Boy, I was wrong.
Long story short, the game isn't nearly as good as I had hoped, and here's why:
- First, let's start with the messy launch event. I honestly didn't expect that I could login at 00:01 exactly, every launch has its problems. But that it would take 2 (!!) hours long of errors before I could login is just bad. I know a lot of people try to log in simultaneously, but you should kinda have seen this coming from a mile away (especially with the open beta stress testing). We live in 2012, year of cloud internet, you could have scaled your infrastructure to have much more capacity on the first few days and then tune it back down once things are stable.
- Speaking of unstable servers, some games I join (even non-public games) are just lagging badly. Often unplayable with a latency over 600 ms. Leaving the game and joining a new one often resolves this, though, but it's annoying if it starts lagging during a bossfight or event. This is not my internet or ISP, it's your servers.
- Bugs. Do you have ANY idea how bad it feels when you lose your Hardcore character because you're suddenly fighting two Izuals at the same time due to a bug? And when support can do nothing for you? Yeah, that's bad. Really bad.
- More bugs. Achievements which have suddenly reset on the second or third day, locking people out of several achievements (obtaining or leveling an artisan).
- Auction House and Gold as replacement for trade games. Back in Diablo II, you could join trade games and negociate and barter your way torwards the item you wanted. With the anonymous Auction House, any sense of community is gone. Everything is anomyous and for gold. Not to mention the AH is loaded with overprices items which will likely never sell at that price. There's a reason that after almost 12 years, Diablo II trade games and sites like d2jsp still exist and are actively used every day.
- Sense of community. Back in Diablo II, when you logged into Battle.net, you joined chat channels to discuss, socialize, chillax or even trade. You had a list of games you could choose from. Leveling games, PvP games, mule games or just chillax games. I like the one-button-join in Diablo III, though, but imo it isn't a replacement for named games and chat/guild channels. But since PvP or trading is gone, I guess it doesn't matter much anymore.
- Legendary items are !@#$. 700 DPS Legendary with perfect stats vs a 1200 DPS Magic (!!), really? I like the 1-3 random affixes the legendaries have to have _some_ variation, but it doesn't help if the first blue you find in Inferno is WAY better than any legendary. Diablo II was all about legendaries and runewords. It was something you would work your way to. Uniques/RWs _gave_ you an identity. Green hat? Shako. Flail? Must be a Hoto. In Diablo III, you just have to hope for a good blue drop from a random skeleton. Some of you might like it, but I don't.
- Bosses which weaker than champion packs. Just doesn't feel right. Also drops are very bad. Only a few blues for a boss, really? Some people actually liked boss farming, including me. The Nephalem Valor buff isn't just worth it if you die 40 times on the pack because of 1) stupid crazy affixes and 2) health. Remember back in Diablo II when Diablo and Lister were deadly? Yeah, I still do, clearly. I can't really remember how deadly Diablo III's bosses were since you zerg just through them.
- Balance issues. Inferno champion packs are just too unforgiving. Even Kripp with 800 resists and 7500 armor got zerged down by a random pack in Inferno. Regular enemies are alright, bosses are way too easy and champion packs are way too hard (affixes and hp).
- I like the new skill system but it still isn't as balanced as I thought it would be. Only a handful of skills are viable in/near endgame and the rest is either complete garbage, completely situational or only useful while leveling until you get something better. The skill system in Diablo II wasn't perfect either, but at least that one gave you a sense of customozation, even though cookie cutter builds will always exist.
- No singleplayer. I like how online play has my characters on the Battle.net servers to prevent cheating (like Diablo II's Closed Battle.net), but no offline singleplayer (even with just Open Battle.net like Diablo II) is just bad. Diablo II was perfect, you didn't need to change it. The 'Online DRM' excuse is bad, since people are already working on server emulators and whatnot since the beta. I do not condone this, but it was bound to happen. With always online you're pretty much locking out a great number of people with unstable internet (not everyone has a stable 100/10 mbit line) or LAN play.
