Wasn't just the loot, though that was a major problem.
Wasn't just the trite story, though that was also a major let-down.
There was also something ineffable off in the gameplay. Just never felt as rock-solid as D2, even though all the net infrastructure and moore's law should have made gameplay a given.
wow, that's not what i've been hearing. other forums are cheering, saying that this is the diablo they were hoping for when D3 first came out. i haven't played the expac yet, but the videos i've seen look great.
It's funny how he simultaneously cheers for the demise of the auction house and then laments the lack of value found in the loot, even in loot 2.0.
You know what's a good way to make something feel valuable? Give it f*king value!
Of course everyone is going to feel like their equipment is worthless if they can't use it, because not only can they now not even sell it to another player for gold, they can't even give it away to a friend/family member because everything is account bound now.
I know it isn't a popular opinion so spare me the flames, but axing the auction house was a mistake. At the very least they should have left the in-game-gold auction house alone. Not to mention this new "everything-is-account-bound" policy is completely braindead. I used to be happy about finding a good item that wasn't of any use to me. If I couldn't use it myself, at least I could sell it to someone else or gift it. Now I can't do either.
Wait, wait, wait. YMMV and all that, but there are indeed many items that can substantially change your gameplay. There are axes that will summon spectral minotaurs. There are amulets that can cause your enemies to break out into a dance frenzy. There are poopy pants that will constantly emit poison gas, but only if enough enemies are close.
I frequently find weapons that are so compelling that I have to change my playstyle to take advantage of the new stats. For instance, I built a monk for a two weapon build but found an incredible two-handed sword that steals so much health on each hit that I can't afford not to use it and completely switched up my build to support it.
A lot of this stuff doesn't really kick in till you're playing torment level though.
For me this is the game they should have released 2 years ago.
You forgot an important element - the creators. D3 had a different dev team. The Diablo 1/2 team was part of Blizzard North, but the company got shut down during development of D3 and all the key people were scattered to the wind. They moved D3 and a few of the more junior Blizz North hires down to Blizz South and started from scratch, albeit influenced in some respects by the half-done game Blizzard North had come up with. It's not surprising the game doesn't feel the same as previous installments.
It's definitely an improvement on the original D3, but it's still not as good as D2.
The Diablo 1/2 devs went on to make the broadly similar Torchlight games, which are much more fun IMO, and much less expensive.
I think your definition of "value" is at odds with what Rob, Stanton, and most of those complaining mean by the term. I tend to agree with the complaints on this, and I've been huge fan of this sort of game since the first Diablo. I'm not looking for a broad, outside the game validation that my loot is valuable or "awesome". Or to check off a list of increasingly rare things I've happened to find. I'm looking for new equipment to have noticeable, improved effect on game play compared what I had before. And not just small incremental bumps in stats that are roughly in line with my character level. Distinctive effects, and game play mechanics with various trade offs. Things that match, or shift things inline with how I prefer to play the game, or confer obvious advantages and disadvantages. So two characters of the same class, with identical stats play in subtly (or obviously) different ways based on the pros and cons of their preferred equipment load out. Or two pieces of kit of comparable (or identical) quality based on raw stats would have wildly different "values" to different players based on their personal preference. And all of that needs to be doled out at a pace that mostly lets strength of equipment keep pace with character advancement, but regularly gives the player an identifiable advantage of some sort over the game itself.
D3 either didn't do this, or didn't do enough of any given thing at any given time. A lot of that was down to the auction house, and the designer's focus on end game item farming. Playing through the whole thing (once couldn't stand much more) at launch I don't think I saw a single piece of equipment that was even commiserate with my character level. The options if I wanted to fix that were to either spend real money, or grind for gold, to buy shit at inflated prices in the auction house. Or rush through the game multiple times so I could farm for items I wanted to get through the game in the first place.
None of that would have been a problem, or even really a concern if there were things like plot, character, or interesting play mechanics to make the game worth playing in its own right. But D3 is a game entirely built around loot with nothing else really going on. So with the loot lacking it all just sort of fizzled for (seemingly) most of us.
Blizzard didn't just shut down the real money auction house, they shut down the gold auction house as well, moving all item trading to an in-game, 1-on-1 interface.
More importantly, they made all Legendary items account bound. That means no trading of Legendaries whatsoever, even with the friends you play with. Want to try one of those item-based play styles? You better find that specific Legendary yourself, and it better have good stats, because you can only re-roll one stat per item, and without good core stats an item is useless no matter how cool its power is. Blizzard has thrown the baby (item-based play styles) out with the bathwater (large-scale trading, whether on an official or black market). To highlight the futility of collecting all interesting items yourself: I have still never found a set item in Diablo 3. (In Diablo 2, I found the entire Sigon's set myself, without trading, and used it on low-level characters.)
Blizzard is obsessed with their "reward loop", which I admit is a pretty nasty-perfect skinner box. But the true reward should be epic, heart-pounding battles with varied challenges. To get a feeling for this, try playing hardcore. I mostly play HC, so the softcore-only, real money auction house was never really an issue for me. Now that we have Loot 2.0, especially after the expansion was released and opened higher item levels, it's trivially easy to build a character that has a chance surviving pretty hard settings (Torment 1) just by cruising fast on normal difficulty and constantly upgrading with boring, Rare items that have crazy >60 level stats. But I suspect it's even more impossible to build a character that can survive the highest settings in the game (Torment 10).
Yeah, I found some boots that multiplied my mana gain whenever I was moving which meant that my witch doctor could completely ignore the basic free spells and just go whole hog on mana spenders - and I still haven't replaced them by level 70 because without them my skill set simply doesn't work.
I railed against the auction house many-a-time, but I think you are right to a degree. The auction house, it turns out, was not the problem. The problem was that good gear was so rare and time consuming to get. Before the expansion, but under patch 2.0, I levelled a couple of characters to 60. When I hit 60 I didn't feel like I needed to run off any buy loot to be able to keep playing, I consistently found good stuff lying around on the ground.
My wizard was fairly well geared under the old system, but how I got that gear was by just not playing for a long time while the cost of very good (but not top end) gear declined and declined. You could go drop a couple million gold and play inferno MP 4 or 5, but you weren't going to continue to get better.
The problem with the auction house was that it was the only was to play. I think the auction house going away is good, but find making all legendaries bind to you reactionary. Why not give us back trade channels?
I think that would be a more-than-fair compromise. Probably won't happen though.
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