Anduin Wrynn’s breath steamed from cold and exertion as he crested the steep road climbing from the valleys of Dun Morogh to Ironforge. The pair of adventurers he had wheedled into accompanying him from Stormwind balked at leaving the cloaked and incognito young prince at the base of the mountain, but he promised to reveal himself to the nearest guard if anything went amiss and sent them on their uneasy way.
He drew a few curious glances as he bent down at regular intervals, poking holes in the snow with a stick and dropping in small objects before smoothing them back over, but no one stopped him or asked what he was doing. This was not Stormwind. Dun Morogh hadn’t escaped wholly unscathed from the elemental Cataclysm, true, but Deathwing had not scarred their citadel and orcs were not burning Kharanos. There was still some small room for innocence, so he planted his seeds unmolested.
Diablo II is the first videogame I remember developing an obsession with. I played every character class through to the endgame (except for the necromancer: in minion-on-minion action at the beginning of Act IV even my most powerful golem crumpled like paper before Hell’s candy-aura-fisted skeletons and left me reduced to a puddle of goo before I could say, “Hey, where did everybody go?”).
I never got tired of Deckard Cain’s craggy voice. I think I had a bit of a crush on Tyrael (I watched the final cinematic in Lord of Destruction where he destroyed the Worldstone to prevent the corruption of humanity – well, numerous times). But a lot of games have come and gone in the twelve years between the Diablos. The best narratives approach the complexity of a good novella. NPC interactions have become more – interactive. So after all these years, how does Diablo III’s story measure up?
My husband and I have finished a regular play through with my demon hunter and his barbarian and are halfway through nightmare with his wizard and my monk. So I can’t say we’re not enjoying it. And yet as the tired tropes and unintentional hilarity multiply there’s this little niggling at the back of my mind. After twelve years, Blizzard, this is the best you could do?