With no release date, no beta ( I had been using a friend’s) and little news outside of far reaching conspiracies I was at a loss with D3. So I did what normally happens in those lulls: I reinstalled Diablo 2. I like many of you ( I assume) have picked up D2 several times since D3 was announced. I at one point swore off all other games so that I could play Diablo 2 right until release. I made that decision in 2009, needless to say I didn’t last.
Why is it that ten years after first gripping D2 in my sweaty teenage palms I can still find enjoyment in the game? The graphics are dated, the quests tedious and repetitious, but something keeps me clicking and I don’t think it is nostalgia. Now that is to say not all things are bright and cheery in Diablo 2. Battlenet is where I play most of my games, and it is a vastly different monster than when I left it a long time ago.
Okay what to play, I can play a Baal run, or a different Baal run. Okay since i’m level one I guess I’ll just make a new game. Kills a few things, ten minutes later….. still playing with myself ( I’m not above that joke). Oh here comes someone. SPAM STORM! and gone. Well that sucked. Maybe I’ll try a different game. Game full. Create new game SPAM STORM sigh..
Eventually I was able to join games with people not trying to sell me virtual items, only to discover a new ruse. A sorceress was stationed in town I was instructed to type chant. I did and found I was now more powerful at level 11 than I had ever been years ago, hell my mercenary was more powerful . Everything fell in my wake. However, you lose something by being able to breeze through things without trying. Even while playing Hardcore in this game I never felt like I was in any danger.
After a few chant games I was in Act 5 , and my druid was kicking ass ( oh yeah I made a druid) but my gear was not. I was reminded of all the items I lusted after and how they could help me. Bone-snap Maul in particular was calling my name, Having been a few years I assumed they had been raining from the sky and could be doled out as such. I was sadly mistaken.
Trading was perhaps worse than I had imagined. The games were so specific I couldn’t offer them anything they wanted. I was lucky to have received a few high level runes and hoped to hit pay dirt. I don’t know how many hours I sunk in my fruitless pursuit but I walked away with somethings I wanted, some that I thought I could trade and some I didn’t need. With my crazy haul I needed to mule it for my eventual demise.
God I hated this. So as I divulged in last weeks podcast I have no friends who play Diablo. So i’ve always needed the kindness of strangers or just had to do it myself. I tried small for the first game simple ring on the ground and logged after three minutes. Game not found. Perhaps it was my password. Game still not found. Crap! I created another game this time for five minutes and one item on the ground, and it worked. A grand total of ten minutes of my life perhaps more wasted transferring items.
I had to die, I mean that’s part of the experience. My gear was muled, trading was abysmal and chant games meant I could easily make up for the character i’d lose. It’s rare that I can choose my death so I went nostalgic and took on Diablo and his red breath of death.
It was rare not to feel a sting of death, but I wasn’t through with Diablo. I created a new character and you can find me on USEast if you want. Follow me on twitter and perhaps we can make games that don’t involve the word Baal.
Ironically in the wake of Jay Wilson’s post this week ( when it would be so easy to be cynical) my foray into D2 made me more excited for D3. Most of the problems plaguing D2 will be solved, while the things that still keep me clicking will remain. No more lost time muling, struggling to find the item you need, or even people to play with. Are there things I still don’t like? Of course, but in the long run I can look at D2 and still feel the urge to play. From my beta experience even with nothing to do past 13 I would still pick it up, just like D2 and for me the ability to play a game where there is nothing to reach for and enjoy it is a sign of something great.
Lastly I received a email in response to my last column from NeoNovaS with a nice spin on why HC should be unlocked from the start:
I think blizzard themselves actually gave one of the best reasons for this in reference to making D3 online only,““One of the things that we felt was really important was that if you did play offline, if we allowed for that experience, you’d start a character, you’d get him all the way to level 20 or level 30 or level 40 or what have you, and then at that point you might decide to want to venture onto Battle.net. But you’d have to start a character from scratch, because there’d be no way for us to guarantee no cheats were involved, if we let you play on the client and then take that character online.”
The entire reason (except the cheating) can be applied straight to being able to go straight to hardcore.
An interesting point as the debate continues.
Next Week: Are we a difficulty or a mode?
One Live to Live covers the Hardcore play and life style in the Diablo community. It is written by Xanth and published weekly. Post your comments below, Follow me on Twitter @HCXanth or contact the author directly.