For those Diablo 3 players of the ‘hardcore’ variety – which there seem to be many – a significant lack of end-game content for the dungeon-crawler has been noticeable since just days after the game launched. If playing the exact same events and stages over and over and over again with increasingly difficult enemies isn’t what keeps you coming back for more, Diablo 3 hasn’t had much of a draw after completing the campaign.
Blizzard‘s Community Manager has come forward to explain that while those complaints are valid, extensive end-game content was never in the company’s plans. In short, players shouldn’t expect a solution any time soon.
That sentiment is sure to infuriate some of the most passionate Blizzard fans, especially with Diablo 3 having spent so many years in development. Our review noted that the gameplay itself was fairly simplistic, relying on the player’s willingness to find enjoyment in escalating difficulty and, infamously, incredibly irritating difficulty curves.
Requiring players to use the Auction House to realistically hope of continuing on is fine, we suppose, but when players are taking down high-level bosses with their eyes closed, there are clearly some issues with end-game content.
In a sea of PR and marketing, it’s rare for someone from the studio to admit that fans are expecting more than the developers were planning on giving. Nevertheless, that’s the case set out by Community Manager Bashiok on Blizzard’s official forums. While the item-hunt seems to be the only real motivation for players at higher levels, it appears that the developers had expected that to be more satisfying than it’s turned out to be:
“We recognize that the item hunt is just not enough for a long-term sustainable end-game. There are still tons of people playing every day and week, and playing a lot, but eventually they’re going to run out of stuff to do (if they haven’t already). Killing enemies and finding items is a lot of fun, and we think we have a lot of the systems surrounding that right, or at least on the right path with a few corrections and tweaks. But honestly Diablo III is not World of Warcraft. We aren’t going to be able to pump out tons of new systems and content every couple months. There needs to be something else that keeps people engaged, and we know it’s not there right now.
“We’re working toward 1.0.4, which we’re really trying to pack with as many fixes and changes we can to help you guys out… and we’re of course working on 1.1 with PvP arenas. I think both those patches will do a lot to give people things to do, and get them excited about playing, but they’re not going to be a real end-game solution, at least not what we would expect out of a proper end-game. We have some ideas for progression systems, but honestly it’s a huge feature if we want to try to do it right, and not something we could envision being possible until well after 1.1 which it itself still a ways out.”
When told that this statement seemed to imply that Diablo 3 was released without a true end-game – yet another symptom of it being released before it was finished – Bashiok responded with an even more straightforward admission:
“Hindsight is 20/20 I suppose, but we believed pre-release that the item hunt would be far more sustainable, and would work to be a proper end-game for quite a while. That didn’t turn out to be true, and we recognize that.”
Honest words, but this dose of candor isn’t likely to quell the online debate that Bashiok’s comments will no doubt incite. It seems that as a game, what Diablo 3 appears to offer is all it ever will, and all it ever was intended to. That doesn’t seem like an outrageous statement, but this is Blizzard we’re talking about. Releasing a single experience without any immediate plans to expand it isn’t something the company’s fan base is used to, so it’s a little difficult for us to see this issue as unforeseeable.
That being said, the claim that this is not World of Warcraft is s fair one. Customers gave Blizzard a one-time payment for a pre-packaged experience, and that’s what was given. While the players would no doubt pay a monthly fee for a regular cycle of new dungeons and loot – and don’t think the company isn’t considering that at some point down the road – that wasn’t the promise made, nor was it the payment model put into place. If players find the game to be over too soon, then all that proves is that Blizzard’s games aren’t inherently all that different from any other developer’s.
Unfortunately, the only real solution this reality offers to players who have reached the point of diminishing returns – aside from a hunt for Whimsyshire – is to move onto the next dungeon-crawler RPG. We’ve already detailed a few that are more than worth playing, and may be more refreshing now than ever before. Whether or not these admissions and fan reactions show that Blizzard is fallible after all, it’s surprising to think that Torchlight 2 might have nothing to worry about when it launches later this year.
What do you Diablo 3 fans have to say about Blizzard’s sudden bout of no-punches-pulled honesty? Think it’s an overreaction, or end-game players have legitimate complaints?
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