“Be extremely subtle, even to the point of formlessness. Be extremely mysterious, even to the point of soundlessness. Thereby you can be the director of the opponent’s fate.”
-Sun Tzu, The Art of War
After defeating Belial, The Lord of Lies who couldn’t lie his way out of a paper bag, the player character and caravan head to the cold, battle-worn landscape of Arreat Crater.
Tyrael requests the hero to light the signal fires to rally the troops and let them know that salvation has arrived. Huh? Did these soldiers get a memo saying “If the fires are lit, then the slayer of Belial is here?” That seems a bit of a stretch, but alright.
I get that this quest is an indirect homage to the lighting of the beacons in Return of the King. I just feel like there’s one or two lines of dialogue missing to convey the importance of lighting the beacons. Am I being too picky? Probably. More than anything though I feel I’m ranting about this small point because it shows that while the artwork and background of Arreat Crater is highly detailed and conveys the atmosphere of war, the story feels like it lacks that same kind of attention to detail.
Meanwhile, Leah is struggling with containing the six lords of the Burning Hells trapped inside the Black Soulstone. Hello Foreshadowing, nice to meet you. I’m Rho. Foreshadowing isn’t bad, but I don’t think this much of it was necessary. I mean, if she has trouble containing six… what will the struggle of seven demon lords do to her?
Speaking of Demon Lord #7… Azmodan decides to show his face to us right away. Yes, apparently he has the power to see anywhere he wants to see. Nice demon magic for sure. Such a power should give Azmodan an amazing tactical advantage, being the superior general that he is right?
Nope. Not so much. If I had Azmodan’s “sight beyond sight” I would have sent everything I had against the Nephalem right then and there. Why doesn’t he do this? The only mildly reasonable answer I can think of can be summed up in one word.
Azmodan is the Lord of Sin, and perhaps he was meant to be the embodiment of Pride more than anything. We see other creatures representing other deadly sins throughout Act 3, predominately with Ghom representing Gluttony and Cydea representing Lust. Is Azmodan so proud and overconfident that he wouldn’t even bother using his abilities of foresight to tip the scales in his favor? That’s what I’m forced to believe if I’m going to accept Azmodan to be the villain the game wants us to believe he is.
So the signal fires are lit, the catapults are raised. What’s next? Oh no… there’s a breach in the keep!
I’m really scratching my head about this one. Bastion Keep looks like it must surely have several breaches, not just one. Further, we known Azmodan has winged servants of his that are carrying soldiers to their doom. We’ve seen enormous demons the size of big rig trucks spew out more demonic soldiers from their gaping maws.
My point is… what the heck has kept Bastion Keep so well defended that it only has one troubling breach, and even then, why haven’t Azmodan’s forces just focused their assault on the front gates, or even the side of the keep? The forces of the Burning Hells far outweigh the thousand soldiers stationed here. The math and the logic don’t add up.
I know, I know… it’s fantasy. It’s a game. It’s fun. Stop being a party pooper, right? Like I said when I started this series, I think the game mechanically is decent and fun (auction house woes aside of course.) Perhaps my expectations for the story were too high. I wasn’t expecting a Shakespearean masterpiece, but I was hoping for a story that didn’t feel like some random episode of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.
Fast forward to the death of the Siegebreaker. Oh, hello Adria. Fancy portal magic you got there. Did you learn that trick with Maghda in Witch School? As convenient as the Town Portal is for players, the story sure likes to use portals for the other characters as well. Is there anything inherently wrong with this? I guess not, though it begs the question of why much of the travelling in the game is done on foot if portal magic is apparently available and convenient enough to make it unnecessary.
Cydea was an amusing sub boss. She had a little personality. Nothing too deep, just enough to make you remember her, and that’s fine. Cydea was perhaps the best part about Act 3’s story. I don’t know how something so wrong could feel so right, but it did.
I’m not going to talk about Azmodan’s defeat in detail, because there isn’t anything to tell. He was a baddie. He taunted. He boasted. He got angry. He died. It’s a close call in trying to figure out which demon lord in this game was the best developed one, or the most compelling. Perhaps because neither Belial or Azmodan felt developed or compelling at all.
And so my readers we arrive at the climax to Act 3. The betrayal. The big reveal. The “oh S#!%” moment of the game when the big D makes his… her… its entrance on stage.
I so wanted Adria to be the host for Diablo. I was really praying it wasn’t Leah. I had seen pictures before the game released of a “feminine” structured Lord of Terror, so a small portion of Diablo’s identity was spoiled. Many players predicted Leah would be the host. I was counting on Blizzard to surprise us, to show us suckers that we were dead wrong…
… and I was disappointed again. Instead, Adria is whisked away to be a plot device in the expansion. How convenient.
Leah’s death and change into Diablo felt so wrong. She wasn’t a corrupted soul like her father before her or the Dark Wanderer. She was an innocent, trying to do the right thing. She was following the path of a noble and dedicated follower of the forces of light in Deckard Cain. If the writers’ intent was to disgust me with the way Leah’s body and soul were taken advantage of, then they succeeded.
I didn’t find Leah being Diablo interesting, exciting, or surprising. I just found it disgusting.
Thus I chased after the Prime Evil through the hellgate into the High Heavens…. not because I wanted to slay Diablo “once and for all.”
I just wanted to end this awful story, praying for a miracle in Act 4 that somehow my thoughts and feelings would be changed when it was all over.
What do you think? Leave a comment here or email me at RhoWoW@gmail.com. Thanks for reading and keep your eyes on the blog next week for more.