Two of my friends were already on, and one waved a cheery hello! "It's like Christmas Morning!" he said. And he was exactly right. It really was like Christmas morning as a kid.
This isn't a first impressions kind of post, or a review of the game itself in any way. The time for Diablo III first impressions came and went months ago. But as I created my first character - Demon Hunter, natch - and stepped back into the world I left twelve years ago, savoring every screen, the music, the sound - literally every brush stroke of this gorgeous game that has such an incredibly hand-crafted feel to it - what I was most struck with was the thought of the broad wealth of experiences people are having right now with this game.
There are people that have been playing Diablo III for months. People for whom the art, the atmosphere, and the game itself are already old-hat, whom are unconcerned with the lavish attention to detail the game exhibits, and whom were cruising through the game with the same sense of familiarity as they would their local shopping mall. There are already complex, elaborate schemes drawn up and entire communities formed around attempting to make money - real money - off of the RMT auction house the game offers. People for whom the game itself is even secondary to the very serious business-like process of farming, buying, and trading virtual goods for real money. My G+ stream this morning had screenshots from people that had completed Act I a scant few hours after the game launched at midnight. Before the week has ended - quite likely before the day has ended - people will have completed the entire game on Normal mode, and will be building their Nightmare mode characters. And people whom are feverishly farming resources and hoarding Magic Find Gear to put up on the AH while the prices are exorbitantly high, before the market settles down.
And then there are the millions of the rest of the gaming public. People whom know the game is important, but aren't really sure why. For them, it's just another, perhaps overly hyped - game only for the PC. They see little difference between Diablo III, and Torchlight II - and for many - and I say this with no small amount of sadness in my soul - it is Diablo that feels like the pretender to them. They don't understand, know about, or even care about what came before in the Diablo franchise. I don't speak of the lore here, but Diablo's historically curious notions about singleplayer, multiplayer, battle.net, and playing singleplayer online. They gnash their teeth about the problems with the Blizzard servers, and perhaps they rant online about how dare Blizzard force them to connect to their servers just to play a game that for them has little significance beyond any other game they've played.
But their experience is no less valid than my own, or even than the would be gold farmers. They will buy the game, play it, perhaps enjoy a few multiplayer sessions with their friends, and move on. Because for right now, in the same way that Skyrim was a few months ago - this is the game to play. But they do so with neither nostalgia nor anticipation. They shall enjoy the game (or not) based on its own merits alone. And who knows, perhaps in 12 years they'll have come to love the franchise as some of us have, and will wait with the same level of anticipation for Diablo IV.
And Merry Christmas!