Through hell and back with the Diablo franchise

In the year 2000, Diablo 2: Lord of Destruction received a Guinness World Record for fastest selling video game of all time with 1 million copies sold within two weeks. It was so popular amongst PC gamers that it created an entire sub-genre of role-playing games, the Action Role-Playing Game. The game was such a success because it broke barriers. Never before did gamers experience a hack and slash dungeon crawl with such depth and intensity.

The premise of the game is simple. Like any RPG you begin your adventure with meagre weapons and armour and you progress by killing goblins and skeletons while finding gold and special items that increase your power. As your character reaches higher levels your character becomes almost indestructible and wades through the fray swinging sword or casting fireball in a whirlwind of destruction and mayhem. In depth itemization allowed the player to manipulate character sheet statistics to squeeze every last ounce of performance out of their character for maximum survivability and damage output.

It took 12 years for Blizzard Entertainment to release Diablo 3 and the response was once again record setting. 3.5 million copies of the game were sold within the first 24 hours and it became the best selling PC game of 2012. Because of the nostalgia and legacy of Diablo 2, expectations were impossibly high for this release.

Shortly after launch Diablo 3 was heavily criticized for the “pay-to-win” auction house that let people buy digital in-game items for real world currency. It was also criticized for Blizzard’s stance on Digital Rights Management, which prevented players from actually owning any items they found within the game making the experience on-line only. A dedicated high-speed connection was necessary for Diablo 3. Nonetheless it received an overall positive review by most publications and an 88/100 aggregate review from

People got bored within the same year and many stopped playing. The Blizzard forums were flooded with people condemning Game Director Jay Wilson and all blame and disappointment for the perceived failure of the game was directed personally at him. A new term was coined when a completely useless and confusing “legendary” item was found or you experienced an event that drained all fun out of the game. You were “Jay Wilsoned”. It’s even in the Urban Dictionary, look it up.

In January 2013 Jay Wilson was fired. A new game director Josh Mosqueira was hired, the auction house element was removed, and the game went in a new and much better direction. In an interview Josh summed up the planned changes, “Our goal is to make the loot experience more enjoyable for all players. This includes reducing the amount of loot that drops while improving the overall quality, introducing targeted Legendaries, and giving players ways to directly customize their character’s armor – both visually and mechanically.”

Since 2013, an expansion pack, Reaper of Souls, was released and last week a major patch was implemented making even more drastic improvements. The introduction of Seasonal Ladder play puts Diablo players across the world in direct competition with each other to see who is the best (or most addicted) player of all time. The character classes of Monk, Barbarian, Demon Hunter, Wizard, Crusader and Witch Doctor have all been improved and the graphics have never been better. Players of all skill levels are enjoying the scaling difficulty of Greater Rifts, Paragon Levels, legendary gems, and a horde of new items and features.

I have been playing the game again since the latest version was released last Friday. I think this newest incarnation of Diablo is the best yet and my only critique is that too many items are account bound and cannot be shared with friends.

The most memorable moment was when my “bromosapien” Nicholas Martin-King found an extremely rare portal open after killing a treasure gnome and we entered The Vault. Five minutes of giddy looting from my livestream can be seen here: I’m not wearing a shirt, it was 5 a.m., I am very sorry. You can find me on the Diablo 3 NA server as Aficionado#1859.

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