Yesterday I talked about a few ARPGs I had been playing as an attempt to get the Diablo Immortal thing out of my system. Since then a handful of you have suggested other games to me, and I thought I would take a moment this morning to talk about a few competitors for the “next great ARPG” crown that I have spent some time playing. This has always been a genre that appealed to me, so as something new comes down the pipe I tend to check it out at least for a bit. These projects seem especially popular on Kickstarter because everyone seems to have loved Diablo 2 and wants to build a better version of it. That can be a positive or a negative, especially considering post Diablo 3 I found it almost impossible to go back and play Diablo 2 again.
We will start off with the weirdest entry in the list first, largely because it does a lot of things… not like other games. First off this is primarily a WASD game with your primary attack being on Left Mouse click and Q and E being secondary attacks and Right Mouse serving to spin the camera around. It takes some getting used to, and a lot of people prefer to play this with a controller as a result. However I found it to be an interesting blend of movement that really landed well for me personally. I wrote a more proper review of this back in 2016, but honestly it is still worth checking out. I do not currently have this installed but that might be changing soon as it is a good option to dig back into.
Steam Link but also available on several consoles
Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr
One of the core problems with Games Workshop licensed games is they vary greatly in quality. As a result when I see a new one pop up I am immediately suspicious and throwing more than a little side-eye. However occasionally my curiosity gets the best of me and I try one of them. This one however was really fun… up until a point which unfortunately for me happens to be the fifth mission. I have always hated “protect the idiots” missions and in general I hate the tower defense mechanic. This mission unfortunately incorporates both elements, where not only do you have to survive a wave of assaulting chaos forces and defend a point… but you also have to keep your idiot guardsmen alive in the process. If I can get over this frustrating hurdle the game will probably go right back to being a really fun amalgam of Diablo and the Warhammer 40,000 universe that I love.
This is probably the best ARPG that is not Diablo 3 if I am going to be completely honest with myself. The setting is interesting because effectively you are roaming a world after what is effectively a demonic invasion. It feels as though you are running around a post apocalyptic version of our world, and they get big points with me for including shotguns as a viable and balanced weapon choice option. This was I believe initially built upon the Titan Quest engine… which is another really awesome but aging APRG. However the game feels like it has long moved past that and is now sort of its own thing. I’ve never made it terribly far into the game because it feels very slow paced, which is a lot of the problem I have with most of the “we remember Diablo 2 and wanted to create a better version” games.
Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem
Now we enter the realm of the “still in alpha” competitors, with Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem. This is probably my favorite of the modern ARPGs but it is still very much rooted into the “lots of things are broken” range of games. It is fun enough to play around with but the last I really played this seriously… there were moments where the difficulty seemed to be stacked against melee characters. Other than playing a Demon Hunter to rapidly unlock seasonal content occasionally… if an ARPG doesn’t feel good in melee then it probably isn’t something I am going to stick around for long. That however was back in February and I am sure they have tweaked a lot of things in the meantime. I should give it another proper look and see how it feels now.
Another game from the “super alpha” territory is Last Epoch. This is one of the ones that Ashgar specifically has suggested a few times, because it does look really interesting. As a result I took the $50 hit so you don’t have to, because right now that is the cheapest supporter package that grants you instant alpha access. I played around for a very short time last night, largely because it has two key flaws in my mind… that admittedly may change over time. Firstly the classes appear to be gender locked, and while that is a super common thing in asian arpgs… it pisses me the fuck off. Yes I realize both Diablo and Diablo 2 had gendered characters, but we should have moved past that. Granted again this might just be something they have done before there is not a proper character creator in place yet so I am letting this one slide for the moment. The other major issue is the fact that movement and basic attack are not the same key… so as it is set up right now you move with left click and attack with right click… leading for a really goofy feeling experience. This is going to be one of those games like Wolcen that I pop my head into periodically to see how it has improved.
Now we are going to take a jaunt into the territory of my favorite Diablo game that is not Diablo… and that is Hellgate: London. I am one of a handful of people who still carry around a bright glowing torch for this game, largely because I love both what it was… and am wistful about what it might have been. There are ways to still play the original game, and there is even a modding community to make it look better… but the above screenshot is from the Hanbitsoft version of the game released in South Korea and occasionally has been available for english speaking players. This is relevant because on November 15th this game is returning and will be available on Steam. I really don’t know much about what that is going to entail, other than the fact that we are supposedly getting the base game and all of the expansions that were released in South Korea. I’ve talked about this so many times, but here is a specific post from 2015 about trying to get back into the game. Even though this coincides with the launch of Fallout 76… you can damned well bet I will be checking this out on the 15th of this month.
So the only problem is… that I have rattled off a list of alternatives to Diablo 3… but none of them really fully cover the things I like about it. I love the fast paced and frenetic gameplay that comes when you get together with a bunch of your friends and run things like Rifts or in the case of this screenshot… consume a ring and go fight Greed. It does a very specific thing that no other game really is doing, that is largely because I love Diablo 3… not in a begrudging way like so many fans of the franchise have over the years… but I legitimately love all of the changes that were made. While I loved Diablo 1 and Diablo 2 at the time… I wholeheartedly love what Diablo 3 became. Granted that is love of a post seasonal Diablo 3, long after the RMT auction house bullshit was removed and the legendary drop rates greatly fixed. However it just does a thing that none of the games above are really doing for me, and as a result… I will still be depressed and disappointed that we didn’t get that Diablo 4 announcement.
That said I am absolutely not one of those people who is going to refuse to play Diablo Immortal. I am going to try it out but I have huge fingers and mobile screens are tiny… so I might need to try and figure out a reasonable android tablet option to make it feel not horrible. I am already running into this issue with Dragalia Lost and some of the other mobile games that I have been dipping my toes into in order to sort of prepare my Psyche for the existence of this thing. I am still disappointed and still think it was a poor time to make this announcement, but I am not going to rage against it existing… because there is plenty of room for games that aren’t for me to exist in the world. However it also doesn’t mean I have to be happy about it.