Diablo Immortal…NotLikeThis…

The title for the next iteration of Diablo is such a contradiction, considering it might already be dead!

I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who was disappointed in what the next iteration of Diablo turned out to be. Seeing a title like, “Diablo: What’s Next?” on the schedule for BlizzCon opened up the hype gates like Tyrael parting the sky from heaven on his way down to Sanctuary to slay some demon spawn!

Blizzard even had to temper the enthusiasm from the Diablo fan base with a post because everyone was hoping for just a glimpse of Diablo 4. Just a peek would be all we needed but, alas, it was not meant to be. I’ll tell you what was next though, a big heaping pile of #notmydiablo!

If I’m being harsh it’s because I have been fan of Diablo from the beginning. I can remember playing the original Diablo over local co-op on the PlayStation with my brother, so many hours with Diablo 2 on the PC, and finally with Diablo 3 on the PC (over and over again – thank you seasons). I don’t think anyone was looking forward to a smartphone version of Diablo (if you can find someone that was clamoring for it, let me know in the comments – genuinely asking here folks).

This will be the first Diablo game that I won’t play… wow… that’s a hard one to type. I choose not to play it because it’s not the game I want and certainly not the Diablo I want. It feels like the powers that be at Blizzard (or maybe Activision) are not aware of what the fan base wants or they don’t care. Since we don’t know what the pricing is or what micro-transactions are going to be available in the game, we can’t say it was just a cash grab…yet. Whatever the model ends up being doesn’t really matter. What does matter, and I HOPE Blizzard is listening, is that they missed the mark. No amount of hype, or faux hype at the BlizzCon announcement can make a game desirable when it wasn’t wanted in the first place.

After perusing some of the Diablo 3 subreddit (I mean, where else would you go to get the pulse of a community?) I found a very concise summary to the whole thing from user j005e and to sum it up; I share it here:

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The phrase that I’ve seen used a lot in defense of Blizzard/Activision is, “You can’t please everyone.” and while that’s true, you could at least satisfy the Diablo fanbase. Sadly, I don’t know if any lessons will be learned or anything good will come from this whole thing. I do hope I’m wrong and Blizzard give us all a mea culpa but, what are the chances of that?

The MOBA effect

Recently, I’ve only been playing MOBAs. I haven’t had the desire to branch out very much, especially into a time intensive genre like MMOs.

I honestly think it’s because of the game progression… or the lack thereof. By ‘progression’ I mean that you aren’t leveling up a character like in an MMO, which would take a lot of time to get that character to the maximum level. That kind of progression definitely has its merits and satisfactions but in my current state of life it hasn’t been as enjoyable with the limited playing time I do have.

I’ve had discussions about this with a good friend from high school (I’m 31 now) and he tends to feel the same. Granted we are both in a similar position – we are both married and have little one(s) that we happily give up time for – but it just doesn’t feel like we have the time or the drive to devote to an MMO. Oh how we’ve tried! From going back to the nostalgic (Everquest) to trying a few of the new kids on the block such as Rift, Neverwinter Online, Guild Wars 2 (debatable). None of them are able to keep me coming back.

MOBAs, however, operate on a different kind of progression. One that, contrary to MMOs, does compel me to log in night after night.

Dota 2 has been my MOBA of choice for a while, a decent run with Smite, a little stint with League of Legends, and a few smatterings of Infinite Crisis but, Dota 2 is my choice. steamworkshop_webupload_previewfile_181979094_preview

Smite has kept me playing the second longest out of the bunch. Whether this was because my friend played it pretty much non-stop and my desire to play with a friend kept me going or the change in pace it provided with its different game modes (which could end in a 15 minute match), Smite had me for a while.

League of Legends was along the lines of a standard MOBA but, it felt slower than Dota, the champions didn’t seem to move as fast to me. The movement speed may have been a factor but, the time it took to unlock a champion that seemed interesting was demoralizing. Don’t get me wrong though, my brother and I saved up for characters who were also brothers, which cost a ton to get, and we wrecked face! It was glorious… still, it wasn’t enough.

