Stillman here, and I am nowhere close to running low on ideas. I was going to write a column on the dieing camel that Marius kicks in the head, but I instead went with fat zombies we see in the Diablo 3 Gameplay Video. What is up with those guys? And will there be fat female zombies for you sick, sick people who bench press dead chicks? Find out below, and click through to read this week’s Slab.
I will tell you what is up with the zombies: they are fat! Just when you thought the undead could not get any easier, Blizzard pulls an all-nighter at Dairy Queen wolfing down countless Blizzard sundaes to get inspired. The result is a squadron of zombies who are so naked and out of shape that the heroes will just snub ‘em and skip ‘em. This week we examine the overly easy monsters of Diablo 2 and look ahead to the challenges (and sometimes lack there of) offered up by Diablo 3. Perhaps we are in for an inevitable treat since so many foes are mindless undead. Who will be the heroes’ bigger menace: Marius’ camel or the zombies?
For all the vile and terrifying prose Blizzard uses to describe their monsters, they tend to be incredibly easy to herd and slaughter. Often, the relative size of monsters is nearly irrelevant. Giant Blunderbores and Megademons are only marginally tougher than the smaller creatures. Normal mode monsters are far too weak; a level 1 naked Sorceress (arms of a girl) can kill a Fallen in one punch while fearlessly absorbing many whacks from their clubs. Appearance, not just size, is also meaningless, for Dolls are about the deadliest foes in Diablo 2 despite being tiny baby skeletons. And we all know by now that completely naked Hell monsters often have the same physical damage reduction as those who appear fully clad in heavy armor like Doom Knights. Although some of this makes little sense, there surely must be a reason why easy mobs are so commonplace.
Why are monsters so easy in Diablo 2? Is it our infinite potion use creating the illusion of our prowess, our years of experience mastering the game, too many exploits, poor monster intelligence (AI), overpowered imbalanced skills, inflation of end game runewords, or a combination of these? The answer I have come up with is, surprisingly, none of those. The exploits and potions we so heavily rely on are merely tools for a greater goal Blizzard always had in mind. Even without the dupewords, poor monster AI, and imbalanced skills, most monsters are designed to be easy prey. Before I describe the reason why, let us first acknowledge that easy monsters have become a problem.
For example, in Diablo 2, the ease of PvM (player versus monster) action has driven players into an even more polluted and broken PvP (player versus player) conquest. Despite all the cheats and poor behavior duels are plagued with, more and more players seek dueling as a final ounce of challenge Diablo 2 can offer. High level characters are not exactly revered anymore because ?anyone can grind.? Many players stop leveling their builds at level 85 or so to get on with their dueling or magic finding goals. Anything to avoid PvM has become a common attitude. Many players use teleport to skip 99% of the monsters?monsters who were put there to fight but who do not put up enough challenge anymore. Normal mode is a breeze, Nightmare mode is even easier because you have access to your level 24 and 30 skills while maxing out synergies. For many of us, the game does not even really begin until Hell mode, or when we start grinding Hell bosses. The hardest beast to master in Diablo 2 is this one:
The younger brother of the Rubik’s cube, the good old Horadric Cube has caused many a worthy hero to ask ?why can’t I tele with my Writ’s leg nigma??
If the monsters’ unchallenging nature causes such problems, then the benefits must be somehow compensatory. But what could those up sides be?
No, it is not the reward of getting more loot for more kills. Boss targeting seems to be the unanimous choice for the biggest wealth gains. Killing more bosses means killing fewer regular monsters. I think the real answer, the real up side to having ridiculously easy foes has more to do with this:
It makes you feel good. Easily killing many foes provides a steady rewarding feeling. Playing Diablo 2 these days is like snorting your next line of free coke. There is probably something going down in the dopaminergic reward pathways of the brain as things are going down on the screen. Yearning to keep a steady flow of cyber crack to the players, Blizzard has made the game easier and easier over time.
