It’s been nearly twelve years since I first played Diablo II and longer still since I first played the classic that is the original Diablo. Since then, I’ve been chomping at the bit for more. The first Diablo still ranks as one of my favorite games of all time. Although, Diablo II was damn good it still fell short of the masterpiece that was the first installment of Diablo. Even with the innovations and changes it introduced to the franchise and while it was still a great game, it never captured the atmosphere and memorable moments the way Diablo had.
This made the announcement of Diablo III, a sequel twelve years in the making, not only exciting but very intriguing. I could only fathom what Blizzard had in store for Diablo III after all these years; would it more closely resemble Diablo II with its wide open environments or would the series return to its roots and drag you under ground to the very pits of hell?
Prior to the first rumors about Diablo III surfacing, I admittedly hadn’t thought all that much about Diablo for many years. It seems as though neither had Blizzard, considering they seemed to be preoccupied with their money tree, World of Warcraft. Although they did get around to finally releasing Starcraft II, albeit, it too took 12 years to complete. That’s not to say that it wasn’t well worth the wait.
When the first tidbits about Diablo III were released I was excited, to say the least. Memories of exploring catacombs, casting firewalls, running from The Butcher and getting ripped off by Wart in the town of Tristram all came flooding back. I heard rumblings of a private Beta and before I knew it the Beta had been made public and I completely missed the opportunity to play it, of no fault but my own I must admit. Still I was consumed with excitement as Diablo III’s release date grew closer.
Diablo III is one of, if not, the most anticipated game Blizzard has ever released. Evidenced by its pre-order sales being the largest for a PC game in Amazon’s history. On top of that, the Beta hosted 2 million people, who logged on to play it over the weekend it was available. Clearly I’m far from alone in my fever-like excitement for the next installment in the Diablo series. Unfortunately, this only serves to exacerbate the gut punch when I learned that Diablo III would require a constant internet connection in order to play it.
Yeahbuhwhy?! I asked myself again and again. My knee jerk reaction was to assume that Blizzard was simply jumping on the bandwagon with Ubisoft and butchering their own game to prevent its resale. However, Blizzard claims this wasn’t their motivation. While I’m skeptical, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. The big wigs at Blizzard explained that their motivation for requiring an internet umbilical cord is not related to DRM(digital rights management) at all. And unless I missed it, Blizzard is not requiring any sort of online pass for people who buy the game used so thankfully that isn’t their motivation either.
Blizzard reasons that because your character will be saved on their server, Battle.net, if they didn’t require a constant online connection to play then your single player character could not be used on multiplayer servers. This would force you to create a completely new character for online play. Quite honestly, I don’t think that’s such a big deal. Especially considering that’s exactly how the original Diablo was.
In the original Diablo, you’re given the option play solo or online with friends. The fact that you have to create separate characters to do so doesn’t diminish the experience. If anything, it potentially adds to it. Consider the five character classes you have to choose from. Save for the Barbarian, there are no returning character classes so no matter which class you pick you have a completely new experience to look forward to. What’s to stop you from having a Wizard as your single player character and a Demon Hunter as your multiplayer character or whatever combination you see fit?
Blizzard references World of Warcraft (WoW) to support their argument. Their claim is that the practice of requiring a constant online connection has been around for years, so why the fuss? There are quite a few holes in their argument though. WoW is a Mass Multiplayer Online game and people are therefore expected to have a constant online connection. Where as, when playing a single player campaign it feels unnecessary to need to be online. Not to mention, you’d be hard pressed to find even the most causal WoW players having only a single character, and restraining themselves to only one server no less.
Another argument is from the stand point of eliminating hacks from the game; a worthy ambition. But can an internet umbilical cord really prevent the problem? Doesn’t World of Warcraft still have its fair share of problems with dupes and hacks despite requiring a constant internet connection? If you Google ‘WoW gold/items 4 cash websites’, the list goes on for hours. Essentially you can pay “X” amount of money for “X” amount of gold or weapons or mounts, specifically ones that don’t ‘Bind on Pick-Up’ or ‘Bind on Account.’
As stated earlier, I’ve reigned in the majority of my initial disappointment. However, I definitely won’t be waiting in line at midnight to snag a copy of Diablo III when it’s released, nor will I feel that I’m missing out on something great by not doing so. Perhaps, one day I’ll breakdown and decide to play Diablo III. Especially if they reintroduce the Necromancer into the series. Short of that, I’d sooner dust off a copy of Diablo or Diablo II and one night, when my internet is down, be reminded why I loved those games so much.