You know what? I'm starting to think that the original Diablo III release being a terrible, horrible, no-good, very-bad game (or at least being perceived that way) was potentially the best thing that could've happened to the action-RPG genre.
I mean, it's tragic that so many people felt they got screwed by Diablo III--and it's great that Reaper of Souls eventually fixed most of the major issues.
But think about it: Before Diablo III, the action-RPG genre was largely stagnant. Then Diablo III came out, botched its launch, and people started looking around for something to sate those pesky aRPG cravings. From a dev perspective, suddenly Diablo III didn't seem quite so unassailable. Torchlight blew up, Path of Exile launched, and the Van Helsing series nabbed some fans.
Let's go ahead and add Victor Vran onto the list of genre classics while we're at it.
Fifty ways to skin a monster
"Something something I kill monsters because I am a monster hunter," says titular character Geralt of Rivia Victor Vran (paraphrasing) and that's about all the introduction you get in this game. And to be honest, it's pretty much all you need.
I don't know why a well-crafted aRPG is so addictive. If I had unlimited funding and knew a bunch of hard-up scientists, I might set them to studying the problem instead of finding a cure for cancer or whatever it is scientists do all day.
It's true though--aRPGs get their hooks in deep. There's something about careening into a group of enemies with a scythe in hand (yes, a gosh darn scythe) and clicking on them until they die that's...oddly satisfying. And to its credit, that's what Victor Vran is best at.
Victor Vran somewhat overhauls a genre that for years has been primarily about click-click-clicking on enemies. While you can play with click-to-move controls, this seems like more a concession to purists than anything else. The correct way to play is with WASD movement or a controller, similar to the Diablo III console port. Plus there's an honest-to-goodness jump button.
And you know what? It's a fun time. Victor Vran isn't revolutionary by any means--nor necessarily better than a mouse-focused game like Diablo. It does give Victor Vran its own identity though, which is important in an increasingly saturated market.
The game also ditches other aRPG trappings. For instance, remember how everyone was so excited about Path of Exile's twisting, freeform skill tree? Victor Vran is the polar opposite. No "classes," no "skill upgrades." Instead, each weapon class comes with two unique skills. Enjoy fast, flashy kills? Try the rapier. Enjoy flying into the air and smashing the face off a wraith? Hammers.
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