Both games offered public beta in the same week, so I thought I'd talk about them together.Diablo 3
was a disappointment.
1) The game has DRM (digital rights management) in the form of login requirements. You have to login at their server in order to use the program that you paid for already. Yes, even if you're playing a solo game, you can't do it on your pc; you have to login at their server. I didn't want to play "cooperative" games with other people. All I wanted was to try out the solo gameplay. I couldn't.
2) This problem exposed the second flaw in the game: no login queue. Their login server was so swamped that it couldn't keep up with requests. I repeatedly tried to login so I could attempt one more time to use the game program... and it repeatedly failed. The experience was frustrating. Once in, the game played nicely enough. Smooth graphics and all that.
3) Right away, though, I noticed another thing that bugged me. It was highly linear. The map guided me down the only possible corridor (with twists and turns to give the illusion of space). Long gone are the days of Diablo open maps and small towns. Now, you have to navigate twists and turns to get anywhere.
4) Eventually, I noticed yet another issue. The RPG (role-playing game) aspect was also gone. I kept leveling up. I leveled up 10 times, and each time I was given either no skill choices or only a single new skill. Each time, I accepted it and continued playing. Never did I get any real "choice" that affected my character in any noticeable way. They took a "you'll take what we give you, and you'll enjoy it" tactic. In theory, at maximum level, the player will have a great many skills to choose from. At low level, though... it's all tedious similarity.
5) I'm a big fan of crafting in games. Diablo 2 tried out a new (for them) crafting system that allows you to disassemble items that you find in game. The process itself seems like a decent one, but I was never able to craft anything actually useful to me. Like most games, it suffers from the bad design flaw where you can produce items only useful to your next character rather than the current one.
I decided not to pre-order the game based on my experience. I was disappointed, since I've been looking forward to the update to Diablo 2 for over a decade. I recommend skipping this game for a few months.Guild Wars 2
started out eerily similar to Diablo. I was worried, but I eventually grew to enjoy this game.
1) There is no login queue. Once again, their login server got overwhelmed, and I had to repeatedly spam the login screens to attempt playing a character. Not fun. When did online games decide that login queues were a waste of programming resources? Bad decision.
2) This game is also rigid with its character classes. As you gain experience, you learn only the skills they provide for you. Interestingly, though, all you have to do to get a whole new set of skills is to swap to a different kind of weapon. Early characters bring a variety of skills to play just by switching weapons. At higher levels, you also earn skill bonuses called traits that you can assign by your choice. You can decide what style of play you intend to use, then you can focus your assigned traits on that mechanic. Their system combines rigid character skills with freedom of focus. I'm enjoying it.
3) Nobody playtested this thing. Or so it seems. The "tutorial" zone is nothing of the kind.
- You start out almost immediately facing a busy combat, and you have no preparation at all. I was just mashing buttons hoping that one of them did something useful.
- Likewise, character death happens with a new and unexplained process. You are first disabled, your skillbar resets, then you have a chance to recover. Again, I was just mashing buttons hoping that one of them did something useful.
- Another issue is the spelling of words in the game. The many spelling errors are really annoying me. I would bug report them if there was a button for that.
- A fourth issue is that crafting is not explained. Apparently, you can perform any of the crafts, but there are penalties for switching. You learn this limitation only after you have already chosen crafting professions. You need special tools before you can harvest resources, but nobody explained that point either, so it takes another trip back to town to buy them.
This game will release in a few weeks, and the new player introduction is awful.
4) There are no quest logs. This game style is new to me, but I've come to enjoy it. It offers complete freedom from quest logs with limited entries. There is only 1 quest that is always displayed. It is the personal storyline of your character. In addition, other quests pop up into your display only when you are nearby their location and during their active play in the game world. So an escort quest, for example, might pop into your display when you're near a town and the traveling vendor is preparing to go to the next town. You can choose to participate or ignore. Quests appear no matter where you are or what you're doing... and you never have to track them in any quest log. The framework of your personal quest line is setup during some questions that you answer during character creation. The personal quest works to push you on to other explore regions of the world. I really like this new system.
5) Crafting allows for both disassembly of items and gathering of raw resources. I enjoy this combined approach. As with other games, though, I found that I couldn't produce items that were immediately useful to my current character.
6) Sound is problematic in very specific circumstances. When an NPC is speaking (but not as part of the personal storyline), simply rotating your camera to certain angles will render their voices mute. It's supposed to be part of an echolocation system that helps you distinguish the speaker as being to your left or right, but it fails by entirely muting characters too far from either side.
7) In the game's favor, the world gameplay is so cooperative that I never once found a need to group. Everyone is helping everyone already. It's quite nice.
Overall, I like Guild Wars 2. I am proceeding with my pre-order, and I look forward to playing it upon release.