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What's with the name?

Allow us to explain.


Well, At Least the Gameplay is Fun: Gender and Storytelling in Diablo III

Let me say this right up front: Diablo III is a pretty great game. It’s a satisfying, decently balanced helping of hack-and-slash, and it will scratch your every dungeon crawling itch. Diablo III is one of those games that just makes you feel cool. My Barbarian hits like a truck, and she is constantly surrounded by the pyrotechnic displays of my friends’ magical abilities. It is not the best game I’ve ever played, nor did it capture me as its predecessor did, but I am looking forward to my continued adventures in Sanctuary throughout the weeks ahead.

The whole point of the Diablo franchise is much less about telling a good story than it is about killing monsters and getting loot, but with the sort of time commitment that a game like this requires (especially to justify the $60 price tag), ideally you want the setting to be a place that captures your imagination, a place that you want to hang out in. So while I had a blast cleaving demons in twain over the weekend, I was nonetheless underwhelmed by a narrative full of uninspired tropes, as well as an otherwise impressive world clinging to some of the most tired cliches concerning women in fantasy. For a game that took twelve years to make, it was disappointing to see how little has changed on those fronts.

Fair warning: Massive spoilers ahead.

Last month, I talked up the preview images of the female player character models in Diablo III, which looked awesome. And they do! In terms of body type, I still think the game deserves a pat on the back. There was a very cool moment early on in my first playthrough, shortly after a friend jumped in to fight alongside me, when I noticed that my stocky female Barbarian was towering over his slight, lanky male Demon Hunter. Male physicality is often every bit as narrowly portrayed in games as female physicality is, so it was refreshing to see heroes with body types defined by their combat roles, rather than their gender.

But while the physique of the characters is praiseworthy, I must sadly report that the armor options for female characters are hit or miss. I’ve only played through on my Barbarian thus far, and I didn’t have any complaints about what she was wearing. She starts the game in what amounts to two strips of fur wrapped around strategic areas, but the male Barbarian starts off with one strip less. I was fine with my Barbarian running around in a small breastplate and a loincloth, because it felt like an honest reflection of a particular culture. Once I started seeing my friends’ characters, though, it was obvious that Diablo III is still par for the course in the female armor department. Over the weekend, one of my friends made the comment that at level ten, his Wizard was “still running around wearing a sports bra and a flap between her legs.” My other friend replied that he had nothing to complain about unless he was playing a Witch Doctor. Sure enough, most of the armor sets for all other classes are delineated into categories of power fantasy and sexual fantasy (I’ll let you guess which gender gets which). The armor sets get more impressive as the player levels up, but I don’t see why low levels have to equate to less coverage. While this is hardly surprising for a fantasy game, I expected better than this, especially since the character models on the official website (which are the exact same ones you see when picking your class in game) give a strong sense of aesthetic equanimity. Considering how the female armor models in World of Warcraft have been steadily improving, it seems like an odd regression on Blizzard’s part. As I’ve said a million times, I’m fine with people dressing up their characters however they like to dress them up. Just give us the option of looking like a badass, too.

