Diablo III is a good game; don't let its detractors fool you. I found it a little laughable for IGN to claim it was "well worth the wait" in every regard in their review, choosing to systematically exclude some major issues the game is having and write them off as being "minor complaints." The game has problems and there is no questioning that. For a game that was also in development for a decade, I had expected it to blow away its only real competition, Torchlight. In the multiplayer department it certainly does this well enough, since TL has no online component to speak of. But as far as polish goes, I can't decide which game I find more aesthetically pleasing certainly, or which I enjoy the overall gameplay of more.
The combat in D3 is fantastic. Everything is fast, fluid, and furious, and this to me is the natural evolution of the mainstream action rogue-like. Wow, is that even a genre? Nevertheless, I find myself playing D3 a shit ton just because I find the combat so much fun. It's a real extravaganza. Torchlight is fairly dull in comparison, and definitely feels dated, but the more traditional Diablo-esque elements of that game jive better with me. I love the dungeon scrolls, the slower rate at which good loot is dropped, and I just feel that the game is a slower paced experience, which is something I enjoy. But people saying that Diablo III isn't a "true sequel" or such other nonsense, I think, are missing the point. D3 does a good job at pushing its own brand of gameplay forward, and the changes I don't think can be construed as negative; only preferential.
My favorite inclusion in both titles however, is the Hardcore mode. Staying true to the roots of the roguelike genre, both D3 and Torchlight include a mode where one death ends the whole fucking game, rendering your character unplayable, and making you start from scratch. D2 had this feature as well, although I didn't become interested in it until now, since I have been playing rogue-likes for a few years and have gotten used to the high risk gameplay they provide.
The biggest problem with D3 however, is that Hardcore mode just isn't fucking worth it.
It's bad enough to take away everything you have from a single flub, moving into a room packed with enemies, or other similarly ballsy mistakes that will get you murdered faster than you can spam the potion button, (er, in Torchlight anyway.) but add in the completely random lag spikes caused by the constant DRM the game has, and you have one hell of a problem. It's like there is someone constantly rolling the dice under the hood, and everytime they roll ones, you just die for nothing that was your fault. After rolling and having two Hardcore characters die for this reason, I decided that in its current state, there is no real point playing a Hardcore character in D3.
And that was really what led me to take a second look at Torchlight. I had bought it upon release, but was still rather burned on D2 by that point to care. I shelved it and hadn't touched it since. I didn't even know there was a Hardcore option until someone mentioned it in a forum, and upon the death of my first character in D3, I thought I'd give it a shot.
It actually made me a little sad; not because TL is a bad game, but because of how goddamn good it really is. So good, in fact, that apart from a fairly low difficulty level, I am having a hard time deciding which game to play, although Torchlight seems to be winning so far. It's just strange that a game in development for ten years only impressed me equally to one developed for considerably less, and released three years ago. Of course there is room for both; the mentality that says "nah fuck this, waiting for Torchlight 2" kind of eludes me. If you can't afford both, I get it, I'm in the same boat more or less. But deciding now to pick one over the other before being able to try both of them is absurd. We can all get along, folks.
Diablo 3 and Torchlight really offer different things, and I think that will be true of the sequel as well. It's a real disappointment that upon discovering how much fun Hardcore is in D3, I can't realistically play it right now without having those dice roll. I am confident things will calm down, or that Blizzard will continue to find solutions but goddamn; everyone has the right to be pissed about the lack of an offline only option, especially those who enjoy Hardcore. I just think it's completely absurd that they didn't even offer an alternative, while Diablo 2 players are still enjoying such an option.
Torchlight 2 looks really promising, especially after playing Torchlight and realizing just how fucking stellar it is, even compared to D3. But that's just it; both offer similar, yet very different experiences. Torchlight seems to be an homage to the older days of Diablo, whereas D3 is a step in a different direction while still offering the addictive, "kill em all, loot em later" gameplay. I don't feel torn, really, because I don't find it a tough transition between the two, and I like them both for different reasons. Multiplayer has never really been my thing, although I have to admit D3 does a real good job of making it fun. I can only hope the same for Torchlight 2, although I will enjoy it regardless of the option.
So what is the point here? Well, I guess there isn't really one. I just wanted to share my thoughts on Diablo. I think it is getting raked across the coals for good reason, but I also find it a bit of a shame that some will not take these criticisms with a grain of salt and will miss out on a very enjoyable game. I ran through the storyline in two days, and while I will admit it left a bit to be desired, the ultimate point of Diablo has always been the hack and slash, and it does that extremely well.
As for Torchlight? It's an extremely impressive outing even three years later, though the sluggish pace might be a hard pill to swallow for those entrenched in D3. I like having both of them because I can play my hardcore character in TL, and leave D3 exclusively for multiplayer fun.
It will be really interesting to see just how Torchlight 2 fares, and I am really glad people are paying attention to it (even if it is for the wrong, spiteful reason of avoiding D3) because it is a solid franchise that deserves it. And from everything I have heard about it so far, it is shaping up to be something pretty special in its own right.
But enough of this bullshit; time to go play some games again.