Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Tuesday Miscellany: Diablo III, DDO, Rift, Torchlight and more...

Diablo III
So my wife is playing Diablo III and enjoying it...."mindless fun for when she doesn't want to have to think too hard." It does look kind of fun, but I learned long ago that my track record with hack'n'slash RPGs is deplorable; I am averse to popping pinata monsters while running around looking for quest givers to wax philosophical on the plight their village. Of the many action-RPGs I have tried to get into the only one with real story/RPG elements* is Dungeon Siege III and that still wasn't very satisfactory. I've gotten reasonably far in Torchlight, though....of all these sorts of games, Torchlight is the best (followed by Titan Quest) but I've never finished any of them or even gotten more than 10-12 hours in, in most cases, before the inevitable "why the hell am I doing this???" effect sets in. Usually cured by loading up a Bioware title, mind you....!

Seeing her play Diablo III did motivate me to get back into Dungeons & Dragons Online, which is (imo) the kind of game all action RPGs should have morphed into by now, with real over-the-shoulder camera angles, more effort at plot (well, sort of....), traps, three dimensional environments and actual jump-around-position-matters combat. Hell, Tera got me back into DDO again, as well. Tera's getting kudos for its action-style combat and mixed views on its stripperific lingerie that they like to call armor, but DDO had both long before Tera showed up (to be fair most of the stripperific armor in DDO is purchase-only in the store, though. DDO's armor suits are otherwise notoriously functional, as Eberronian armor standards go).

Dungeons & Dragons Online
But all that aside, Diablo III is doing what it does best and my wife is enjoying it, along with her guildmates from WoW and SWTOR, so her experience, at least, is following the model track Blizzard wants everyone to be on. Me...I may try her account to see what it's like, but honestly just watching her play has given me a pretty good idea of what to expect. I only ever finished Diablo the First, anyway; I never made it past level 3 in Diablo II; I'm not kidding when I say I have a hard time slogging through isometric action RPGs. They are just not my thing. Torchlight is the rare exception. I also liked Sacred and it's sequel, but only long enough for the snappy one-liners of the various characters to wear thin.

I do plan to get Torchlight II when it comes out, though. For some reason that game is the solitary exception in the realm of action RPGs....the one version of it which makes me want to keep playing. I look forward to being able to hit that one co-op (or solo) at my liesure in a month or so.

Torchlight II
If you are among the rare breed of player like myself who find the endless smashing of pinata monsters (because they rain loot when you pop 'em, ya' see) to be painful without some DIM (deep inner meaning) then I would offer a couple alternatives....

First up, Eschalon (book 1 and 2, although I've only played one so far) is a quasi-turn-based isometric RPG in the old school fashion, available at Gamersgate, Steam and elsewhere. It's graphically old school, but it offers up a real story, real exploration, and a fairly steep difficulty curve. It's a lot more fun and develops a much more interesting story than anything you'll find in an action RPG like Diablo III. I'd love to see a game like this created with a budget closer to Diablo's....or even something akin to Legend of Grimrock.

Speaking of Legend of Grimrock, that's one you might find interesting. I don't personally like it. In fact I spent a bit of time with it and then delightfully deleted it from my hard drive, having been reminded of the fact that the reason I didn't play many PC games from 1989 through 1995 wasn't just because I was in college but because those games really did suck, hard. I was never fond of Eye of the Beholder, which I masochistically played long enough to realize one day that I was wasting precious life energy on an endeavour best substituted with either real tabletop gaming, or maybe something more apropo for the time (going out and getting drunk with my philosophy club buddies and picking up women). Gods I hated that game. And Legend of Grimrock reminded me why.

Legend of Grimrock
But I'm not saying its a bad game: I am saying that if you loved that style of game from the 90's and felt that it was exemplary of a lost style and format that didn't deserve to be cast aside, then you should absolutely check out Grimrock. But if you, like me, found those games as hollow, soulless and painful as a great many other games of that time period, then yeah this one's probably not for you.

There is also Avadon, which is on Steam as well. Avadon is closer to Baldur's Gate and other Black Isle games of old, and it evokes a similar feeling but with its own particular style of old school isometric graphics and an elaborate storyline. I have not found myself motivated to play it for long, but the premise is intriguing.

So in the end I'm driven back to resume Dragon Age II. I'm still only a few hours in, but have yet to encounter or "feel" the issues so many people had with the game. Time will tell, I'm sure. There is also Rift, which continues to captivate me as the only MMO that continues to hold my attention. I don't know quite how to explain it: the storyline is just interesting enough, the game's look and feel is interesting, the level/territory design is interesting and encourages exploration, the quests are (while still typically MMOish) still fun to read and pursue, the game's full of options from all sorts of armor and loot to fun crafting, mounts galore and a general sense of "achievability" that looks actually attainable to me (while still managing to have fun in the process). I've even tried the pvp and found it fun. The rogue is an absolute terror to play in pvp, too....I've never been so successful at ganking in MMO-based pvp combat like I have in Rift, it's kind of unnerving, actually. I'm used to being the guy who has no pvp gear getting raked over the coals again and again until I call it quits and move on to more pve focused entertainment....Rift's pvp is actually something I seek out, which is weird.


*I use RPG here in the tabletop/story sense, not the world-of-computer-gaming "level up and acquire loot" sense.

1 comment:

  1. Having written all this the other day, I'll probably still buy Diablo III soon....bandwagon, getting on, and all that =)