snippers (left inside accidentally)
While I have a LOT of bad stuff to say about D3, this is a critique I've never understood. Diablo 2 characters were just as cut/paste as D3. If not more. Sure you could choose where to put dex/str/vit/energy...but how did that really matter? Builds were developed, and the optimal stat placement was found. If you wanted a dragoon Barb you put your stats like this, if you wanted a bowzon you put your stats like this. There really wasnt that much choice. And if you wanted a new playstyle you had to speedrun bhaal 4000000000 times. Not really that fun.
In D3 you can change your playstyle when you want, and I dare say that there are as many build in D3 as in D2.
The boredom of leveling a class I totally agree with, but I really dont understand why people want stat placement back when all it REALLY was, was a way for you to gimp your toon if you didnt bother to spend a few weeks mathing up the optimal placement, or spend a few hours reading a guide.
People love to say how the builds in D2 were "Varied," but they weren't. There were a few builds for each class that the community and theorycrafters and such had determined as being best, and all the stat and skill choices were cut & paste, save maybe a few points here & there.
In D3, it's more or less the same, except that on the road to the max level, your build will change constantly instead of being forced down a specific path like it was in D2. That, to me, is infinitely more interesting than knowing exactly what your build will be at the max level, and then building towards from the start. Once you hit the max level, yeah, it becomes like pretty much every game that has skill trees (or something like a skill tree): there is always a best build. I don't really think this is avoidable when it comes to games that have skill trees, unless you make every skill a utility skill. Which, to me, sounds pretty awful. I mean, honestly, how many ways to dodge/heal can you give a guy? Even then, people are going to find the build that offers the most damage resistance, or the most mobility, etc.
So what do you do? You try to make the lead up to that inevitable end as fun and interesting as it can be. It's kind of like life, in that regard. Except instead of becoming all powerful, we, you know, die. Wow, now I'm hugely depressed.
I think most people who talk about D2 are blinded by nostalgia. I played the original D1 and I have extremely good memories. The Butcher fight? Goddamn--that remains my one of favorite boss fights IN HISTORY. What was it, and how does it play out? Well, you probably remember: "Ahhh! Fresh meat. [hold left click until he falls over in a 2 frame animation." I'm fairly sure that if I played it again today I wouldn't find it nearly as fun. If I played it again, I'd probably think it was just okay, at best.
Aaaaanyway. This is far from praise for D3; I think the only thing D3 did right was the combat, but it nailed the combat. The blood & gore, the abilities, the dismemberments and ragdoll, yeah, I had a ball playing that game. Well, when I wasn't tearing my hair out as I went up yet another level without finding a decent drop. Seriously, I tried to beat the game just on normal with a monk without touching the AH, and I couldn't. My gear was, on average, 8 levels behind me. I had to start wearing grays just to keep my DR up. I mean, for a game that's about amassing vast quantities of epic loot, the game had very little of the aforementioned loot, and it was nigh impossible to get a drop that wasn't absolute shit. And the legendaries were, more often than not, nothing but eye candy. And if on the off, off, off, off, way fucking off chance you did find a fuckin' wizard piece of gear, it would probably be for a different class. So get busy levelin', or get busy sellin'. Crafted gear was pretty much worthless, although they have made it somewhat more useful in recent patches. And, as others have mentioned, the fact that they force you to start on normal is awful, considering how painfully easy it is. I think they did address this somewhat with the Monster Power patch, though.
Point is, the game had its issues, but the stat/skill system, and, I think, the combat, weren't part of them.