It has been over a year and a half since Blizzard released the third installment in its iconic hack and slash dungeon crawler franchise on PCs and in many ways Diablo 3 has improved by leaps and bounds during that time. After suffering one of the most painful single-player game launches in history, the loot-filled adventure game bounced back thanks to a series of patches that fixed game-breaking bugs, adjusted drop rates, and laid the groundwork to remove the unpopular auction house. Despite the improvements Blizzard has been working on, the company is still adamantly refusing to consider adding a feature that many fans feel would improve the game: Offline play.
In the midst of all the exciting news to come out of BlizzCon 2013, including the announcement of a new World of Warcraft expansion, a lead designer on Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls addressed the lack of offline play in the game. Rock, Paper, Shotgun asked designer Kevin Martens about the possible removal of the online requirement and Martens explained that it is not a change Blizzard is considering.
“We didn’t make that game. That’s the straight-up answer. We did not make that game, and we’re not going to turn this game into that game. We have the online mode because we learned a lot over the many, many years that Diablo 2 was in development.
That was the wrong choice to allow people to play offline, and we still stand by that. And we think Internet access is widespread. If someone has no Internet access, then yeah, Diablo 3 is not the game for them.”
Although Diablo 2 launched back in 2000, Blizzard seems convinced that the problems with that game’s offline mode would resurface if the company dropped the online requirement from Diablo 3. The problems in question surround the inability for offline characters to jump over to online if players decide they want to join a friend. This necessary requirement for offline play led to a lot of frustration for players. He insisted that despite the single player campaign option, the game is meant to be played with friends.
“This is an online game. We want people to play together.”
The interviewer suggested that players wouldn’t have any reason to be frustrated by that scenario if they were made aware that offline characters couldn’t connect to online adventures at any time. The proposed change would make it so that players would never be locked out of the game just because of an internet outage. Martens didn’t budge and said that the proposed offline system may work for veteran players, but it wouldn’t create an inviting community for newcomers. The Blizzard designer went on to shift the conversation towards the benefits of online mode, including new clan and group options.
The interviewer pushed the subject one last time before they ran out of time, but Martens remained insistent that gamers who are looking for an offline game aren’t looking for Diablo 3. That’s sad news for many gamers who have enjoyed the franchise up until this point and would like the opportunity to continue slaying demons with or without an internet connection.
There’s no denying the current frustration that players feel about the online requirement. Visit the Diablo 3 forums and you won’t have any difficulty finding a thread where Blizzard fans are debating the pros and cons of offline mode. The convenience of offline mode in the console ports is a pretty convincing piece of evidence for the pro offline mode team. The absence of the auction house and an online requirement in the console version were a big part of the reason we gave the console ports a slightly higher rating than the original PC release.
Although we would like to see Blizzard offer this feature to the many fans that are frustrated by the online requirement, it is hard to deny the fact that an offline mode would increase the game’s potential to be hacked, modded, and pirated. Providing offline mode to console players makes sense, because those issues are primarily PC related. Although Martens did mention the hacking and hex-editing problems in Diablo 2, he didn’t go into much detail about how those problems might also contribute to the company’s reluctance to implement an offline mode. It seems likely that the desire to keep the availability of pirated copies to a minimum is a larger factor in the offline holdout than Blizzard has officially stated.
Does the lack on an offline mode in Diablo 3 hold you back from playing the game? Sound off in the comments.
Diablo 3 is currently available on Mac, PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls releases in 2014 for the Mac, PC, and PS4.
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