Monday, September 30, 2013

Offline Alternatives to Diablo III

After reading up this post, I was pretty much bummed out. Because after hearing the news that Blizzard will finally be removing the Real Money Auction House from Diablo III on PC, I was hoping that they would finally include an offline version of the game like in the console version. But alas, it wasn't meant to be. That being said, I scouted online to find suitable offline alternatives to Diablo III for PC (as well as consoles and handhelds), and here's what I got:

PC:

Titan Quest (Windows)
Think Diablo, but using greek mythology as a backdrop, you get Titan Quest. With its dark atmosphere that brings me back to my Diablo II days. :D


Torchlight II (Windows)
From the same team who made Diablo I & II, it plays just like Diablo of old, and works wonderfully. If you are gonna play the game using Steam, may I suggest you get the "Torchlight II Essentials" mod, as it basically adds a new class, and tons of improvement from the vanilla game (respec, tons of new pets, items, etc)



Consoles:

Dungeon Siege III (PS3/Xbox 360)
Developed by the same team who made the PC version of Neverwinter Nights 2, its a decent enough hack-and-slash game for the console space. The fact that finding a brand new copy of this game nowadays is relatively cheap, I'd say why not?


Dungeon Hunter: Alliance (PS3/Xbox 360)
Do you like to play hack-and-slash games but you don't want to spend too much? You okay with digital downloads? Does $12.99 (roughly Php 600.00) sound good to you? Then get this hack-and-slash gem from Gameloft. It's a pretty barebones hack-and-slash game, but hey at least you got it cheap.


Diablo III (PS3/Xbox 360)
Do I really need to say any further? Critics have been calling it the best version of Diablo III, and rightfully so. Offline play, amazing loot, local co-op, and so much more, its definitely THE version of Diablo III to pick up. If you want to find out why the console version is considered by many to be the better version against the PC version, you might want to read this post I made comparing the 2 versions.



Handhelds:

Heroes of Ruin (Nintendo 3DS)
If you own a Nintendo 3DS, and you are craving for some on-the-go Diablo-style gameplay, then look no further and take Heroes of Ruin for a spin. It's basically a stripped down version of Diablo, but it still nails the simple and addicting hack-and-slash gameplay of Diablo perfectly, which is what's important. It's got local co-op as well as online co-op, with daily quests and other features that makes it a decent enough game for those looking for hack-and-slash gaming on their portable. Now that it just recently got a price drop, its definitely something to consider picking up.


Dungeon Hunter: Alliance (Playstation Vita)
Yes, its the same game for the PS3, but unlike its cheaper console counterpart, this one charges a full price for the experience. As much as I don't like recommending this game really for PS Vita owners (coz the price is just extortion), there's little hack-and-slash games out there that I can recommend (considering the once promising Ruin was cancelled) as of this writing so yeah...


So what do you guys think? Do you have any other suggested offline Diablo-like games to share? Sound off on the comments below! :)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Battle Tips: Is there "Monster Power" in console version of Diablo III?

I got alot of questions about this by people who played the PC version of Diablo III. And so let me get straight to the point.

Short answer: YES THERE IS.

Long answer: It's not called "Monster Power" and it works a little differently for the console version. It's called "Difficulty". And the previous "Difficulty" mode in Diablo III (Normal / Nightmare / Hell / Inferno) is now called "Modes". Sounds a little confusing? Here's a quick video I made about it:


I've discussed about "Difficulty" modes in brief in my previous post, but for the sake of the PC gamers, here's a detailed comparison between "Monster Power":
  • Easy Difficulty = no bonuses
  • Medium Difficulty = no bonuses
  • Hard Difficulty = no bonuses
  • Master I Difficulty = Monster Power 6
  • Master II Difficulty = Monster Power 7
  • Master III Difficulty = Monster Power 8
  • Master IV Difficulty = Monster Power 9
  • Master V Difficulty = Monster Power 10

Here's a breakdown of how bonuses stack up per Master Difficulty level:
  • Master I = +60% Magic Find, +60% Gold Find, +120% XP Bonus
  • Master II = +70% Magic Find, +70% Gold Find, +140% XP Bonus
  • Master III = +80% Magic Find, +80% Gold Find, +160% XP Bonus
  • Master IV = +90% Magic Find, +90% Gold Find, +180% XP Bonus
  • Master V = +100% Magic Find, +100% Gold Find, +200% XP Bonus

I've taken some screenshots with my stats in-game, showing how the bonuses affect players when they change the difficulty level.


