Reviewing the Gauntlet reboot did a quality job of reminding me me that I missed Gauntlet, but also that Gauntlet wasn't nearly enough. Few dungeon crawlers have been, despite Bastion and Torchlight trying their damnedest to charm their way into my heart past the repetitive gameplay.
So, really, if I have to thank Gauntlet for anything, it's for finally making me ready to accept Diablo into my heart.
And there, I think, is reason #1 why Diablo 3 instantly grabbed me: Gratification. The second to run down a pathway and hit X an arrow shoots out, there's the satisfying splat of it hitting its mark, and it dies in moments, not minutes. And chances are good, it's dropping new loot, loot that has palpable, observable changes on everything I do. Combat just feels god damn good in Diablo 3. Dungeon crawlers tend to forget that vital thing. If you want me doing this for 100 hours, the very act of mowing down enemies has to feel good after 101.
It also helps that the story seems like every Amon Amarth album cover woke up and stitched itself together for 5 acts. It's seriously pulpy Dante's Inferno (book, not that goofy asshole of a game) fanfic, mingling with the typical D&D never-ending quest bullshit, and yet, it scratched an itch I didn't realize I had. The game's mean streak is a mile wide, not afraid to dip in to some absolutely hideous, vicious stuff with the aesthetic, the monster designs, the stages (there's a labyrinth in Act V that's a sewer that's just lined for miles with the bones of plague victims which is just next level creepy there). It's still mired in fantasy bullshit, but it's got the same evil glint in its eye that got me hooked on Game of Thrones.
And so, I'm now 25 hours into that sucker, in Westmarch in Act V, with a lvl 40 female Demon Hunter. And I'm ridiculously overpowered.
I'm at the point now where I haven't died since lvl 31, or needed a health potion. I had my badass Welsh blacksmith crafting new shit constantly, and it's keeping me ahead to the point where I had to bump up the difficulty. Which I usually never do. I'm an invincible force of Death, and despite that, combat feels so satisfyingly fast and I'm so determined to find out why Malthiel took up the Grim Reaper mantle that I've never had so much fun with a dungeon crawler in my life. That's the mark of quality right there: The challenge may be minimal, but if you've settled into your routine, like most games force you to do, and you're more than happy to press on through waves upon waves of it, it's a rare thing to get tired of it. Compare that with Destiny, which, even with Vault of Glass waiting for me, feels like work. I'm a shade under lvl 25 in that, and Vault of Glass has a lvl 26 recommend. The content, i know, is coming, but the bloom is gently fading off the rose there.
Me, 10 years ago, would bitch slap 2014 me if the words "Well, thank God I have Diablo to fall back on."