Diablo III finally out

Diablo III, one of the longest-awaited titles in gaming history, is to be released within minutes. The second game—released fully 12 years ago—sucked countless hundreds of my hours with its near-perfect combination of clicking, stat-grinding, loot-hunting, medieval gloom, clicking, and right-clicking. This is why I'm sat up at 11:30 p.m. waiting for a video game to unlock, like an indolent rat watching a ball of rat crack slowly tumble its way toward him through a translucent plexiglass rat crack dispenser somewhere in a lab at Merck.

Already the most pre-ordered game of all time, Diablo III will be familiar territory to anyone who has played an action RPG since Gauntlet: new character classes, slicker graphics and 2012's more reliable internet connections garnish what promises to be the same gloriously addictive co-op multiplayer fare.

Controversial changes include a real-money auction house for trading in-game gear with other players, and the lack of player-vs-player combat at launch. Having played the beta, I might add that some World of Warcraft-esque visual camp lightens up the series' necrotic Gothic airs a little—this seems to bother hardcore fans a lot.

But hey, it's not like they're about to just say no, is it?

Diablo III [Amazon]

UPDATE: Countless customers report that the game won't start: even single player games run online, and Blizzard didn't set up enough servers to handle the launch-day load.


  1. Before you get too excited, servers don’t go live until midnight PDT

      1.  Friend of mine went to a lot of effort to clear his entire day for this, then found out about the servers. He was Livid, and didn’t react well to people who needled him. Poor bastard, he’s so busy he won’t be able to play for weeks now.

  2. At the risk of Corying this post, there’s also the always-online DRM.  Sadly, this game is off the must buy list for me until they (hopefully) patch it out.

    1. Sorry, there is no hope. I share your frustration but it’s completely tied into Battle.net. You should just consider it an online game at this point.

      1. That makes no sense. “Completely tied into Battle.net” yeah, sure, for multiplayer that makes sense. For single player there shouldn’t be any need to connect to a remote server for anything, or if there was a reason, say frequently updated online content enriching the single player experience, it ought to be optional. 

        1. Well, whatever ought to be, this is the way it is. I’m not defending it, but if you ever want to play, then accept that the game landscape has changed in the past decade. If not, you might as well quit complaining because it’s just not going to change back. 

          1. Between the telecom monopoly issue in NY and the general problems with broadband in my part of Brooklyn my only option for ISP is less than reliable. Which basically means I wont be able to play this game 4 days out of the week. Single player or otherwise. 

        2. It means you can have a single-player character that you can also play with others, should you wish to do so.

          “Server side worlds/characters only” is not really (or at least not just) a DRM thing. It’s an anti-cheating, anti-hacking thing. And anyone whose been playing Diablo since the 1990s will know how awful hackers and cheaters have, in the past, made these games for other players.

          If you want an evil reason for online-only, it’s not DRM — it’s ensuring that everyone is playing in a way that supports in-game for-cash item exchanges.

      2. And this is why Blizzard are dead to me, and I look forward to their competitor, Runic Games and their Torchlight series.

        The first Torchlight had only a download-demo-version-and-insert-key process, so I can still play it despite the fact that I bought the game two years and four machines ago. It has everything I ever wanted in a videogame: hordes of monsters to slay, dual-wielding options for all characters, and an inheritence mechanic that pleases me.

        So, okay, maybe TL2 may have the online-based DRM as well, and frankly, moving past the fighter-ranged-mage combo may actually be a bad idea, but so what? Still got TL1. Will always do.

        You guys can stay along with Blizzard and see how much they can dick you around, while paying USD 60 every pop, but I got better things to do with my time and money.

        1. For what its worth (and at the risk of sounding a bit fanboyish), the always-online feature is there to support things like multiplayer play and in-game item exchange. If the game didn’t feature that, duping and other exploits would have made the item exchange pointless.

          That said, TL2 should be pretty awesome as well.