Now does this translate in gameplay? Monsters are definitely far more stronger, and more deadlier in Master Difficulties. I've recorded some gameplay footage showing you just how harder Master difficulties can get. Take a look:


So what do you guys think? Sound off your comments below!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

There will NOT be an OFFLINE Mode for the PC

Based on this news report, it seems Blizzard will not be implementing an offline mode for Diablo 3, even after they take down the Auction House.

Why? According to the news report:

“The game was built from the ground up to take full advantage of Battle.net, which provides a number of important benefits, including persistent server-side character saves, a seamless PC multiplayer experience, cheat prevention, and Real ID and BattleTag social features.”

Well, there you go.

Personally, I can live without an offline version. There is some kind of wisdom in being able to store my characters in Blizzard's servers, specially when I change computers every few years. There's security in the thought that my computer can get completely screwed up and years later I can go back to playing my D3 characters where I have left off.  One of my favorite RPG games ever, Path of Exile is completely reliant on an Internet connection, so I'm kind of used to it.

In some ways I can't blame Blizzard because making the game reliant on an Internet connection would prevent some parties from using pirated copies of the game, at least in theory.

It's never been a problem for me because I've always bought my Diablo games legally.

I will still purchase the expansion when it comes out. I'm very interested in starting from scratch with a completely new character to take full benefit of all the changes and additions.

Diablo III Philippines Comics 9


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Diablo III: PC and Console comparison

After my first post here, some people asked me alot of questions regarding the console version of Diablo III. One of the biggest was, how was it different from the PC version. Well here's a breakdown of the key differences between the 2 versions. WARNING: Long post ahead.

No Real Money/Gold Auction House


One of the most controversial features of the PC version; the Real Money Auction House (RMAH), is not present on the console version of Diablo III. For most old-school Diablo fans (like myself), this brings back the core Diablo experience of finding awesome loot in-game, NOT in auction houses. Another positive thing about the lack of RMAH is...

You can play Completely Offline


Yes you read that right. You can play the game OFFLINE. A side-effect of removing the Auction House, was removal of any need for any online verification to play the game. Thus Blizzard was able to make the most requested feature of alot of Diablo fans a reality. No more logins. No more "Error 37". No more need for Internet connection to be able to play the game... ever! Just pop in the disc, and you can start slaying the denizens of hell to your heart's content.

With yesterday's announcement of Blizzard removing the Auction Houses on the PC version, I'm hopeful that an Offline mode will be the next thing that will be implemented by Blizzard.

Loot Rate is FUN again


Yes, Blizzard fine tuned the loot, and made it awesome again. The picture above just show how amazing loots are now in the console version. It actually reminds me of Diablo II (particularly patch 1.10-onwards) where the loot is so rewarding (and addicting) that it keeps you hooked in finding more evil things to slay. It captures the very core of the Diablo experience. The best news is, loots are now custom tailored to drop a higher percentage of items that are suited to whatever class you're playing as. In my personal experience, I have actually gotten my fair share of awesome Legendary items. Here's some of what my Demon Hunter found in-game, when I was just starting out at Normal Mode.




If this is but a taste of what "Loot 2.0" will be for the PC version, I'm all for it!

Reworked Boss Fights


Some of the Boss fights in the console version of Diablo III, has been retweaked. They are either given new abilities, new attack patterns, new dialogue, and even new view angles (as seen on top with the Belial boss fight, which looks more epic than ever before) which gives the game a fresh new look and feel, even if you've played the game before on your PC.

A completely new way of playing... using a Gamepad


Mouse + keyboard controls are NOT supported on the console version of Diablo III. Instead, the game is controlled using a gamepad. And after spending much time playing it this way, I actually prefer this method than the mouse + keyboard config. Now, before you raise your pitchforks and claim "sacrilege", I suggest you give it a try first. It feels as if you have a much more direct control over your character than using mouse + keyboard. Yes you will lose the precision of directly targeting specific enemies from afar using this setup, BUT with the game's smart auto-targeting system and Target lock, you won't feel too frustrated dishing out punishment to the denizens of hell. Which brings me to...