- The game feels dumbed down. It feels more like World of Warcraft than Diablo. No stat point allocation or stat requirements. This is one thing what made Diablo II fun. Stat min-maxing, rerolling. Boss taunts are just redicilous ("Ah I see you've destroyed a portal, but I'm still gonna win. Ah I see you've killed my lieutenant, but I'm still gonna win. Ah I see you put an axe in my skull, b..."). Not once, but twice. Really? Back in Diablo I and Diablo II you had to hear from townsfolk how evil and scary those legendary baddies were. In Diablo III the just show up on every corner to say hi.
- Lack of UI customization. I don't want an all extensive addon API like World of Warcraft has, but I'd expect at least some customization in the UI. Things like font size or much demanded color and sharpness settings.
- Ridiculous achievements. How is any boss kill in Hardcore Inferno not a FoS?
- Lore. Seriously, Cain dead, Leah transformed, Tyrael a mortal wimp and Diablo rampaging through the heavens? I understand if you want to close the story behind Diablo, but you didn't need to be so rash. Tyrael was a mighty badass mofo angel shrouded in mystery back in Diablo II. In Diablo III, he's all "oh oh oh, Diablo has invaded, let's give up". Really? Also the playable characters are too much of the "I am a hero and I need to save the world" types.
- Securty and priorities. I see an increasing number of reports about accounts being hacked and stripped of gold and gear. Even accounts which have an authenticator attached! I just have no words for this. Even worse, you were denying the problem at first. Now you're "investigating it". I'm not going to join public games or use the RMAH when my account can be hacked and stripped off my gold or money at any time. Yet, the only news I see from you guys is that you're excited about the new API and the website profiles. Hello, priorities?
- Lack of communication. I feel like there's a chronic lack of communication from you guys. Not only for Diablo, but also for World of Warcraft. When the EU servers were down for 4 hours straight back on sunday, the only thing we heard (after a lot of asking) was, "Technical team is working on it". No explanation for errors which occur all the time for people, other than the standard Blizzard reply.
All ranting aside, there are some good things which I liked about Diablo III:
- Atmosphere. Some people rant about the game being too colorful (see Dark3d, for example). It isn't as dark and gothic as Diablo I or Diablo II, but I liked it. Especially during catacombs levels, I really got this awesome dungeon feel. The graphics are awesome. The maps are, although relatively static compared to Diablo II, also awesomely designed.
- Monster design and boss fights. Even though the bossfights were relatively easy, I absolutely loved them! Belial has to be my favorite, Diablo following after. Monsters were also nicely designed, even though the AI isn't as good as I hoped it would (not as aggressive in Hell/Inferno).
- Cinematics. They were absolutely astonishingly amazing!! Very good job done here.
- Telling of storyline. Even though I didn't like the story itself much, I did like how it was laid out in game. You really interacted with all the characters in-game and followed them across acts and vowed revenge after Act III. The questing is also nicely done.
- Gems. I like how you could unsocket gems and upgrade them a dozen more levels than Diablo II, but I fear there will be an abundance of them sooner or later.
I did enjoy Diablo III (when the servers were actually up, and lag- and bugfree), but having completed Hell and almost Act I of Inferno, I'm kind of done with it already. Sure, call me nostalgic and tell me to wait a few months until everything's fixed, even though they had over 10 years development time and LOTS of experience with online gaming through World of Warcraft and its expansions (server stability, latency, bugs, hacking prevention, etc). Back in Diablo II, I farmed Mephisto and Baal for months and I liked it. Geting a higher level actuall means something.
Diablo II is still up and running after so many years and for good reasons. Sure, the game might be overrun by botters and tppk'ers, but it's grown part of the game by now since Blizzard doesn't actively does anything to prevent (just a banwave every few months, all the obtained items from botting are still kept on a different account).
I'm going back to Diablo II. I'll probably roll a Zoomancer and let my skeletons and minions do the killing while I teleport around (through my jsp obtained Enigma), sit back, relax and cast the occasional Corpse Explosion. Feels good man.