        2. This.  I am not always online, and I see no reason to be tied to a server just to play a single-player game.

          Having been burned by download-and-register-online games where the creator (if they still exist at all) no longer supports them, I refuse to buy any game which requires online anything.

          As my heroes at the Anti-Advertising Agency liked to say, “You Don’t Need It.”

    2. Same here adonai. Not a chance in hell that I’m buying something that the auth servers might not exist for anymore in 10 years and that I can’t play while I travel. Blizzard used to be one of my favourite studios – their insistence on treating their dedicated paying fans like criminals is a bit of a turn-off. I’d be happy to pay for something they’d actually let me own – but since they insist that I play their game only at their pleasure, I guess I’ll be torrenting an uncrippled version. They can call it a lost sale if they want – but it wouldn’t be one if they sold me a game instead of spyware with a game attached.

      1. I don’t think there will be an “uncrippled” version to torrent.  You don’t connect to the server just for authentication, key parts of the game are generated server end rather than client end.
        I can understand people’s frustration but this isn’t a nefarious decision on Blizzard’s part.  They are trying to prevent hacks and cheats from ruining online play (as it did almost completely in Diablo 1 and somewhat in Diablo 2).  Sure they could have included a single player version, but there was a real problem with Diablo 2 where most people started single player and then were frustrated that they had to start over to play with friends online (since they can’t control hacks in a single player mode).

        You aren’t happy, but “treating fans like criminals” isn’t really what they are doing, and I don’t think there is any hope for a version that works offline, hacked or otherwise.

        1.  “Are you sure you want to create an offline character?  If you do, you will never be able to use this character in multiplayer games.”
          [CANCEL]  [ALLOW]

          If Blizzard was really only concerned about the player’s experience, they could simply give us the option.  It’s not like it would be any trouble to implement, but it would make a big difference for people who don’t have always-on internet (laptop gaming, anyone?).

          But they don’t even offer the choice, and I’d be willing to bet that they’ll take legal action against anyone who tries to make that choice available.  If they were worried about multiplayer cheats, they could restrict only multiplayer play.  If they were worried about players being annoyed when they can’t transfer their characters, they could just warn them in advance.

          Blizzard is not moving to online-only to help you, they’re doing it to control you.

          1. I don’t like jumping to the conclusion that it would have been easy to do.  As it is there are many aspects of the game that the client doesn’t even have the capacity to provide because they are provided by the server.

            I’d really like an offline option, I just see this as a business decision, not a conspiratorial one.

            I’m sure Blizzard is mostly aware of the consequences of this decision – they did the same thing with StarCraft 2.  I think they are concerned primarily with sales, not with “controlling” us, and – whether or not it would be in this case – giving players more choice doesn’t always make for a better experience for the widest possible range of people.

            Unfortunately unless there are some very big problems with battle.net over the next few days and weeks (the first few hours after launch aren’t going to get them in really deep trouble) they are probably not going to really lose anything from their decision to leave off the offline option, so they will probably continue with this route in the future.

            At any rate, I don’t see how this isn’t going to be worth my $60, even if I can only play it one day a week.

          2. That option in Diablo II was the major source of Closed Battle.net (the restricted multiplayer only play) cheating because to supply that option they had to put the server architecture into the singleplayer game. 

            Ostensibly it makes a lot of sense, but providing an offline client-server architecture basically gives people a sandbox for them to learn how to fuck you hard and how softly they can fuck you without you noticing – the only alternative is to create and maintain two entirely different but superficially identical games with intentionally differentiated behaviour in the core code.

    3.  It’s off the buy list for me because the game play style is just to damn old, spent a lot of time on LOTRO and the teeny tiny character and semi-fixed camera just doesn’t cut it.
      Right now I’m looking for a mix of FPS with 3rd person, so you can swap from one to the other aiming in FPS (extra killing power with less situational awareness) and then in 3rd person (grinding).
      Simply took too long, so bargain big some distant time in the future, or not, meh.

  3. 12:03… “Battle.net is down for maintenance. Try again later.” (error 33)

    Pretty much what I expected. Will get some sleep and try again tomorrow.