The new "Evade" Button Mechanic


As I mentioned in my previous post, exclusive to the console version of Diablo III, is the new "Evade" mechanic. It is an indispensible ability that ALL CLASSES have, which can save you from very hectic situations. It has no cooldown, no cost to use, ensures you don't get hit by monsters/incoming projectiles if timed correctly and is totally very useful throughout your adventure. You can see it in action by watching the clip above (being spoofed by Team Coco at the 1:05 mark).

Completely reworked Inventory System

This is how the Inventory system looked on the PC version:


It's got the usual, familiar look as in the previous Diablo games. Item management in your inventory is pretty much a mini-game of its own, where you try to fit in as much loot that you can, using Tetris-like skills to make everything fit. On the console version, it looks like this:


It may be a stark change from the usual, since the console version of the game doesn't support mouse + keyboards. As clunky as this may look, it actually has some benefits:
  • All items are now organized by its item-type, making it easier to sort thru items.
  • If you noticed below, there's an "Inventory" limit (which says 22/60). This means you can loot as many as 60 items at a time, regardless of its size, as each item is treated as a value of 1. This means lesser trips back to town and time spent making every item fit in your bag.
  • It's easier to compare detailed stats between 2 items as they are placed side by side. Here's how it looks like:
  • There's is now a quick stat guide for those who are not into reading tons of stat effect text. This is great for new players, so that can quickly and easily see whether or not an item is better than the one they are currently holding by just looking at the quick stat guide.

Mutliple ways of Playing Multiplayer


First off, there is no cross-platform multiplayer for the console version of Diablo III. What this means is, PC gamers cannot play with PS3/Xbox360 gamers, just as PS3 gamers cannot play with Xbox 360 gamers. That being said, there is alot of different options for console gamers to play multiplayer with friends:

  • Offline local co-op - one of the highlights of the console version of Diablo III, is this mode. Playing with friends on a single console in the same room, is an experience that is hard to beat. No internet required (but pizza and chips are recommended).
  • LAN Play - if you don't want to share the screen with buddies, then you can hook up 2 PS3 via LAN cable and play multiplayer with your respective screens all to yourself (just like in the PC version).
  • Invite Only - if you want to play online, but you don't like random people popping in your game, then you can invite friends over to join in your game.
  • Friends Only - similar to "Invite Only", but in this mode, you don't need to invite friends to come play. If you set your game to this mode, you simply put up a game room online where only your friends on your friends list can see and join in at anytime while you're playing.
  • Open to Public - similar to "Friends Only", but in this mode you put up a game room online where everyone online can see and join in your game at anytime while you're playing.
  • Quick Match - in this mode, you can search for hosted online games and automatically joins you in the said game. You can set the search based its on its Difficulty level, Mode, Quest, etc.
Adjustable Difficulty modes

As I mentioned in my previous post, the console version of Diablo III allows players to adjust the difficulty to suit their tastes. Unlike the Game mode (Normal, Nightmare, Hell, Inferno), Difficulty simply adjusts a monster's health, damage and number of monsters that appear on the screen.


This is perfect for players with varying experiences with the series. If you're just new to the series (or you're a PC player who isn't used to playing using a gamepad), set it to easy. If you're a Diablo vet and you're comfortable playing with a gamepad, then set it to either Medium or Hard. All 3 difficulty modes (Easy, Medium, Hard) has no differences in terms of item drop rate and experience points bonuses, thus you can switch between difficulties with no problems.

