Can Diablo III Really Bring Back That Old Diablo Magic?

Can Diablo III Really Bring Back That Old Diablo Magic?

Everyone has a Diablo story.Mine is pretty straightforward. When Diablo II came out in June of 2000, I plopped down on a computer chair in the attic and camped up there for months, ganging up with internet friends to defeat Mephisto over and over again in hopes that he’d drop something gold and that I could click fast enough to get it.

I revisited the game again when Blizzard released the expansion pack. (That’s what we used to call DLC. It didn’t come on the disc.) I would play it again and again over the coming months and years in intervals of varying length and intensity. For a very long time, Diablo II took over my life. It had a certain charm. A certain… magic.

Next week, a whole new generation of gamers will write their own Diablo stories as Blizzard finally releases the third game in its action-RPG series. For a lot of longtime series fans, that’s totally surreal. We thought this would happen 10 years ago. And it leaves us asking a tough question.

Can Diablo III capture the magic of its predecessor?

Don’t get me wrong: I have no doubt that Diablo III will be a wonderful experience. I’m sure it will be stuffed with addictive loot drops and entertaining plot twists. Diablo will be nasty and Cain will be wise and the skills will be crunchy and it will be genuine fun all around. I can’t wait to play through it.

Blizzard’s biggest competitor in the ever-evolving war for your time and attention is a beast of its own creation.

But there’s a lot working against Diablo III‘s magic-inducing abilities. For one, I don’t have the time I did 12 years ago. Maybe you can relate. Us cranky, ancient Diablo addicts who are now in our 20s and 30s just don’t have the freedom to spend hours and hours gaming like we did when we were in school. We have wives and boyfriends and dogs and kids and mortgages and car payments to worry about. We might be able to get away with plugging in a few hours of Mass Effect a week or delving into some Persona 3 Portable on the bus home from work, but we can no longer commit to endless magic-find runs or Baal-crawling sessions. Not anymore.

(Just the thought of Diablo‘s hardcore mode — an optional setting that permanently wipes out your character if you die even once — is giving me involuntary finger spasms.)

It’s not just old fans, here. Today’s gaming landscape looks much different than it did 12 years ago. The industry is more cluttered than its ever been. Our attention spans are constantly being yanked in a hundred different directions, all as flashy as a Vegas nightshow. Assassin’s Creed here. Zelda there. Words With Friends everywhere.

(Don’t believe me? Just look at Diablo III‘s release date, May 15. Also out on May 15: Max Payne 3, Game of Thrones, Battleship, and PixelJunk 4AM. Too many options!)

Perhaps Diablo III‘s biggest obstacle is that today, our primal need to deck out characters in shiny loot is being met elsewhere. Star Wars: The Old Republic just came out. The Secret World, Guild Wars 2, and The Elder Scrolls Online are all en route. Games like the upcoming Torchlight II and Grim Dawn could be worthy competitors.

And of course there is the Big Kahuna, the MMORPG of all MMORPGs, the game forever synonymous with “addiction,” World of Warcraft. Blizzard’s biggest competitor in the ever-evolving war for your time and attention is a beast of its own creation. Ironically enough, World of Warcraft made its way to the top by stepping on Diablo II‘s shoulders, drawing inspiration from just about everything Blizzard’s earlier game had brought to the table. The interface. The spells. The neatly colour-coded equipment.

In many ways, World of Warcraft took Diablo II and made it into a better game. It combined Diablo‘s addictive hack-slash-dungeon-loot-repeat formula with a persistent, thriving, story-filled world and some truly excellent lore. The results were spectacular. (Some 10 million people now play the MMORPG.) But in the wake of World of Warcraft‘s success, is there still room for a game that is, at its core, nothing but dungeon crawling and loot hunting? Is there still room for yet another online action-RPG without a persistent, ever-evolving world? Is there still room for Diablo III?

