The Sad Story of Diablo 3 : Act 1

As I’ve mentioned before, my biggest gripe with Diablo 3 had nothing to do with the game and everything to do with the story. Before we go on let me just say that I thought the game as a whole was fine. It has its flaws, sure. It’s not Diablo 2, obviously. Diablo 3 is a product of years of development and it shows especially in the visual presentation. I’d personally rate the game an 8 out of 10.

The following blog articles over the next couple of weeks contain my opinion and commentary on the plot of the storyline. Feel free to disagree. In fact, any comments you have are more than appreciated. You might be able to shed some light on something I’m not seeing from my point of view.

So in the words of Deckard Cain (1996-2012) … stay a while, and listen.

The opening cinematic is a feast for the eyes and sets the stage well. In retrospect, Deckard Cain’s survivability in the face of certain doom seems amazing at the very start of the game. Something large and fiery falls from the heavens and leaps a gaping hole of flame and rubble in its wake, descending into depth of the old cathedral. Leah, who was right next to Cain, survives. Cain’s whereabouts are unknown…

Wait, unknown? I’m sorry, if I turned around and saw a huge fiery pit of doom that was left behind by a freaking meteor, I would naturally think Cain didn’t survive. Leah tells your player that Cain was blasted into the depths of the cathedral.

Now, I understand that rescuing Deckard Cain is motivation for questing forward, but each of the heroes came to Tristram to investigate the falling star to begin with. I would argue that it wasn’t even necessary to put Cain in jeopardy at this part of the story, especially when you contrast it to his eventual demise.

Leah is an interesting character, and I find she is interpreted a dozen ways when people critique the story. Some people seem to think she flip-flops, or changes her attitude and opinion on the dark times before them too quickly. Let’s be clear about something. Leah believes in skeletons. She believes in zombies. She even believes in demons from the very get go. What confuses people is that she simply refuses to believe that the “end days” are upon the world, based on the fact that horrific things have occurred before and the people of Sanctuary have endured. The failing in the story here is that I think this point isn’t made clear enough for people to understand.

I do think that having Leah talk about opening an inn someday was… way off topic. I’ll chalk it up to her trying to distract herself from the gloom and doom of her journey.

The Stranger’s identity wasn’t much of a mystery to me from the moment I discovered him, but that’s simply because I caught the hint from the opening cinematic. “Justice shall fall from the heavens.” I thought this was actually rather clever to plant that hint so early.

The leader of the Coven, Maghda, was one of the first elements of the story that really didn’t sit right with me. This is a witch in the world of Sanctuary? Someone dressed up in purple and green, looking like the cousin of insert Disney villain here? The Dark Faerie Queen of the Butterflies is not the kind of image I envision when thinking of a witch in Sanctuary. Compare Maghda to Adria later in the story and you see two entirely different interpretations of a Sanctuary witch. If there had been some more lore or background on Maghda that explained her rise to power, her magics, her ties to Belial, and more then I think I would have a different opinion of her. As it is, she’s an overly colorful yet generic villain that gets way too much screen time in the story.

Moving on… we’re about to recover the third shard of the Stranger’s sword when all of a sudden… wait, what the heck just happened here?

So Maghda and some of her cronies magically travelled to New Tristram without being spotted by the guards or anyone else. They had a way to teleport directly into Deckard Cain’s house and lucked out that both Cain and the Stranger were there. Leah getting trapped herself isn’t as big a deal. New Tristram is not in flames or under siege. Everyone outside is clueless of the coven’s presence in the dead center of the town. Mind you, this is a town that has fended off hundreds of walking dead from within and without for weeks. Meh…

If you’ve followed my advice, from Twitter or earlier posts you may have checked out the most recent episode of Shattered Soulstone. At the end, the hosts go over an email I sent them regarding several points in the story, including the death of Deckard Cain. Nevik made an interesting point that it may have not been Maghda’s magic that killed Cain, but rather the power that surged from Leah in her outburst. That’s a fair point I hadn’t considered. Maghda wanted Cain to reforge the sword, and she wouldn’t have tried to kill him before that act was done. Once Maghda and those left in the room have taken the fury of Leah’s chaotic power, she concedes Cain and decides to take the Stranger with her by dragging him down some dark portal.

Here’s where I’m lost though. If Maghda has this amazing teleport and portal magic that could let her cronies get where they need to go… why did she not take Cain and the Stranger with her before Leah even showed up. Heck, why not send Leah somewhere else where she can be held captive and the potential for her unleashed rage can be kept in check far away from Maghda and her current plans?

In my opinion, Cain’s death was executed poorly. It does drive the plot further. It gives a reason for the hero to continue on into Act 2 beyond just fighting the forces of Belial. But shouldn’t fighting the forces of Belial be enough?

The beginning and the end of Act 1 uses Deckard Cain as motivation when it wasn’t necessary. Cain’s end was at hand. I knew this would likely happen when I first started playing Diablo 3. I just feel that it came too soon in the story, and at a time where its impact is not needed to push the forces of light further into their conflict with the last lords of the Burning Hells.

What do you think? Leave a comment here or email me at Thanks for reading and keep your eyes on the blog for the next article on Act 2’s story woes.

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