Diablo was one of the first games to resonate with me truly. I am still unsure how it came to be in my collection, but I vividly remember owning it for my Playstation. That’s right, I might be the only person who owned Diablo for the original Playstation. After talking with a few friends about how I enjoyed it, I learned quickly that I should be playing it for PC. Diablo was the first game that I purchased a second time, so I could get the whole experience on the PC, and at that moment I was officially converted from a console gamer to a PC game. Diablo was a formative game for me across multiple avenues, not only did it make me a life long lover of Action RPG games, it made me a life long PC gamer. Diablo 2 only deeper ingrained both into my identity. By the time Diablo 3 had come out, I was so deep into my love affair with Path of Exile, it didn’t bother me that Diablo 3 did not live up to expectations. Finally, Diablo Immortal shattered and belief that Blizzard would ever ship a Diablo game that would resonate with me again, I was comfortable with that, as I have Path of Exile releasing expansion-tier content every three months, and Last Epoch on the horizon with a very promising start.

I didn’t take much heed to the announcement and information coming out about Diablo 4, I had already made up my mind, I wasn’t going to play it. Although, there was no avoiding the details about the game, not that I was intentionally avoiding it, I was simply just not seeking it out. Slowly but surely my intent to not play the game had been eroded, and the early access event, which allowed those who pre-ordered the game by paying $100 dollars to play the game over a weekend had wiped away the last bit of resistance I had. The reports coming from many of the Path of Exile content creators, whom I trust, were positive at best and mixed at worst. With the open beta weekend coming, there was no reason why I couldn’t try it. So I did.

Diablo 4 is a fun game, I really have nothing negative to say about my experience in the open beta. Simply put, I enjoyed it. The game absolutely lacks deep systems which both Path of Exile and Last Epoch employ to keep it interesting and engaging, but that’s okay, Diablo 4 doesn’t need to be a replacement for those games, just a supplement to them. Path of Exile has 10 years of content releases to ensure that engaging systems exist in the game, it would be unfair to compare the complexity of a game that has not been released yet to it. Depending on how Blizzard chooses to handle seasonal content, it may have enough systems, to feel as complex and engaging as Path of Exile, and even if it doesn't, that’s still okay, the foundation of the game is still enjoyable. Ultimately, Diablo 4 is good, but not great. There are no glaring problems or issues with the game, but it certainly isn’t a contender for game of the year, in my book.

The open beta had no indication of monetization of the game, we know there is going to be something, but we don’t know in what form it will be. We have two data points to make assumptions from, the first is Diablo Immortal, the worst of the worst, the game that continues to hound you with pop-ups to buy more rewards upon completion of any content. The other is Blizzard’s word that they will not monetize Diablo 4 in the same way. Ultimately, I don’t believe them, there is absolutely no way that Diablo 4 will not have some sort of predatory tactic for monetization in the game, we live in a capitalist world after all. What I am unsure of is at what length they will go to monetize the game, there is no way they go as far as Diablo Immortal after the backlash they received either. How far do they go, and how much will it ruin the game experience for me? I am not against monetization of live server games, you have to pay for the ongoing cost of servers and development somehow, but I just ask that you do it with some semblance of ethics.

Regardless of how the monetization plays out in the short term, I won’t be buying Diablo 4 on release for one simple reason. The game is not worth paying $70 for. I have difficulty justifying paying $70 for any game, justifying it is even harder for a game that is good, but not great. On top of that, it is a game that still has question marks about the state of monetization. Diablo 4 is a game that I would rather miss out on than pay $70 for, simply put. In a world where there are an almost infinite number of games that I could spend my time playing, and the cost of many of them are half of what I would pay for Diablo 4, $70 is a hard sell, and I am not buying.

If Diablo 4 ultimately is the blockbuster that we all hope it is, then I can still buy it later. If the seasonal content provides the complex and engaging system which I love about Path of Exile, there is nothing stopping me from paying the $70 at a later date to play the game. In a world where Diablo 4 can still be a wasteland of exploitative monetization tactics or a bastion of ARPG game design, there is zero risk in simply waiting to see how it plays out. I have zero FOMO with this one, if I am late to the party, I will not regret the time spent playing Last Epoch or other games until I know for certain that Diablo 4 is world $70, let alone playing at all.

