I had some time this past weekend to play Diablo III. I got out my crusader and, since I hadn’t seen Gaff in the game for a week or more, decided to just push ahead without him. I finished up Act III, went through Act IV, and got a ways into Act V, which puts me square in the Reaper of Souls expansion.
As it went with Diablo II, there is a definite change up in pacing as you pass through those three acts.
Act III, as with the previous two acts, is all about building up the story and giving the player a tour of the countryside, various dungeons, all with minions and mini-bosses and significant NPCs to discover.
Then you get to Act IV and it is boom, boom, boom oh hey, it’s Diablo… get him!
Not that there aren’t various bits and pieces to explore, but it is a much shorter experience, something emphasized by the player being put up against the game’s namesake.
And then, if you don’t have the expansion, you’re done. But if you do have it, then you launch into Act V which, by its nature of being the meat of the expansion content, runs much longer and feels more densely packed with side paths and events.
So the tempo of acts is soft of medium, medium, medium, short, long.
Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You want some meat in an expansion. But having the expansion already and jumping straight into Act V does make Act IV feel all the more brief I suppose.
So far I really like the crusader. I found a set of skills for him that fits my play style well enough. Of course, he is only level at this point, which means he is still getting unlocks, and will continue to do so through level 70. It does sometimes make me question the wisdom of the slow unlock progress, where you have to play until level cap to get all the skills. But then throwing all the skills at a player at level 1 is never a good idea either.
The flip side of the crusader being pretty well matched to me… and the post-patch 2.0 changes to drops and itemization… is that after a certain point the game got pretty easy. I had swapped up to the Hard setting way back in Act I and felt I had to put in some effort early on. But by the time I got to Diablo himself I was so well armed that he was a push over.
Seriously, I was never once in any peril when fighting Diablo. My setup meant my health never dipped more than a sliver below 100% and I was putting out enough damage that the fight went by very quickly.
Likewise, going into Act V I have been slaughtering all before me with impunity. I think the only difficult bit has been simply accumulating enough gold to combine or move gems around or unlock various items. I never have enough gold.
I gather from Google that I am not alone in this opinion. It seems that any real level of effort doesn’t come into things until you finish up Act V, hit level 70, and start in on the whole adventure mode aspect of the game.
The Diablo franchise has always been more about story and atmosphere to me, so hard being easy isn’t a deal breaker for me. I will push on and finish up story. The game looks good, plays well, I like the story, and there is a certain amount of satisfaction to be taken in the ability to clear a room with one well-timed AOE attack. I think my record at this point is killing 39 mobs with a single attack.
However, I tend to be done with Diablo games once the story has been completed. I will be interested to see if I find any hook in the post-story aspects of the game.