As you know, last weekend we were greeted with the opportunity to participate in an open beta for Diablo III. The primary aim of this beta was to stress test the servers and to see just what would happen with more players than in the closed beta. They need this to be ready for the big launch on May 15th.
Since this actually is a beta, Blizzard encountered some bugs and proceeded to clean them as they came up, resulting in repeated periods of downtime for the beta, especially on Saturday, and lead to some frustration for players that couldn’t get in. I think that at some point there must have been a bug affected by the concurrent number of players as capacity was lowered and then brought back up slowly a couple of times.
This lead to even more frustration from fellow testers, some of them going as far as to say that this will discourage some people to buy the game and some going ever further and stating Blizzard is joining Electronic Arts with their bad game launches.
To these people I have to mention that this was a beta, thus, problems not only will happen, they are expected, this is the very goal of the beta, to sniff out as many bugs as possible in order to get to May 15th and have the smoothest launch. I do not believe this is standard practice at EA, since every launch is ridiculously disastrous.
Furthermore, this was a stress test. This means that in the closed beta test, they don’t have enough participants to really put a load on the server and make sure it’s stable. That’s why we were brought in! Now if the launch fails, then you can complain all you like, but in the meantime, be grateful that Blizzard is working hard at making sure the launch will be smooth for all of us.
As for the game itself, I must say that for something that was in development for about what, 125 years, before computers were there, I’m a little disappointed. The graphics are nothing like what you would expect in 2012, hell it wouldn’t even pass as 2008! The character animations when they are talking are dated to say the least and you still don’t get to see the characters talking. Of course, this being a top-down game, it doesn’t hurt as much as if it was presented like recent RPGs.
I was also a bit worried that the point and click, hack and slash gameplay would be boring and, I don’t know what it is, but Blizzard was able to mix the addictive element in. I don’t know how they do it, but recent top-down games bore me quickly and yet I want to go on playing Diablo III. I hope it won’t get boring in the longrun.
One big deception is the amount of active/usable skills you can have. The game limits you to one attack/skill for left and right mouse clicks and further along the way you can unlock 4 more slots. And that’s it. This means that learning a new skill will get you scratching your head a lot more than in mmorpgs. And without the option to quickly change skills à la Skyrim, it is a bit annoying. The plus side is that you actually have to take a second to think about what skill you will really need.
All in all, I’m eager to get the final product in my hands on May 15th!