Note: Before anyone cries "NDA breaker!" please be aware there is NO NDA on this Beta.
So on friday I got my much anticipated Diablo 3 Friends & Family Beta invite, thanks to some kick ass friends I have at Blizzard. It's been a long wait for this game, and there is still a bit longer to go, but I want to take a moment to talk about my experience so far.
It's been mixed...
The game itself is amazing. It's every bit a worthy sucessor to Diablo 2 and I simply love the mechanics, the story, the art, the controls, all of it. When it comes to the game I am in heaven.
Now lets talk about this Always-Logged-Into-Battle.net bullshit. At first I was ok with this, I figured it was quite similar to how SC2 worked and all was well. It doesn't seem to be that way however. To be honest though, take what I am saying with a grain of salt, because without intimate knowledge of the under-workings of their DRM scheme, and a list of "known bugs" for their Beta, this could very well be an artifact of a beta bug and not the DRM. However given HOW it happens, and the circumstances around it, it looks VERY much to be Battle.net related.
The game requires you to be logged in just like SC2 and WoW, fair enough. The problem is, there is a host of connectivity issues plaguing Battle.net right now. It's to be expected because of the high demand for the Beta as well as the fact its a fresh new system, and that is sort of the purpose of this test. The results though are frustrating. When you select a character and try to click the "Campaign" button to load into the game, and if the servers are flakey, nothing happens. Nothing. After about 45 seconds or so of not being able to interact with anything an error will pop up with a cryptic error code. I had this happen for 20 or so tries before the game finally let me load up my first time. This would continue to pop up any other time I tried to start a new game on a small percentage. Once I was finally in all was well, until I was in the middle of a dungeon and suddenly none of the monsters could "see" me anymore, and I could no longer interact with any object in game. I couldn't pick things up, I couldn't attack, I couldn't even use the UI. Hell clicking "exit game" didn't even do anything. After roughly a full minute of inactivity I was thrown back to the main menu with a "connection lost" popup. After multiple tries to load back in I finally made it, but was rolled back a bit in progress as well. This probably happened to me once or twice an hour, give or take. What the fuck.
Now, let me be very clear here. I am *not* thrashing Blizzard for these things actually happening. This is a closed Beta, with all sorts of kinks to be worked out. Battle.net is sure to experience quirks. What I do not condone however is the fact that this is even allowed to happen in the first place. A SINGLE PLAYER game should never put a user through these kinds of experiences. Ever.
I sincerely hope this is either a quirk of the game's Beta code and not Battle.net (highly doubtful) and that it will go away at launch. If not though, I think Blizzard really needs to rethink their DRM-that-they-swear-isn't-really-DRM-so-to-speak strategy, because it made for one hell of a shitty experience.