Vote: Do you like about Diablo III’s Plot and Storytelling?

Since Diablo III’s launch we’ve seen a lot of game features criticized by fans, but the one that keeps coming up time and again (sometimes via sarcasm) is the story and story presentation. Do you like the game’s story as it’s presented? Let everyone know how much or little, and share specifics in the comments.

I was going to make this a “pick all the options you like” vote, but as I planned the options it seemed unwieldy with too many possible fields: Overall plot, world fiction, world lore, story through quests, story through random events story, NPC dialogue, cinematics, in-game cutscenes, lore books, story-telling tools, etc. There are just too many moving parts to rate them all separately, so tally them up to a total score that feel appropriate.

Rate D3's storytelling via plot, dialogue, cinematics, cut-scenes, lore books, etc...

  • 2) Good job, but could have been better. (29%, 1,740 Votes)
  • 4) Not very good. (22%, 1,344 Votes)
  • 5) Awful. Dumb. FAIL. (19%, 1,164 Votes)
  • 3) Meh. Not good or bad enough to notice. (14%, 880 Votes)
  • 1) Very good story and presentation. (14%, 840 Votes)
  • 6) No opinion/don't care. (2%, 129 Votes)

Total Voters: 6,095

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Last Vote Results

The last main page vote asked what features in Diablo III you found most pleasing. We limited the options to 10 and the choices to 3 to force people to make a decision instead of just voting for everything. No surprise that skills and runes came out on top, but I am a little surprised that nothing was ignored at like, 3% of votes.

There were 17874 votes from 7336 votes, which works out to 2.4 clicks per person. So yes, a good number of people only voted for one or two of the options, possibly since the script doesn’t change anything to show when multiple selections are allowed. That’s why I put that bit “THREE” in the vote title.

Pick your — THREE — favorite features in Diablo III.

  • Skills and runes. (52%, 3,811 Votes)
  • Graphics and sound effects. (37%, 2,707 Votes)
  • Quests and random events. (30%, 2,171 Votes)
  • Monsters and varied boss modifiers. (28%, 2,065 Votes)
  • The Auction House. (21%, 1,547 Votes)
  • Inferno difficulty level. (18%, 1,348 Votes)
  • Items. (18%, 1,305 Votes)
  • NOTHING! 🙁 (16%, 1,178 Votes)
  • Story, plot, and dialogue. (15%, 1,067 Votes)
  • Intangibles / something else. (9%, 675 Votes)
  • Total Voters: 7,336

    At some point we’ll run a similar vote for the 3 least favorite features in Diablo III. I’m not sure how we’ll present that one — this LOVE vote presented most of the major game features for your evaluation, rather than getting too specific. But for the HATE vote, it probably shouldn’t be about major game features, since most of the player complaints have been about specific things, often non-game things, like the RMAH, the online-only requirement, lame legendary items, etc.

    We also ran a mini-vote in a news item about Korea trying to ban online item sales and bots, which showed a quite divided opinion.

    Should all Governments forbid videogame developers developing any games that allow item sales for real money?

  • No (54%, 1,482 Votes)
  • Yes (46%, 1,246 Votes)
  • Total Voters: 2,728

    Tagged As: | Categories: Diabloii.Net Votes, Lore and Story


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    1. Well those really should be two separate questions. I really like the way they tell the story, but the plot is way too streamlined and lacks substance.

      • Yep, this.

        The story being told is crap, but I think the methods they’re using are pretty good. As I wrote in an earlier comment, it’s like being served a cold hot dog on a silver platter.

    2. I wanted to format the vote on individual aspects of the story, but as said in the OP, there seemed to be too many discrete elements to divide it into. Alas.

      Max Schaefer recently singled out the D3 story for praise, which surprised many of us. What I think he means is the story-telling, the mechanisms and tools used to tell the story. Lore books, dialogue that plays while you’re doing other stuff, dialogues that explain quests and objectives, etc. I think he’s speaking as a designer and developer and that he likes the tools, not that he’s endorsing the actual story or plot.

