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Above: The first big step towards redemption?

Diablo III lost me.

It had me, lost me, had me again (very shortly), and then lost me indefinitely.

This ship had sailed LONG ago, Blizzard; there was no way in hell to get me back on the Diablo III bandwagon. I rode that hype train long enough: pre-purchasing Diablo III, promptly leveling my toon to 60, and then quickly plateauing into an uneventful life of gold grinding and auction house watching. But after the initial excitement of finally burning through the different levels of difficulty, watching for Auction House deals like some reality tv coupon cutting yahoo , and exploring the new classes, I felt uninspired. When all the dust had settled, Diablo III was just…bleh.

There was a point in my Diablo III gaming life where I sat there for the majority of my evenings, scouring the auction house, trying to upgrade my gear to whatever fraction of a level I could, and I thought to myself, “This is B.S. Games shouldn’t be like this” and slowly stopped logging in. People from vanilla Diablo III remember those horrible days well: You logged on, would grind for gold, then check the auction house. That was about it. There was no trading of items, multi-player was pointless and uninspiring, and the replay-value (over time) became almost non-existent.

So, I left. I briefly came back (for all of a week and a half) then I left for over a year. I’m talking over a year of not even coming remotely close to logging on to Diablo 3. You know what the sad thing was? I didn’t miss it. I didn’t miss playing Diablo 3 in the least bit. If anything, I was sad that it had failed my (and the diablo community’s) expectations.

Then, Diablo III: Reaper of Souls came out. With it came promises of revamped gameplay, items, classes, etc. I was mildly intrigued. After scouring many video game forums, I decided to give Diablo one final shot.

Remember how I told you that it had been a while since my last log in? When I attempted to log in and purchase the new expansion, I couldn’t; my account had been frozen due to inactivity. I had to get on the horn with Blizzard and explain my situation before they finally unlocked my account and let me download the new expansion. Thats how detached I had become.

When I finally downloaded the game, logged in, and saw my faithful Witch Doctor staring back at me (in the same gear I had left him in no less), old memories of bleary-eyed auction house watching crawled back into my brain. I cringed slightly, before entering Reaper of Souls.

I’m going to go ahead and cut the BS; Diablo is back. This game is better on so many levels that I have no idea where to start! How about this? The Auction House is now a barren, empty, lifeless piece of history. Thank you Blizzard. New class. Awesome. Bounties, Rifts, and blood shards (oh my!)? What?! This is more like it!

The loss of the auction house, plus the addition of rifts, bounties, and item crafting (even trading, to an extent!), ushered in a new (for Diablo 3) gaming experience –playing with other people. Holy crap! Who would have thought?! Playing with friends is fun?! What a concept! Now, more than ever, I wanted to team up with my three best buddies, divide and conquer bounties, open insanely difficult rifts, and kill insane wave after insane wave of minions! This was the Diablo I had been waiting for. This was the experience I expected back in 2012. My mind reeled as I gathered blood shards in hopes of trading them in for legendary gear…I crushed one bounty quest after the next…opening just one more rift for the night! The next thing I knew, the clock read 3am–3AM! I hadn’t had a late night bender in ages!

The interconnectedness of the game is absolutely wonderful. Complete bounties to get experience, gold, and mystery boxes to open (which always give you blood shards and Rift Keystones). You use the Rift Keystones to open, well, rifts. You slay countless minions (I’m talking Evil Dead level of minions) to bring out the Rift Guardian–who then drops more blood shards, legendaries, etc. You then use all of your collected goodies and exchange them with vendors for the chance at more awesome legendary gear. Add the fact that you can join in with any friend(s) (new and old) as they open a rift and the dungeon crawling is never ending!

Later that week I met up with my brothers and a friend for a podcast we do and I spent a good 15 minutes talking about the new Diablo expansion. Their faces went from head-shaking disappointment (in the fact that I was getting sucked back into D3) to looks of intrigue and hopeful skepticism, as I laid out in detail the great lengths Blizzard went through to improve Diablo 3. I encouraged them to try the expansion. 24 hours later I received a text. It simply read:

“Diablo is back!”

This coming from scorned D2 loyalists who had long given up on one of their favorite franchises. I decided to wait a few weeks before I wrote this article. I’m still playing Diablo III and I’m still loving it. Why am I still loving it? Because I’m having fun playing a game with friends! Blizzard has done it. Blizzard has me back on board. To that I say touche, Blizzard, touche. I look forward to the bright future of Diablo.