I’ve been playing Magic for over twenty years now, the shape of my play has changed over the years, but through most of my adult life, the game was there in some respect. That is until recently, as Magic: The Gathering Arena has put a sour taste for the game in my mouth. Don’t get me wrong, Hasbro’s constant need to maximize profit and print as many cards as possible isn’t helping either. I could decouple the sins of the company from the game I loved, but between Arena and maximum capitalism, I can no longer stomach the game. Many of my gripes are going to be personal, if you enjoy playing Magic: The Gathering: A Deckmaster Game, please know that it is not my objective to convince you otherwise.

The beauty of Magic was there was a nearly infinite set of combinations of cards to include in your deck to create unique and interesting interactions. Arena still has this, but the problem is, the meta constantly consolidates into a set of 4-6 specific decks that are maximized to win. I can only play so many games against White Lifegain before it starts to grate on me. Since Arena is blind matching, the intent is to run a deck that is performant against the decks you are most likely to play against, as a result, we end up with a small pool of ultra-optimized decks which dominate the meta. For me, exploration and deck building was most of the fun of the game. My fondest memories of Magic was when I would spend hours researching cards to include in my janky deck to beat my friend’s janky deck, which I had not beaten in weeks. Arena is missing, in my mind, the most important and fun part of Magic, the local meta. A local meta is a small ever-changing set of decks within a small playground, which makes deck creation much more interesting and fun.

I may just be a cranky old man who is fixated on the days of yore, but I personally do not find the style of play within Arena fun. I fully understand that the concept of a local meta is not dead and gone, but my playgroup has broken up, and I don’t have the time, or the desire to find a new playgroup and start from scratch. I know I am simply asking for Arena to be something that it never can be, there will never be a local meta at the scale at which Arena reaches, this is the natural progression of a large pool of players, and there is hyper-consolidation of the meta. Above all else, Arena incentives winning, you get absolutely nothing for losing, to progress your collection, or to play modes other than constructed, you must win. Of course, to win, you must play an optimized meta deck.

I was hoping that Arena was a way that I could engage with one of my favorite hobbies, but ultimately it made me stop playing altogether. Arena is bad for Magic but very good for profits for Hasbro. I know there is nothing I can do to change this, I am just ultimately an old man yelling at clouds on the internet who misses his old, favorite hobby.

I’ve spent so long playing games where I can experience all content by myself, I forgot what it was like to play games with other people, especially other people who weren’t my friends. I’ve mostly been playing games that can be fully experienced as a solo player, even some multiplayer games, but I am either playing with friends or by myself.

Warhammer: Darktide is different though, the game is intended to be played with four people, and, as of this moment, there is no way to play without other people. I really want to like the game, it’s fun, but I have to play with randos.

Darktide has reminded me how much I dislike playing games with other players, from people who have no idea what the fuck they are doing, to people who yell at me for having no idea what the fuck I am doing, it’s a frustrating experience to rely on people who you do not know in a game.

After about 10 hours of play, I am debating if I should stop playing, I really do not enjoy playing games with randos, and I am unsure how some people live this way.

Fortunately, both Path of Exile and Escape from Tarkov have major content releases in the coming weeks, I am looking forward to going back to my playstyle of only people I know, or completely and utterly alone.

I have tried to blog a number of times, and each article takes me days and days of proofreading and pouring over each work to ensure that the flow of the articles is to my liking. Whereas once start a Twitter thread, I drop into a stream of consciences and simply put my thoughts into small, bite-sized pieces of content. Maybe it's the nature of the medium, where a blog feels like an article that requires a higher level of precision of language, or maybe the nature of the bird app is such that I can just throw words onto the page and send it out feeling no pressure to elevate it. I feel like for this venture I need to live in a world where I set the expectations for myself more like Twitter, but put them into a longer form. Hell, very few people will likely read this anyways, more people read my tweets and I toss them over the fence with reckless abandon.

My goal here is to capture a much more verbose version of my Twitter feed, from Path of Exile to programming and politics, this will be my new sounding board as we watch the bird app descend into the depths of hell.

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