Diablo 3 on Hardcore – The end (Part 3)

You might have read my post on finishing Diablo 3 on Hardcore (Inferno) or my D3 guide covering strategies that got me through hardcore. With that out of the way, I can share my thoughts on what it was like to finish.

End of a Saga

I have played through a massive pile of video games ranging from short classics like Contra and Street Fighter to endless MMOs like WoW and Phantasy Star Online. I will begrudgingly say that no game I have played, I have played as much as Diablo 3.

Diablo 3 took me roughly a year to complete on Hardcore Inferno. For a good portion of that – 5 months or so – I didn’t play because I rage quit out of frustration. However, I persisted and did finish, *high five*. When I decided to finish the second time after the console release, I didn’t play any other games and just paced myself by grinding a couple hours here and there and patiently building up my characters. I had a few false starts but ultimately, I just took it really slow and finished, that was all there was to it.

By the time I was up to Inferno on that final playthrough, my characters were over-leveled (by design, mind you, I was in the mid 60s for those who care) that finishing the game was not very difficult. I realized that I was ready to blow through the levels when I was dropping enemies with one-shot and was able to tank through even the toughest hordes of enemies. In some ways, I was disappointed that it had gotten so easy when I got to the end.

Getting to the end, the journey to Inferno, was the real challenge. When I started, I frequently got ahead of myself and rushed into bigger battles than I could handle.  By the time I had started the characters to ultimately make it through, I was sick of the game, sick of starting over, but still stayed driven to finish. By the time I was at the end, I knew the variants of labyrinths (there are 4-5 per zone) so well that I knew exactly what I needed to do and the game had long since become pointless. Better put, the game had become grudgingly familiar, like running drills during a basketball practice or swimming laps.

Finishing the game was as much a relief as anything else. I finished the game then thought, “Well that’s over, what do I do now? Start a new game? Pick up a new hobby?” I played through Zelda Skyward Sword recently and couldn’t help but be reminded of my Diablo 3 playthrough – the experience of playing Zelda was degraded a bit because the challenge pales in comparison yet still reminded me of the grind.

Diablo 3 just might have burned me out on video games.

Closing thoughts

Perhaps you didn’t expect this… Perhaps you expected me to be a sycophant for the wonder that comes from Blizzard’s addictive formulaic games that ring nostalgia to those of us who played the games’ ancestors in college. This isn’t the case. 2014 might be the year of less video games for me. If so, it was Diablo 3 that brought me to a breaking point. Maybe that’s a good thing, I am stretched thin by my hobbies as is.

If I could go back and stop myself from that first Hardcore run, I would. Playing through became an obsession that really wasn’t worth it and that was frustrating in a way that was not fun. Until I had finished it, Diablo was sitting there mocking me.  The more that I got invested in the challenge in time, the more compelled I became to finishing but also the more impatient I became with the game. The whole time I realized that the time I dumped into playing will never come back. Every character lost represented a chunk of time and effort lost. Although I mostly played when I would have wasted my time on something else, I still feel like I wasted too much time on this particular endeavor.

As mentioned previously, Diablo 3 isn’t the most awesome game. After you play it through once or twice on normal, there really isn’t anything else to the game. The repetition did become meditative and eventually finishing did leave a sense of accomplishment matching many of the most difficult things I have done. In a weird way, I had plenty of in-game time to do some soul-searching and I did. I feel that I grew in how patient  I was even outside of the game and I had fun unlocking the intricacies of the game’s virtual world. At the end of the day, the sacrifices that I had to make and the burn-in that I now have from adventure games really costed more than the feeling of triumph at the end or any personal growth that happened while swamping through the forlorn dungeons.

If you have finished like I did, hats off to you! In some way, those who finish are part of a club of estranged lunatics. I have met some other folks who also finished and we have shared a knowing look of disdain for the game’s antics over a beer or two.

Just recently, a new update, Reaper of Souls, was released into Beta and I was invited to play. I have no intention of playing it because, Diablo 3, we are done, and I am tired of your lonely dungeons. I think I’ll go read a book instead.