The Endless Quest for Loot (Diablo 3)

I’ve never played any of the previous Diablo games, and I’ve heard plenty of horror stories about Diablo 3’s state at launch. However, my prior addiction to World of Warcraft had caused me to take a look at Blizzard’s other games, and Diablo 3 had caught my eye many moons before when I tried out the demo on PS3. After a swift recommendation from a friend, I plunged in wallet first and entered the world of Sanctuary.

The story caught me off-guard. I remember that I’d been intrigued by the gameplay, but when I actually bought it around two years ago (shortly after the release of the expansion, Reaper of Souls), I became quickly invested in the actual events unfolding around me. I had also been enticed by the cinematic at the begging of Act IV (spoilers, watch at your own discretion), but I’d mostly attributed its awesomeness to Blizzard’s ever-spectacular cinematic team; seeing it in context with the narrative was a whole other layer of enjoyment.

But that was a few years ago. I completed the game ages ago and have gotten a second character to level 70 alongside my original Wizard. So what am I still doing playing the game?

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The other day, my friend and I were lucky enough to take down a treasure goblin which opened a portal to The Vault. I think I gathered around 40 million gold overall.

Well, Diablo 3 really comes to fruition as a game after its completion. When you finish the story, you’re launched into adventure mode, and that’s where the game really opens up. You can gain infinite amounts of paragon levels which allow you to attribute small enhancements to stats (I’m currently at level 103), and the game becomes a search for gear which will enhance your skills and complement your character’s abilities. I’m currently attempting to gather the set pieces needed to pull off an Archon build for my Wizard… and in all honesty, this is the first time in a hundred paragon levels and countless hours of gameplay that I’ve actually decided to look up a guide on how to build my character, and it’s really given me new motivation to continue playing. There’s countless ways to improve, such as switching up which abilities you use so that they work together to create a unified effect (I currently work with a lot of lightning) or enchanting your gear to have some extra defenses if your character becomes squishy. It’s a never-ending balance of doing enough damage and having enough toughness and recovery, and choosing when to finally move up to the next level of difficulty for faster experience and more rewards.

It’s rare that I become so invested in an RPG that I continue to return to it. Nowadays Blizzard allow you to create seasonal characters, meaning that you start completely fresh (with no shared bank or money with your previous characters) and complete quotas (such as hitting max level) to unlock rewards such as gear and cosmetics. When Season 6 began a few weeks ago I began levelling a Demon Hunter with a friend, but soon decided to continue working on my main character outside of the seasonal game and truly get to grips with the way the metagame works. And I’ve been having a blast.

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Kadala sells you random items in return for Blood Shards. I got ridiculously lucky when searching for a particular set helmet (orange items are legendary, green items are set items), but alas, did not find the particular one I was looking for.

Diablo excels at giving you a sense of progression and achievement far into the depths of the adventure mode. From treasure goblins to cursed chests, to random legendary item drops and even the sound that it makes when it clinks to the ground and the beam of light the shines upwards from it, everything is designed to make you feel accomplished as you romp through the ever demon-infested lands and kill bosses you’ve put down many a time before. And it doesn’t feel monotonous, because you’re always working towards a new, greater goal. The layout of areas is randomised, and if you’re doing rifts then the very lands you’re running through are randomised too. I hope Blizzard will put out another Diablo 3 expansion sometime, but honestly, the updates and continuous re-iteration of game systems is enough to keep me going, so long as they stick with it. Diablo 3 is one of my favourite games of all time, and I’ve only got more gameplay ahead of me.

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Just remember… there is no cow level.

Why Runescape?

Let’s go back to the summer of 2007. My friend had been getting on at me about trying out this game called Runescape, which I assumed was like any other flash game on the web, and subsequently didn’t bother with. I vaguely remember being confused by the world select screen. In fact, I also remember having to get my friend to log on to my account and complete tutorial island for me because I couldn’t figure out how to play the game. I was apparently not the brightest tool in the shed.

Okay, okay, I’ve discussed Runescape before, but I’ve been playing it again recently and I don’t feel like that blog post did it justice. I want to give an idea as to what my journey through Runescape was like. I have many fond memories, old and new.

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Taken in Oldschool Runescape. This is the kind of Lumbridge I’d have seen! It’s usually slightly busier but screenshot was taken in early morning.

