Let me preface this article by stating, I haven't played Diablo III, beyond the beta events Blizzard offered to players before its release date. I came away rather unimpressed during these events; but more on that later. Therefore, I can provide little insight into the game itself. However, after seeing the events from the past few days unfold, I can provide some insight into how Diablo III has been received from critics, journalists, players, haters, the insane, and fanboys.
It all started at the stroke of midnight, when thousands of gamers shouted "Log-in, finally, after 12 years!" and Blizzard whispered, "No...Error 37"
It's been awhile since I've seen a game receive so much vitriol like Diablo III has taken in the past few days. The video game world has seen its fair share of unadulterated hate, with the great Gamespot 8.8 Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess review fiasco of 2006. Also, when EA bought the exclusive third party game rights for the NFL, which led to 2K swallowing up the MLB (the author admits to getting caught up in this one as a MVP Baseball fanboy, and swore to never play a 2K sports game again...NBA 2K12 is now one of his most played games...)
Diablo III has really put the other hateful video game topics to shame; in just three days it has spawned a 3.8 Metacritic user review score (with nearly 3,000 reviews), become an internet meme, and complaints of the game being too short as many have already beat it.
Most of the hate is coming from players themselves, who have complaints even beyond the log-in errors. The problem with a lot of this hate is that so much of it sounds like the ramblings of an insane person, muting the valid concerns players have raised since the game's launch. What should be thoughtful, constructive dialogue about a game's problems, turns into this (it should be noted that the video is supposed to be humorous, but captures the essence of how many have responded to Diablo III)...
Which then leads to people not taking the concerns seriously, and instead makes fun of the situation...
This seething hatred also leads to people who will defend the game, stating how players should look over the problem. Yes, looking over the fact a person spent $59.99 or more on a game which has a single player mode, but can't be played due to a structure implemented by Blizzard, which they couldn't handle on the most important of days - release day.
Video game journalists are really caught in the crosshairs in a situation like this as well. Who do they side with? The possessed fans, or the developer who is to blame for the problem. The divide is really split, perfectly illustrated by William Usher of Gaming Blend, who I happen to agree with. Not to mention the fact that so many of these sites are reliant on video game advertising, and Blizzard/Activision is the client with the most money.
A playthrough conquered in 5 hours, a cash-shop auction house, no off-line single player, server problems, dumbing down of gameplay systems...and you still gave it positive scores?
Looking past the server problems specifically, something else of interest has taken place since the game's release, site reviews. I stated previously that I haven't played Diablo III since release, but did play in the beta events. I thought the game was pretty unimpressive, but I must admit to never being a huge Diablo fan. I would play with friends from time-to-time as a time waster in college, but that's about it (should be read as "Huge Baldurs Gate fanboy").
I found this user review interesting, and among the ALL CAPS SHOUTING REVIEWS, to be of sound structure, while completely blasting the game:
It's Spore all over again. The game isn't really bad, it gets good reviews by critics, but there's something so terribly wrong with it. Let me start out by stating how shocked I am that this game has received universally positive reviews, many stating that it has improved upon its predecessor.
Have any of these critics even played Diablo 2? This game eliminates much of what made its predecessor great. Here's a list of things that displease me: -No more choice when leveling your character. Everything unlocks automatically -You can't distribute skill points -Items have, for the most part, the same size. You can carry many more things than you could in Diablo 2. Some people might like this better, but it makes things feel less valuable. -No more scrolls of town portal. You have to use waypoints. -Potion healing is drastically changed. -You can't actually use your weapon when you feel like it. As in, the game doesn't allow you to swing your weapon if you feel like it with certain classes. -I don't think the graphics are bad, but they don't fit the atmosphere. Whereas the first one was dark and gritty, this one seems cartoonish. -The writing is uninspired and has that "oh look at me I'm so epic" quality that I've noticed is becoming increasingly common in Blizzard games
Overrall, the game just feels watered down and simplified. Some people disagree with me and are having the time of their lives. All I know is that I wasn't having fun even after a few hours of playing.
The reviewer points out a problem I've always had with video game sequel reviews, and it's that so many reviewers won't compare a game to its predecessors, and if they do, generally seem to be very forgiving of the latest entry. It's gotten to the point I almost trust user reviews more than critic reviews, and Diablo III is a perfect example of this trend.
I have read over 10+ critic reviews online, and it's shocking to me how little of them haven't criticized the use of a cash-shop auction house, which nearly makes me never want to touch Diablo III. Many have mentioned the server problems, but are basically making it out to be a footnote, and just making fun of people who have been upset by it. Those who mention that the game requires an online connection, and provides no offline single-player, are basically putting this distinction at the end of their articles, and are saying (paraphrasing), "you can't play this game offline, but don't worry about that". Oh, I haven't even seen one mention of Blizzard leaving out a LAN option, because you know, people don't like to play games with others in a live setting anymore.
The Diablo series has never been known for its long, drawn out storylines, but people are beating this game in one sitting. Granted, they are 5-7 hour sittings, but for a game which had a 12 year long development cycle, I would expect more.
As I stated above, I haven't played the retail version of Diablo III, and this is just my commentary of what I've seen from the opinions of others. However, from all the relevant problems being issued by players, which in turn look to be completely ignored by "experts" and "critics", the whole situation just feels wrong. It leads me to believe that so many of these video game critics have lost sight of what it means to just be a gamer, and aren't required to spend most of their own money on copies of a game.
While I haven't had an emotional reaction to the Diablo III fiasco, as I'm 28 and feel like I'm a bit too old to have enraged reactions to a piece of electronic equipment, I can understand and sympathise with the plight of the players. To simply ignore all of the problems, make fun of them, and then either leave them out of a review or make them seem irrelevant is just irresponsible.