      As for the story… I am torn. I like a lot of the lore and gameworld and fiction and CGI and the little touches. But most of the in-game stuff is pretty bad. Endlessly taunting bad guys, Cain’s bungled, anti-climactic death, demystifying the prime evils by giving them too much corny dialogue, etc.

      I’d say more, but here’s an important hologram from Azmodan to tell you why it doesn’t actually matter that you killed his entire army, broke his catapults, saved all the humans, and slayed his spiderwhore.

      • i agree with all your comments, especially those about the bugging and corny enemies
        loved the gameplay (and will love it even more once legendaries are *hopefully* fixed in 1.1) but the story is just terrible. my 5 year old niece could have written a more dynamic/surprising storyline

      • That’s exactly how I feel. Cain – the most well-known character in the Diablo series
        – dies, and there’s no glorious, moving, emotional cinematic to highlight the importance of him.

        I joked before the game’s release that a great drinking game would be to drink each time someone used the word “asunder”. Man, the dialogue is so bad. So very, very bad. This was evident since the “Black Soulstone” cinematic. The writer’s put so much effort in using “big words” that they forgot to make them mean anything memorable.

        What does the ending mean for Leah? Again, there’s such limited explanation or finality on important character death. Are they really dead? If they reappear in the expansion packs will we care? Not the way that their deaths are currently treated, that’s for sure.

      • flux
        i have to express criticism here:
        you really SHOULD have made two polls for this.
        one asking if we approve of the way the story is presented and of the story itself.

        the story and parts of the presentation are SO BAD i had to vote for fail.
        even though i liked part of the presentation.

        and honestly – its hard to believe that almost 1/3 voted for the story telling to be good…

        • It means all the whining on the forums is not the whole truth abot the game.

        • Yeah – polls aren’t really appropriate for complicated issues. Pick a single, simple issue and make a poll about that, or have an open discussion about an issue (which is what we already have the forums for).

      • Agree with previous comments. I think they created a good flow to the game, had some good ideas, and I appreciate all the lores, the amount of dialogue you can have with your follower and townspeople, the callbacks to D1 and D2, etc. But I am definitely left feeling a bit hollow.

        1. You’re right about giving the Prime Evils so much dialogue (and so much stock villain dialogue). Less is more in this case, and they really don’t seem very clever or threatening when they are ranting at their incompetent minions like Skeletor every couple of minutes.

        2. Why does *every* villain have to have that heavily-processed deep-growl voice? Even the “event” enemies sprinkled throughout the game have the same booming, snarling, over-the-top dialogue. *NOTHING* subtle about them.

        3. I felt like the cinematics were nice, but I expected more. First off, we totally got short-shrift on Leah’s transformation into Diablo. She just slumps off-screen and rises up as the Lord of Terror? The Dark Wanderer’s agonizing, painful transformation was one of the most memorable parts of the D2 cinematics. I felt like the pacing on the cinematics was all wrong, and focused too much on Tyrael and not enough on what was going on with your character. I know they couldn’t create a cinematic ending for each character class/gender, but I really wish they could have had them all appear in the intro.

        So I gave it a “good,” because I appreciated the effort in the presentation, but I don’t really feel quite that positive about it. Feel like they could have done better.

      • I agree Flux. I really liked the lore books and the information contained with them, the main story …. not so much.

        It was one of my biggest criticisms playing the D3 Beta. The D1 Skeleton king was cool as he really only had one line “The warmth of life has entered my tomb. Prepare yourself, mortal, to serve my Master for eternity! (laughs)”. Whereas the D3 Skeleton king felt really corny and overdone.

    3. I was excited for the story after reading up on all the lore before launch so I was let down in a big way with what I got. Now that’s probably my fault for getting hyped about a story in a ARPG but I really thought they were gonna get it right. My biggest gripe was the characters. None of them seemed memorable at all. Cain dies too early and you almost forget he is even in the game. tyreal went from complete badass to just bad and annoying. Adria was far too obvious. Leah who was supposed to be the new cain never did anything. I assume we have not seen the last of her yet but still she was really forgettable in D3. So even though I feel the story was a letdown I really think it’s the characters where they failed the hardest

      • Yeah it’s kinda sad how they removed 2 such iconic figures from the game (Cain + Tyrael the Archangel with shiny wings and all), they were easily the 2 most popular characters in the series prior to D3.

