How Not To Play Diablo III

How Not To Play Diablo III

You might think that there’s no “wrong” way to play a game like Diablo III. This is incorrect. Somehow, I figured out how to pull it off. Last weekend, while trapped in my apartment during the snowpocalypse that hit much of the US, Kirk and I marathoned the PS4 version of Blizzard’s latest hack-n-slash adventure game, which I had been meaning to try for a while. (I’d played a bunch on PC but heard it’s way more fun with a controller, which is true.)

I rolled a Crusader, partly because it looked fun and partly because I like the irony of a Jew being a Crusader. I was level one. Kirk was level 70. Things escalated very quickly.

Over the next few hours, as we mindlessly hacked our way through Act I, my stats shot through the roof. By the end of the act I was level 42, with several hundred thousand gold pieces and more rare items than I knew what to do with. Although we were playing on Expert-level difficulty, the puny skeletons and goatmen surrounding Tristram couldn’t do much against Kirk’s Demon Hunter, who fired crossbow shots like a machine gun at any creature stupid enough to get in our way. There was never even a threat that we might die; Kirk’s high level automatically boosted my armour and damage-per-second (DPS) rates, so even though my character should have been way under-levelled, we dominated everything.

Not long into the game, I realised that this was resoundingly unsatisfying and even kinda boring. Sure, my character was super-powered — I could summon a goddamn flaming horse — but it felt cheap and undeserved. I barely cared about the constant trickle of yellow armour that popped out of enemy corpses, and I didn’t even know what most of my skills did. I found myself constantly skipping over levels, reaching intervals like 30 without even realising I had hit 29. When boss monsters dropped legendary rings, I didn’t even care; I knew I’d find something better in less than an hour.

So when Kirk left, I started a new character, and I’ve been playing solo ever since. As it turns out, Diablo III is way more fun when you’re not just mindlessly crushing everything. When you’re making gradual progress, slowly finding new items and gaining new skills, the game is way better. Instead of just mindlessly watching names and numbers fly around, you’ll actually feel the thrill of collecting a cool new helmet or picking up a brand new spell for your wizard. Who would have thought?

It’s always tempting to look at levelling in games like Diablo III as nothing but a grind masked as an adventure, a ritual you must perform in order to get to the real meat of the game, the high-level content. But the journey is just as good if not better than the destination. It’s why I’d never recommend buying level boosters in MMOs like World of Warcraft or Destiny, and it’s why I’m not playing Diablo III with Kirk again for a long time. Sorry, Kirk.


  • I should revisit Diablo 3 at some point. Got it at release, finished my play through in 2-3 weeks. Played mostly solo, had a similar level friend drop in at a couple points to try co-op. Game was alright, and I actually finished it unlike Diablo 2 which I always got bored of around the end of Act 2 or start of Act 3.

    I know they’ve improved Diablo 3 now but it’s gotten to the point that I’ll have to spend more money to buy the DLC so I can go re-play a gave I already have…or spend that money (and time) playing a new game that I haven’t touched yet.

    Too many games, too little life to play them.

    • I recently went back to it and finished the story on my Demon Hunter, just so I could get it’s 35 gig install off of my Xbox One hard drive. Good game but I don’t see myself playing it for the sake of playing it like the year I burned on Destiny, and I don’t fancy the appeal of rifts or hardcore mode so there’s no achievements left to unlock either.

      • Never had any interest in Destiny myself. For Diablo 3 I’ve heard it’s a lot better now but haven’t gone into why that is. Just seems like too much money and effort to retry a game I was done with a couple weeks after release.

    • I’d getting places is essential but only really matters BECAUSE of the challenge of getting there

  • The Ultimate Evil edition is currently $32 USD on the playstation store if anyone on PS4 was thinking about getting it.

  • So basically the moral is “Don’t get someone to power-level you if you want a challenge”? It’s not really a wrong way to play the game, power-levelling is a valid way of skipping the drudgery of playing through the game yet again with a new class but if you want to learn how to play the game then it’s not advisable for a first play through.

    • Disagree. D3 it’s all about the endgame – the story is tripe. I’d much rather skip the leveling process and get to the meaty part. The learning curve in a game like d3 is shallow.

    • Got to agree with joeyjojo. The story mode is just a way to get to adventure mode, which is where the true nature of Diablo lies – repeating the same thing over and over to microadvance your character.

      The story is worth going through once, and you have to, but once done most people just shut it away and do bounties, rifts, and greater rifts in the unending quest for the perfect item. The story mode is solely there to get achievement points, if thats your goal.

      And the challenge really is there with the greater rifts, which have no ceiling. You have 15 minutes to clear a dungeon (or 4), and kill a boss, which starts off easy, but quickly becomes a challenge.

      Its certainly not a game for everyone, but its the one game I keep coming back to time after time, when the latest shiny (currently blade and soul) starts to get dull.

  • Definitely agree with this. When I moved to the console version, I was happily running through the story to level and unlock Adventure mode, get gear and get ready for Torment. Around about halfway through, a friend dropped in while I was working my way to the area boss – he killed everything in sight, one-shot the boss, got me to the next area, and left. I’d have cared a bit more had I not already done the story on PC, but I felt like my valiant hero character was now a useless sidekick, which was reinforced by the fact that, after he’d left, the area stayed acclimatised to his level, and I got one-shot by everything. 😛 He also send me a gift of a billion gold or something ridiculous… I let it expire in my inbox, and in a few weeks, I got to T6 on my own.

