Diablo III launched a few scant months ago, but its PR snafus and controversial business decisions have soured a fair few players. Meanwhile, Runic Games has sat back and capitalized, as jilted dungeon crawlers look toward Torchlight II and hail it as the answer to their prayers.
Sadly, however, these poor misguided fools are as misguided as they are poor. They are also foolish. They are poor, misguided, and foolish because only a poor misguided fool who is foolishly misguided would be poor enough to consider Torchlight II anywhere near Diablo III in terms of asskickingness. I swear by the blank check in my shirt pocket that I will defend Activision's beautifully made game against all criticism, because there is one simple truth that you need to understand.
Diablo III is blatantly better than Torchlight II.
A Better Breed of Player
Recently, Activision installed a new system where those buying the game digitally would be forced to enter a "review process" for up to 72 hours, during which time they can only play a restricted version of the game and interact only with other restricted players. This vetting process may have been considered controversial by some, but I consider it a wonderful new addition to the game that will weed out wrongdoers.
Consider Activision your friendly neighborhood bouncer, turning away the underdressed and underfunded while allowing only the cream of society to cross the velvet rope. By making players wait in a glorified paddock for three days, the impatient and angry will also go away to play something else, meaning that potential troublemakers effectively remove themselves from the equation. This leads to a better gaming atmosphere, free from ne'er-do-wells and rich in intelligent, committed players.
Compare this to Torchlight II, where basically anybody will be allowed to play. Who knows what kind of riff raff will stroll through the door while Runic sleeps at its post? Drug addicts? Coldblooded killers such as Toby Soprano from television's Dexter? Illegal immigrants? I'm sorry, but there's a reason why airports have metal detectors and a man paid to stick his hand up the anus of foreign-looking people. It's called FREEDOM FRIES, guys. Ever heard of it?
Always Online DRM (Digital Rights Merriment)
Some people would consider Diablo III's always-online DRM requirements to be a negative thing, but those people are lying to themselves just like my mother did when she looked at herself in the mirror every single morning and told herself she had to drown him. Fact of the matter is, it isn't 1933 anymore -- criminals are a very real part of society these days, and businesses need to protect themselves. It is the only way they can continue to serve you the kind of great quality products we know and love, such as Band Hero and games similar to Band Hero.
Diablo III uses the real-money auction house, a hot new feature that finally turns everybody's favorite hack n' slash RPG into an authentic eBay simulator. Just like the real eBay, Activision needs to shield itself and its consumers from fraud and cheaters. If the game allowed players to play offline, they could hack the game, duplicate items, and ruin the carefully crafted economy that players have been demanding since Battle Chess. Thanks to the always-on DRM, nobody has been able to ever cheat in Diablo III, making the auction house 100% trustworthy.
So ask yourself, how on EARTH is Torchlight II planning to protect its own real-money auction house from cheaters? Huh? Huh? I guarantee that Torchlight II's economy is going to tank just like the American one did thanks to Mitt Romney's social ectoplasmic policies. Call me a stickler for security, but I won't be using Runic's virtual eBay anytime soon!
Yes, sometimes the entire game goes down for maintenance and you can't play it offline, but let me present you with this little morsel of a concept -- you can't use a toilet when a janitor is fixing it, can you? No, didn't think so. Let the janitors fix your toilets, and let Blizzard fix your Diablo III. LOGIC!
When playing computer games, I like to feel that I am connected to a vast world of fellow players who are arranging keyboard symbols in such a way that they vaguely resembles penises. Sometimes games can be dark and morbid, and who doesn't like to have their mood lightened? Thanks to Diablo III, I never feel like I am alone because I have a chatroom constantly flickering in the side of the screen and distracting me from the game's super serious world of darkness. It gives me that spoonful of smiles I need to keep on clicking!
This is what we in the business call "immersion."
I think it's great that Activision patched it so that the chat would be forced upon players the moment they start the game. That way players would have penises and insults greeting them the moment they start their latest session, which in turn is guaranteed to make them grin and therefore have a better time. It's simple psychology, which is why Diablo III is going to have lots of happy players while Torchlight II, which makes you play with people in order to see their comedy penises, is likely going to have a high suicide rate among users.