Blizzard is like the entity known only as the Beer Fairy. When someone buys a case of beer and accidentally leaves it at the liquor store, and the store must close now, and it is given to your friend who works there since the tourist never came back to claim it, and yes, the seconds have really ticked away and the store must close now, AND your friend has a party to go to that very night, then the case of free beer is said to come from the Beer Fairy. This actually happens in the Maritimes where I live, exacerbated by the great number of forgetful tourists we have. And since everyone knows everyone, the friend who works at the store is going to the same party as you on the night the Beer Fairy struck. Well Blizzard is like the Beer Fairy with their free Diablo 2 bnet and pretty much free monster kills.
The ultimate ease of mowing down mobs will come with patch 1.13. With Poison Nova getting a boost and Iron Maiden being removed from Oblivion Knights’ repertoire, the Chaos Sanctuary will become a sort of gas chamber. There will be infinite respecs for everyone with the free crack shown above. The number of legitimate end game runewords will be at least tripled. It will probably be more when people learn how easy it is to farm runes since the monsters will be easier. Monsters in eight player games currently have enough time to pick up a suitcase with one hand and salute Satan with the other before they are gunned down. In 1.13, they will not even have time to accept Christ as their savior as a last second con into Heaven.
Or maybe I am wrong. Perhaps the ultimate, ultimate killing induced high could come our way with Diablo 3. The mobs do look bigger in some of the videos. They are also allergic to armor. There are several naked, lethargic zombies dilly dallying in what is presumably Act I. People complained about the ambient green and blue lighting in the Temple of Boobs when the real problem is the weird naked orgies that must have been going down just before the Barbarian showed up. No one is prepared! The fat guys come out to fight without shirts or weapons. The Cultists start chanting spells last minute. And what’s with those three girls who totally exploded off cue? And those were the only girls in the place. What were they all doing in there, anyone know?
So this brings us to another problem: is a three hundred pound godly Barbarian required for fat zombie removal? In many zombie movies, regular everyday people clobber down piles of zombies easily. Some of the undead in Diablo 2 even grunt ?brains? like in the movie Return of the Living Dead, which perhaps implies these monsters are not meant to be serious threats. But do players want their opponents to be super easy? I never felt like much of a man killing those three foot tall Fallen who have made a comeback in Diablo 3 along with the pushover zombies. It just feels like I am killing Mrs. Myers grade three class from my childhood. I would rather kill Mrs. Myers…
So here is to hoping Diablo 3 will be HARD. They talked about heroes knocking skeletons out of monsters’ bodies, but I for one hope to see the heroes on the bad end of that hammer. Diablo 3 should be payback time. A sausage factory of fat zombies would be good if they are like those Black Death monsters from Diablo I that permanently remove your character’s hit points. Maybe a fat zombie could take a bite out of your character instead of being a creature that just bites. Or, maybe the fat zombies are just placeholders or reminders to Blizzard to insert real tough, armored bad guys later on in development. Kind of like reminders I sometimes leave in my articles.
[INSERT A JAY WILSON JOKE IN FAT ZOMBIES PARAGRAPH.]
Although it feels good (like a drug in fact) to slaughter mobs easily, how many people fantasize about going postal and sniping people off while perched atop the wheelchair ramp? I have thought about it very carefully, and it is just plain sissy to storm into an adult video filming set and stab everyone when they are naked and totally unarmed. Trust me on this; I have thought it through and even had some cool ideas for a slasher movie or two. ?Kill all the males? repeats the imaginary voice of God derived from Stan’s psychosis. Oh man, those porn stars are so dead. A pot bellied model desperately grabs a toy which is too lubricated to be wielded properly. ?Fat chance? says Stan in that flat, emotionless tone as he shows the camera what penetration really is. But the humor of that line is lost because the catatonic musclebound killer should probably be in a Mixed Martial Arts fighting ring instead of killing people who are already splayed out on the floor moaning.
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.