My regular Diablo 3 foursome decided we wanted to get a good start on our Season 9 characters before running through the Darkening of Tristram last night.  This turned out to be a great decision based on the crazy lag from Patch 2.4.3 that was just fixed yesterday (and the corrupted battle.net cache I ended up with, thanks Blizzard).  Below are some of my thoughts on the event, with a guest appearance from River Song to warn you about:

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The Good

I thought there were a lot of enjoyable elements to the event.  Having played many hours of Diablo 1 in the late 90s the nostalgia train was running full steam immediately.  I’ve always loved the original guitar theme – I even learned how to play the first part of it at one point.  I enjoyed the use of the old font and names for items (Godly Plate of the Whale!) and the intentionally ugly graphics including the original end game cinematic.  Perhaps the best atmospheric moment of the labyrinth was entering the Hall of the Blind and encountering the old light radius mechanic, which led to my friend making another good Doctor Who reference.

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I also really enjoyed the mystery of the bad mushrooms – right when we completed the dungeon and were thinking “that’s it?” we got another little puzzle to solve reminiscent of old adventure games like Myst and The Longest Journey.  And figuring it out earned us all a trip to a literal cow level and a funny baby cow (king?) pet!

The Bad

Unfortunately there were aspects of the event that I didn’t think were so great. The dungeon itself seemed really short for having 16 levels despite several side rooms, and given the amount of time Blizzard spent hyping the event that was disappointing. There’s no real replayability beyond an achievement for going through with a level 1 character.  I felt like they missed the boat with some of the areas where they had interesting mechanics or puzzles but which usually ended up in dead ends with no significant reward.  It also seemed like the labyrinth was designed mostly for new characters – unique equipment didn’t seem to scale at all and the difficulty was laughable.  The Butcher was dead before I even saw him and Diablo died in two hits.  I would have really appreciated some old school drag out fights.

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The Unknown

While the idea of the Soul Shard helmet legendary gem is great, it remains to be seen how powerful or useful it will be.  The Rank 25 power seems especially dubious since you would only get the benefit when rapidly leveling, which you can do more easily by simply getting your friends to carry you in the corner of a Torment VI rift.  Given that The Darkening of Tristram is supposed to be an annual event, will they make any improvements or just roll out the same labyrinth?

What are your thoughts on The Darkening of Tristram?  Let me know below!

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