    4. it was good on the first 3 times i saw it……. on the tenth times i fell asleep.

    5. So graphics get a lot of love, but the story elements only a little. Would it be conclusive to suggest that the art controversy is finally over and even this community of diehard fans agree with the current art style?

      I, for one, think graphic design is the best thing in the game. Kind of funny, considering how much rage it caused over the years… Though I think we took things like itemization for granted and focused on all the wrong things.. It was hard to think that they would totally screw up something as vital as like legendaries, wasn’t it?

      • The graphics are really good. After the skill system, it’s the best thing in the game.

        However, the art style is not good. Just look at Adria in D1 and Adria in D3.

        Just look to the scanvengers in D1 and D3.

        Just look to Magda in D3 and the Warlord of Blood in D1. (how the f*** a Snow White, fairy tale character gets in Diablo? And… butterflies!?)

    6. I feel that maybe it is kind of natural. The first Diablo had just a few pages in the handbook and a few more in-game. The atmosphere created by the setting and the awesome music of Matt in combination with that lore was all that was needed. As the franchise kept going on the amount of content they expanded went up exponentially, now there is little to no mystery and all that is left is a cheesy way to freshen thins up.

    7. Whole plot is very underwhelming and the storytelling is on the level of Winnie-the-Pooh.

      Sorry but I feel like I’m watching a class C horror movie sometimes: “Oh I’m so bad and I’ll show you my power …” “oh you will pay for that, I’ll show you …”, “Oh I’m so mighty etc … “, “Oh I hid it in a so well hidden place you will never find it … oh wait it’s in …. ”

      I have no idea what did Blizzard spent all those years on, but that’s for sure not the story, when I look at it again it seems like it was written in half a day at max.

    8. They blew it badly with the story. It could have been so much more, linking back through the previous games, with some great plot twists, but instead, they went boring and contrived, adding in stuff no one even wanted.

      Very disappointed with the story.

    9. “Do you like about Diablo III’s Plot and Storytelling?”

      Should be a “What” at the beginning of that or take out “about”.

    10. I voted it meh – the story itself deserved a meh, most of the acting was awful, but the cutscenes were awesome.

    11. For me the story was a total letdown.. Most disappointing part was that the Prime Evil was a she. I don’t have issues with female bosses (SpiderQueen was cool) just a female Diablo was so… pffff 😕

      LORD of Terror? More like Whore of Terror..

    12. Stroy-telling mechanics – awesome (even more then awesome for an hack & slash game; I still refuse to call Diablo 3 and games like it an ARPGs).

      Plot – meh; although not much more “meh” then in two previous games.

    13. Storylines in games have come a long way in 10 years, however it seems that this evolution went unnoticed at Blizzard. It took me a while to realise, but I just didn’t care one bit about the characters and NPCS that were around in D3. I’m engaged with the items, the look of the game, the combat mechanics, but the plot and the characters around mean absolutely nothing.

      The writers for Skyrim, the mass effect series, and deus ex:HR need to kick down the doors to Blizzard’s D3 writing team and teach them a thing or two. I’m currently watching my g/f play elder scrolls 4: oblivion and I’m already getting intrigued by just a random merchant.

      • Well, ME3 didn’t end well (MASSIVE understatement). Maybe it’s best to appreciate all the different varieties of fail for their own unique profound lack of quality.

    14. I think it was a magazine article Flux quoted a while back stating that Blizzard isn’t taking enough risk, instead relying on the old story for too much of Act 1. Little did we know that the whole plot and character cast would take no chances, with Cosmo cover faces for “characters” that are really single words: hero, betrayer, martyr, coward, nothing more. I guess bigger companies fear novelty, as we keep seeing film remakes, for example. They want to simply look at a chart where plugged in cliches can guarantee certain profits. We didn’t get the Mickey Mouse ears pentagram I predicted, but I wonder if a Star Wars character is that much different?

