Diablo III in the Living Room: a tale of two Diablo players

Brandon Cackowski-Schnell and Tom Chick will be posting daily updates on Diablo III for the Xbox 360 over the coming week. This is their first entry.

Tom: I am a sucker for Diablo III. And I’m not ashamed. I can play it merrily without grousing about the auction house or unbalanced character builds or the endgame grind or the storyline or whatever. I’m gladly picking up what Blizzard is putting down. They’ve got my number. That said, I’m not sure I’m ready to take Diablo III into the living room.

Brandon: I’m not playing Diablo III in my living room, so hopefully that doesn’t trash my journalistic integrity. I have a sitting room off of the bedroom on the first floor and — you know what, never mind. Diablo III!

After the jump, where to begin?

Tom: My feeling at this point is that Diablo III belongs on the PC, under my mouse hand on the right and my QWE-ASD keys on the left. Plus, I’ve already got several characters to play, one on the verge of grinding paragon levels, whatever those are, and even a couple in hardcore mode who I’m terrified to play for fear they’ll die. But in the interest of games journalism, science, and a better tomorrow, I’m willing to give it a shot. Here we go, playing Diablo III on the Xbox 360.

Brandon: I last played a Diablo game when Diablo II came out the same week as Deus Ex and Icewind Dale. Man, what a week that was. I think I played as a Barbarian or whatever large, tank-like class that game had. I remember hating the jungle section because of those blasted tiki mask guys. I think I finished it. I don’t remember. I do remember that Diablo II had more of a manual than the glossy napkin that comes with Diablo III. Diablo III would not pass the heft test. Rich Laporte would be disappointed.

I did some research before cracking open Diablo III and holy Belial, there are a ton of options! What happened to the days of Easy, Medium and Hard? Not only are there difficulty levels but there are also monster power levels? What does that even mean? Am I going to be fighting monster middle management here? Come on Blizzard, I’m a console gamer, I can’t be expected to think!

I also did some character research and I think I’m going to be a wizard or a demon hunter. I’ve been a barbarian in Diablo II, a monk in Neverwinter Nights and Baldur’s Gate, and Tom was a witch doctor the last time he wrote about Diablo III. A demon hunter may be too thief-like for my past RPG experiences so that leaves the wizard, the non-armored, ranged attack heavy, non-melee having wizard.

Yeah, this ought to go well.

Tom: Oh man, I should have guessed console gamers would be freaked out by monster power! That feature almost single-handedly renewed my interest in Diablo III when Blizzard patched it back in. It’s a fallback to the way you could trick Diablo II into thinking more players were in the game if you wanted to boost the difficulty level, and therefore your experience point gain, gold reward, and chance of finding better items. Basically, it was a slider on the risk/reward scale. It let you get around that first playthrough on normal when you’re just going through the motions to get to the actual content once your character has leveled up and accumulated a set of tools to deal with more challenging situations. One of my concerns about the console release was that Diablo III was going to assume all console players needed that preliminary ten-hour tutorial playthrough. That’s one rodeo I don’t need to do again. So monster power ten, here I come.

Okay, maybe eight. We’ll see how it goes.

Next: monstrrr power