A number of years ago, I bought Diablo III upon release. I never jumped on the Diablo bandwagon with the first two games, and I wanted to experience the game and the hype for myself. My wife, friends and I played for a few months, but eventually got bored. We hit max level, and used excess gold to buy better gear off of the auction house. To me, this turned the end game grind into one for gold alone, as better equipment drops rarely happened at that point. On top of that, one could only run the story so many times before it just became too predictable. Very little about the game actually felt randomized, or fresh.
A year or two later, the first expansion came out, offering not only a new chapter, but a new mode of play, dubbed ‘adventure mode.’ This allowed player to take on short missions set at various locations around the story world, in order to earn rewards. I believe it also offered rifts, completely randomized dungeons. This gave the game a shot of fresh air. Eventually, they removed the player auction house, and enhanced the loot tables, helping to focus players back on farming for powerful artifacts, rather than buying them. We played this expansion, but, alas, eventually bored of it. In our eyes, while we enjoyed the game, it lacked a certain something that would help it become great (and, keep us addicted).
Since then, Blizzard has added and re-balanced a lot over the course of the months. They added seasonal play, giving special rewards and achievements for players who start new characters afresh. They added greater rifts, which pushed players to their limits with progressively harder random dungeons. They re-balanced the crafting to make it more relevant, and added a couple of new ways to work with the gear the players have. For example, Kunai’s Cube can strip any legendary gear of its artifact power and put it into the players ‘collection.’ The player can then equip a mix of these to create new, more powerful builds (or, just really fun ones!). For my wife, the enchantress provided the invaluable service of ‘transmoging’ gear, allowing her to easily change her ugly gear to something attractive.
“Season 4” started in #ARPGAugust and along with that cube, added the “Seasonal Journey.” This provided a roadmap, of sorts, in the form of specific achievements, that assist the player in leveling and gearing their character quickly and efficiently (at least, to a point). As an added incentive, completing the first four sets of these (which we did in around 20-30 hours), provides the players with several aesthetic rewards including a unique, cosmetic pet.
The splash page also shows a selection of new legendary gear available only to Season 4 players. (At the end of the season, the gear becomes available to all as random drops). The witch doctor offhand mojo, a kitten on a harness, particularly interested me. When I obtained one as a random drop some two dozen hours later, after rolling a new Season 4 toon, I jumped of my chair with excitement. And, for players who push themselves further, the “Season Journey” offers additional aesthetic rewards, the further they complete.
With these (and many more) new mechanics, and renewed focus brought about by the “Season Journey,” my wife and I have found renew focused in Diablo. While the success of both Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm may have some concerned that Blizzard may forget its other titles, I am fully convinced of the opposite. I could have paid for these changes as part of a new expansion and felt I got more than my money’s worth. Instead, Blizzard has provided this, for free, in the form of content updates/patches. I applaud them for their dedication. While some may argue that it has taken them longer than it should, I think those of us giving the game a solid chance now will tell you that they have arrived at creating an experience that lives up to the hype the earlier games generated. My wife, friends, and I stayed up numerous evening running ‘one more dungeon,’ looking forward to our next visit into demon infested, randomized locations.
I highly recommend that those who have not tried it give it a shot. If you have, and you left the game in the past, give it another go! Blizzard has created a new experience that not only keeps me playing today, but has me excited for this game’s future.