As I explore Act II, Iím still bewildered as to how they could have taken so long to make a game that adds so little. The engine is pretty enough, lavishly detailed, it does the job, but remains extremely dated in concept Ė thereís no analogue zoom (you can uselessly zoom right in on your character, which is great for screenshots and not a lot else), you canít rotate the camera, you canít interact with the world while the mapís on screen, the inventory covers up the map, and the tool-tips for loot seem completely arbitrary as to whether theyíll show up or not. No, rotating cameras arenít necessary. But itís important to keep in mind how relatively primitive the game is, when then taking into account its failings.
And they all come in the form of the always-on DRM. Yes, people are sick of the topic. But that doesnít make it something that can be ignored. It was because the connection dropped in the solo game Iím playing that all those events in the first paragraph took place. Eventually, about fifteen minutes later, it admitted the connection was gone, and restarting yet again put me back at the last checkpoint, one dungeon and an entire map ago. And nothing Ė absolutely nothing Ė interesting lies between me and where Iíve reached twice before.
But Diablo III instead pushes every character down the same rail, both geographically (this is an oppressively narrow world compared to Diablo II) and in terms of character development for each of the classes. A witch doctor, barbarian, demon hunter, monk, or wizard of any given level will have the exact same skills and attributes as any other witch doctor, barbarian, demon hunter, monk, or wizard of that level. Which seems like a terrible idea to those of us who sulked and booted up Diablo II for a while.
But in Diablo III you will start to get it after about ten levels. You will wallow in it gleefully after about twenty levels. You might roll up your sleeves and start poring over wikis after thirty levels. I expect weíll be arguing about it online after forty levels, discovering new options after fifty levels, and unable to let go even after hitting level 60. The simple fact of the matter is that Blizzard was right to unfurl class skills in a set order and to instead give us the option of equipping any six at a time (hello, Guild Wars!). And to furthermore let us modify each of those skills with runes to tweak how they work, and then passive skills to further tweak how they work. Diablo III is built for people who want to tinker rather than people who want to just cop out and decide. Tinkering can be every bit as effective a hook as deciding.