Blizzard is finally putting competitive multiplayer in Diablo III with Patch 1.0.7, which isn’t too bad, considering the game was released back on May 15, 2012. Yes, it took the company about eight months to finally get a feature that was promised in the beta in to the actual game. I’d say that the Diablo III players would rejoice, except it isn’t the feature they expected or probably wanted. Blizzard promised team deathmatch, a whole new form of competitive/cooperative multiplayer, and instead people are only getting dueling. Ironically, the duels managed to make it in to Diablo III despite possessing the same “flaws” as the failed team deathmatch, as both have no goals, class balance or rewards.
In case you missed the whole saga, which is entirely possible for people who aren’t into the whole Diablo III thing, here’s what happened. Blizzard promised both dueling and team deathmatch for Diablo III during the beta. The game launched in May 2012 without either feature and only had online cooperative multiplayer. Blizzard still maintained both team deathmatch and dueling were coming to Diablo III. Diablo III‘s team deathmatch mode was even playable at BlizzCon 2012. Then on December 27, 2012, Blizzard said that testers didn’t like team deathmatch and the developers weren’t satisfied with how it turned out. So it’s scrapped, they decided to focus on getting dueling in and eventually some other game element will be added via a patch to replace the broken team deathmatch promise.
At least they waited until after Christmas to tell Diablo III fans team deathmatch wasn’t coming!
So now, Blizzard’s trying to be all happy about Diablo III Patch 1.0.7 and its promise of dueling. It’s different than Diablo II‘s dueling, so pat attention. Players can fight other players. You can go against one, two or three other people, with everyone trying to be the last one standing. You start a duel by visiting Nek in New Tristram and then go to the church, graveyard, lake or river area at the Scorched Chapel to start fighting. If you die in a duel, it isn’t permanent. Okay, all of that doesn’t sound too bad, and it isn’t. It’s the next part that is.
Dueling in Diablo III is pointless. You get nothing for participating. You don’t get any items, money, experience or even any notation in your character’s stats page or profile saying how many times you’ve won or lost. Blizzard also won’t be doing any balancing so some classes will have a clear and obvious advantage over others.
Granted, dueling in Diablo II was pretty pointless as well, but that was because it wasn’t an official part of the game. Players were just able to do it if they’d like, and people would specifically set up PvP games where a group of people would visit a Hell difficulty level game and visit the Blood Moor outside of town in Act 1 to clear an arena area. Once there, players could take part in any kind of match, from free for all to team duels.
It’s just with Diablo III, you expect more. Blizzard specifically promised they’d be implementing competitive multiplayer, so you’d think they’d do it right. You’d expect leaderboards, at the very least, and the opportunity to earn rewards, set up certain rules or customize the match to allow for team play at most. Instead, the developers are doing the absolute minimum.
I can’t help seeing this and getting the feeling that Blizzard figures people were happy with what dueling was in Diablo II, so they don’t have to step it up for Diablo III where it was supposed to be a bigger deal. Plus, it nullifies Blizzard’s excuse for not implementing team deathmatch. In the official Blizzard announcement killing team deathmatch, the company claims the lack of depth lead to the axing of the feature in Diablo III.
“We’ve brought a lot of people in to try out Team Deathmatch and, while some found it entertaining, most of our testers didn’t feel like it was something they’d want to do beyond a few hours. Without more varied objectives, or very lucrative rewards, few saw our current iteration as something they’d want spend a lot of time in.”
Ironic, because it seems the dueling that will be implemented in Patch 1.0.7 will suffer from the same problems. There will be no objectives, no rewards and I doubt people will want to invest a lot of time into it.
Then there’s Blizzard’s other argument, which is that there was a lack of class balance in team deathmatch. Well, there’s going to be that same lack of class balance in Diablo III duels. In fact, I’d argue it’d be worse since those would be free for all matches. At least in team deathmatch, the addition of extra players from other classes would help balance things out.
I can’t help thinking this is all about Blizzard’s laziness. Team deathmatch was clearly playable in Diablo III, as evidenced by its presence at BlizzCon 2012 and it entering the testing phase, but it seems Blizzard didn’t want to put in the extra effort that would make it worthwhile. Instead, it decided to stuff in duels in Patch 1.0.7 in an attempt to say it delivered on part of its promise. Except, the duels are even more pointless and worthless than the unfinished team deathmatch, since it offers no incentive to play, no goals and no character balance. It will just be there and Diablo III players deserve better.
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