Maybe Blizzard’s next offering will inspire an old generation of Diablo fans to shake off our carpal tunnel and jump back into the loot-hunting carnage. Maybe we’ll be asking “u giev soj?” and accusing our friends of maphacking just like old times. Maybe Diablo III will recapture the magic it created so many years ago. I just don’t think it will, no matter how well it’s crafted.

Hope I’m wrong.


  • This article makes it sound like there Bo gamer under 30 :/

    I’m sure there will be all the magic of diablo2 but for a new generation.

  • Does this article seriously state that an MMO provides the same gameplay Diablo 3 will?

    • At the basic concept level I’d agree (repeatable loot runs, similar gear setup etc.), but as soon as you go into detail for either genre the comparison starts falling apart.

  • Yeah it does. Jason must have been hanging around Luke Plunkett and Brian Ashcraft too long.

    Side note: Anyone who hasn’t already requested paid leave for at least a day after D3’s release isn’t a real fan (i’m taking three days off)

    • Leaving work early on the 15th to pick up the game, took the 16th off to play it like a madman

    • “Side note: Anyone who hasn’t already requested paid leave for at least a day after D3′s release isn’t a real fan (i’m taking three days off)”
      LOL fail on so many levels…
      If you are over 25 I really pity you.

        • I’m no troll dude.. I love playing games, reading about them, watching etc etc when ever I get time.
          If you think spending hard earned leave to stay home to play a video is a good choice then you need to make better life choices.
          Taking sick leave would be a better option if you could get away with it.

          Just sayin, I played wow pretty hardcore for 3-4 years.

          • Haha, you’re a troll.
            Just because your idea of taking time off doesn’t fit with others, makes you a troll.
            Because you think lying to the company you work for, using up sick days to play games instead of saving your sanity when you’re actually sick, makes you a troll.

          • You need to look up what a troll is, more of less some one who enjoys trying to get others worked up.

  • I so relate to the lack of time now vs ‘then’. Damn ageing. Damn you and your responsibility bearing fruit.

  • “We have wives and boyfriends and dogs and kids and mortgages and car payments to worry about.”
    That list sounds a bit like it was arranged in order of importance…
    “…dogs and kids…”
    Yep, definitely in descending order of importance.

  • OK, so, I’ve not played D3 at all, but I played D2, completed it with all characters, enjoyed it. But that was over a decade ago.
    Unless Blizzard have changed the gameplay immensely, it will just be clicking through backdrops while paper-dolling your avatar.

    I’m not excited about D3, for the same reasons that I’m not excited about any ATB-wielding JRPG, or point-and-click adventure games. The gameplay doesn’t hold up. The hardware restrictions that informed their design choices (you can’t have ACTIVE GAMEPLAY and STORY at the same time) no longer exist.

    • I totally agree. I played D2 at release and at that time it was a great game because at the time it was innovative. D3 seems to just be more of the same with flashier graphics but without any real innovation.

      I fear it will be the same as the SC2 release, where in my opinion RTS is a dying breed of game and flashier graphics were the only real thing going for it. MMO’s have advanced the market and D3 has not advanced at the same time.

      Don’t get me wrong, I want D3 to be a success (I was at the Paris WWI event when it was announced, and played it at Blizzcon in 2009, and have been a Blizz fan since the mid 90’s), but unfortunately I can only foresee a single play through to get the story line before something else with real innovation takes my time.

      • I was watching a clip on YouTube before, which was with Jay Wilson (D3 Director), and he made a very good point.

        Everyone always wants a game that is innovative. Hell, it seems nowadays that no-one is interested in a game that DOESN’T do something new and previously unseen. His opinion was that it’s not necessarily a good thing.

        He made the comment that if you were to choose between a game that follows familiar mechanics but is perfectly executed, or a game that was poorly executed but innovative, which would you choose?
        He said, and I agree with him, that an innovative game may introduce some new mechanics and gameplay, but that doesn’t necessarily make it a good game. He said that a perfectly executed game will always be a great game to play.
        His argument was that Diablo 3 may not introduce anything radically new or different, but it will be a perfect execution of the Action RPG genre.

