This week Stillman embraces a character near and dear to his heart (and other organs).The Amazon! How did she work in D2, what didn’t work about her, and how can she be improved upon in D3, when (if?) she, or someone much like her, returns as some sort of archer character? Stillman might not have all of the answers, but he’s got a lot of questions and any number of observations, many of which Blizzard would be well-served to heed. We won’t find out about the fifth character until next July in Las Vegas (or not) but you can read all about the Amazon and D3’s Archer right now.
Here’s the start of the column; click through to read the whole thing.
This week, instead of grinding bone into a fine powder, I have installed a nice demonhide leather sofa for our subject to recline on. The Amazon is going to tell us about her headaches and how her day went. The Diablo 2 character selection screen was not kidding around when it said she was versatile. Where the Barbarian and others are pure cheese through and through, the Amazon is no Parmesan. She has the best looking armor in the game, and it totally matches her hair! She even has the best ?build? if you catch my drift. All this and more makes her fun to play rather than sickening to look at constantly. The only problem at hand is how in the world Blizzard plans on topping her when creating a Diablo 3 archer class. So sit back and chug an eyeful as we look at her spear skills, poison damage, attack rating bonuses, and how well they have all functioned for her over the years. What could possibly go wrong?
It may not be feasible for the next archer class in the series to come anywhere close to what the Amazon offers. She can easily fire 24 arrows three times per second using her pinkie finger. Each arrow can pass through targets thereby hitting everything on the screen. There is no way Blizzard will break Diablo 3 by allowing this sort of patch-happy pwnage to carry on. And the way Diablo 3 is going with lame armor, the Amazon’s appearance might never be matched again either. Her armor is one of the only kinds in Diablo 2 that does not look like a rubber costume. It actually looks like it is made out of metal (good lord, in a Diablo game?) and her overall design as a javelin, spear, and bow expert is quite original and interesting. Good luck coming up with anything more awesome looking than the Amazon.
Originality can only go so far though because Blizzard felt they had to turn her into an all American dream girl: a blond bimbo in a red swimsuit. Armor in Diablo 2 is so ridiculously backwards (with dusk shrouds being better for an Amazon than full plate) that her end game appearance goes right back to that red swimsuit she started with as a level 1 showgirl. Actually, it’s more of a light red, the color of liquid soap in high school washroom dispensers. But it’s not all the way pink you see?that would just be too girly, insinuative, and suggestive. Oh, and did anyone notice the Amazon is hotter than hell?
In fact, her red swimsuit is probably based on what these Playboy bunnies always wear:
Blizzard will be hard pressed to top this unless we end up with an arrow shooting stripper class. Not even the Monty Python crew would wear the top of a suit of armor combined with no pants whatsoever like the Amazon does in certain armor skins. The Amazon looks like a cross between Jessica Rabbit and Buffy the Vampire Slayer (below). How in the hell are they going to top that?
Blizzard even shows her in artwork (up top) as having a tiara for winning the Miss Sanctuary competition. She didn’t win for her values and political views either. She believes firmly in killing animals, burning things, never eating, dodging/evading/avoiding controversial issues, and the right to bear, er, turn into a bear? But no matter what she does we are constantly reminded that she is really a billboard sex symbol who may as well have blaze activated at all times. Is Blizzard even allowed to be this objectifying in Diablo 3 given the much bigger (and younger) audience they are trying to snatch up?
The Amazon’s sex appeal even interferes with her lore, another reason the Diablo 3 archer will likely not go to her extremes. She hails from the jungle-like Amazon Islands which I guess must resemble…Germany? Valkyrie, better known to us as ?slow poke?, ?tank girl?, or simply ?tank?, is actually an Old Norse word. Anyway, our genetically perfect Aryan hero leaves Germany with her tank to go shoot stuff and ?purge the land? by unfairly slaughtering enemies in mass. Um, good thing I chose the ‘how-will-Blizzard-top-her’ theme because this is kind of creepy. So just like the Rogue Encampment, it’s another all girls club. Of course such societies are impossible, but anything to jam more hotties into the game is a good thing for Blizzard. With the Amazon’s Decoy, Valkyrie, and a Rogue mercenary, she is basically Goldie Fox and the Three Mares. Things will be less sexy in Diablo 3 once they get around to designing a male archer to tag along. Our quest for possible improvement over Busty the Vampire Slayer continues!
