Diablo 3 has gone through a lot since its release in 2012: From the lead designer moving on, to patch after patch after patch attempting to address complaints about the design. Of course, we can’t forget about the Auction House system that left a major black stain on the game until its removal.
Flash forward to today. Diablo 3 has come a long way, as we just entered the fourth season of ladder play. Normally I don’t take a look at games I’ve already reviewed, but given everything that’s happened and the latest patch, today I’m making an exception.
Before we talk about the latest patch, I want to bring everyone up to speed on what’s happened since Diablo 3 was released. For the first few years of its life, Diablo 3 was marked by polarizing reviews; many people loved the game’s streamlined design, but the poor loot distribution and auction system made the endgame a nightmare.
In my previous post on Etrian Odyssey, I spent the majority of my time examining what the series did to revive the dungeon crawler genre, and attract a new generation of fans through the use of mixing modern and classic game design. By the time this post is up, the second game in the Etrian Odyssey Untold series will be out, and I wanted to take a look at how Atlus is giving old and new fans a revised take on the series.
Previously, I talked about how the Etrian Odyssey series was reviewed very harshly by most critics for the first couple of installments; the reason was that a lot of people didn’t want to play a dungeon crawler, and were hung up on the series’ hardcore difficulty. And to be fair, their complaints had some merit, due to the quirks of the series.
While Etrian Odyssey did make a lot of allowances compared to older dungeon crawlers, this was still a series that forced you to find the enjoyment in it. Enemy stats were scaled very high, and all it took was one bad battle to wipe out your party and lose all progress from your last save. While party composition wasn’t as complicated as previous series, a novice could still mess up early by not understanding good party compositions, and the game’s use of harvesting field points for items/money.
This may surprise some of you after my love letter to Etrian Odyssey, but for the longest time I didn’t like the RPG genre. During the mid 90s to early 00s, I was stuck between the grind-heavy traditional Japanese RPG (JRPG) design, and the number-crunching computer RPGs of the day. There were exceptions of course, such as Earthbound and Knights of the Old Republic. But it wasn’t until I found the Shin Megami Tensei series that I fell back in love with the genre.
Change is Coming
Shin Megami Tensei has been a Atlus staple since the early 90s; the brand has gotten so big that I have to split this examination into two parts, with this one covering the main branch titles.
The Shin Megami Tensei series has several staples that exist between all the games, with “change” being the principle theme. In every title, the protagonist is either a part of a cataclysmic event, or will be the one that changes the world forever by causing one. Aiding him are a changing stock of demons that the player can recruit through different means; usually by talking to them.
Demons belong to different families and have varying stats and powers. What’s important about the series’ design is that your party is never the same for long due to two things. First is that exploiting enemy weaknesses is vital to having any chance of beating a SMTgame. (Later titles, such as Nocturne and Shin Megami Tensei 4, actively punished or rewarded the player for keeping track of element resists, but more on that in a minute.)
Gen Con is packed full of entertainers, in one form or another, but some of the most visible are the singers. There aren’t many of them, but they do stand out … mostly because they’re playing musical instruments.
In this case, it was the musical stylings of Dan the Bard and Water Street Bridge, carefully positioned in the high traffic areas right outside of the Exhibition Hall. Dan the Bard seems to be taking a page from the Old Spice Guy promotional playbook, as his business card indicates that he is “Now accepting commissions for songs about characters and campaigns!” Now you, too, can have your half-elf bard
While the entertainment is great, it doesn’t look like any of the big media guests show up until tomorrow. Sorry, no Wil Wheaton or “The Guild” cast members today … although at one point, I did believe that I passed Mo Rocca in a hallway. (And, it turns out, I may very well have been right. From his Twitter feed, @MoRocca said, about 7 hours ago “At #GenCon in Indianapolis. Far more authentically nerdy than ComicCon. That’s a compliment.”)
This gave me an opportunity to head into the Exhibition Hall and poke around the periphery a bit. I was able to check in with a couple of old friends from last year.
First, I talked with the folks over at the Shard RPG to see what fun they had coming. It turns out their game of Eastern mythology-based anthropomorphic animals (it’s a lot cooler than that just made it sound, honest) is going strong, and they’re expecting to have their new supplement, Magic and Martial Arts, out by Christmas. Their own website doesn’t even have this information yet, they said, but they had a preliminary copy of the book available. It looks like it will really expand the possibilities of the game in great ways.