        Back to my own personal opinion, I think it’s wrong to say that SC2 represented a dying breed of game and that graphics were the only thing going for it, and I also think it is wrong to say that D3 hasn’t advanced with MMOs.
        Firstly, D3 is an ARPG, not an MMO. Secondly, Starcraft 2, if anything, re-ignited the RTS genre, and the largest e-sports communities in the world now showcase SC2 matches as their flagship.

        Whichever way you look at them, love them or hate them, Blizzard are, arguably, the most successful game studio in history. They have 3 IPs, and each of them re-defined and dominate their genre.
        WoW is nearly 10 years old, still has more players than nearly ALL other MMOs, and is still causing studios to try and ‘beat’ it, all without any success.
        StarCraft, as I previously stated, has redefined the RTS genre, is one of (if not THE) largest e-sports titles in the world,.
        And Diablo…well, I’m sure I don’t need to explain Diablo’s success.

        • The RTS point that I am making is that 10 years ago we had countless games vying for our time: Starcraft, Warcraft, Red Alert, C&C, Dune 2000 etc. There is now only 1 decent RTS that would be considered playable being SC2. DOTA spawned it’s own class of game through evolution and soon a lot of those RTS games dried up.

          The same could be said about WoW and Diablo, with WoW being the evolution of the game that was initiated by D1 and 2.

          Sure there will always be nostalgic fans of old series, especially when those games were the pinnacle of gaming at the time (the Diablo series being one of my favourite IP’s), but I just wished that the game had evolved into something better that could compete for my time in today’s busy schedule of “decent” games, which is a shame because I was wanting “amazing” from it.

    • Point and clicks are still a lot of fun. Hate JRPG’s though. Can’t believe I ever liked them so much.

  • My special diablo story is that the original one left me wanting: so i discovered Baldur’s Gate. I could never play a RPG LITE again after BG… But lucky for me BGEE is coming out soon 😉

  • So just a heads up that EB have released more Collector’s Editions on their website if anyone’s interested in picking one up

  • I expect Diablo 3 to be ‘WOW light’. That kind of WOW you can play few hours a week and still be relevant in game.

    I spend 4 years playing WOW since launch and enjoyed it. However I don’t have as much time as I used to have. Besides all that ‘casual’ and ‘accessible’ side of modern WOW is not appealing to me anymore.

  • I played the open beta weekend, and despite not liking the new art style or the music it’s still an excellent game. Gameplay is dynamic and interesting . I love hack n slash rpgs’s though.

    The “online only” aspect is going to be what makes or breaks it for us aussies. Lag in single player is a bit of a deal breaker.

    • combat calculations are done on the local machine then sent to the server so there will be no lag for playing single player or for the host. The only reason its always online is for cheat checking, as real money is involved. The only time youll get any sort of lag is playing multiplayer, which youd get even if it wasnt always online

      • I realise that this is what Blizzard are spruiking , but I directly experienced skill lag in the open weekend (using a skill, have the animation play, but not get the effects or damage applied for half a second), as well as rubber banding (run somewhere, then then teleport back several meters). I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt at this stage and hoping this was due to stress testing the servers.

        • well as far as i can tell with what ive read this is the case. During the open weekend I played a lot and during some of the highest peak hours and didnt get anything like that even when playing in someone elses game. Guess its a wait and see, at worst it will be a problem for the first week or 2 and it wont be a big problem seeing as normal is far too easy

          • ah yeah, sorry i forgot that as the game advances the whole way it communicates with the servers would change completely, yes very good point, excellent and indightful post, thank you.

          • Errr being that that weekend was labelled a “stress test” during a “beta” I’d say you’d be naive to assume that’s exactly how the actual release product will work.

      • Actually in single player in the open beta weekend I did experience rubber banding such as you would experience from the servers being overloaded (latency was still fine it just would do nothing and then have like 12 seconds of gameplay happen all at once)..