Diablo III Does Choice Correctly
With Diablo III, you don't have to worry about allocating skill points, creating your own characters, or tailoring a play style to suit your talents. All of that has been taken care of for you, allowing you more time to actually play the game rather than slave over talent trees and menus.
It's a streamlined and elegant approach to gaming. First of all, leveling up works out all those fiddly stats for you, upgrading your character as it sees fit. Secondly, you only ever need to find loot with your character's primary stat and/or Vitality, allowing you to quickly select the right tools for the job and play eBay with the rest of it. Thirdly, the game's higher difficulty levels bottleneck you into one particular playstyle so you eventually stop wasting time experimenting with garbage. The game even hides the option to fully customize your character's abilities in a sub-menu, removing the easy temptation to do anything other than just have fun!
Runic Games isn't about fun. Runic Games would rather force you to agonize over skill point allocation and make tough choices about how you want to play. It takes its overwhelmingly exhausting choices so far that you even have to choose a hair color for your character! Hair colors! Sorry, but in the real world, we're stuck with the hair color we're born with and we have to all live with it! We neither get to, nor want to, start messing around with what The Lord Jesus Christ in Heaven gave us at birth.
I hate choice. I still remember when I was asked if I wanted to terminate life support for father and I just couldn't decide whether it would be more fun to get rid of him or keep him in a state of permanent vegetation. From that day forth I vowed never to be forced to make a decision ever again, and I'll be damned if Torchlight II is the one to see me break my oath.
Oh, and in case you're wondering, I eventually opted to have the doctors turn the switch halfway and just keep it hovering there. I assume it kept him in some state of spooky undeath.
No LAN Play
Why the Hell are people bitching about there being no LAN play in Diablo III? Do you know when people played games via LAN? 1963, probably! Diablo III doesn't need LAN play because it is on the cutting edge of the technological wave, surfing into tomorrow on a board made of science and wearing the Bermuda shorts of discovery. Diablo III doesn't support LAN because it doesn't need to support LAN.
What the Hell are you thinking, Torchlight II? Yeah, sure, yeah, let's all play Torchlight II locally like a couple of geekatrons from the History Channel. While we're at it, why not play on our zoetropes and spin a hula hoop across the street with a fucking stick? Oh hey, Runic Games, do you guys need your pills and your wheelchairs, you bunch of stupid granddads?
Face facts, readers. Nobody plays LAN anymore. No games have supported LAN since about 1992. Torchlight II is a crusty old fart compared to the sleek and polished Diablo III, which uses real Internet like a real game.
Torchlight II Has Too Many Colors
Seriously, have you seen screenshots of Torchlight II? It's like the Teletubbies shat all over a box of Candy Corn and shoved it up a Care Bear's ass. In any given screenshot I've counted no less than twenty-nine colors, which is about seven colors too many for a game like this. Compare it to the refined color scheme of Diablo III, as grim and dark as it has always been, with no complaints ever had about its art style. The difference is clear.
Let's get this straight -- videogames should never look like cartoons, unless they're the Skeleton Warriors game for Sony PlayStation which was, admittedly, based on a cartoon. Outside of that one exception, however, I want my games looking serious, gothic, and as close to colorless as you can get without being a 1920s public safety announcement. At times, Diablo III is so dark that it sucks all the natural sunlight out of my room and plunges the entire street into perpetual night. Going from that to the Lucky Charms horseshit that is Torchlight II makes me vomit blood. Black blood. Because I'm a real hardcore gamer.
Ultimately, only real hardcore gamers play Diablo III, vetted as they are, dedicated as they will be, and grateful as they remain. Torchlight II, with its childish visuals, dated mechanics, impregnable interface and frankly shameless willingness to let anybody play the game is due to fail. Hard and fast. If you're some sort of idiotic chicken-baby, then perhaps you might have fun playing that ridiculous nonsense, but us mature adults who actually want to play the straight dope will stick with Diablo III, thanks!
It is just blatantly better, and you don't even know.
[*].disqus.comto your security software's whitelist.