I clearly remember my first impressions of the game when I started back in August, 2007. I thought Lumbridge was huge, and at the time, it was bustling with people wearing different coloured armour. As a fresh, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed level 3 adventurer, my friend suggested I follow him, and so we went to Al Kahird. I’m not entirely sure why we went there, but I remember being attacked by level 2 Man NPC’s, and confusing them for players, and trying to convince my friend that I’d been attacked by players in a non PvP area. That was some confusion.

From there, I started to carve my own path through the game, and as I slowly got to grips with things I realised with awe how perfect this game was. Perhaps it’s something lost to either childhood or game quality (I’d wager the former), but the feeling of discovery and awe from finding a game you love doesn’t seem to happen anymore. I can still remember with vivid clarity how excited I was when I started playing Runescape and how huge the game felt to me. I remember the 2007 Halloween and Christmas events with ease, and even recorded so game footage through Unregistered Hypercam 2 which I’ve got archived away somewhere for instant nostalgia.

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The area of my assault in 07. Also, the progress on my main OSRS account. More on that later.

I convinced my dad to buy me membership sometime in 2008, and I had to migrate to a new account because for some reason it wasn’t letting me use membership on my first one. (I recently tried to log in to that account – it was hacked and subsequently banned for macroing. Well, that’s what happens when you don’t change your password for nine years.) This spawned what would be my main account for years to come, until we couldn’t justify the membership fees anymore sometime around 2009 or 2010 and I became demotivated by the severely handicapped free-to-play portion of the game (for instance, I had exceeded the possible bank limit for f2p players by hundreds and couldn’t store anything anymore). I’d log in every now and then over the course of the next few years, but I’d never really do much.

So let’s forward-wind to late 2013.

In late 2013 I began my university course, and alongside it, got a student loan. So of course, young and naive and reckless as I was all those 3 years ago, I was spending money on whatever the hell I wanted – notably a laptop that could handle Minecraft (as was my biggest wish at the time), Minecraft, a whole bunch of Steam games (Worms was so cheap!) and eventually a subscription to WoW. And wouldn’t you know it, my attention just happened to fall on Runescape. I could afford it now, couldn’t I?

(Disclaimer: I learned a lot from burning through my first student loan payment and am nowhere near that reckless with money anymore. Not that you care, but, you know… thought I’d clear that up.)

Foolishly, I made a completely new account. Why foolishly? Well, I made a new account with the intention of being called Kritigri instead of the somewhat outgrown username I’d had previously. I somehow overlooked the fact that members can change their in-game names once a month, and so the old account’s mementos from old holiday events and its ability to buy a veteran’s cape have fallen by the wayside as I immediately levelled Kritigri far past the old account’s progress of 3 years. This was partially because the game was easier, but also because I didn’t spend as much time ‘wasting xp’. I did log in to that old account recently to see if I could reset him as an Ironman account (no trading with players / using the auction house system, status symbol + fun modifier to the game), but you can only do that to newly created characters.

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My original (well, 2nd) account and my original skill progression. Also, veteran cape emote.

 

Fun fact – I paid for membership entirely so that I could play Old School Runescape, which had been out for around 6 months at that time and didn’t have a free-to-play section yet. My first impressions of Runescape 3 were that I couldn’t get my head around the new UI, and that it had changed too wildly for me to bother playing. Needless to say I’m glad I gave it another go, as the nostalgia of Old School soon ran out and the quality-of-life updates to RS3 became sorely missed after a while. It’s nice to be able to run for more than 30 seconds without having to walk everywhere for an hour waiting for your run to recharge. I inevitably transitioned from OSRS to RS3 and didn’t look back.

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My account today, and my progress. How times change.

Well anyway, with the release of NXT – Runescape’s new client and engine, ported over from Java and making the game far more smooth and optimised – I decided to buy a month’s RS3 membership and start levelling my character again, this time alongside a friend who has also been playing recently. I’ve almost gotten all of my skills to at least level 50, as well as pushing my highest skill to level 80. I’m just generally having a good time. I mentioned in my previous blog post on the game that it was a bad game due to most skills needing a click and waiting for resources to be gained, but there’s really more to it than that. The feeling of achievement and accomplishment is unmatched in any other game I’ve tried, and I’m sure I’ll continue to play and return to Runescape for as long as it exists.