I wanted to post this just in case anyone was waiting for the "right price" before purchasing the first two installments of StarCraft II. With the trailers coming out and a Pre-Order up for the Protoss chapter - Legacy of the Void - Blizzard is doing a 50% off sale on both StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty & StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm. Each game will be $9.99 on Battle.net until Monday, 9/21/2015 at 11:59pm PDT. Since I've never seen a Blizzard game for less than $9.99, unless you are running low on vespene gas, I'd take advantage of this opportunity.
I've had a mixed relationship with Diablo III as can be seen in my previous articles here. After participating in my first season I have to say that the trend continues on. It had been a while since my witchdoctor or crusader tore a swath of gore through any minions of Hell. My interest had waned since beating the last chapter of the game, experiencing adventure mode and testing the rift waters with enjoyable success. My appetite had been sated, though and there was not much calling me back to the world of Sanctuary.
One selling point for the Diablo franchise was always the ability to conquer the forces of evil with your friends. While I did play with friends when the game first came out (during the expansion as well) it was very infrequent as I wanted to experience the content at my own pace. As I'm sure many of you are, I was always a strict “completionist” with these types of games – if I missed breaking a single urn or opening a chest, it annoyed me greatly. Hop through a portal from then to now and I could care less (it helps that Blizzard made it so nothing of great value drops from breakables anymore) after playing the same content over and over.
Even though there was no new content, when word that Season 4 would be starting soon, my friends conveyed great interest in diving back in. At first I was hesitant, but then I figure that if nothing else it was a good excuse to play from the start in a group again. The idea behind each season is that everyone jumping into this world is starting 100% from scratch – no shared cache to power level your character with and no drops to be had. When the season is over, your character in its entirety gets transitioned to one of your “regular” character slots. The only thing that isn't a direct transfer are the Paragon Levels. In that case, just the XP equivalent is added on to your current levels. The other incentive here is that all the calculations for world drops get reset as well, making it easier to come by those very hard to get items. Besides those reasons and the entertainment factor, there are some small cosmetic rewards (like a pet and portrait frames) for completing season objectives.
Even though my main reason was just for the general fun of it, I soon found myself getting back into my old slaying stride. That can also be interpreted as, “getting sucked back in,” but you know, tomato, tomahto. I'm not going to lie, I did have a ton of fun initially, but this was a case of the fires of Hell burning to brightly too quickly. I came across this while experimenting with the new Kanai's Cube feature. Hailing from the Horadric Cube family, this cube lets you extract special abilities from specific legendary weapons (destroying them in the process) and turn them into personal auras. You can have three on at a time – one from a weapon, piece of armor and jewelry.
I began looking up pieces of gear just to make sure that I didn't destroy anything that was supposed to be part of a final build. That's when the disappointment set in. Not because I lost a piece of gear during that play session, but because of the gear that I had already received. There are two main armor sets that I was looking at for my crusader and I already had 4 out of 6 pieces of Roland's Legacy and 2 out of 6 of Armor of Akkhan. This was from playing mostly on Torment III difficultly (out of X).
“Soooo, this is it?”
I had received “end game” gear before I thought I would and probably salvaged items I shouldn't have, expecting to see better. With 7 torment levels to go I figured that I wouldn't see this gear until Torment VI-VIII, providing that incentive (and power) to push forward and “beat the game” on Torment X. The curtain had been pulled back and I could no longer fool myself into thinking that I wasn't just grinding my time away. Even with that realization, I figured that I could still enjoy things if I gamed with my friends and tried different skill builds. That hopefulness also dissipated quickly. At this level of difficultly I would have to grind for gear until the new set was near completion in order to be effective (survive) at all with other builds.
While my experience may not be uncommon (the main group I played with had a lot of set pieces as well), I do know of people that have only seen one set piece drop on Torment III. Perhaps I was just too lucky for my own good. In an odd roundabout sort of way, perhaps this was Blizzard proving themselves right with their design decisions when Diablo III first came out. There was a huge amount of backlash over the new skill system because it was such a departure from the old style. In the previous games, grinding levels just to be able to use a skill effectively was the norm, compared to the new system where you can change your gameplay style on the fly based on your group or just what's your cup of tea at the moment.
Well played, Blizzard. Well played. Now I want even more on the fly flexibility mixed in with my demon smashing. Overall, I will say that I enjoyed progressing my Season 4 character, but perhaps I went into it with expectations that were too lofty, though. I'll probably jump back in here and there before the season closes, but the mood will have to hit me just right before I do any seasons back to back. Maybe next time my luck will be better (worse).