graphics do look pretty lousy and the game doesn’t seem as fast paced as D1 or D2. If he’s new to beta he didn’t get to see the lame companion scrolls either. I have a question, why do so many systems in the game half-assed the first time just to have to go back and revamp it.

    • Dude, the game IS visually orgasmic on the right pc. The gnarled trees of Tristram take my breath away whenever I see them. Detail is not everything if you can appreciate artistry.

      • well, I usually like to say this. When you watch drama movie.. why wouldn’t you expect the speacial effects and graphics as in Avatar on Inception ?!

        • I never thought someone could give such a lame example. You sir, have broken the record of lameness. Gratz.

          Or a second thought, you are a successful troll. Or not as I see your trolling.

          Visual effects on drama movies, my back.

    • I actually think the environments look very good. They look like paintings. The character models in the select screen are ugly, but they are taking a model meant to be seen far away and putting it right in your face.

      • Don’t get me wrong, I think it looks good too… but it’s nothing in comparison to the latest and greatest games that really focus on graphics. Crysis was just one example. But then again I don’t think D3 SHOULD look that realistic. That was all I was trying to say.

        if you go in thinking it will look ultra realistic, you’ll be disappointed. If you don’t have that mindset going in, then you’ll be completely satisfied if not amazed.

  3. This Beacon article does a good job of describing why Diablo works so well. In the first hour, I think most new players thoughts are, “Man, this game is stupid, boring, and easy.” Soon they settle into a trance like state and their eyes glaze over as they enjoy the mass slaughter followed by piles of fancy loot being offered up before them, then at some point they look at the clock and say, “My god! It’s 4 AM!?!”

  4. To be fair, the graphics are pretty lame for 2012.

    They could make super sexy amazing graphics, but then WoW players would have to upgrade their 2004 machines.

  5. I think the in-game graphics are beautiful, and I don’t particularly mind the fog.  I’d rather be without it, but it isn’t a problem in my mind.

    I think the avatars on the character select screen do look like shoddy PS2 quality, however.  None of those models were ever made with anything but an isometric view in mind, so I don’t know why they showcase them like that.  Bashiok said about a year ago, even, that helmets and shoulders are oversized and ‘cartoony’ to be distinguishable from far away.  “They aren’t meant to be seen up close” was the general message.

    • They’re poor quality because they were designed to be viewed at a larger scale (i.e., in game).

      They could have higher quality versions of the avatars on the select screen, but then they’d have to have high resolution models and textures for everything, including all the items as well. This is quite a bit of extra work, as simply scaling a high quality model and texture down isn’t as simple as it might seem.

      Me, I’d prefer that they get the in game models and textures looking good rather than the character select screen. In a perfect world, sure, I’d love to have high quality selection avatars, though.

      But I want the game this year :).

  6. The graphics are not at all lame for 2012, especially for a game of this type. You already need a fairly powerful machine to even play it, let alone at the maximum graphic settings. Also, with the zoomed out frame of reference, it is easy to make the mistake of comparing a highly detailed character from a game like skyrim or CoD with a tiny character that is hardly ever looked at from so close a view. This isn’t just about the characters and creeps, but also the environment; an environment (that can be used to kill monsters!) that is randomized in many places, which is something few games have. The amount of time and energy put into the plot/lore is incredible.  It is important that you think about the things that this game offers that others with \better\ graphics don’t.  Next time this guy plays scrabble, he’s gonna complain about the graphics!

  7. I wouldn’t say the beginning of the game is constantly easy. It has its ups and downs. For example, there’s a big difficulty spike when you first go into the cathedral.  You are still like level 3, and likely have your starting weapon, which means enemies take a looong time to kill since all the enemies have a lot of hitpoints all of a sudden. This of course only applies to non-twinked chars.

    I’m glad someone else mentioned the fog.. i thought it was just my monitor.  It really does look quite bad at times and this is coming from someone who enjoys the art style of the game.  Hopefully they can improve it.

  8. Looks like D3 is mounting up to be just as exciting as “bejeweled”! Even the colors look the same.
    Hell, if you get drunk enough you could’nt even tell the difference. After they stole Condor’s golden baby they replaced it with a yellow turd.

  9. He did make one good point. That washed out fog effect does look like shit. I assumed it was some video problem with fraps until I used mooege and saw it for myself. Its actually quite shocking how easy it would be to fix, how long this game has been in development, and how the very first area looks like I am using one of those cheap flatscreen monitors from about 5-6 years ago.

  10. The game was ugly when they announced it and it hasn’t changed much for the better in the intervening 4 years. This part was funny to me: “They consisted of clicking on people with exclamation marks over their head…” Isn’t that basically the Sims?

  11. The graphic is outdated, and to be honest I thought the character model and item sets are disgustingly ugly. However, I really dig the painted art theme they’re going with for the enviroment.
    I can look at Tristram all day.

  12. My biggest complain about the game remains the same – I can’t bear that art style, low polygons, so called “old-school” in 2012, Disney palette (I love Disney, but not in Diablo franchise). They try to mask it with huge amount of FX on the screen, but it goes even worse. Without health bars over enemy and player heads you can’t see anything, total mess of explosions, lightning bolts, guts and “you name it”. I’m fine with everything else.

  13. But he plays D2, the set The author states that he’s never played any Diablo games before, and that he has very little ARPG experience. is wrong.

  14. It’s appropriate hate from someone who never played an ARPG before. Let’s assume he’s coming from FPS games like Crysis 2 and Battlefield 3. Games made to show off the technology their engines use. Then you come to D3 which is already 4 years in production since it’s annoucement. An aging engine that depends entirely on it’s art approach which is hit and miss. I also agree, the character select screen totally needs to be revamped. How about show us cool artwork of the classes instead? Or make them totally CGI and not in-game as they did in Diablo 2. Just a WoW character screen does not belong in D3 where looking at your character upclose is a sadass sight from how you play the game… And yes, the difficulty is retard proof. Blizzard takes the getting new gamers into the game too serious. What are the new gamers? 5 years old?

  15. As someone who used to be very familiar with the Daily Beacon and the writing staff…. poor quality does not surprise me.

  16. One of the most important aspects of Diablo2 ‘s replayability is the lasting memory of it, when you stop playing.
    You want to play again because you can only remember the good parts. And that’s what good game design is all about, not about the first hour of gameplay, as marketing clowns will tell you.
    Who gives a damn if you drop the game after half an hour because the first half an hour wasn’t exiting enough? You’ve already payed for it, and if you are that bored after half an hour, chances are the couple of tens of hours you might have played it for if the first half an hour was “good enough” wouldn’t be enough to get you to spend more money on the game, so the better “we” get rid of you retards (as in short attention span and all) the better.

  17. Where are the comments that somehow confuse the quoted bit with my own words, and then criticize me for saying things I didn’t? And here i got my hopes up and everything. 🙁

  18. Ultra high def graphics will only draw a moment worth of attention.  But strong gameplay will allow years of playability.  Personally I wil take gameplay over graphics anytime.  I would play a game with with NES graphics if it has great gameplay. 

    One thing Blizz could do (like they do in movies), is to start your character off as level 20 character for the first 20 minutes of gameplay or so.  Then flash back to present as you start off fresh as a level 1 character.  Now I am sure storyline and everything else will have to cater to this, but this could be the hook that gets new comers onboard. 

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