However, if you are up to the challenge, you can set the difficulty to Master I or higher. Setting up the difficulty in this level gives bonuses similar to "Monster Power" mechanic found on the PC version, but works differently for the console version. Here's a quick guide:
  • Master I = +60% Magic Find, +60% Gold Find, +120% XP Bonus
  • Master II = +70% Magic Find, +70% Gold Find, +140% XP Bonus
  • Master III = +80% Magic Find, +80% Gold Find, +160% XP Bonus
  • Master IV = +90% Magic Find, +90% Gold Find, +180% XP Bonus
  • Master V = +100% Magic Find, +100% Gold Find, +200% XP Bonus

Other Notable Differences


Aside from the ones I posted above, here are some notable differences from between the console version & the PC version of Diablo III:
  • Paragon Levels are included in the console version. However, what's different is, Paragon Level bonuses are account wide. This means all characters under your account will receive the bonuses unlocked by a SINGLE Paragon leveled character in your account. So even new characters you create will get those bonuses as well.
  • Nephalem Glory globes are added in the game. These are similar to Healing globes, but they give characters a boost in stats and skills when picked up.
  • Stash space is much more larger than in the PC version when fully upgraded.
  • Crafting gems & gear now have different costs, due to the removal of the RMAH. All ingredients can be easily found in-game.
  • Players are now given a choice how they should be resurrected (go back to town, revive on your last checkpoint, revive on spot).
  • Vendors now actually sell better (useful) gear. Most of which are actually powerful rare items.
So what do you guys think? Sound off your comments below! :)

Diablo III Philippines Comics 6

Diablo III's Auction Houses will finally be no more!

The highly controversial "Auction Houses" will soon be removed from the PC version of Diablo III. In a surprising move by Blizzard, they have announced just now that they will be removing the said feature in order to ensure players that killing monsters in-game will be the most compelling and rewarding way to get better gear. Here's the announcement video:



If you're one of those people who are not fond of the Auction House feature, this may sound as good news. But the kicker? It will be implemented NEXT YEAR, on March 18th, 2014. My guess is that it will be launched along side the expansion pack release.

Despite the said announcement of the Auction House being shut down, there's still no word as to whether or not the PC version will finally have a completely offline mode of play, something that console gamers of Diablo III are currently enjoying.

Blizzard has released an FAQ about the said announcement. You can read up about it here: Diablo III Auction House Update FAQ

So what do you think? Are you alright with the sudden decision by Blizzard to shut down Auction Houses? Or do you think its a mistake? Sound off your comments below. :)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Starting Tips on Playing Diablo III on Consoles

With Diablo III finally coming to the home consoles (PS3 & Xbox360), I decided to put together some tips when starting out on the console version.

NOTE: My apologies in advance for the fussy screenshots, as I took these with my DSLR while I'm playing the game on my PS3.

Customize your Gameplay Setup First

As someone who jumped right in as soon as I got my copy of the game, I realized that I could've had a better time playing the game by customizing the gameplay settings first before jumping right in. You can access this via the Options tab. Here's how to do it:


By default, these options are actually disabled (prolly to match the PC version's look) but enabling some of these options can actually make playing the console version more accessible and more better. Here's some of my suggested options to enable.

Enable Health Bars on Gameplay

Enabling the following under "Gameplay"
  • Display Player Health Bars
  • Display Monster Health Bars
  • Display Player Names

This actually helps out in sorting the chaos that ensues whenever you're being swamped by tons of enemies on screen (this is particularly helpful when playing co-op multiplayer). Here's how it looks like in-game with and without these options enabled:



As you can see, having health bars enabled certainly has lots of benefits when playing for the first time because:
  • It's easier to track where your character is in the game (specially when playing local co-op mutliplayer)
  • Players can easily keep track of their HP (the green bar) without looking at the bar on the lower left side of the screen. This is specially handy when the situation gets very hectic on-screen.
  • Players can easily see where all monsters are lurking.
  • Players can easily see how much HP all monsters in the screen have left.

Enable Show Item Icons

By enabling the option "Show Item Icons on Drop", it becomes easier for you to see where your loots are. Here's a comparison of having it enabled and disabled:



NOTE: The icons DO disappear after awhile, as they will only be there as soon as they drop off a monster. The durable is pretty long enough for you to still see the icons and pick the items up after a fight.

Learn to use the "Evade" mechanic

A feature that's exclusive to the console versions is the ability to evade incoming attacks by moving to the opposite direction using your controllers Right Analog stick (for the PS3 version). This mechanic has no cooldown, no cost, and can practically save you from very tight situations. This move is practically indispensable and very useful (specially for melee characters). Dodging attacks at the right moment means you don't get any damage, and you get to be in an advantageous position to unleash havoc upon your enemies.

