Diablo 3 is no RPG

I’m tired of Diablo 3 is being referred to as an RPG. Hell, it was even nominated for the 2012 Golden Joystick Best RPG Award. Skyrim was the winner, rightfully so since it actually is an RPG and a damn fine one at that. Now, I like Diablo 3, don’t get me wrong. It’s a great game, but it’s a great action, loot-fest game, not a RPG game.

There are prerequisites that every RPG game should have, these include Character creation and development, and choices in the game world that have consequences.

Your Character

Diablo 3 may have your standard RPG characters with dungeons and dragons and so forth but your warrior/magic user/thief-ranger abilities and level progression are more like an FPS game than an RPG. Unlocking new powers as you advance through the game is not unlike receiving a rocket launcher or sniper rifle in a shooter. There’s no choice in customizing your character or over-powering one skill at the expense of another. You’re simply handed an ability once you hit a certain point in the game.

Two level 60 characters are essentially identical in loadouts, both having access to the same skills and abilities. This is a great concept in that you’re not locked into poorly chosen skills that you end up never using however you loose that feeling of building a unique character. This was one of my favorite features of Diablo II. I loved the ability to pour points into one or two skills so that I was grossly overpowered in that skill compared to other people at my level.

Character attributes are a joke in this game. The primary attribute of your class is the only one of importance as it directly effects your damage output. The other attributes just serve as weapons and armor requirements. There is no point in the game where a certain dexterity score will allow you to open a locked door or a high strength score to bash down a gate.

Quests and the Game World

Diablo 3 doesn’t have quests. They may be called quests, but they’re no more than points to advance the storyline. These “quests” are also non-negotiable and only offer a single outcome. For instance if you want to proceed further in the game, you have to kill the Skeleton King or free Leah’s mother from the Wretched Pit. There are a few side quests and event quests that are optional but they still offer only one outcome.

For a game that randomly generates dungeons it’s awfully linear in how it tells the story. At no point are we faced with making any tough decisions. Do we save one NPC but condemn the other? Do we side with a thief or the townsfolk he stole from? None of that happens. The game has no consequences, because we don’t have any decisions to begin with. I would appreciate even something simple like merchant quests that give you bonuses for one merchant but piss off the others.

So there you go. I think I’ve complained enough. I understand that Diablo3 is a simple fast-paced game, and you just can’t get the depth of something like Skyrim out of it.  But just because it has warriors, wizards and dungeons doesn’t mean its an RPG.

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