Diablo III in the Living Room: a funny thing happened on the way to level 20

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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 fifth entry.

Today, Brandon hits level 10 and Tom discovers the situation with legendary items is radically different from the PC version of Diablo III.

After the jump, Leoric is dead and guess who got his ring

Brandon: I hit level 10 today so now I have passive skills. I’m starting to see how all of this stuff comes together. I’m also starting to see why changing classes is more interesting in this game than in other games. Take Borderlands 2, for example. Borderlands 2 is 85% shooting and 15% skill usage. Furthermore, Borderlands 2 removed the class specific gun proficiencies from the first game. A siren can be just as good with assault rifles as a commando. Because there’s so much gunplay, most of the gameplay is the same regardless of the class you play, at least for the stock four classes. I played all four classes for achievements and sure, one of them gets to be invisible but when he’s not invisible, he’s shooting.

Tom: Yeah, Borderlands 2 in superawesome in many ways, but class variety and skill trees ain’t one of them. Two of them. Either of them. Whatever.

Brandon: In Diablo III, the skills seem to be so different and you use them so often that I can see the benefit of playing other classes to experience them. The problem is still one of time. What I’d love is the ability to buy your way into another class. Give me a new class but knock me down five levels or so and take some of the cash I’d usually use for training the blacksmith or buying new gear. I’m not asking for it to be a total shortcut, but I’d love it to be a little easier to see all of these wonderful toys.

Tom: “Would you like to skip the first ten levels for 200 Microsoft points?” This presentation of “If Electronic Arts Published Diablo III” has been brought to you by me. Speaking of ways to make Diablo III less appealing, one of the cool things (or insidious things, depending on your perspective) Blizzard has been doing with their games is building their own achievement system. If you’re playing World of Warcraft, Starcraft II, or Diablo III, you have scores based on various challenges. For instance, Brandon has a gamerscore on Xbox Live in excess of 100,000. Blizzard has ported into this battle.net achievement system into the living room version of Diablo III, but without plugging it into battle.net. Furthermore, it exists completely separate from the Xbox Live achievements (and, I presume, the Playstation’s trophies). So I can grind away at the myriad completionist OCD bait without the benefit of sharing it with other users in any way and all I’ll have to show for it is, uh, a different banner? No thanks.

One of the unexpected boons of myriad metagame scores — the Playstation trophies, the Xbox Live gamerscore, my points on Gamecenter for iOS games, Steam achivements and cards and badges — is that the more there are, the less I care about them. At this rate, I’ll be free from caring about any metagame frippery within the next year or so.

Brandon: Yes, I have a gamerscore over 100,000 points and honestly, nothing cured me of my need to get achievements as effectively as reaching that elusive 100,000 points. I honestly couldn’t care less about the challenges or achievements in Diablo III. Do they get me something other than a high score in the non-battle.net Xbox Live battle.net? Can I get some cool StarCraft II ability for grinding challenges in Diablo III? Although I was an avowed achievement hunter, even I realized that the only reward was hitting a particular number. Sure, I saw parts of games that I never would have seen, but that’s about it. I get the feeling that on the PC you would be happy to go after these challenges because of how they integrate into battle.net, but on this console version, you couldn’t care less.

Tom: Hmm, some of those later banners have really sweet trim and intricate background patterns. That no one will be able to see on the 360’s lower-res textures. I can’t even see my legendary bracers when I wear them. Did I mention that I have legendary bracers. Because I do. Is there any bigger news than that?

Brandon: The Skeleton King is dead.

Tom: Oh, good, so I don’t need to kill him again with my brand new witch doctor?

Brandon: Long live the king.

Tom: Hey, so he’s not dead. And speaking of Leoric — that’s his name, Brandon, which I’m sure you know since you’re all into storyline and role-playing in the world of Titsram — guess what I found that used to belong to him. His signet ring. Which is my second legendary item. Here’s what happened: I jump into a random online game with three other folks and within five minutes, I see an item with an orange name. If you’re new to Diablo III, orange text means a legendary item, which is the highest level of rarity. On the PC, last I played, finding a legendary item was like hitting the lottery, except that instead of winning money, you win a piece of gear that will be useless once you’ve gone up a few levels.

So now my demon hunter is sporting Gungdo Gear, which sounds like something a pro skater would wear. These bracers — don’t pretend you don’t know what bracers are, nerd — give me a respectable boost to dexterity and vitality, they add 15 points of resistance in all areas, and they give me a few extra experience points for every kill. I have to be level 14 to use Gungdo Gear. I’m level 19. This thing will be useless later tonight.

But Diablo III had another present for me. Less that five minutes later, I saw a star on the minimap. What’s that? A star? Is that the icon for some weird vendor? I’m not used to seeing that icon. I went to talk to the weird vendor and discovered it’s another legendary item. I didn’t know they appeared on the minimap as stars! This star was a ring called Leoric’s Signet. It’s a dexterity boost, a hefty bonus to my critical hit chance, and a boost to experience points. Except whereas the experience point boosts I’ve seen so far are for things like +6 points per kill or +10 points per kill, Leoric’s Signet is a straight up 27% boost to experience points. Doing some quick math, I calculate that this is a ring I won’t soon be taking off. Hey, Brandon, do you want my hand-me-down Adventurer’s Ring of the Bear? It gives you +6 strength.

Brandon: Oh, I know all about legendary items. I got one free with the game, the Infernal Helm. Not only that, but I got an achievement for equipping it, not that I care about those things any more. Unfortunately I can’t bring myself to take it off. The armor level is something like four, which is pretty dang low but it gives me 25% extra experience. 25%! That’s way too much experience to pass up even if I’m amassing concussions at an unhealthy rate. I figure that something like a hat won’t change my total armor skill that much so I’m rocking this helm for as long as possible. I had no idea that legendary items show up as stars on the mini-map. Now you have me thinking that I’ve passed up legendary items because I thought it was a dirty tv screen. Thanks for that. Jerk.

Next: legacy of Cain

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