      Poor Cydaea. What happened to her grotesque hole of a mouth?

      • I observed this after the terribly-corny dialogue in the Demon Hunter intro cinematic, and it’s very visible throughout the game as well. And I think it’s intentional. Bliz (metzen?) wrote D3 to a very simple, archetypal level. Hero, villain, betrayer, martyr, etc. They didn’t attempt anything more, or try for complexity or depth or nuance. They wanted simple, comic book style villains and heroes that anyone could identify with. (In theory, at least.)

        The goal was that the plot should be easily-translated into 20 different languages, that there wouldn’t be any confusion or inability to follow along even if you were skipping dialogue and cut scenes, etc. It’s like a blockbuster movie, some Michael Bay idiot-fest, where you can see every plot twist coming a mile away. And critics hate all those type of movies, but they make a billion dollars.

    15. I think the elements here really are too separate to score as a whole.

      I think the storytelling techniques and the way it was presented through lots of lore books which you can enjoy without pausing the action were great, and a good step forward for narrative in games.

      I felt that the actual plot or story, however, was awful. So unbelievably standard and cheesy writing, really subpar.

      So overall? A bad story presented very well.

    16. The story and writing are the worst aspects of Diablo 3 by far. They’d have to try hard to make it worse. The only redeeming qualities (lore books, cinematics), are overshadowed by writing of embarrassing quality.

      It just doesn’t have any class. The writing, story and storytelling are done in such poor taste.

      – Death of Cain feels like a calculated, cheap trick
      – Antagonists are simply dumb and silly. Diablo’s voice is annoying.
      – The Nephalem idea is poorly implemented. In D3, the player is constantly being told how powerful he is, and that he’s part of some prophecy. Even Diablo is like “every moment I delay you, I come closer to victory!” Goodness sake, even the Prime Evil doesn’t think it can defeat the player in battle?
      – I AM LEGION
      – Very few characters have any personality/soul. The Kulle storyline stands out, but isn’t resolved properly.
      – The story will likely just get worse, and the potential D1&2 had for amazing things, will never be realized. Leah will return, Imperius will become a bad guy, why not throw in a dragon, too.
      – First time I heard of Malthael’s disappearance was from a lore book. The heck? That’s going to be one of the big themes in the expansion pack, after all.

      • This. I AM LEGION– enough said.

        I’m about as enthusiastic a fan as you can find, but it just is really bad. D1 and D2 had a lot more mystery going for it. In their effort to explain and fill in all the gaps they seem to have lost the magic of the series.

    17. The story was a major turn off. I played solo at release just to get all the story elements without interruptions, but I gotta admit that, when I came to act 3, I began skipping away the briefings, it just became too monotonous.

      It seems that the storytelling keeps the same track as in Warcraft 3. These epic bosses, that keeps telling us how dangerous they are, is very warcraft-ish – unfortunately it have been carried over to the other franchises like Starcraft 2 and Diablo 3. Starcraft 1 was mystical and everything seemed so chaotic. In Starcraft 2 however, you know exactly what’s going to happen and who’s going to stop it – and the fact that the Zerg isn’t evil but just slaves to the Xel’Naga, pisses me so much off that I can’t see straight

      You should think, that the Lord of Lies would be a bit more mystified, but everybody apparently knows that he has taken power over Caldeum. Nobody knew about Diablo in Tristram (a1) and nobody knew about The Wanderer, Baals entrapment. You probably thought there was something suspicious about Nithalak, but not exactly what.

      But the Lord of Lies, nono – you know everything, and it takes you only a few seconds to guess that he is the emperor. God damn I hate this game… And you can’t skip it. When you MF you will be forced to listen to the same quotes and cutscenes over and over again. <- Is this Azmodan?

