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Blue's Diablo III Beta Preview

As promised, here's my Diablo III Beta Preview, based on some hands-on time with the closed beta of Blizzard's upcoming action/RPG sequel. I had fun playing the beta and writing the piece, and again marvel at how people can write comprehensive reviews of full games when it took me so long to get this out based on a beta that can be completed in three hours. Thanks to my friends MrKawfy and Overthecledge for playing with me and to MrsBlue for her invaluable proofreading. Here's a sample:

There is less fear of making mistakes that will go on your permanent record and follow you around for the rest of your life, as my elementary school principal used to say. There are no choices for characteristics—this is all automatic. As you level up, you earn active and passive skills but you can change them any time you want. Skills are no longer tree-based, so you don't have to pick a crappy one to get the better one that follows. The death penalty is now almost non-existent: You respawn at the last checkpoint with a ten-percent loss of durability to your equipment, which seems fairly trivial and removes the fear of venturing too far past your current abilities. I find this regrettable: One of the most memorable experiences of my gaming life was a late night when my party got killed in the depths of a Diablo dungeon: We literally spent hours working out how to retrieve our items from where they dropped. I prefer it much more where you dread dying, but I don't know how realistic it is to expect this to be changed.

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51. Re: Blue's Diablo III Beta Preview Oct 5, 2011, 01:02 Bhruic
Yeah, to me that's called "Dumbing stuff down."
Because if they cared so much about everyone picking the same attribute, they could have also made the other attributes more interesting to pick, and keep the old system.

In general, I'm all for more choice in games, but only if the choices are meaningful. Diablo II had a system that didn't really have meaningful choices, so they removed it. Yes, another option would have been to try and make the other attributes more useful to pick, but I don't see how they'd accomplish that easily. I suspect they thought they'd done that for II. Barring that, removing what was effectively pointless choices seems like a smart call - as long as they continue to have other meaningful choices in the game.

Calling it "dumbing down" just seems silly, as there was nothing "smart" about it before.

I like how when this happened in Mass Effect 2, everyone and their mom called it "Dumbing down", but when it happens in Diablo it "just makes sense!"

Well, I never commented about any "dumbing down" in Mass Effect 2, so that doesn't seem to apply to me. But even if I had, I'm not sure of the relevance. Just because something seemed like a bad call on an RPG doesn't mean it's going to be a bad call on an action game. And that's even assuming that the cases were identical, which they aren't.

If the variety and choices of character building aren't there for DIII, then I'll be among the first to knock Blizzard for it, but just because they've switched the way they go about their variety doesn't mean it doesn't exist.
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