Diablo 3 had a mixed reception on its arrival. For every bit of praise heaped on its horned head for its action-packed, artistically sharp romp of a game was counterbalanced with angry criticism. Long term fans deplored the low difficulty and the real money auction house, not to mention the obligatory online connection.
Two years later, it’s all about to change.
Loot 2.0, a re-vamp of the game ahead of the Reaper of Souls expansion coming out next month, has just launched.
Based partly on the way the loot system was rewritten for the console release and partly from listening carefully to fan feedback, Blizzard are determined to give the game a new shot of life. Their aim is to make it as long-lasting and well-loved as Diablo 2 was.
The auction houses are gone, first off. Diablo is a game about causing monsters to explode, then making off with the amazing weapons, gems, and gold that drop unexpectedly from them instead of entrails. The auction houses were generally thought to be reducing that primary joy of the game. You wanted a better sword? Well, you could probably buy something amazing in less time than it took to click on enough random bad guys to get one.
Not any more. The new loot system has more unique qualities for your armour and weapons, new recipies for the crafters, and more legendary items to try and find. And they’ll be more relevant to your character, with stat bonuses tied to the primary abilities of the character you’re playing with. And they drop thicker and faster than ever before.
Hard Enough For You?
A frequent criticism of the original release was that the difficulty ramped up very slowly. Long-time players rarely felt challenged until playing through on the hardest settings, and that took a fair grind to unlock.
Now, there’s a selection of four difficulties open from the get-go. You can scale it back whenever you want to, or scale it up simply by starting a fresh session of your campaign. If you want to get murdered quicker, harder and faster than ever before, well, why wait?
Monsters in the game are also scaled to your character’s level, so the tougher you are, the tougher your opponents get. Previously, monsters were set to a certain level of monstrousness based on which chapter and overall difficulty setting you played at. Now, even the early episodes of the Tristram campaign should prove an appropriate challenge for top-end characters.
At that top end, the Paragon system has been reworked. You’ll keep progressing after level 60 (70 in the expansion), gaining incremental new rewards to customise your abilities with.
All welcome news so far. My biggest complaint about the game was the necessity to be always online to play it. Is that being taken out at long last?
No, the Devs are pretty clear about the fact that Diablo was always intended to require a constant online connection. There’s good intentions behind it, saying they wanted it to be an easily-shared potentially multiplayer experience. So much for those of us who aren’t interested in that style of gaming, I suppose, but equally it keeps the game cheat- and pirate-proof.
It does still leave the game open to stuttering and lag. It’s rarely a problem, but it still can hurt a game. Particularly if you play on Hardcore, where losing a level 60 character to a slow connection can sting. But I’m not bitter. *sobs*
All this is part of the buzz Blizzard want out there ahead of the expansion, of course. And there are new play styles and content coming, a new character class in the Crusader not least, which can only add to the longevity of the game.
When I reviewed it a while back, I enjoyed it very much despite the rocky launch and the necessity for online play. But it did get tired and repetitive much faster than the last iteration did.
Playing with the new Loot system, I certainly found myself having fun again. In the first hour, I found three Legendary items, three times the number I’d found in all my time playing the original game. And I could crank the difficulty to a place where it felt just challenging enough to be fun. New monster abilities, a few re-worked boss encounters – it all seemed to the good, and it bodes well for the expansion.
But I also felt the careful tugging of my attention towards that pricey item, with various adverts for pre-order bonuses and many excited news tags about new features.
The big question can’t be answered yet, of course. Is the expansion worth the price? I’d expect it to be a great add-on; Blizzard’s work is always polished and entertaining. But you pay top dollar for that pedigree, of course. If you’re still playing Diablo 3, you’ll be glad of the new content. If you enjoyed it on release and got tired, well, might be worth a look or might be more of the same.
For now, Loot 2.0 certainly improved my game. For a full change log detailing every last little tweak, head over to Blizzard’s list here.