  4. No… wait… what? Midnight PACIFIC TIME???!!! Oh, French kiss my bulldog!!! PACIFIC TIME? What’s that? Some kind of COMMIE CLOCK ZONE???!!!

    Damn, damn, damn, damn, damn, damn, damn…


    I hate being stupid.

  5. Just submitted the very important footnote about this Always-Online DRM kicking people to the main menu and erasing their progress in the Single Player game if you lose your internet connection. It’s just appalling and could have been solved very simply had they just included a character “Offline only” option. This is a critical BUG and NOT A FEATURE. I refuse to buy the game, even though I’ve looked forward to it for 12 year as well Rob.

  6. “But hey, it’s not like they’re about to just say no, is it?” Well, so far, I have. I was a huge fan of Diablo II. Played it over and over again for many years. Still have vivid sense memories of Lut Gholein and Kurast. Still think that Diablo II had the best in-game music system in the history of gaming, before or since, the only one that could generate enough in-game variety that I didn’t turn off within a matter of minutes.

    But, while I’m open to changing my mind later, everything about Diablo III looks cheap to me. The true-3D game engine they’re using makes everything look muddy and plasticky; the costs of developing art assets for a true-3D game make every level I’ve seen so far look undecorated or at least undetailed compared to the painterly detailing of Diablo II. It also doesn’t help that some of the character class designs seem just plain weird and unfun to me, in the same way that the weird character classes of Gauntlet II broke Gauntlet for me way back in the day.

    I have an eye out for a chance to watch a friend play it on a big screen, and may change my mind then. But this long-time Diablo II fan thinks that Diablo III looks entirely skippable. At least, so far.

  7. Now this is funny.

    There are difficulty modes in Diablo III. Basically, Easy, Hard, Nightmare, this is not including the Hardcore mode that is permadeath.

    So our Asian friends in the pacific rim have had the game servers up now I think close to 14 hours and a few people have beaten the game on the most difficult setting. Thats right, beat the game before it even went live here in the US.


    1. Really?  I’m surprised you can even run through the game four times in 14 hours.  Blizzards internal test team never beat the hardest difficulty.  Do you have a link to an article about this?

        1. Yeah, that’s totally to be expected.  I’m very pleased that that game would last 12.5 hours on normal difficulty, it’s longer than I would have guessed.

  8. My only experience with modern day gaming has been WoW; played pretty steadily for a year when LichKing was released, dropped it for some time, just came back to the fold a month ago. Not that I hate it, but it’s getting a little tiring.

    If anybody who is familiar with both WoW and Diablo could make a case for ditching the former in favour of the latter, I’m all ears.

    1. In Diablo you can craft weapons and armor, socket Gems to customize equipment, and buy and sell on an online auction house! Oh wait…

  9. How’s the music? Tristram theme from D2 is still my all time favorite piece of game music. Nice that they got that one so right, since it would play if I left a char in town while windowed over to some other program.

  10. Just watched the trailer for the game. Loved the soundtrack. Are those ever released for video games? Can’t remember that happening.

  11. One of the best improvements is that when in a multi-player group, the loot you see is for you alone. No more scrambling to greed-click stuff before anyone else sees it. Other nice things: No more identify scrolls, no more teleport scrolls.

  12. I’ve been playing for about an hour now.  So far it’s worth 10x every penny I paid for it.

    I got it free.

    Seriously, it’s okay.  Nothing awesome, basically a more modern graphics version of the first two.  Fun enough for what it is.  Other than that, I’m solidly in the camp of never paying again for a game that I have no control over the long-term playability, and the on-line only aspect is a total killer.  Whenever I visit my parents I take my laptop along, but gee…. they live out in the country with no internet available.

    1. If that happens with any regularity then they may indeed regret their online only play option.  That’s very bad press.

  13. single-player diablo? here: http://crawl.develz.org/wordpress/downloads save some money and have more fun.

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