I was allowed into the closed beta for the Diablo 3 video game back in February. I played a few rounds through the game back then. While everything seemed well executed, I didn’t have very much fun.
Blizzard Entertainment recently opened Diablo III to everyone last weekend. Their objective was to stress-test their servers ahead of the May 15th release.
My objective was to have fun.
Would we both get what we wanted?
Blizzard’s servers were down for part of Saturday, so I guess they found out how far they could push their environments. I was disconnected once from an active game, but for the most part got error codes when the game was too busy to let me play. I think Diablo 3 requires a constant connection to Blizzard’s Battle.net servers, so it will be interesting to see if a server problem will keep people from playing single player games by themselves. It would suck to not be able to play a $60 game if there was a problem with the Internet or with Battle.net, but I guess that’s the choice Blizzard made.
I experienced lag/”rubber banding” several times during game play. “Luckily,” the game’s normal difficulty is incredibly easy, and I never got in trouble due to the server performance. However, if I had this same experience when the product launched I would be nervous about playing on more challenging settings or fighting in more powerful levels.
Overall, I felt like I got the appropriate amount of playtime this weekend given the stated purpose of jamming the Battle.net servers full of people. My usual StarCraft 2 crew was busy (either playing D3 or hanging out with family) so I don’t know if the influx of Diablo players affected those playing StarCraft or World of Warcraft.
This time around I only played Diablo 3 with friends online. I spent the majority of my time with my pal Wumr, who is my StarCraft 2 2v2 and 3v3 partner. The game is a lot more fun when you play with another person.
We completed the test content together, and despite the time we decided to play through again. Four hours and bloodshot eyes later, we finished our second run and went to bed. “Time traveling” is one way I determine if a game is compelling. You’ve been playing a good game if you look at the clock and mutter, “holy shit,” and wonder where the time went. I had that moment, albeit briefly, during the latest Diablo III beta.
On the other hand, I don’t think that feeling will last. I’ve now completed the beta with every character class, and I have to say the Monk class is by far the most entertaining for me. As of this writing, the monk has a bunch of well-balanced powers and durability that made the other classes seem feeble in comparison. The basic attack that allows the monk to teleport to an enemy is incredibly awesome, especially when you transition to another melee class and have to shuffle up to a zombie. Yes, the barbarian gets “leap,” but it’s on a timer and not nearly as effective.
I can’t shake the feeling that holding down my left mouse button for hours on end will provide me with enough fun to spend $60 on Diablo 3. Even as time whizzed by with Wumr, I kept thinking, “$60? Nah. $50. Nah. $40? Nah. $30? Maybe. $19.99 is golden.”
Of course, Blizzard is going to sell eight metric shittons of Diablo III when it comes out in less than a month. However, I won’t be one of those buying the game at launch.