    18. Hated the story line, really I did.

    19. I didn’t vote in the “3 favorite things” poll. I couldn’t bring myself to “check” any of the options. Nothing and Intangibles didn’t really fit. Items and the affix pool are terrible. Every item you use has to have +Primary Stat, +Vit and/or +Life%, and half of the items you use must also have +Resist All and one of Life return affixes: regen, on-hit, % of damage — otherwise Hell Act 2 and beyond are not playable. The skills and rune affects are great, but I hate the implementation, and by the time you hit Inferno you are very limited as to what skills you can actually use. The story/plot/dialog was OK, but now that I know all of this, not being able to disable the cut-scenes/cinematics from auto-launching is annoying. The auction house is convenient and better than trade-games and/or chat channel spamming, but HAVING to use it, as opposed to being able to find your own items to be able to succeed is not very fun. Hopefully, 1.0.3 will help with this. Monster and boss modifier variety is great, but the allowed affix combinations in Hell and beyond are asinine. I’m OK with difficult and having to learn how to deal with each of the affixes, but things like getting vortexed into molten lava and permanently frozen while you sit and watch your health globe go from full to death while being unable to move/use any skills is bologna, especially when you saw it coming, and leaped or teleported out of the way of the rapidly growing shards of ice and lava covering the ground at your feet.

    20. Diablo destroying the pearly gates was pretty awesome, otherwise, it was pretty standard fare fantasy stuff in a video game. I say, “MEH.”

      The Scoundrel can be pretty hilarious though.

      My main problem with the story was how much of the dialogue was painfully bad. Just a lot of really awkward lines.

      • The Scoundrel is hilarious. The dialogue and delivery is above everything else in the game.

        • I thought Shen was pretty awesome, as well. The voice acting was spot on. “This barrel would be much more comfortable if I could move around. Oh wait I can move around.”

      • I enjoy the Enchantress’ dialogue quite a bit. Not just “more footprints!” but she has a lot of these sarcastic, breaking the 4th wall type dialogues that match my own thinking while playing. The first time I’ve ever LOLed at D3 dialogue was running down to (finally) reach Azmodan’s lair in Act 3, and she goes, “If I never see another staircase, it will be too soon.”

        She has one in Act 4 that’s like, “why did the angels build all these walkways when they can just fly everywhere?”

    21. Blizzard’s unable to come up with good dialogue anymore. Or even passable dialogue. Anyone who played SC2 knows this. What happened to the Kerrigan who said things like “I’m pretty much the Queen bitch of the universe.” She turned into the self defeatist, dull, boring, “You think death is the worse thing that can happen to you here?” character we see in SC2.

    22. These should really be two seperate questions. The storytelling is really good for a game like Diablo, with lore books, dialogues and all the tools that make the story sort of permeate through the gameplay without hindering it. But the plot is very, very predictable, the bad guys corny as hell (see what I did there? :P) and Cain’s death deserved better, especially since we knew it was coming.

      • Well, I would say the idea they had going on for the storytelling is really good, but it doesn’t IMO have a positive effect to a game like Diablo. I remember the reason they made, the way it is in D3, was to secure that people wasn’t interrupted in the action – I must admit, that I have never been so interrupted in a game before. In D2 you could talk to one guy get the quest and then go on with your business – in D3 it might happen that you’ll have to press ESC several times before you can continue.

        I like the idea, but it doesn’t work.

    23. I think that mixing plot, dialogue, cinematics, cut-scenes, lore books all in one big poll isn’t that… appropriate, let’s say.

      I get the (strong) feeeling that the MAIN plot, cinematcs, characters and books were written by one person, and that the world/places/past events/monsters lore books and “NON main” charactes were written by another.

      It is not that these secondary parts were brilliant, but they are mostly fine, sometimes quite good, and the main things are always incredibly retarded.

      So I voted for “Good job, but…”, which is because of these secondary stuff, because if it were only for the main “plot” and main characters “dialogue” it would have been “not very good” or even outright “dumb”.

    24. Background lore (follower plots, lore books, etc. Things I assume were written by Leonard Boyarsky, the world developer) was well done. I did get a chuckle out of the “I’m so mighty I chased a quill fiend off with my shoe” line.