    Best way to start playing, if you’re new and have a high-level friend, is to either play solo, or get your friend to start a new character to play with you. Their paragon will still make them ridiculously overpowered, but they’ll be curtailed by their lack of abilities and good gear. At least for the first hour or so… 😛

    … Dammit, now I want to try out the new patch… maybe even try T7 or higher… What have you done?! 😛

    • T10 is currently pretty easy to gear up for, then you head into the greater rifts, that’s when you actually get a challenge

      • Was running the lower Grifts solo when gearing for T4 and above. Can’t remember how high I eventually got… around 26, I think. Stopped playing while on the search for a Serpent Sparker and a couple more Tal’Rashsa pieces. My main problem is finding the time to play it – too many other games demanding my attention.

  • Yeah spending hours with a lvl 70 and not being lvl 70 yourself in the first 15 mins is truly the wrong way to play Diablo 3.

    • Ok what is the deal with the oar,
      I’ve found it and many pages of the Blackrock Ledger but as far as I know no one has yet figured out the use for the items, they seem to be more important than just lore pieces.
      Does something happen if you beat the game with just the oar?

  • Yeah totally agree with this.
    Had a similar thing happen to me.
    One of my mates jumped in with his level 70 wizard to a game I was playing with one of my alts.
    It really was pretty unsatisfying running behind him as he destroyed everything. It doesn’t really teach you how to use your skills and form your own playing style.

  • The wrong way to play Diablo 3 was when it first came out, playing Witch Doctor, spec’d fully in Strength and Leech items bolstering the life of your minions. A wall of flesh. Completely unable to deal any kind of respectable damage to enemies myself, but let your team hiding behind the flesh wall (body armour?) deal damage instead. I spent a good 100 hours or more with this setup, unable to play solo but ran maps with my mates and loved it.

    Then Blizzard decided to nerf it. Witch Doctors that didn’t use Intelligence were the wrong way to play. All that gear I’d spend those hours finding, trading and crafting was now completely useless.

    My mates helped me to try and get some different stat gear so I could be useful in the game again but it wasn’t the same. Was the last time I played on PC.

    Much later on, I picked it up on XB1 to play with my brother and had a good time with the Crusader, but still havent forgiven the fact that Blizzard decided the way I chose to play the Witch Doctor was “wrong”.

  • If you are going to play d3 then play it on pc because you get access to the seasons. I’d love to try it with the controller though it seems to be way more fun then just clicking away.

  • Why is it ironic for a Jew to be a crusader? I mean, historically most crusaders were Catholics fighting against the Turks. Is he referring to Count Emicho’s massacre of the Rhineland Jews? Maybe I’m missing something.

    • You’re missing the point of the game, its not about the story as much as it is character progression. Running rifts/bounties and then running the Greater or Set Rifts.

  • A sense of progress is what make D3 feel good. Of course, it also means when you got stonewalled by the game for a long period of time, it can have an opposite effect. And that happened to me.

    I have incredible streak of bad luck when it come to RNG in gaming. In case in D3, I have been playing months before RoS came out. I spent months on end trying to get through Torment 3 but I never got any good items to actually let me get through. Eventually, I couldn’t be bother and gave up.

    A week ago, while I was on reddit, I learn that Season 5 had just started so I came back. I regret it immediately, my character is still way underpowered, not a single drop I got make me stronger and I was ready to uninstall the damn thing again.

    But then I tried researching a bit and learn that you can get a full set item for one 1 class if you finished certain objectives on SS5. Could it be? My first chance of actually having a full set of items in 3 years? That set reward gave me tangible objectives, something I could work for with minimal RNG effecting my progress. I picked Crusader, a class that I have no experience with and went to work.

    It took me 3 days of soloing to get to level 70 then 10 more minutes to finished other objectives… well shit, here’s the full set I want, now what? Well, it turned out that set reward is so powerful that it let me go through Torment 6 quite easily. Wow, this is kinda fun. I’m tanking molten explosion from elite, AND Arcane enchanted thingy just tickle me!! And there’s so many legendary drops!! OH!! That belt would be godlike on my build!! A-am I progressing!?!?

    Well, now I’m on Torment 9, easily soloing through the rift even if there are 3 lazy bums staying back in town doing nothing. And damn, it feels so good, so this is what people have been experienced for the last 3 years.

    I don’t know if Blizzard did something to the RNG of the game or that Set Reward break my RNG curse, but whatever it is, I hope it continues.

    • Loot 2.0 was the major change they made so that you stopped getting ridiculous amounts of useless gear OR you’d get some epic barbarian two handed sword with intellect instead of something actually useful. I think ever since then the game has been so much more fun to play, and just kept improving. I really didn’t enjoy it originally but am loving it now.

  • My partner and I have been playing D3 and ROS since launch with breaks between each new patch. We’re currently playing Season 5 characters and I feel like it’s much more enjoyable to grind through the levels/gear and not rush it. Although the seasons are now a definite length (3 months) I don’t feel a need to rush to get my character to a decent paragon & equipped well enough to handle the challenges set out by each chapter.
    That being said I do enjoy the post level 70 grinding for gear much more than the levelling process. Because its less about learning new skills and changing everything with each new rune you unlock but instead building a character based around the gear you have aquired and then tailoring the skills you use to benefit from the setup.

  • This happened to me. I originally got in on PC at launch but hated it at the time. I got it on PS4 and it is much better but recently got an xbone and had friends who had it on there so I got it there too. I then played with them and they gave me 1-2 duped items then we went to a level 150 greater rift and it was crazy. Within 10 seconds I had about 400 paragon points. By the time we finished up I have now 2199 paragon points.

    Now I just use those weapons and gear on one character to basically farm for greater rift stones and a few other reasons. I thought my paragon points were busted afterwards as it didn’t appear the xp bar was ever moving but the problem was I still needed over 10 billion xp to get the next point so yea it is going really slowly LOL.

    So yea it kind of destroyed it for me in some sense and playing on PS4 is much more rewarding overall now with my paltry 120 paragon points.

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