Change the game's "Difficulty" to suit your taste

Another feature that's exclusive to the console versions of Diablo III, is the introduction of "Difficulty" levels.


Aside from the typical Diablo modes of gameplay (Normal, Nightmare, Hell, Inferno), the console version introduces Difficulty levels. I'll explain more about the differences about the 2 in detail on my next post, but ideally you can switch difficulties on the fly. If you're a first time player to the Diablo series (or you're a PC gamer who is not used to controlling your character via a PS3 controller), you might want to set the difficulty to "Easy" at first and simply enjoy breezing thru the game and get used to the gameplay before switching to a harder, more challenging difficulty.

Well that's it for now! What are your starting tips in playing Diablo III for the console? Let us know by sharing it on the comments below. :)

A New Contributor!

Diablo III Philippines would like to welcome Martin Jimenez to the blog! :D


Monday, September 16, 2013

The Fowl Lair

I've been to Development Hell which I found in Act 1 (sadly I didn't have the presence of mind to take a screenshot of) where the demons and monsters inhabiting it are named after the team behind Diablo III (quite clever actually). I can only assume that the elites were named after supervisors and team leaders.

Recently, I've been to the Fowl Lair.

It's a relatively small dungeon found in Act 2 filled with chickens (at least I think they were chickens). The objective was to kill a pig (don't worry, it doesn't fight back) and collect the loot it drops.


I have no idea how to find the lair actually. I just assume it's all a mater of luck.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Battle Tips: Terrain

In the various landscapes of Diablo III you don’t usually get to choose where to fight but rather fight where the demons and monsters find you. The type of places you fight in however, does offer its fair share of advantages and disadvantages and knowing these can be the difference between life and death for your character.

There are basically two types of battlefields you’re going to find yourself in: enclosed and open space.

Enclosed Spaces are, either because of man-made (fences, walls, etc.) or natural (rocks, trees, etc.) structures, forces your opponents into a bottle neck. Wikipedia defines a bottle neck as a term “taken from the 'assets are water' metaphor. As water is poured out of a bottle, the rate of outflow is limited by the width of the conduit of exit—that is, bottleneck’. Simply put, there’s not a whole lot of space to move.

This a classic military tactic most famously used by the Spartans against the overwhelming numbers of the Persian Empire. Taking advantage of a bottle neck 300 Spartans held off the Persian Army (supposedly composed of over one million soldiers but projected today to have been much smaller, around between about 100,000 and 150,000) in the Battle of Thermopylae. Because of the bottle neck, Persian Army was unable to use its superior numbers and the Spartans were able to hold their own for a while exploiting this advantage as well as their superior training and equipment.

By finding natural bottlenecks in the terrain and positioning yourself in the right place, your opponents will be forced to come at you 2-4 at a time, giving you a better than average chance of overcoming a horde which would have otherwise overwhelmed you in open space, attacking you from every direction. This is very helpful when you’re faced with monsters that can inflict high levels of damage since they can only attack you taking turns instead of all at once.

The drawback with contained spaces is that you can very well get trapped with no means of escape if you find yourself getting overwhelmed so pick your battles carefully and don’t bite on more than you can chew.

Open Spaces are environments which don’t have a lot of hindrance for movement and you’re pretty much free to run (or dash) in whichever direction you might choose. These kinds of terrain are ideal for hit and run tactics when battling multiple opponents. You can just pretty much deal damage, run away before the enemy can retaliate, and then swoop back in and repeat as needed.

A word of caution however, without a plan you’re bound to spread yourself too thin and get yourself killed in the process. If you’re not too careful, it’s easy to get surrounded by enemies (especially in cases where you’ve taken on more than you can fight effectively). If ever you find yourself in such a situation the best thing you can do is try to get away, regroup (if you’re with a party), and resume your tactic before you get killed.

That being said, this kind of tactic is best for characters with an overabundance of brute force (such as the Monk and the Barbarian), a high armor rating, and natural resistance to damage (both characters receive 25% less damage compared to the other characters). Plus it wouldn’t hurt if you’ve got armor and/or weapons that increase your regenerative capabilities.

