I am playing the Diablo III Reaper of Souls (RoS) beta, and have decided to start blogging my impressions of it and thoughts about it as I go.  It seemed like a good idea to get started on this before I got really far into the beta.  As a recap:  I’m playing a female Crusader named Joan.

In a previous blog, I focused on what it was like to level her from 1 – 5.  This blog will pick up with Level 6. The screenshots that I am putting into this blog were taken on December 18, 2013.

Level 6

When I left off, Joan the Crusader had just hit Level 5.  It was 1:59 in the morning on December 18, 2013.  I had concerns about how quickly the leveling experience was going.  She was flying through the levels!  This was super fun, but I was worried that the contrast between the quick leveling at the start of the game, and the much slower leveling later on, would be harsh.

How long did it take for her to reach Level 6?  She dinged it at 2:09 a.m. on December 18, 2013.  It took about ten minutes.  I’m curious to see how long the span of time between levels will be as she gets bigger.

Time for Joan to go save Deckard Cain!

Follow me… to Tristram!

By 2:19 a.m., Joan had saved Cain.  She was still at Level 6.  I love how dramatic this part of the game is.  Cain waves his hand as he says “Tristram”.  If it were a movie, this would be the part where the people in the theater start cheering.

At 2:33 a.m., Joan was helping Haedrig Eamon to kill is wife, poor, afflicted, Mira Eamon.  She’d been locked in a cellar with the rest of the townspeople who were infected and about to turn into zombies.  I always feel sorry for Mira.  Poor woman is doomed to a horrible fate!  Imagine dying, and returning as an undead who frequently vomits up full grown zombies on a regular basis.  Killing Mira spares her from having to exist like that.  There is no cure for “zombie plague” in Sanctuary.

I’m aware that there is a frequently used trope in video games that involves requiring the player to kill a female non-player character (NPC) in order to “save” her.  Doing so is sometimes used as the motivating factor that gives the player character a reason to continue on in the game.  Does Mira Eamon fall into that trope?  I’ve given this quite a bit of thought.  Ultimately, I don’t think so.

She’s not the first NPC that the player is asked to save.  (The first one was Deckard Cain, who is obviously male).  Mira is not your character’s girlfriend, wife, lover, sibling, or child.  The player character has never met Mira before this quest, and doesn’t meet her until minutes before Mira dies and becomes a Wretched Mother.  There is no bond or attachment between the player character and Mira Eamon.  They are strangers to each other.

In other words, Diablo III is not using the death of Mira as the motivation for the player character to continue through the game.  The player character’s motivation is to find the Fallen Star.  That doesn’t change after Mira’s death.  It has absolutely nothing to do with Mira’s situation.

Mira also isn’t the reason why her husband Haedrig decides to become a Blacksmith and make weapons and armor.  He had been doing that for a long time before Mira got infected.  After she dies, he continues with his profession.  Haedrig also has a family history that connects him to the quests that the player character is about to embark in.  Mira’s death affects Haedrig, (he gets sad, but doesn’t want to talk about it).  But, his wife’s death does not become his motivation for the choices he makes after her death.

What is the purpose of making the player kill poor Mira Eamon?  I think it is to connect the player with the utter devastation that the people of Sanctuary are facing.  Before this quest, players are off running around, slaughtering mobs of zombies and skeletons, shouting “Whoo-hoo!” and having a great time.  (That’s not just me, right?)  At this point in the game, players have gotten the hang of what the buttons do, and are feeling like a really powerful being.  I mean, you saved Deckard Cain! You rock!

The quest that requires you to kill Mira Eamon forces you to take a moment and think about what life would really be like for the people in Sanctuary.  Imagine living in a town where there is a locked cellar, filled with people, who are about to undergo terrifying (and painful) physical changes as they die.  There is no cure.  Nobody can save them, or ease their pain.  They are doomed and each of them is acutely aware of this fact.  That’s terrifying!

This is a situation where you couldn’t let them die at home as you tried to make them as comfortable as possible.  The “zombie plague” is highly contagious, and people can go from normal, loving, citizens to vicious zombies incredibly quickly.  You would end up risking yourself and the rest of your family to the same disease if you brought your sick loved one home.  Mira is not the only one in that cellar, either.  Somewhere in Sanctuary, there are a whole lot of grieving, distraught, families mourning their loved ones who are not yet dead.

Haedrig’s situation is even worse, because he is the unfortunate soul who was assigned the task of killing the infected townspeople after they turn into the undead.  I suspect that he felt prepared for this task whenever he agreed to do it. In the meantime, his wife became one of the infected.  How devastating for Haedrig!

It’s heartbreaking to realize that Haedrig is stuck in a situation where he has to kill his wife.  He knows she cannot be saved, and she turns into a Wretched Mother before his eyes.  Her fate is sealed, there is no denying it.  What a mix of potent emotions he must be feeling as the player character finds him and offers assistance!  There is a darkness in the Diablo video games, and this short scene is a strong example of it.

Soon after this tragic scene ended, the game gave me something to make me happy again.  Joan hit Level 7!

Unfortunately, I happened to have my Inventory open when I took that screenshot.  I can’t see what time, exactly, Joan the Crusader hit Level 7.  She’s still in the cellar with Haedrig, so it can’t have been that long after Mira is put out of her misery.  I’m going to guess that Joan hit Level 7 at around 2:35 a.m.

It took her about, oh, 15 minutes or so to go from Level 6 to Level 7.  The gap is widening.  So far, it still feels right.  I’m haven’t hit the point where I’m looking at the screen going “C’mon, c’mon, c’mon… ding already!” yet.  I think I was too busy wondering about Mira Eamon, and the implications of her situation.

I’d also like to note that the inventory shows that Joan found a few more “Blue” items.  She has yet to see her first rare item or her first Legendary.  I wonder when that will happen?  Honestly, I’m not expecting to see “the good items” before she reaches Level 10.  In the next blog, I will pick up with Joan the Crusader’s adventure starting at Level 7.

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