Diablo 3: More of the Same?

Diablo 3, likely the most anticipated game of the year, has hit the world by storm. It is currently one of the most talked about topics in gaming, with reviews flowing down the waterfall of gaming news by the hundreds. Having finished the campaign, I’ve reflected and come to an unfortunate conclusion. Diablo 3, while fun, appears in many ways to simply be more of the same.

There was concern when Starcraft 2 released that Blizzards desire for innovation and creativity had been purposefully stunted in order to guarantee appeasing it’s already existing fan-base. In essence, the theory is that Blizzards new business strategy is “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it”. Much of this talk was cast to the wayside because Starcraft is a competitive E-Sport. Any major changes could ruin it’s future. However, this idea bleeds through in Diablo 3. Most strongly in the different areas (Acts, Dungeons) the player progresses through.

As an example, observe the screen shots below comparing the various acts in Diablo 2 and 3.

Diablo 2 – Act 2

Diablo 3 – Act 2

Diablo 2 – Act 5

Diablo 3 – Act 3

I invite any users to compare the Sewers in Act 2 of both Diablo games. Both old stone, covered with grime and blood, with a dash of grates here and there. Now, several may argue that this is how deserts, mountains, sewers, and Tristram should look like. Geographically speaking both games took place in similar areas, so it only makes sense that they would look the same.

This is true, it cannot be denied. However, the purpose of pointing out these similarities was not to accuse Blizzard of a lack of creativity when it comes to designing these areas, but to question them when deciding Act and Dungeon locations. Presumably, with almost a decade of development Blizzard would have been able to find new unique areas to set their stage, rather than feeling the need to bring the player back through their old stomping grounds for what can only be described as trying to appeal to the ‘nostalgia factor’. Act 2 of both games begins with searching the desert for some lost artifact, and ends with you storming a castle to defeat the evil within. Act 5 of Diablo 2, and Act 3 of Diablo 3 both begin with you defending a mountain keep from an invading army, and continues with you storming further and further up a battlefield to smash siege weaponry.

To propose just a few places Blizzard could have used for Act settings that have not been done, why not a tropical climate? This would give way for perhaps undersea cave travel which would allow the creators to design an entire slew of ocean themed enemies. Or, maybe a flying continent of some kind, at least as a dungeon. Ridiculous? Well, is it any more ridiculous than the Arcane Sanctuary in Diablo 2?

What if you were to attend your spring dance, only to find that your date is wearing the same dress your date the prior year was wearing. It’s not a deal breaker, but it’s mildly disappointing. And in this example, creepy. Overall, this does not defeat a users enjoyment of Diablo 3. However it does stunt enjoyment, if at least in small part.