      All the main plot and dialogue (anything with MUAHAHAHA in it. So almost everything. Written by Chris Metzen, I’d bet) was terribly done, OVERdone, and intrusive. The game goes out of its way to announce every single boss fight, sometimes twice, and you get to watch a cutscene before almost all of them. Cliches, overacted, overplayed, underdeveloped plot, the same stuff everyone else has said.

    25. The story is told in such a bad way that I have voices turned off. I hate the follower dialogue, I skip every poorly constructed and forced cut scene. The combat is fluid and entertaining, but the story was written by an author who is far below the quality of Stephanie Myer… that says something.

    26. so I finally got to play D3 and I gotta say, what really gets me is how the game treats you like you’ve never played a videogame before, let alone an RPG.
      While I totally understand why they simplified and streamlined the quest system for people who just want to play it as an arcade action game, they should have at least given us the option to turn off all the handholding for people who actually want to explore the world and discover things for themselves.

      The yellow arrows on the map telling you where to go every step of the way, the pulsing yellow circle on the map telling you when you’re near something important, the important quest monsters showing up as blips on the radar, the objectives list telling you exactly what you need to do and who you need to talk to, the waypoint list indicating exactly which waypoint you should be clicking on… all of those things make having those RPG elements completely irrelevant in the first place. so much so that they actually just get in the way.

      I like to explore the levels my first time through the game to see what cool stuff might be down that hallway, but with the game telling me exactly where to go, I know there’s no point in exploring because if it doesn’t have a giant yellow arrow pointing to it, it won’t be important.

      I totally understand that a lot of players like it, and I probably would too once I’ve beaten the game a couple times and I know exactly what’s going to happen anyway, but it completely ruined the immersion for me to have all of the RPG elements completely invalidated by a handholding quest system

    27. First off, the cinematics’ visual quality was epic and what I would expect from Blizz. The dialogue in them was alright I guess, certainly not as bad as the dialogue in-game.

      Which brings me to my second point: I liked the story telling mechanics and methods they used. Sure, it was odd that Cain managed to lose SO many satchels, but they served their purpose. However, as you guys have pointed out, the actual story telling (dialogue) is pretty atrocious. Lord of Lies being the worst liar ever, Az telling everyone what his strategy is despite being Hell’s top strategist, etc etc etc.

      I like the diablo world and lore, but damn they really blew it when it came to expressing and executing the story (through the fundamentally sound mechanics).

    28. I will state my opinion plainly:

      Diablo III’s “narrative” is a crime against the written word, and Blizzard should be ashamed of themselves.

    29. What plot !?

      Well you cant really compare D3 to D2 or to D1 really, 2 previous games are the boxed ones on top of the mountain where newborn is just in the cradle. Everything is rushed and feels like “dumb”. There is no big feel to anything really, mocking on necromancers on every part of the game is prolly blizz crew’s way to say f off D2 fans/loyal diablo fans really. A1 is prolly the best played out act of em all, A2 feels some parts ok, A3 is just purely dumb. And i wont even try to separate A4…its just so lowball.

      And on blizz roadmap, there was 2 expansions…hmm how is that now possible?
      Cant really think anything to turn this boat around :/

    30. For me, Imperius is the only good thing in the plot. He is much more badass than Diablo. Literally, Diablo became a woman.

    31. I can’t believe that “5) Awful. Dumb. FAIL” ONLY gets 18% so far… even on a fanboi site.

    32. I don’t want to insult anyone but the story is just plain awful. Seriously who in their rihgt mind thinks it is good. Max said he liked it to please the Arpg fans so they can buy his game and the story was developed for the longest. It wasn’t dependent on graphics or other factors, it simply PLAIN. If the had put two chimps on a typewriter, they would have probably come up with a better story. Don’t get me wrong I am sure they could have of something better but then how would have infants play the game?

    33. “Pick your — THREE — favorite features in Diablo III.”
      I didn’t manage to vote for that one…

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