Originally Posted by Magnate
Anyway, if you thought D2 lacked replayability, I think D3 will be a huge disappointment. It's just as big if not bigger in terms of number of areas - and the scenery's very pretty, and as I've noted before they've done a good job of making the procedural generation give each area a slightly different feel each time through (cf. Hellgate's terrible repetitiveness).
But the real replayability in D2 was about skills. It's what kept me playing through again and again - I loved finding uniques I'd never found before (and the fact that they dropped from Act I Normal onwards was a big part of that) - but that was a pleasant side-effect, not a reason for replaying the game.
Let's take the barb as an example, since the class is common to D2 and D3. In D2, my first barb was a sword-using Frenzy barb. My second was an axe-using Berserker. My third was a mace-using Concentrate barb (in 1.1x when Concentrate got huge defensive synergies), my fourth was a throwbarb, fifth was a singer, sixth was a polearm whirler. That's six completely different experiences of playing the same game through - different mastery, different primary attack skill, different permutations of warcries and defensive skills. And there were dozens more barb variations that I didn't get round to try (I think I had a total of about 30 characters in the end, so an average of only four builds for each class).
In D3, my barb currently uses Frenzy with the Sidearm rune. I'm sure I'll have settled on something better by the time he hits level 60. But the point is, to try a different permutation of skills, I don't have to level up a new build - I just load up this one, select new skills, and go off and try them out. Unless there's something about D3 I haven't yet discovered or understood, that has slashed replayability by a factor of about five or six, immediately.
Basically what you say is that once you played the game with one class, you switch to the next one... which means a great total of five characters. Oh boy...
I guess to increase the game lifespan, you should try playing on Hardcore mode... it should take some time to level all characters to 60 without dying.
The other issue is that I never hit cl99 in D2, not by a long long way - despite what must have totalled thousands of hours of play. My highest ever char was around cl80 or so, so there was always a feeling of progress. I hope that D3 ends up with a higher level cap than most people could normally attain, for the same reason.
The big problem with D2 is that a level 99 character is not really more powerful than a level 50 character... you just have slightly better equipment and more points for your skills, which also tend to give less and less return on investment.
And at high level, you play the same area over and over again...
A level cap in D3 means that you will reach your full potential much sooner, cutting by a lot the need for grinding. However, this also means a much shorter game lifespan. I guess once bored, you still can create a PvP game and make some duels for fun (this implies of course that PvP still exists in D3...)
This is where a final area really would rock. Once you finish the normal game, you get a side quest and open a new area. Lethal. And death is final. You would get experience and could level to 99, risking death on every move. Then post-game would have a meaning...
So I still have two main issues where D3 is inferior to D2: skills and items. Both are pretty crucial to longevity of a roguelike - but I'll keep my views updated as I progress through the game. I won't really form a final opinion on its replayability until I've completed the game with every class and start on second builds.
I tend to find less items in D3 actually an improvement over D2, though I'd really like more variety in the drops.
However, a video on Youtube I saw recently about D3 made me VERY sad... A guy was explaining how to pathetically cheeze the equipment for your new characters from items stored in the stash by your high level characters. For people not knowing about multiplayer variants of Angband, try doing the same on official servers ("hey, I found Feanor with my warrior... I'm gonna give my old +10 speed boots to my level 1 mage") and see the reaction of veteran players (or admins). At least in D2 you had to go through the hassle of transfering stuff through public games with the chance of losing the items you wanted to transfer...