So unless you’ve been living under a rock somewhere, you know by now that Blizzard’s Diablo III has been released. This is a huge thing, obviously- people have been waiting over a decade for the third iteration of Blizzard’s classic “click on stuff with your mouse until it dies” franchise. The game is going to make Blizzard a pile of money, especially since they have brought the ability to buy and sell items for real money, which of course they will see a small part of.
I was in the beta for Diablo III, thanks to an inside hookup I have with a producer friend at Blizzard. I played through the beta one time with one character, and then proceeded to share my early access with every single person that asked for it I didn’t want to spoil anything too great past the first boss- the Skeleton King- and so even though there are lots of people out there with 100 hours in (in a 90 minute beta!), I’m not the poopsocky type. I did get a Collector’s Edition of the game for $10 through my Blizzard pal, however, and who doesn’t love a good hookup?
Monday night my friend Pat and I went to the launch party for Diablo III in Irvine. It was a pretty sweet setup, with a big stage, lots of signage, and tons of Blizzard employees. We were all the way at the back near the press area, and security kept telling us to move along, but we had a pretty decent vantage point for the show:
You had to buy the game from GameStop on site to be let into the big holding pen where everyone was lining up in front of the stage they had set up. This didn’t make a lot of sense to me- I mean, I had the game at home sitting on my hard drive already, why would people line up for 4 hours to get a physical box unless they wanted it signed? Why do people buy physical boxes anyway? And with the collectibles market being what it is- namely, finished, now that eBay is here- I was frankly surprised that people would want to wait that long. Still, it was very interesting to watch the cross-section of people who excitedly approached the harried GameStop clerk to buy the game- old, young, male, female, black, white, asian, hipster, yuppie- Diablo III really seems to have kindled something in a lot of people. I know personally people who basically quit playing video games 5 years ago that are making an exception for Diablo III! The party featured giveaways including new PCs, copies of the game, shirts, and the like, as well as live sessions with game producers and artists, including a half hour live drawing session that culminated in the artist chucking the sketch into the crowd. They showed lots of videos and cinematics from D1, D2 and D3 throughout the night- but we left after they brought the cosplayers out.
This put me home at about 10:30, plenty of time to watch Monday Night RAW (which was horrible, for the record) before diving in.
However, I wasn’t able to dive right in. The servers for the US launch, much like the servers for the Australian, Asian and English launches, didn’t work properly or they simply didn’t anticipate half a million people all trying to log in at 12 AM (though I doubt that, the hype surrounding this game has been insane). So, I ended up twiddling my thumbs until about 1:30 AM, then I finally got in but played for only 20 minutes before I had to go to bed. A lot of people are screaming about WHY DO I HAVE TO WAIT FOR SERVERS TO PLAY A ONE PLAYER GAME and to be fair, they have a point- but in 6 months no one will remember how bad the service was for the first 48 hours, so just chill out folks.
I have some friends who were able to play sporadically yesterday, I myself was kicked out after about an hour, and told that the servers would not be back up until midnight. What I did play was visceral and satisfying, classic Diablo- and it’s tough, too! I basically steamrolled all of act I only to get one shot by the first enemy in act II. All of the classic Diablo stuff is there- foreboding music, gritty visuals, the visceral punch of your character’s abilities. I’m just waiting for a period of server stability to get a couple characters going with some friends, but I have no doubt that we’ll all be playing D3 and its expansion packs for a long time to come. Check back in a few weeks for a more fleshed-out review. Thanks for reading! Bonus video coverage of the launch party: