Charlie's Angels Screenwriter Says Diablo III's Story Is 'Pretty Damn Weak'

The man who wrote movies like Charlie's Angels and Big Fish has written an interesting blog post about Diablo III's narrative failures, calling its story "pretty damn weak."

John August, a Hollywood screenwriter with a rather lengthy resumé , has a few gripes about Blizzard's action-roleplaying game. He says the story fails because your character has no choices, and that the cut-scenes — which revolve around you watching and nodding your head as a bunch of other people talk to one another — fail to deliver.

(Minor spoilers for Diablo III follow.)

"At several points in the game, major NPCs betray you and/or die. And you shrug," August writes. "It doesn't have to be that way. Remember Raynor and Kerrigan from StarCraft? I became invested in those characters, not because of their cut scenes, but because I got to play as them. I kept them alive through zerg rushes, and watched as they made sacrifices that transformed them. So even when I wasn't playing those characters, I knew them."

August says it's not necessarily about being able to make decisions — he just wants the illusion of choice.

"Note that I'm not actually demanding choice or free will as a player. Look, I've played Diablo. I'll go kill the next thing. But I'd love to feel like my character was making the choice, rather than being a lackey."

What do you think? Did Diablo III's story suffer because you just couldn't bring yourself to care about the characters around you?


    Yeah I saw the twist coming from ACT 1.

    Actually, I saw all the twists.... it was all so cliche.

      yeah cliche...and damn boring.

        actually, not sure there were really any twists - considering how obvious and boring the whole things was.

    I think Diablo's story suffered from the fact that it was a terribly written, dreadfully predictable mess, more than anything else.

    There's a story? I thought it was about loot? Either way its a little repetitive for me, good for a couple of hours every week or so.

      It's not really about loot anymore, its about obtaining gold to buy gear on the action house.

        gotta disagree there. what you've gotta do is get out your credit card & hit up the real money auction house.

        seriously though, story be damned. the entire philosophy behind this game is crap. (ie: pay to win)

          Too bad I played without paying a cent in the auction house. People say they need it because it's there. Self control is easy.

            Not doubting you, but did you get through inferno without either the gold or cash addiction house?

              I dont see what the problem with using gold is. You get a good item you don't need and trade it for something you do. It's pretty easy to get through inferno w/o using RMAH as well. Just gotta put in the hours grinding.

    Diablo 3 gets my vote for biggest disappointment of 2012.


      After Starcraft 2 I figured this would have at LEAST a decent story...

        Really? Diablo never really felt like it had a good story. Hell, with all the books based on Blizard games, the ones based in Diablo have never involved anything that happened in any diablo game.

        If the story for the lore heavy Starcraft failed, why would the lore weak Diablo be better?

    Yeah, considering Kerrigan and Arthas both betray you, it made sense that Blizzard was going to shoehorn betrayal into the only franchise left.

      Not to mention the fact that the female characters all become corrupted and become a villain.

      Starcraft: Kerrigan. Gets turned into a Zerg, becomes the Queen of Blades, ruler of the Zerg.
      Warcraft: Sylvanis. Gets turned into a banshee, becomes the Banshee Queen, ruler of The Forsaken.
      Diablo: Leah. Gets the Black Soulstone imbedded in her, becomes Diablo, the Prime Evil.

        To be fair, Sylvannis had no choice in the matter. She actually wanted to die rather than be corrupted. Oh and also, she isn't the main female in Wc3 -- Jaina Proudmoore is.

          I can't imagine that Leah wanted to be Diablo, or that Kerrigan wanted to be a Zerg either.

    Can't believe people are still complaining about it....
    There was no more choice (or illusion of choice) in Diablo I or II. You aren't supposed to have any say over Tyrael or Diablo, Just an unnamed hero who saves the world by doing what's required (again the same as Diablo 1 and 2 - the thing about Aiden didn't come until sometime after Diablo 1).

    Also as I said in yet another pointless Diablo III whining article yesterday, the story isn't really finished yet, Blizzard like to be dicks when it comes to expansion packs lol. Think WC3 or Diablo II - both weren't really finished story-wise until their expansion packs, it will be the same with D3 (there is a prophecy in the game about the Angels that is only half finished so far).

