Diablo 3’s biggest flaw is the Auction House

I’m not here to talk about why D3 is good anymore. I’m here to talk about what I don’t like about the game.

Diablo 2 was all about speccing your character right. And you only had one chance at that. Skillpoints went into attributes and you couldn’t undo ‘em. How you fared in the harder difficulties and against elite mobs and super bosses came down to how you customized your character from the very start of the entire game.

Diablo 3 changed all that in order to make it a lot more accessible. It gives you the opportunity to experiment with the skillset, and change it up as you saw fit, with little punishment other than a cooldown to stop you swapping skills in and out on the fly. I have no beef with this mechanic. In fact, I applaud Blizzard for changing the system up in such a subtle way that it may reinvigorate the action-RPG genre moving forward. It especially is good for noobs such as myself who’ve always specced characters wrongly, based not on any logical or statistical analysis, just an irrational enjoyment for this fancy looking spell or that seemingly smashy ability.

But the “skills-build” system is no longer the variable in the equation to D3’s gaming success, the variable falls onto the weapons that every unique gamer wields that’ll help them push their stats that much higher. Well played Blizzard. If there was a way to make loot even more significant and compulsive to collect, it is this way.

Okay, at this point, you say “So? We all know this already. That’s why we loot and that’s why we continually farm. To get better items.”

Well, hear me out. Diablo 3’s biggest flaw is the Auction House.

Gamers who have the monetary means – whether real (coming soon) or in-game gold – will be able to buy the best weapons and armor to ensure their characters are the best specced out to take on the entire game. In fact, heck, the game as it stands encourages everyone to do this. End bosses don’t seem to drop awesome loot at alarmingly quick rates, and buying things from the Auction House just seems a lot more convenient than crafting an item with random stats.

(Image submitted by S1ayer on Reddit:  Diablo 3 after real-money update – Balon to Theon: “That amulet around your neck, did you pay the iron price for it, or the gold?”)

I preferred the old D2 way of farming and exploring and stumbling upon rare loot. It just seemed a lot “fairer” to me that those who earned their gear got it through beating end bosses over and over on harder difficulties. Also, in making it an arms race that anyone can win via the Auction House, what happens when PvP comes around? The only people winning will be the ones able to snap up the best loot quickly.  And what if hypothetically, when they implement the real-money currency, someone goes and buys all the rare and legendary items in the game just to stockpile them and sell ’em back for more?

Some of you may just see this as a whiny gripe because I keep getting one-shotted by mobs in Hell and is fed-up by the constant reminders from friends that the damage I am doing is really too low, and I need to keep buying better bows from the Auction House. Thing is, I don’t want to play a game where all it takes to get good at it, is by getting a better bow. I want to be good at a game where I built my character to the best of my ability, and wore gear and wielded weapons that I found through sheer hard work.

Of course, I don’t have a solution if the Auction House were to be removed. People would still find ways to get the best loot, which is through “black markets” and shady in-game meet-ups. But at the very least, it will be less easy for everyone to become overpowered through financial means. I don’t care if Blizzard won’t be able to police all this black market activity, or that they aren’t getting a cut from the sales of in-game items. That’s not my problem. I just care about the game as a game. I like Diablo 3. I don’t love it, it isn’t one of the best games I’ve played in 2012, but it is like a bag of chips that you know is fattening but you’ll eat anyway. And it is a worthy sequel in the most literal sense of the word. But I just can’t help but feel the game is less about playing it right, and more about buying it right.

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