Infinite Crisis was an interesting occurrence for me. I was able to get into the beta for this game with a friend. Needless to say the game is totally different from what it was back then (for the better). One thing I’m thankful for was that it helped me determine that I don’t want to play games while they are in beta. In this instance the UI was horrid, the game felt buggy, and it was not enjoyable until you were actually in the game and even then it wasn’t the smoothest. HOWEVER, playing as the Flash or Green Lantern was definitely worth it. They recently had a huge patch/improvements and I have been meaning to check it out one more time.

Some of the things that drew me in to MOBAs were the semi-short game length which can be anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour or more in rare cases, no need to grind anything if you don’t want to, and you can still get the sense of accomplishment from getting items or even more so from improving your play.

Dota 2 had all that I needed. My friends were playing it, the fun was there, the amount of hero choices was staggering (and continues to grow), it looked great (see League of Legends or Infinite Crisis), and it was Valves baby (I dumped a lot of time into Team Fortress 2 so, I enjoyed the Steam network/Valve’s quality of work).

With a MOBA I feel like I am working on me, on my skill as a player, on my ability to fulfill a role on a team, and it was rewarding. I always thought that I would need progression that didn’t go away for a character in order to enjoy a game (i.e. leveling an MMO character) but, that isn’t the case. I’m don’t feel like I’m falling behind anyone if I can’t devote time to the game like I felt when I played MMOs and my friends would spend more time in-game than me. In essence the effect of a MOBA engages the player more as an individual than the MMO genre which mostly requires your time.

Dota 2 is definitely something that will force you to honestly look at yourself and your capabilities. I have the perfect example!

Let me share a story with you… ready?

I was in a match playing Visage this is a hero which requires the player to control up to three other summoned units in addition to himself, other active skills, as well as any items with active abilities. The additional units Visage controls also have active abilities in order for them to do damage or stun. This juggling act required that I had to be on my A-game, and I knew it. Controlling your hero’s position, timing your attacks with your teammates, using items at the appropriate time, while watching the mini map to make sure you’re not about to get ganked, etc is hard enough. But playing Visage under these circumstances can be a hectic experience. I even thought my history of playing RTS games would help with that some but, not so much.

It was a non-stop match for me, if I wasn’t busy trying to control my units I was trying not to die/kill the other team. There were a few times that I was mixed up and thought, “Why isn’t my guy moving?” or “Oh crap, they are attacking my hero and I’m controlling my units not my hero!” but, overall I was successful and my team was victorious.

After that match I knew I could handle the hero but I wouldn’t want to do it again. Having the ability to do something doesn’t necessarily make it fun. I’m more inclined to play a hero that doesn’t rely on other units to be effective or make a contribution to the team. This made clear that as a player I don’t really appreciate having more units to control/the game is complex enough that I don’t need to ramp up the difficulty for not much in return. After realizing that about myself I steered clear of Visage and stayed with the heroes that were more my style.

My main hero is Sven – he’s a beast that can do a LOT of damage and is a pretty straight forward hero. “Get in there and smash people’s faces”, is the name of his game.Sven!! I’ve also got to the point where I want to experiment with different builds (skill order and item use). Sven is a strength hero that is normally played one way – MOAR DAMAGE!! Looking at some really old Reddit posts has lead to me to the realization that Sven used to be played as a support hero and not a tank. I’ve attempted to try a support Sven once and it didn’t work out to well. I have to admit that my decision was on the fly and I didn’t give the proper preparation or forethought before the match began. I’d like to try it out again but, I’ll probably try it against some bots instead of impairing my team.

Even though the hero is played one way by everyone doesn’t mean he can’t be played a different way and still be viable and effective. It is fun to try and tinker a hero (PUNNY!) to see what they can do and what items can change the way they play. Matching these variables up with a five man team doing the same thing yields a very, very complex interaction.
This complexity can get someone so obsessed with all of the different options, builds, timings, etc. that it can take over their “free thought” time. I felt like this a little bit during the height of my playing. I was playing every night with friends, multiple games in a row, and I would think about it throughout the day while looking towards that night’s game.

