Special Attack

Serial Monogamy


I’ve been feeling lost and sad lately. Lonely.

I got to a point in Skyrim where I finished the main quest, and then finished the Civil War quests. And suddenly Ulfric Stormcloak was all, “Good work,” and I was all, “That’s it?” And he was all, “Go slay some giants to or something. Collect mammoth cheese. Everyone loves mammoth cheese.” And I was all, “Dude, do you know how long it takes to get mammoth cheese smell out of your dragon scale armor?”

I know I could have kept up with my assassin’s guild quests. There are more people in Skyrim who have to die, you know. I could hunt down everyone who was ever rude to me. Or I could work on my enchanting and make more magical dragon bone and scale armor that no one in Skyrim can afford. I could work on being a werewolf or vampire. But… I deflated. The game was dead to me. Bored, now.

We went to the beach on vacation with friends, and these friends had a toddler, so we left Skyrim at home and brought only non-bloody games. That’s when I fell in fast rebound-love with Portal 2. I had finished Portal a couple of months ago (yeah, I know, leave me alone, I’m a late adopter sometimes) and was eager to play the “new” one. I fell in love, naturally, and powered through. Ending that game on vacation left me in a malaise. Even my kid was sad, and all she did was watch and cheer me on.

So while I was still humming “I Just Want You Gone,” I pulled out Mass Effect 2. As I was once greatly in love with Dragon Age, and to a lesser extent, Dragon Age 2, I was eager to try this “Part 1 isn’t available on PS3” game. Since I’m pretty horrible at first person shooters, let me tell you how I saw the game.

I’m Shepherd. I’m dead. A company that I don’t like so much spent a great deal of money and influence to bring me back because of am the most fucktastic soldier in the whole universe. But you see, the joke is on them, as I turn out to be mighty in the way that Barney Fife is mighty, running around, waving my gun, shooting at walls, trying to levitate my enemies in the air while my friends pick them off.

Actually that show would have been much better with levitation.

I found myself giggling madly, thinking of the resources they wasted to bring me back. I wondered if there would be a “Hah ha, joke’s on you!” plotline. But honestly, I’m terrible at the game, and I lost interest. Which sucks cause I just bought Mass Effect 3 on sale just to find out what the hubbub was all about. I’ll probably pick it up again to see if I can power through, but there’s no passion there. We’ll have coffee as friends, me and Mass Effect, but that’s probably it.

Then I heard about my old flame, Diablo, coming back to town. I spruced up my place, deleted several gigs of files, put on my pretty dress, and waited for him to come knocking.

So you know most of the story- blah blah DRM blah blah why the fuck do I need a server for a single player game blah blah Blizzard of all people should be prepared for a server hit blah blah can’t play the stupid game. We all know the arguments; they were there when Starcraft II came out, and will be there when the next game comes out, so long as Blizzard keeps doing it. People hate it, but they keep buying the games regardless.

It reminds me of the people who bought $400 iPods seven years ago, then when the battery died, they posted angrily about it online, and went out and bought another $400 iPod just to show Apple.


I expected all of the problems. I didn’t like them, but I expected them. So I downloaded the game and prepared to wait for server space. I managed to get on right away, to my surprise. I posted on Twitter that I was playing, which got a warning from a friend that I might be inviting nerdrage for posting that I was playing because other people weren’t able to log in. I wondered if I was supposed to stay offline for solidarity.

Because you know the kind of people who get mad at others playing a game they can’t get into would totally stay offline in solidarity if I couldn’t have gotten in.

So I got into Diablo III easily last night. Sorry. But when I started to play, I was struck by how little I cared.

When you take a beloved game and make a sequel, there’s a fine balance to hit. You have to create enough new content and innovate enough to make it worth buying, but retain enough of what made it worthwhile in the first place. I remember when Diablo II came out. (Cue turn-of-millennial music here.) I was passionate and excited, and utterly hooked. I had no memory whatsoever of what was going on, but I remembered there were demons that would sometimes vomit up magic pants when you killed them, and you have to poke the big scary monster with a stick to win. (Amazon + spear attach FTW.)

Just like when I started Diablo II, with Diablo III I had no memory of what was going on at the end of the last game. That’s a missed opportunity, since Blizzard puts such care into its plotlines you’d think that instead of “Armies Of Light And Dark Will Battle, Rar!” *battle sounds* you would get something like, “Deckard Cain, remember him? The name rings a bell? Right, it’s been a decade. OK, let’s sum up…”

Only, you know, more majestic and dramatic.

So I got in, no idea what was going on, and I’m this white haired monk lady who’s wearing next to nothing. And it’s not even weird fantasy erotic next to nothing chainmail; I’m like an orphan in rags with abs of steel. Only I’m badass and good at killing zombies. I’m also good at busting up barrels, stumps, and piles of bones. Those piles of bones did not know I was a lady not to be messed with.

Sadly, I found myself unable to care. While I was still amused when a monster vomited up magic pants or a pair of gloves, I was mostly bored. The plot was all, “Darkness, scary, zombies, talk to the lady inside!” and even after I got a pair of magic pants (which, to the UK people snickering right now, really do look like pants– I don’t think about Daisy Dukes when I think “armor” but I guess I’m alone here.) I lost interest.

Warcraft III was a game that managed to get right the balance between innovation and nostalgia. They kept us reminded what the plotline was and we were into it. Diablo III fails to do that for me. I like the idea of the new character-specific plot points, and the new classes (I always like kicking things) but it’s just not enough.

So I sigh and go back to looking for my next serial monogamous relationship. Maybe I’ll go back to Mass Effect II and wave my gun around ineffectually as my friends scream, “taking friendly fire!” Or, since we just got an Xbox 360, maybe I’ll look into the classic, XBox only games. Because I can’t be without a gaming relationship. I just … can’t. I might be forced to read a book or something.

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