Path of Exile's in open beta, has been for a few weeks now. I'm wary of the promise to “do right all the stuff that Diablo 3 does wrong,” because people usually mean locking you into terrible builds that you chose before you knew what they did when they say that.
But they do have a sphere grid. A sphere grid! (and an interactive version; they’re not half-assing it.)
So, yeah, I’ve pretty much played my fill of Diablo 3. It was fun while it lasted—the hit/loot/repeat cycle as perfect as has ever been made—and there were a lot of good ideas in it. I liked skills and runes, and remaking my build whenever I wanted; the rare monsters with random powers were tough and kept me on my toes, even if they were occasionally kind of cheap.
But I just hit a wall at the start of Inferno: my damage output was so tiny compared to the monsters’ health that, even if I survived, it would be a matter of walking a few feet, punching for three to five minutes, walking a few more feet, etc. And even if I was patient enough to kill things, there was almost no chance of my character actually improving. The only way forward was through the auction house.
tl;dr on auction houses:Read more
It also makes the first and only real lesson of Hardcore mode: watch your sodding health bar.
Outside of actually dying, the health bar is responsible for the other bad thing about Hardcore mode - the near miss. You come out of a little scrap with a half-dozen vomiting trees, hoover up the loot, and then see it: you’ve only got 15 per cent of your health left. To a regular player, this means nothing. To you, it’s the apocalypse.
You almost died and you didn’t even know it. You pick the metaphorical bullet out of the metaphorical bible in your vest pocket, and realise that you were lucky. But screw luck. The Hardcore character isn’t about luck. He or she is about bravery, caution, and most of all skill. When you tell somebody you’ve got a level-40 hardcore character, what you’re saying is that you’re better than them. To come out of a fight knowing you drifted close to death, ignorant of the danger, devalues your character. It leaves you feeling a little bit sick.
It really is a terrible feeling.
Of course, when I finally died, it wasn’t an accident. I got sloppy, rushed in against enemies who were too tough for me, and watched my health bar the whole way down.
[posting mostly to say: rip yellsalot (lv. 18). you killed many things.]
I have progressed from Error: 37 to Error: 300008. Diablo better watch out, I will be punching him in the face ANY MINUTE NOW.
This blog will likely be all Diablo all the time for… five more days! At least! Anyway, here’s Kill Screen’s Yannick Lejacq interviewing Jay Wilson and Christian Lichtner, Diablo 3’s director and art director:
Jay: Yeah, one of the lessons that we learned in development was people’s memories of Diablo II were way different than the reality of Diablo II. They remember all kinds of stuff that never actually happened in that game.
Jay: Well when you ask them about game challenge, they remember what it was like in hell difficulty. They don’t remember what it was like in normal difficulty. They remember something that is visually darker than it ever was. They remember a variety and depth of monsters that was never there.
Christian: You are competing with people’s memories. And each person’s individual recollections, where they were ten years ago when they played it, that’s tough!
Jay: It’s one of those things where if you love a game, then the things that are bad about it become endearing. Everybody remembers Deckard Cain saying, “Stay a while, listen.” But the reason they remember it fondly now is because it was so damn annoying! He said it every time, and you had to talk to him so often!
If you have these memories, I encourage you not to go back and play Diablo 2. Be patient! It is only a little while longer.
(I am enjoying this looking forward to stuff! For many years I cultivated an ‘it’ll happen when it happens’ kind of attitude, which makes waiting more bearable but less fun; I’m trying it the other way for a bit.)