      What's the prophesy? I must have nissed it.

      Honestly, Kinda hoping the expac involves going with Chen, looking for that cursed gem he's been wanting. Road Trip!

        Had to look it up because it's been a while, I'm fairly sure at least some of it was in-game (in lorebooks or whatever) but the whole thing was in the book of cain apparently.

        . . . And, at the End of Days, Wisdom shall be lost
        as Justice falls upon the world of men.
        Valor shall turn to Wrath -
        and all Hope will be swallowed by Despair.
        Death, at last, shall spread its wings over all -
        as fate lies shattered forever.

        If you replace all the things like Valor and Wisdom wih their respective Angels (or demons), most of it happened in Diablo III.
        The interesting part is The 2nd last line, Malthael (Angel of Wisdom) who dissappeared apparently used a pair of Sickles as his weapon and wore black robes....kinda hoping an Angel of death will make up for the boring parts of the main story (Maybe it's just me but I loved all the stuff with The Angiris Council, even if it was brushed over in 5 minutes)

          "Death, at last, shall spread its wings over all"

          Sounds like Diablo in Act 4 to me there, since there's never been a mention of anyone with the role of 'Death'

          "as fate lies shattered forever"

          It was already said that the Neifelem weren't in the book of fates, and the only thing that could change it, which we did since the book said Diablo would win.

    How i saw the Diablo 3 story:
    -Diablo is back
    -Travel to this and that
    -Do quests then eventually get to a boss, repeat multiple times.
    -Oh snap, you're betrayed. ^
    -Fight Diablo

      Sorry, when I glanced at your comment I thought you were describing Diablo 2. Then I read it and yes, you most definitely were.

        I played diablo 2 but don't remember it that similar? or are you being sarcastic? ehehehee......

    The cinematic at the end of Act 1 was fucking amazing, then it down downhill. Fast.

      My thoughts exactly, but the story in Act 1 was dumb. Tyrael came to save everyone, but he randomly caused zombies to rise and kill millions of people...? Why was that never explained?

        Not defending the story or writing, because they were pretty bad overall but that one's fairly easy to figure out. Massively magical being throws off his magic to become a mortal, and crashes to earth in a very magical area. Magic overload, all the evil that was disabled previously when it was disconnected from its battery (Diablo) gets reactivated. Add to that all the cultists etc. who were in the area causing evil crap to happen.

        It was explained. Tyrael is the Angel/Aspect of Justice. When he fell to Earth as a mortal with a broken sword (I.E Justice being destroyed) it caused those who were killed 'injustly?' to rise again...Kinda crappy reasoning but meh.

          Exact dialogue.

          Player: Why did your fall raise the dead? You were an angel.

          Tyrael: Not just any angel. I was the archangel of Justice. My fall awoke the vengeful dead who were slain unjustly during Diablo's reign of Terror

          Don't get though why the Skeleton King rose up, he wasn't exactly slain unjustly. A friend argued that as he was king and slain by his servants he might feel unjustly killed, but seems a bit of a stretch to me.

    I didn't have any problem with the story and certainly did not see the betrayal coming. People get too worked up about I think.

      Same here, I didn't think it was a great story by any stretch but I think people go a bit overboard with it. Only real issue I had is with the black soulstone. How did Adria/the other guy (can't remember his name) get the essence of the 3 prime evils? I seem to remember sealing those souls away and destroying them in Diablo II.
      The only thing I can think of is they weren't permanently which case why did we bother in D2? lol Why didn't we just kill them and not worry about the soulstones?

      My problem with that is that the game spoiled it within about the first 15 minutes with little to no subtlety. You listen to one character's back story as you take them on a quest and, and then find a note when you get there and between the two you have been told exactly everything you need to know about who the main players really are and what side they are on whether they know it or not.

    People are complaining about the story in an ARPG? That's like complaining about the gas mileage of your humvee, you knew it was gonna be crap before ya bought it.

      But it shouldn't have to be

    I could have written a better story than that when I was 15. It really was weak. You could see a lot of the major plot points coming long before they happened. I was playing through it the first time with my wife, and we were both calling out what was going to happen, and then laughing when it actually happened like that.

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