Category Archives: Diablo 3

A Pox On One-Bar MMOs, And Other Thoughts On A Crazy Day In Game News

Today was a crazy day for game news. Massively posted a rumor of an Elder Scrolls MMO announcement coming in May. We’ve known Bethesda has had a secret project going for a while, but few thought it would be Elder Scrolls. It’s such a weird option when your strategy of rolling out single-player zones of Tamriel is already so profitable.

Then we had the Diablo 3 announcement–release date May 15. We also heard a semi-exciting announcement from Overhaul Games at Baldur’–they’ve got a new, updated and expanded version of those two grand old classics coming to the PC. Also in the old school genre, Wasteland 2 has garnered well over one million dollars in a couple days via Kickstarter. Massively has an interview with Brian Fargo on this here.

I will plan to play both Baldur’s Gate and Wasteland 2. Wasteland, the spiritual predecessor for the Fallout games, was a great favorite of mine back in the day when these party-based games were popular. These games aren’t so popular any more–they require some tedious party-based play commands, pauses, and inventory management.

Maybe we have Bioware to thank for a revitalization of this genre, although Bioware notably simplified Dragon Age 2 after almost making a mockery of their assertion that Dragon Age: Origins was a spiritual successor of Baldur’s Gate 2. It wasn’t really close. BG2 had like a hundred spells. Multi-classing among several classes.

Yes, everything else was there in DA:O, but shortly after buying it on release for PS3 and playing, I was at the forums ranting. I was disappointed that I was playing a dumbed-down console game in comparison to BG2, which was supposedly the inspiration. I haven’t bought a new console release since then.

That’s a perfect segue to the main topic of this post–WTF Secret World? Massively had an article up this morning that pulled me in like a girl in a candy store with a reference to lesbian sex, and it only got better with the description of a classless system with 500 available skills.

Your skill loadout is only seven active skills, though. Seven? And here I was thinking that my main objection to playing Guild Wars 2, after playing GW1 to the original campaign cap and experiencing the system, was having to use only one skill bar with about 10 skills.

Yes, I understand how there are weapon-based skills in GW2, and I assume you can swap these in combat. Maybe I’m spoiled by LotRO with 5-6 12-slot bars all full of wonderful things, but I just can’t grasp how seven or even ten skills at any given time is going to hold my interest.

You can argue that I’m way off base here because you have a lot more skills you can swap in and out. Still. Great combat is like poetry, and it’s no fun to write poetry with only seven words. Did you ever write a haiku, like back in high school? It’s a five-seven-five structure. Let’s try writing a haiku with only seven words.

Slash, Gut, Interrupt.
Buff, Trip, Overhead Smash, Poke.
Slash, Gut, Interrupt.

That’s right. Even with a haiku, my darling orc-slaying comrades, we had to repeat words to make a haiku because our words were not epic polysyllabic. Now consider a sonnet. Now an epic poem. Would you more enjoy writing haikus for a couple hundred hours if you had thirty or even five hundred more words that you could switch out, but you could still only use seven at a time? No, not really. Only an obsessed poetry freak would enjoy that.

Secret World has been mostly dismissive about plans to go console. Maybe they are wary about the time frame–the current consoles are near the end of their lifespan. Maybe it’s their game engine and mature subject matter. Guild Wars is more ambitious. They have more like 10-12 skills on their bar, with the advantage of the available skills tied to weapons you can swap. I don’t know the exact number. We kitties have appplied to the SW and GW2 betas, but we are not yet invited.

I’m not necessarily pontificating that GW2 or Secret World are dumbed down compared to LotRO and WoW, but they look that way. I know there are nuances of the Secret World system that I’m missing here, and I’ve watched the GW2 videos on Mesmer combat and the tricks seem interesting, but you’re still using the same skills and rotations over and over, even if someone else’s skill is combining to catch your skills on fire or coating them with space dust or something.

It’s just a wee bit disappointing. That sounds so geeky and disappointment posts are so stale, but I want these MMOs to be amazing and wonderful as much as anyone. I also heard from Keen that Diablo 3 removed skill trees. Too puzzling? Too complicated? Too tedious? Let’s use ellipses for this one. …

Diablo 3 skill tree discussion. Bashiok on said discussion. Secret World is scheduled for release on June 19th. Still no date for GW2, but pre-orders should be available on April 10. I admit that I’m a little excited for both of these titles, which are bringing no shortage of great and interesting things to the table besides skill bars. I bought Rift at launch because I played the beta. Same situation here. I want to see the betas.

Further Reading:

NowGamer Interview with Secret World content designer Joel Bylos