The real beauty of the Amazon has more to do with monsters’ artificial intelligence (AI) being as effective as expired birth control. Getting gang raped by kangaroos sounds like a rough ordeal in theory, but as it turns out, the Amazon can just run back a little and fire liquid nitrogen rockets at them while they go ?Duh? in perfect unison. Enemies would like to use her pretty eyes as ashtrays, but any good Amazon player knows how easy it is to skate around them as they trip over each others entrails and puke into their nostrils until they die. A Diablo 2 glass cannon bowazon can TOTALLY IGNORE chance to block, faster block rate, faster hit recovery, LIFE (!!), mana, regeneration, faster cast rate, SKILL BONUSES (!!), plus to mana AND life after each kill, damage reduction, absorb, elemental damage, DEFENSE (!!), slows or blinds target, potions, and stamina mods. She can basically ignore these mechanics like boys would ignore everything from her ankles down. Diablo 3 will never allow this complete lack of challenge. The next archer class could be very disappointing for some players who like to come home from work and play mindlessly for a few hours while drunk.
Diablo 3 will indeed have much smarter enemies that you can’t stunlock to death. The improved AI over Diablo 2 will be like modding efforts on diii.net compared to those on Blizzard’s official forums. So don’t expect the new archer class to be an unstoppable powerhouse of arrow spamming bliss. And with more numerous and useful item affixes in the works we can all expect a more complicated time for archer fans. Although it will be a relief to play a more challenging game, our new archer class in Diablo 3 may not seem as fun as the ease we are accustomed to. Improvements will be a real wake up call, and sadly, we won’t be waking up to an Amazon anymore.
^As much as I like playing the Amazon, she is not without her flaws. In fact, she needs to get fixed like a cat in heat, and it will be no ordinary day at the orifice. When used with dodge/evade/avoid her spear skills are about as broken as a hillbilly’s teeth. Her attack rating bonuses on bow skills apply about as much as her mental traits in a waitress job interview. And she is always crashing games like an overweight goth girl crashes parties. And 2659-2946 poison damage over 46 seconds; what the hell is that all about? I guess we are supposed to drink tea while the enemies die from a diaper rash or something. A screen should be cleared with Poison Javelin by the time Diablo 3 comes out. But whose fault is all this, really?
We cannot simply wait until patch 1.13 comes out and fixes one or two of the Amazon’s many headaches and unused skills. Chances are, someone working on WarCraft will drop his car keys or get something stuck between his teeth which will initiate another massive delay on 1.13. Blizzard’s grip on Diablo 2 has always been about as slippery as cow patties on an ice rink with the Amazon being next to the most steamy pile. But improvement on the archer has got to come from somewhere, right? It can only get better, right?
Well, maybe not. Diablo 2, in some ways, only gets worse over time. From the Amazon’s perspective, we have an entire weapon type, crossbows, that are generally seen as slow and therefore useless. In fact, the best archer weapon you can get in the starting phase of the game is a 3 socketed longbow from Gheed where you put your first three primary colored chipped gems into. Only in Diablo 2 do crappy chipped gems outperform every single rare and unique bow that can drop in the first chunk of leveling. At end game, don’t wear any of the uniques that add to Amazon skills because this is Diablo 2, remember. Don’t put a single point into energy…even though you are using magic every single time you attack! And you will want lots of magic find…but not too much…but as much as you can possibly get…keeping in mind it’s almost a complete waste to put on more…but still, more is always better….ALWAYS, mathematically speaking….but don’t increase it if it slows your killing speed…which it ALWAYS will. Um, does anyone have a philosophy degree??
Evidently, I don’t think Blizzard is up for the challenge of making 1.13 what us Amazon fans would like. They can’t pee in the Diablo 2 cup without expecting it to flow over and create even more problems. It is really up to Diablo 3 alone to improve our archer class. And this brings us to our ultimate answer. How will Diablo 3 REALLY improve on the archer class when she won’t be as attractive, powerful, or original as the Amazon? Simple: she will not have most of her skills broken, poorly balanced, or shabbily designed in the first place. Blizzard may never give us something as great as the Amazon, but what a day it will be when we finally get a few more options than Windforce, Faith, or eth Titans. And imagine actually being scared of the bad guys instead of mowing them down like Stephen King putting out novels. Imagine having no hidden diminishing return formulas or silly breakpoints, and people start saying ?shots per second? instead of ?frames per second? like we are animators instead of archers. Maybe all bows will be steel bows, and we can actually hit stuff up close with the bow itself, and…ah, where’s my tea? This is going to take a while.
Opinions expressed in columns and guest articles are those of their authors, and not necessarily those of Diii.net.
Stillman’s Slab is where all Diablo characters are dissected and examined piece by piece. It is written by Nicholas Stillman to reintroduce Diablo series topics in a new light or put forth novel themes that have not been fully explored in the forums. Slurry collected from the centrifuge will always contain something new and unheard of at the time of publication. Post your comments below or directly.