Stillman’s Slab #15: Druid Circles


Today we dice up the Druid and find out if players are barking up the wrong tree. Is the Druid seen by many as dog meat simply for his affiliation with the Diablo 2 expansion set? Or, is there an actual bone to pick with nature lovers who kill animals and have fire skills? Check out the first paragraph of this weeks slab column and click through to read the rest.

Druid Circles

?Arwooooooo!? I can’t see a thing, and I just cut off something from this hairy patch here. I sure hope he’s in animal form! The Druid has a few fans who really like him, so I had to turn the lights off and take sample slices in secret.  However, a recent Diii.net poll found that the Druid is the least favorite class in Diablo 2, so he’s not exactly the top dog. But is this really from his faults, or is it that the Druid reminds everyone of the Lord of Destruction (LoD) expansion in general which is the bigger culprit? Today we look at what makes him tick and what gives him ticks, namely the LoD expansion he represents. Stick around while we try to repair his Wolffian ducts, tail bone, and canine teeth after Blizzard got their paws on him.

 

Druids are like the original Star Trek series episodes when they first aired; only a few fans liked them but liked them a great deal. Oh, and there were Tribbles?little furry things that were useless but cute, kind of like spirit wolves. But for the most part, I will not mention other gameplay mechanics in todays dissection, er, discussion. This is because I am a Druid noob who has fallen under the full moon curse of LoD neglect. I also can’t take my eyes off the Amazon, so the only fair shot I will ever give the Druid is the one for rabies. I am basically just focusing on lore, appearance, hearsay rumors, and what a Druid noob might think when deciding whether he or she should play one or stick with the original five hero classes. But even these factors alone are enough to turn fans of other classes away from the Druid, perhaps unfairly so thanks to the LoD style he reeks of. And I’m not crying wolf here.

For one thing, I’m told the Druid’s Ravens are like 8th graders at the prom party; they are just there to be wasted.  Ravens actually commit suicide by attacking, and they don’t even do any real damage. They go around pecking at the eyes of skeletons, ghosts, and swarms of insects. Quoth the Raven: ?Seriously? Dude, I overpay.? Another problem is that we already have terms in the game like Ravenfrost, Ravenlore, and Blood Raven, and the Ravens’ flight patterns are worse than [REMOVED SEPTEMBER 11 JOKE]. In fact, couldn’t the Summoning skill tree be named Calling or something so the Druid doesn’t look even more like the Necromancer’s underpowered cell mate?

But that is not all that the Druid copies. His skills seem to lean heavily on the same old mechanics we are used to exploiting on the Barbarian: life and attack damage boosts, leech, faster run, increased attack speed, and so on. Even the Druid lore emulates that of the Barbarian with their sole purpose of existence being to protect Mount Arreat. According to Arreat Summit, ?their people must devote themselves to nothing save that charge.? 

When reading their lore, I found there is even one of those massive trees, a ?maginificant oak? the Druids worship which is just there to whack us over the head with this tree hugger concept we are already fully aware of. We have already seen these giant mother trees in Secret of Manna, Icewind Dale and a Heman episode. The Druid seems to be more copycat than wolf or bear, which is a big problem with LoD in general.

It is not just the Druid who copies, however. When it comes to stealing, the Druid’s bark is worse than his bite compared to the Assassin. She is the other LoD expansion class who uses spell animations borrowed from the Sorceress and is therefore unpopular. We even have the two LoD expansion classes copying from each other. ?The Druids shun the use of traditional magic, or douchebaggery as they call it. They instead practice a form of magic….? Ok, I added the douchebaggery term instead of ?Dubhdroiacht,? but the rest is straight out of Arreat Summit’s description. It appears the Druid even copies the Assassin’s attitude that ‘all magic is bad…except when I use it.’ You’d think they would both have a claws in their contracts to prevent this theft.

At least he does not appear to copy too much from mainstream media. LoD mainly copies in-game things. In fact, I couldn’t even find any retro 80’s characters or Druid lookalikes, so here you go:

 

He also reminds me a bit of a pencil being so orange and tall with a pointy end and what not. We can also be happy that the Druid looks intimidating and fails to copy from the WoW Druid:

 

In fact, he is so intimidating that he points at the player and makes a cutthroat gesture when we chose him…even though we are on his side. Um, don’t bite the hand that feeds you?

But most players don’t actually chose him. The Druid is probably dogged on so much because LoD just serves up more of the same. The theme going on with LoD characters is that they simply copy from the other class’ skills, lore, mechanics, and spell animation too much. They even copy the usual bucket load of hypocrisy problems like how the Druid ?is a friend to the animals of the wilds and can call upon them to aid in his struggle?…his struggle being to kill all animals which make up one third of the monsters in the game. Werewolves tend to be viewed as evil in a game where we fight on the side of light, another aspect copied from the Necromancer. And how appropriate are fire claws for a guy who loves forests and hates forest fires? Finally, what kind of Dr. Seuss skill tree is this?

 

I thought trees had branches and such. You would think a nature boy environmentalist would at least get the trees right.

The Druid has LoD written all over him, but in principle he is a great choice as a Diablo character. Players love power ups, and the Druid is an embodiment of powering up with shape shifting built right into his persona and skills. He also fits rather well in the diversity of wilderness settings throughout the game. I guess he appears to be the runt of the litter thanks to the looming problems of LoD which players can’t ?bear? to be reminded of. You’ve got to admit all the goofy looking monsters and Baal runs we are fed in Act 5 are hard to wolf down.

Unfortunately, when players see the Druid they think ‘look what the cat dragged in.’ Some of us see Act 5 and turn tail going right back to Chaos Sanctuary runs. It’s a Sanctuary all right; a Sanctuary from LoD. I admit Act 5 is beautiful with it’s cold region setting. But the flimsy catapults and barricades which force us to find unchallenging doors to break open with three arrows are only annoying. The back of the LoD box advertised smashing your way though Act 5, but if we wanted to feel stuck we would visit one of the many dungeons or read up on patch 1.13. There are no new elemental damage types, and both expansion characters are ridiculous in heavy armor (both visually and conceptually). Blizzard’s disdain for armor shows as the Druid shapeshifts and runs around ?bear? naked.  Even Baal was a joker who lived in a Disneyland castle full of one hit killer dolls.  In conclusion, LoD has the Lion’s share of problems giving the Druid a bad reputation and short leash. More people would get into the Druid if only LoD wasn’t humping our leg at the same time. Now you know why Wirt’s leg has sockets.

This weeks BONUS BOLUS has me seeing who is at the door…I hope it’s not the cops yet again. Why do they keep hounding me? Howl will I get anything done around here?

 


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.

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