Then again, there are people who love to play the game to play the game – they just don’t worry about any of the details and enjoy a fun time with their friends. Personally, I don’t take loses to heart at all – I say, “Oh well” and try to determine where things went wrong or what I did/didn’t do to help my team and learn from it for next time.

The two best ways I improved my play in Dota 2 are – replays and spectating. Replays of your matches allow you to relive what just happened in your game and pause it at any point or even repeat a battle over and over again. This really allows you to pick apart an engagement or determine why a Laguna blade from Lina at Faceless Void just might not be the best idea.

Spectating was key for developing a foundation for any hero I wanted to play. I was able to watch a player who had experience play that hero and watch how they used their abilities, the timing of their attacks, or even, “So, that’s how I missed that gank”. The signs and little queues are what can make the difference in a game where one mistake or taking the advantage of one can turn the tide of a battle.

Coming back to the game has also changed my perspective. Instead of working on the basic mechanics of the game I am giving more thought to parts of the game at the higher level. I would tell you more but, that will have to wait for another post – this one has already become a little long in the tooth.

Hit me up if you’re interested in playing!

(My Dotabuff profile for anyone who may be interested: Semaji Thunder)

PC: Infinite Crisis

So a friend and I have been granted access to the beta for Infinite Crisis because they had a stress test tonight and I’ll give you the lowdown.

The game is, as I’ve read and now have experienced, more similar to the League of Legends model than the DOTA2 model. That really isn’t all too different because they are both MOBAs (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) but, if you’ve played both then you’ll know what I mean.

The gameplay is solid, the characters are unique with abilities that match the character. The thing about Infinite Crisis that gets me excited is all of the possibilities of character types that are available. Take Green Lantern for example:

Green Lantern(s)?

These are the Green Lanterns (from left to right) from Arcane (Earth-13), Prime (Earth-0), and Atomic (Earth-17). Each of these characters are Green Lantern but, each version will have their own skills/abilities that reflect their world.

The game lists six earths/universes – Prime, Arcane, Atomic, Gaslight, Nightmare, and Mecha but, the total universes in the comics are 52!

52!

Can you imagine all of the different kinds of incarnations of the Flash there are?!?

Woooosh!!

The Flash was my favorite from the characters available, I look forward to all of the versions of characters that will come from this game.

I’ll keep you posted as the awesome keeps coming.

For a beta it’s been surprisingly solid thus far.

XBox 360 – Injustice: Gods Among Us (mini review)

The single-player’s story mode is very similar to the most recent Mortal Kombat or DC vs Mortal Kombat AKA – the first Injustice game.

In my book, this is a good thing. I appreciated the cinematic sequences that were in between each fight but, not that it forced me to play characters that I didn’t want to play(i.e. Cyborg), while not letting me play others(i.e. Shazam). Now, this was somewhat related to the story that they crafted but, it would have been nice to be able to pick which character’s story/role you would like to be a part of as it played out. The “Battle” mode on the other hand will allow you to choose any character to play as and after beating a certain number of opponents you get a picture with a voice over that gives you that character’s ending story.

The playable characters are plentiful and the alternate skins are a welcome addition.

Each character has a super move that just rocks the other player – Aquaman has one of the eye-catching ones, and I recommend you check out the others Superman, Flash, Doomsday, etc. as they are all very entertaining.

I have only played online multiplayer once but, I can’t see myself playing the game into the wee hours of the morning night in and night out. The fun which I enjoyed from the single player alone was worth the purchase price to me but, I’m a confessed comic book fan. There will be DLC and the first character to be added to the roster is “The Main Man”, Lobo.

Here is a taste of what he can do!

If you’re a DC Comics fan or like the recent Mortal Kombat fighting mechanics, you should pick up this game. If you’re neither of those – rent it or take a pass.

Lumia 920

So I just picked up a Lumia 920 and I am pleasantly pleased with this fine work of art.

I post this because I am going to be looking forward to playing some Windows Phone games on it. If you hear of any you would like a review of shoot me a message or comment here.