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Diablo III is Awesome BUT…

Alright so everyone’s been going crazy playing Diablo III since it’s release  over a week ago, and everyone’s been having loads of fun myself included. Instead of talking about how awesome it is (and it is pretty awesome) I want to talk about how it could be a lot better if certain things were maybe different. I’ll mostly be talking from my own experience playing a demon hunter (lvl 45 in nightmare at the moment)  so I might be wrong about some things, so feel free to tell me how wrong I am in the comments.

Lets start with the skill building system. So far I’ve been having a lot of fun experimenting with different builds and I like how the skills and runes are gradually unlocked, but I think some things are a bit off with that system. first of all, why isn’t elective mode explained anywhere!? elective mode (which can be turned on in the options) enables you to put any skill in any slot you want which allows for more advanced builds. Sadly u’ll have to figure it out for yourself. the second problem I have is with skill switching. Why are there increasing cooldowns on abilities once switched depending on the difficulty you’re playing? Is it because they want to make switching skills in the middle of fights more risky and difficult ? is the fact that you have to open a skill window that blocks most of your screen not enough to make it dangerous to switch in a fight?  Why does the system not allow you to save builds to switch between them more easily then? it seems that having long cooldowns and having to pick out each skill is just redundant.

Next come the difficulty modes and multiplayer. The fact is, Diablo III’s campaign is not long at all, so the game relies on replay value with 4 difficulty modes and a hardcore mode to add challenge to each play-through, not to mention that playing each class feels different and gearing up your character takes a while (I’m not going to mention pvp because that’s not out yet).  While all of the things i mentioned are awesome and to be expected in Diablo, I can’t help but feel that the difficulty curve just shoots up through the roof when it comes to elite mobs. Nothing is more surprising than being suddenly one-shotted  by an elite after spending hours trampling through normal mode. So I go to the auction house and buy myself some better gear to cope, while my friend points out that on inferno people are assholes and item prices are too insane.

My follower (the templar) who was quite useful in normal mode, turned to a complete moron in nightmare mode. the fact that I can only equip him with a few items makes his damage less than insignificant and he seems to have lost the ability to taunt anything, not to mention that he is usually unaware that he is standing in poison clouds… its embarrassing to watch.  I decided the best thing to do since im nowhere near my friend’s level that I’ll simply open my game to the public, and together we will destroy all evil! It seemed to work when I did it the day before.

… Not so much. I kept soloing for about 30 mins before I was joined by a barbarian! “the minions of hell grow stronger”. He stayed in town for about 15 mins while I struggled with the demons before he left the game. Next I got a wizard that kept dying because he doesn’t know that it’s best to keep a distance between himself and elite packs. regardless we kept on going until we reached a boss. He died instantly for the same reason as before, but I managed to do some kiting and revive him. He died right away again, so I ended up soloing the boss with increased difficulty. Templar doesn’t look so bad now does he. At least he gives me increased regen and the minions of hell don’t grow stronger when he’s around…

I love Diablo III but I just wish some things were different. Why do I have to leave my game and lose some progress if I realize that maybe soloing is better right now (after the 3rd moron that joined my game). Why does the game have to turn to a grind fest when you simply reach a point where your gear is suddenly not good enough? people will argue that, this is what Diablo is, grinding is the only thing on the menu. But I thought there was gonna be more multiplayer co-op fun and pvp mayhem… NOPE! everybody has to grind fast to the top! we must reach max level asap and get some gear! maybe its partly our fault as players. Maybe Blizzard didn’t want this. Maybe they wanted us to take our time, play together and enjoy the game before they released pvp. What do you guys think? Are we part of the problem? I’m gonna go back to grinding, I mean playing… it’s still fun!

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Guild Wars 2’s combat system : tip of the iceberg

As I mentioned before, I had access to the Guild Wars 2 beta last weekend since I pre-purchased the game. I have to say I’m quite impressed with the way the game is shaping up. Throughout the weekend I mainly played a Charr Ranger up to lvl 16, a Norn Engineer to lvl 6 and a Human Mage to lvl 7. Now today I’m mainly going to talk about the game’s combat system and what makes it different than your run of the mill MMO.

In essence the game’s combat system is about the player’s choices and skill. The player has a 10 slot skill bar that’s explained in the diagram below.

Taken from the Guild Wars 2 official wiki

The 1st five skills can be switched out in combat instantly by switching to a secondary weapon set for most classes (elementalist can also switch elements using F1-F4). Since these skills are determined by the weapon, the player’s choice becomes also about play style and not just the stats on the weapon. Some skills can be charged for more power and some skills have a chaining quality to them. Chaining is when a skill changes after you use it the first time (Ranger’s Hornet Sting leaps back away from the target after striking, it then becomes Monarch’s Leap which leaps back into combat crippling your foe when you use it the 2nd time).

Ranger in the middle of a chain attack

When you press a button on your skill bar, your character is going to swing the weapon. Whatever skill that button is, it’s going to fire off and go on cool down whether you have a target or not, and it is going to hit any viable target in its path. This means that if an enemy is standing between you and your target, that enemy will take the hit instead. Some skills’ damage is based on the distance to the target (such as a longbows long shot or point blank shot).

Some skills in the game have something called a combo-field quality to them, meaning that they can interact with other skills. The simplest example of that is a Ranger or a Warrior shooting an arrow through an elementalist’s Flame Wall, imbuing the arrows with fire as they touch it (check the video below at 1:20 to see this in action) . This emphasizes the importance of movement and positioning and adds another layer to player interaction and cooperation that goes beyond each player just doing their job in the “holy trinity”.

The game also introduces a dodge mechanic. Double tapping a direction key will cause your character to dodge roll in that direction to avoid damage. This uses up points from an endurance bar that recharges overtime, which means that you can only dodge about twice in a row before having to wait.

All these mechanics -and others that I didn’t manage to get into during my time in the beta weekend- help create a very engaging combat system that keeps you active all the time and gives a feeling of satisfaction in a good fight. My experience with the ranger left me quite satisfied when I was switching from a longbow to a sword and axe when an enemy gets close, Dodging out of strong attacks when I saw them coming, using “Hornet’s sting” to leap out of combat when things got too hot to use my heal and leap back in to finish the job. The bottom line is, it never felt stale. Like a breath of fresh air after all the “WoW clones”.

There’s a lot more to it than what I just talked about and I’ll probably return to the subject later when I’ve gotten to experience it more. I’m out!