Gosh, I can't believe I'm writing this, but I had to get it off my chest, and I figure it's better to do it in a blog format than to pollute the b.net forums, which has seen more than enough of this type of drivel. And besides, I hate the people who write "I quit" threads, and I guess you can sort of call this my "I quit" thread, but hopefully with more thought and less hyperbole and victimization on my part. (No, Diablo 3 was not a slap in the face or rape of my childhood.)
It's just that I need catharsis. I waited for Diablo 3 for a long time, you know? And now... I don't even want to play it. It's a bit odd to me.
Before release, I loved Diablo 3 for what it was -- a logical advancement of the series core principles, moving it into the realm of modern gaming, an improvement in all ways -- and I spent many hours "in the trenches" of various forums defending all the wacky stuff they were doing with that game, which, if you thought about it for more than a second, made a hell of a lot of sense in a designery, innovative, game-changing sort of way.
Skill points? Pointless! Stat points!? An illusion!
I mean, the genre needs innovation, right? Or at least I thought so at the time. I even shrugged at the inclusion of the AH and the always-online feature. Though those two elements are hardly what have made me lose interest in the game.
But now that I've sunken hours into both games, it's become painfully clear which game offers more fun to me, and it's Torchlight 2. The game is addictive in the ways I always thought Diablo 3 would be. Essentially, it's hard to put it down and go to bed. There's always one more dungeon, one more boss, one more item, one more character (I've re-rolled five so far). It's just compulsively playable and endlessly enjoyable in a way Diablo 3 never quite manages to be. TL2 just can't help but continuously throw cool shit at you. It's relentless in it's desire to hold your attention. Where as Diablo 3 has... rares. Lots of rare items. Hmm.
I feel the problem is that Diablo 3 is OVER-designed, which makes sense as the damn thing took nearly six years to make. Everything has been considered and polished to a point where there is barely any personality or wonder left to the game anymore. It all feels so safe, so...balanced. It packs as much surprises as a trip to Disney Land. Every item arrives at JUST the right time in a predictable progression, and you never find anything that blows the game open. And I think that designing a game of this nature in such a way just doesn't work. Because on some level, playing an ARPG is all about breaking the game. You yearn for that drop that suddenly makes enemies explode if you so much as look at them.
As a great example of over-polish, let's consider the removal of stat points. Sure, on paper, you can convince anyone that the customization is largely illusion, which is true, because people are already theory crafting the best distribution of stats in TL2, and will have that answer in a few weeks or less. But gosh darn it, sitting there and deciding if I want to put 2 points or 3 points into STR is so satisfying! And I don't care if the points have little to no effect on my character, the illusion is compelling!
But where Torchlight 2 really crushes Diablo 3 is the items -- the very heart and soul of this type of game. Every thirty minutes I'm finding something new, and then I find myself sitting there contemplating what would be better for my finely tuned character. I'll often find myself sitting there for a minute as I consider the benefits of certain stats, certain gems, properties, resistances, special effects. It's just really fun to have to choose between several pieces of great gear. The options TL2 offers you are dizzying and a far cry from D3's system where you'll choose a piece of gear only because it has 20 more points of strength than what you currently have. Yawn.
In Torchlight 2, with every piece of gear and stat point, I really feel like I'm making my character MINE, and that's something I never thought I'd say, largely because I wasn't convinced character customization amounted to so much, but boy has TL2 proven me wrong.
I don't know if I'll uninstall Diablo 3, that'd be a bit extreme, but I think from now on, when -- or if -- I ever play Diablo 3 again, I'll always be thinking... I could be playing Torchlight 2 instead.
And then I probably will.
As an aside, FORGET ARPGs, cRPGS ARE BACK: If you loved Baldur's Gate 2/Planescape/Icewind Dale, then you have to donate to this awesome, dream come true Kickstarter project from the guys at Obsidian who, surprisingly, made all those awesome games I just mentioned!