One Week of Diablo III!

Well.. I say a week.. heh.  Launch day was a no-go, with Blizzard having somehow been unaware of how many of their customers would actually want to play, and the servers being unable to cope with this demand.  These problems continued the following day, with connection problems, lag, and maintenance on the servers.. and still they weren’t finished, as there was yet more surprise downtime and maintenance later on during the week.

The only positive thing that could be said for Blizzard in this was that they got on with the maintenance straight away.. but they should have had some indication of demand from pre-order and sales figures, and from the open beta weekend which was plagued with the same problems, and they should have ensured that their systems were ready to deal with it.

Anyway.. I went with the Demon Hunter, with plans to play the game through alone, at my own pace.. with exploration, reading all the journals, watching all the cutscenes and playing with the crafting system a bit too.  I had a friend drag me through Diablo II ages back, and didn’t get to explore or enjoy the story; that isn’t going to happen again.

The first part of the game was available during the open beta.. and available as a trial of the game via the Starter Edition or Guest Passes.  The first part of Act 1, up to the Skeleton King, seemed to play the same as during Beta, ignoring the random elements of course!

In the full game, a passage opens up underneath his throne.. and, of course, there’s a lovely shower of loot! 🙂

I kept the Templar with me as I was playing solo.. I found him useful for keeping enemies away from me, while I employed the same tactics as I’d liked in the beta: Caltrops to trap enemies, Vault to move away, and then shoot from range.

Despite other options becoming available as I levelled up, I stuck to Caltrops and Vault for the Defensive and Hunting moves.. I tried the others, but missed these two too much!  I switched the other abilities around as runes were unlocked.. I loved Rapid Fire, especially when channeled!

As I had the Templar with me, I focused on damage dealing rather than having more balanced gear, and this meant I was a bit squishy.. too squishy at the end of the game when I was suddenly alone!  I had to make changes all round, even resorting to the Auction House for better equipment.  This was something I hadn’t planned to do.. but crafting wasn’t turning up anything suitable, and I didn’t want to re-run the earlier levels of the Act and just hope to get lucky from a drop.

The game also comes with a rather large number of achievements!  Some of these are rather easy to get.. story-based achievements, and others for exploration, reading lore books and applying dye to your armour.. “Color Coordinated” 🙂

Others will obviously take some effort and time: killing the rare mobs, gathering insane amounts of gold.. and then there are the achievements for Hardcore mode!  I’m still not sure whether to try this.. I can’t imagine getting halfway through the game and collecting some awesome gear, only to lose it all at death!  The lure of achievements might sway me yet, though.

I also played a bit with friends.. we started after I’d got a good way in by myself, and we all wanted to explore properly, so I didn’t feel like I was missing out on any of the story.

The Arcane Orb was a favourite.. just like in the Beta.. but I was also quite pleased with some of the other abilities, such as Wave of Force which knocked enemies away, and the Energy Twister: little destructive tornados!

The Energy Twisters’ paths were a little random.. but they hit the enemies in front of me before wandering.. and with other players, enemies didn’t last long anyway.  I had barely used the Demon Hunter’s Chakram spell, even once it was upgraded with runes, because the chakrams’ paths meant they could miss even the enemies coming straight for me.. this might not have mattered as much if playing with friends, but alone it let enemies get closer than I wanted.. and just wasn’t as effective as the other options for that slot.

More players in the party not only means enemies going down faster.. it also means more enemies spawn.. big packs are definitely more fun! 🙂

The Real Money Auction House has been delayed for another week.  I’ll be having a look, to see what sort of things sell.. I imagine it’ll be legendary items or vast quantities of gold and/or gems.  If I come across a particularly good drop, I may well try to make a few quid 😉

Proceeds from the Real Money Auction House can either go into your Balance, or transferred to PayPal, minus a 15% fee.  I’m very disappointed with what I’ve found out about the Balance, though!

The Balance FAQ says that it can be used to purchase digital copies of other Blizzard games or for various World of Warcraft “services”: character transfer and the like.. but nothing from the Blizzard Store.  I already own the other Blizzard games, and have no use for character transfer or race changes.. I would have happily spent any “free” money on pets for World of Warcraft though!  Since this isn’t an option, I’ve reluctantly signed up for PayPal.. any money I make will therefore come out of Blizzard’s system, and once it’s out I probably won’t spend it on vanity pets as it’ll feel more like “real” money.

Scammers have also been preparing for the Real Money Auction House; reports of hijacked accounts have already appeared.  I’d have relaxed at this point and patted my Authenticator.. but apparently, some of the hijacked accounts had an Authenticator attached!

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