Stack the odds in your favor as much as possible and don’t be afraid to run away if needed.

What battle tactic do you prefer?

Diablo III Philippines Comics 5


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Diablo III Has Some Weird Stuff

Conan O'Brien points out some weird stuff from the console version of Diablo III.

Defeated Diablo

I finally defeated Diablo at Inferno Difficulty, Monster Power 2! It was no walk in the park, lemme tell you.

In the past, backed up by overwhelming power (before Monster Power), battling the head honcho usually involved standing your ground and hacking away with the occasional gulp of a health potion when your vitality dwindled down too low for comfort.

Not this time, however.

I had to employ hit and run tactics. Even with my regenerative capabilities, I was sure to lose my head if I just stood there and dealt damage.


I am now back in Act 1, taking on demons and monsters at Inferno Difficulty, Monster Power 3 and I am struggling. Looks like I'm going to need to farm, get more gold, and shop at the Auction House pretty soon again.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Going to need an Upgrade SOON!

I'm currently on Act 2 Inferno Difficulty, Monster Power 2 with my Barbarian on Paragon Level 34.


I'm still managing to hold my own but the demons and monsters are getting tougher and tougher to beat. Aside from the higher vitality of these infernal creatures (not to mention the bigger DPS), the darn things are traveling in bigger packs.

With the odds stacked against me, I am forced to fight smarter AND harder.

Even that's not going to be enough after a while though. I can feel it in my bones. I'm currently merging my gems together (I've got quite a few socketed items). The improved jewels will hopefully bolster my stats so I can progress further to earn a bit of gold (merging gems are expensive) and chance upon better gear.


The last resort is the Auction House of course but things are so frikkin' expensive.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

It's a LONG way to the TOP...

If you want to rock and roll!

Currently on Paragon Level 34 with my Barbarian on Inferno Difficulty, Monster Power 2.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Battle Tips: Mobility

Sun Tzu, the author of the world renowned The Art of War, has always favored speed and mobility over sheer brute strength.

For those of you unfamiliar with it, The Art of War is an ancient Chinese military treatise which has remained as the most important military treatise in Asia for the last two thousand years, so much so that even the common people knew it by name. Leaders as diverse as Mao Zedong, General Vo Nguyen Giap, Baron Antoine-Henri Jomini, General Douglas MacArthur and leaders of Imperial Japan have drawn inspiration from the work.

Sun Tzu certainly knew his stuff so, taking a leaf from his book, I developed several tactics when playing as my Barbarian character in Diablo III.

For reference, below are my character stats:


Slash and Move
Also known as Hit and Run, this is one of the classic tactics in gaming. As the name suggests, you damage your enemy then proceed move to a different position to avoid or reduce incoming damage directed at you via your former location. A very useful tactic, a true classic favored by Sun Tzu.

Avoid being Surrounded
This is easier said than done and, at times, sometimes downright impossible. High DPS, vitality, and armor (plus life regeneration) allow me to survive most in-game life and death scenarios but, as any gamer will tell you, sheer number will eventually overwhelm, wear you down, and kill you.

Know your Surroundings
The type of place you fight offer its fair share of advantages and disadvantages and knowing these can be the difference between life or death for your character. So, whenever possible, get to know where you're fighting (daunting, because some maps change randomly) and know where the exit is.

Always have an Escape Option
After clearing out a dungeon, I make a mental note of its location because I may need to use it as a handy escape hatch if I find that I've bit on more than I can chew, like when you're running away from one group of monsters and run into another horde. That cleared out dungeon is a life-saver.

Do you also feel the need for speed when battling demons and monsters? Let us know your technique in the comments below.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Diablo III Inferno, Monster Power 2

I just started Act 1 in Monster Power 2!

There's more of everything here, monsters and loot (especially the gold). My current stats and gear are coping well but it is just Act 1 after all. I'm probably going to need some major upgrades by Act 2 which will mean another shopping spree at the Auction House. With the gold flowing the way it is now, I'm probably going to be able to afford the more pricier items.

For now, I'm just going to continue merging gems together and ramping up my stats that way.
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