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Ian O'Rourke
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Diablo 3 Into Act 2
Keywords: Video Games.

I finished act one of Diablo 3 yesterday, which brings a welcome change of location. Still enjoying the game which has fallen into a regular cycle of play. I tend to drop into the odd online games for the quest I am currently on and enjoy the chaos of having multiple characters hacking their way through hordes of monsters. Trouble is you don’t necessarily get to start it from the beginning, listen to the ‘quest text’ or truly explore (as the other players might be doing it for the tenth time). As a result, I’ve always gone back and done a play through of each quest end-to-end solo to make sure I experience the minimal story present in each one.

The approach has resulted in me hitting a higher level at the first breakpoint. It’s suggested that you would normally be level 14 at the end of Act 1. I’ve hit 17. This is undoubtedly because I’ve done a number of the quests, if not completely twice, at least a percentage of any particular quest two or three times. It seems to be working out for me though.

I am starting to a bit more conscious of the gear I am wearing. I didn’t overly bother before. If the game told me it was an improvement I put it on. Now I check it a bit. This was primarily driven by the fact I was getting the impression my damage output wasn’t up to scratch. Not sure how it all hangs together yet, but I am going to start looking into what stats I should have (I’m assuming +dex at this point) and how much damage output my weapons have. How I get gear is a bit strange. I seem to get the best gear from merchants, not drops in the game. Not sure how long this will continue. I’m also selling all my gear for money and do nothing fancy with it. I assume there is a crafting system in the game somewhere? As of yet, I don’t believe any of my gear have sockets or anything similar.

The story brings me to the strangest thing about Diablo 3 and how the narrative presents itself. I’ve discussed how games take different approaches revealing their story: as consequence or reward. This basically establishes whether the story is revealed as a natural consequence of playing (such as in the Mass Effect series) or whether it is revealed as a reward for playing (such as in the Final Fantasy series). I prefer the former, as the latter tends to separate game and narrative too much.

Diablo 3 sits in a strange place in that it is firmly in the story as reward camp, but the story seems to have nothing to do with your character. As is typical in the story as reward format you play through the game and then periodically you’re rewarded with cut scenes that take the story forward. The story they take forward is the story of Leah, the niece of Deckard Cain, who seems to have some secret powers and gets to interact with fallen angels (who you also see making portentous decisions in their heavenly abode). Your character is a bit like an NPC, along with a whole range of other NPCs that can join you in your adventures the only difference being you get to directly control the actions of yours. This approach could be best summed up as someone else’s story as reward.

It doesn’t ruin the game, it’s an action RPG at the end of the day, but it’s a bit of an odd construct. Are all Blizzard games like this? I suspect so. If you look at World of Warcraft the story is largely one of world characters with every player sort of being one of a mass of NPCs? Then you have the real-time strategy games which have your battles taking place within the context of the dramas of another range of world characters? It just seems to be the way things are done.

It’s probably a testament to the strength of games like the Mass Effect series that this now just seems slightly odd, while I suspect, once upon a time, it was just the accepted norm. It also strikes me as being the video game equivalent to role-playing games in the 90’s in which the player characters could often be seen to be side players in a much larger drama featuring various ‘important world characters’ that got revealed through supplements for the line.

Permalink | Comments(0) | Posted by: Ian O'Rourke on 03/11/2013 Bookmark and Share
 
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