  • I don’t have time to play Diablo 3 for months on end, who does? Thats pretty irrelevant to the fact that I have at least 5 hours a week I can sink into it and will do so and love it. Just because you cannot hide in a basement, playing a game for hours on end, does not mean it cannot be “enjoyed”. Stupid article…

    • I don’t think he’s suggesting it can’t be enjoyed, just not the the extent D2 was. Hell, people still play that game! The issue as I see it is that the environments in D3 aren’t randomised so the replay value is somewhat diminished as you go through the same areas over and over

      • @Brendan; Actually, while the over world area maps are similar in layout, they can (and do) have random dungeons, events, quests scattered through them. There is actually much, much *more* randomisation in Diablo III vs II. Playing through the Beta 20 times or so really gave a taste of all the little random events that can pop up in the game.

      • As @Anon said, non story specific instances are random and enemy placement on the over world, unless scripted is random, pleanty of randomness involved

  • “But there’s a lot working against Diablo III‘s magic-inducing abilities. For one, I don’t have the time I did 12 years ago.”

    This, this, this X 1000000. I could absolutely never get away with the things I did with games even five years ago. As much as I adore the enormous, immersive epics like Skyrim etc, the effect is diluted by the fact I can only get to it now and then. Don’t know if I’ll be able to really do Diablo III justice for this very reason.

  • Can’t wait for it i just wonder how the servers are going to handle going live. Also the only people who play D2 now are the spam bots which is why i don’t play it anymore, can’t get a decent hell run through Diablo and Baal anymore 🙁

  • Real money AH
    Always Online
    DRM system that literally breaks into your game

    Oh well, I used to play Blizzard games.

    • Real money AH = completely optional.
      Always Online = anti-piracy, anti-cheat, protection for people using real money.
      DRM system = what?

  • Play it, or don’t play it. Pretty simple.
    For people obsessed with Diablo, this isn’t even going to be a question on their minds.

    • You’ll find that is is the question in alot of their minds.
      Heck I’ve been playing Diablo 2&1 on and off since childhood and I really don’t even want this anymore after the beta.
      It just felt like they spent all their time trying to make everything feel awesome, and by extension, nothing feels awesome.
      It just feels like a boring click to win experience.

        • Oh, you still have to make the level cap on items that you buy. So it’s not quiiite pay to win. But I see what you’re getting at.

      • Well, I guess I’m one of the few that really enjoyed playing the beta when it was out in the public. I had a lot of fun and it made me just want to play it more! I know I’m not the only one with the same mind here. The insanely limited content was annoying, yeah. It was a test after all so you have to take it with a grain of salt.

        It does feel> different. Although to be honest, if it felt exactly the same I would have been a little disappointed (but I still would have played it non-stop). You can’t expect the mechanics to be exactly the same. In saying that, for me, it brought back that old diablo magic and I cannot wait to play the shit out of it when it comes out.

        One other thing about the beta, Blizzard said themselves it was very easy to beat and not a challenge (I’d say that would play a part in your thinking it felt like a click-to-win experience?). Mainly because it was a test. I guess we have to wait until next week to reserve our judgements. It can’t be easy creating a game that is extremely valued by so many gamers! Expectations are really high.

  • My favorite DIABLO 2 experience involved my “best” multiplayer character – and by best i mean the one that i enjoyed the most.

    I don’t remember what patch it was but after they introduced the Synergy bonuses to your skills i started playing a lot more than i used too.

    I created a Paladin called “Healbot” and had 20 ranks in both Prayer and Meditation.

    Infinite free healing and mana regen for everybody within a screen or so ^_^ i was so freakin’ popular for Nightmare/Hell runs. To even it out as the BOSS HEALER i had ranks in Holy Bolt as well, so if anyone was on low health i would Holy “Healing” Bolt them to keep them alive. Was so amazing.

    That build, plus 1 other Pally with the triple elemental resist aura (i forget it’s name) and you can basically waltz through hell…

    Good times ^_________^

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