That said, I can't look at this game on its merits alone. It's the sequel to one of my favorite games of all time, a game I played for more hours than I can count. It has to be held to the same standard and that's where my disappointment lies. Diablo 3 pales in comparison to Diablo 2.
I've read many well thought out and articulate posts theorizing where it went wrong and I've agreed with most of the points made, but I don't think they get to the very heart of it. I don't agree with the argument that the RMAH is responsible for this game's failures. If Blizzard was trying to cash in it would only make sense to make the best, longest lasting game they possibly could. I believe they attempted to do that.
I'm not the first to come to this conclusion, but wanted to express it in my own words. The issue with Diablo 3 is a philosophical one. There's a fallacy that simple, easy to understand games appeal to a broader audience of gamers, an idea that complexity will confuse and frustrate the masses, scaring them away, an underestimation of what the average gamer can handle if you will. Blizzard based the projected success of Diablo 3 on this idea. This is evident not only in the design of the game but in the many blue posts you see throughout these forums defending decisions that were made like removing character stats, ability trees, etc... They didn't want people to have to look online to find the best build. They didn't want to confuse people with the complexity of stats. They wanted to make it easy for everyone.
The key to successful action movie sequels is more. More action, more gore, more bad guys. You have to take it to the next level. I think the same applies to games so when I envisioned Diablo 3 I was expecting Diablo 2 and then some (yes, after LOD). That means more base items, more charms, more legendaries, more sets, more suffixes and affixes, more rune words and gems. More character types, abilities, and stats. More acts, bosses, and elaborate dungeons (visually and schematically).
Diablo 2 is probably the most complex game I've ever played. The market for item values was continually evolving. The number of builds you could make with your character varied from a cookie cutter frozen orb sorc to creating a whirlwind assassin using an obscure item ability. There were a ton of different things to do at any given time. Gambling, gold runs in Travincal, boss runs (and each boss had it's own advantages with better odds to drop specific items), uber tristram, farming keys for uber tristram, joining games looking for super diablo, crafting, Pindleskin runs, Baal runs for leveling, pvp stuff, ladder resets, looking for deals in the trade chatroom... I could go on. These are things that made the game last as long as it did, yet they in no way impaired a casual gamer from enjoying the game.
With all that complexity it would definately be a tough task to provide that and more, but I had faith, given the development time and Blizzard's reputation. However, instead of getting Diablo 2 and more we got Diablo 2 minus the complexity, basically an ill-guided attempt to attract more casual gamers. The problem with this is complexity did not scare casual gamers away from Diablo 2. Most of my friends are casual gamers and they loved it. If anything the complexity turned casual gamers into hardcore fanatics. The problem with removing complexity is that you are removing variety and variety is what will keep people coming back for more.
As the game currently stands the number of things to do are very few and mostly involve getting five stacks of NV and farming elites. The removal of character stats has resulted in basically three different armor types being viable since everything else has too low of an armor rating and ilvl (potential stats) to be worth wearing. You no longer have to worry about having enough strength to equip the heaviest armor. Limiting players to six abilities has forced players to use specific combinations in order to progress through inferno. Instead of trying to balance character types against each other why not balance character abilities so people can use different builds? Yes, I'm totally generalizing, but essentially we have players running around in the same armor, using the same builds, getting five stacks of NV and killing elite packs. How far they are along in the game depends on their skill and the level of their gear and when I say level of their gear I am talking about differences between an item with 100 DEX vs an item with 150 DEX, not in different item ability choices. That's Diablo 3 in a nutshell. It's fun for a while. It's a good game. It isn't Diablo 2.
I don't know if the game can be fixed. I don't think the "endgame" proposals that have been thrown around are going to save it, but they would help. All of the panic patches haven't even addressed this issue of complexity aside from making it worse by nerfing many of the options we had. I quit 3 weeks ago at around 160 hours I believe and won't be back for a long time if ever. Maybe an expansion will bring me back. Maybe they will get it right with Diablo 4. I've never posted on a game forum before, but I had to come on here and vent just because I keep dreaming of the Diablo 3 that was in my head. I'm still not over it.
I could probably write a novel on this (ok I practically did), but I'm going to stop here.