Seems that the purpose of an ARPG is to demonstrate three primary concepts, which when done fast enough, and accurately enough, translate into 'fun':
1. Strategic placement of character
2. Strategic use/placement of skills
3. Ability to quickly respond to environment and patterns.
Consequences of these decisions should become more severe with level, as mistakes slow progression while time pressures increase. Additionally, as levels increase, complexity should increase, making the game about fast pattern recognition and the ability to solve complex problems with limited resources.
Diablo 3 challenges me on all fronts:
1. The most popular builds do not account for position. Barb WW builds, monk TR builds, and DH strafe builds are unaffected by pathing, and there are no environmental effects to consider, anywhere.
2. The key builds do not significantly consider the placement of skills. There is typically only one skill utilized, and that skill typically does massive AOE damage centered on the path of the player.
3. Complexity and speed do not change. The game does not alter fundamental mechanics between Normal and Inferno. Speed does not change. There is ONLY the scaling of damage and health, with the exception of a few monster affixes, most of which are not particularly strategic, but instant and automatic.
Net effect: lack of strategic satisfaction, lack of meaningful cooperation, and lack of challenge. Stack on top of that cheap mechanics such as vortex, jailor, knockback, and nightmarish, which have no wind-up or visual identifier, and it would appear that most of the game is strategic avoidance of the 1-shot character kill. In point of fact, I don't remember a time when my character was ever NOT killed by a 1-shot. Of the last 100 deaths, I bet 99 were a vortex or fear into fallen 'banelings,' or some such meaninglessness.
This seems to be a fundamental flaw in design for which it is challenging to suggest alternatives. The issue is the fundamental mechanics which are foundations of the game. For example; there is no real pattern recognition, because the popular skills are 1-size-fits-all. There is no strategic analysis of units, their weakness, or their strengths, as there is no change in vulerability/strengths, and skill changes are STRONGLY discouraged. All character types, with the exception of CM wiz, appear to ignore CC, and focus on ultra-high damage with high mitigation, based on avoidance (limited exception).
Beyond this, there appears to be little way to improve the situation, as the community is unable to supply content. If the community could add content to D3 what it did with D2, it could ensure greater strategic consequences. By using stronger environmental effects, coupled with varied enemy abilities, it is possible to force characters to alter their mechanics to counter the new challenges. Unfortunately, there has been no attempt by Blizzard to offer these tools, and combined with forced online play, Blizzard has made the society completely dependent on their patches for any new content, of which there has been effectively none since release.
There may be a few things that can be done, if the will exists:
1. Give the community an editor.
2. Take some of Droth's advice, and alter the cheapest monster affixes.
3. Remove the ability to path through monsters.
4. Increase game speed.
5. Improve monster AI and complexity with level.
After writing this, I feel better, but know better. These things cannot be fixed by the two guys Blizzard has left patching the game. This would require an almost complete re-structuring of the game mechanics, and we cannot expect anything like that. It is disappointing, as I liked D2, and thought Blizz would innovate. My guess is that the game has run its course until the expansion. Hopefully I am wrong.