As with Diablo II, the player has the option to bring along an NPC companion in a single-player game. In Diablo III, there are three companions to choose from, all of whom are rather one-dimensional. There’s the pious Templar (who I didn’t play with much, simply because a melee fighter was of no help to me), the bubbly Enchantress (who was tolerable, though her decision to go monster slaying in a hot pink bikini top and a thigh-length sarong made me question her combat experience), and the Scoundrel, who is the walking embodiment of the Hey Sweetheart Scenario. I think the writers were attempting to create a playful scamp, but what they got instead was an irritating sleazebag whose penchant for womanizing was something of a pathological compulsion. Honestly, I was a little concerned for the guy’s mental stability. I first met the Scoundrel as he was lying his way out of an engagement to a farmgirl, who he seduced as a means to rob her family. Principle NPC Leah (who I will speak more on shortly) was also in my party at that point, and by the time the Scoundrel’s farmgirl fiancee had faded into the horizon, he wasted no time in aggressively chatting up Leah instead. Now, I’m all for NPCs casually flirting with me or other characters, so long as it’s respectful and adds something to the story, and I’m certainly not adverse to a party of NPCs bickering with one another if its written well. But running around the countryside with a creeper who won’t stop harassing the young woman under my protection is hardly my idea of a good time (it should be mentioned that both Leah and my character were pretty indignant about it — seriously, what about that is fun?). After Leah went back to town, the Scoundrel and I went mucking through more dungeons…and then he started in on me. And not just once. All through the damn map. We should get some wine together. We should enjoy this time while we have it. I should get to know him better. Ad infinitum. After a while, I wanted to hold him by the shoulders, look him in the eye, and say, “Dude, we are currently slaughtering our way through an honest-to-god horde of demons. I am dripping with gore, and you just saw me fish five gold pieces out of the squishy remains of a water-logged corpse. You have also, in my presence, hit on literally every woman I have met so far in this game. You have a problem. We’re going to get you some help.” Of course, the Scoundrel would have just blinked at me and said, “I like stealing money and having sex with lady people!”, so I found it much easier to send him back to town and solo it up until I unlocked the Enchantress.

As I hacked through Act III (probably my favorite act in the game, for the sheer amount of combat), demon lord Azmodan taunted my friends and I about the boss fight awaiting us up ahead. When Azmodan mentioned that the boss was a she, I realized that we hadn’t actually seen any female demons yet (the only other female boss had been the witch Maghda, who was largely forgettable). Okay, so who’s this we’re fighting then? Oh. The Mistress of Lust, you say? I’m shocked.

I don’t think I need to explain why it’s tiresome to see a token female baddie whose entire identity is based around her sexuality. The entire story of Diablo III is one long slog of old fantasy tropes, so I can hardly point to her as the sole example of unoriginal storytelling. But as I said to my friends at the time, just once I’d like to see a Mistress of Murder. Or a Mistress of Axes. Anything. All the other bosses get a plethora of gimmicks to choose from, and yeah, we’ve seen them all before, but at least they get a choice. It’s as if the developers were sitting around trying to brainstorm ideas for a female boss, and all that ended up on the whiteboard was “HAS A VAGINA.”

As the Mistress of Lust threw waves of her succubus daughters at me, I couldn’t help but notice that she was voiced by none other than Claudia Black, who not only provided the voice for the wonderfully nuanced Morrigan in Dragon Age: Origins (a character who I cannot imagine playing the game without), but also played quintessential sci-fi badass Aeryn Sun in the TV series Farscape. With such examples of awesome female characters brought to mind, the lack of imagination felt all the more glaring.

Speaking of cliched female characters voiced by actors who recently lent their talents to laudable video game heroines, let’s talk about Leah (voiced by Jennifer Hale, better known as Commander Shepard). But first, we need to brush up on some lore from Blizzard’s other two franchises: StarCraft and Warcraft.

In the original StarCraft (1998), the only prominent female character is Sarah Kerrigan, a psychic soldier for the Terran military. The Terrans are fighting the Zerg Swarm, an insect-like race of creepy hive-mind bad guys. During the fall of Tarsonis, Kerrigan is captured and infested by the Swarm, effectively becoming one of their own. Against her will, Kerrigan is forced to fight for the Zerg. She becomes the Queen of Blades, leader of the Zerg and all-around force to be reckoned with. She was the Big Bad in 2010’s StarCraft II, and plays a leading role in its upcoming expansion, Heart of the Swarm.

In Warcraft III (2002), the armies of the undead Scourge tear through the world of Azeroth. Ranger-General Sylvanas Windrunner leads the defense of the High Elf city of Silvermoon, but is defeated in battle by the corrupted Prince Arthas. As she lies dying, Arthas ignores her pleas for “a clean death” and wrenches her soul from her body, transforming her into a banshee. Against her will, Sylvanas is forced to fight for the Scourge. She later breaks free of Arthas’ clutches, and can currently be found in World of Warcraft as the leader of the Forsaken.

Now, back to Diablo III. Leah is the adopted niece of Deckard Cain (who takes a while to explain, so let’s just say he’s one of the good guys). She is arguably the most featured character in the game, though I think the angel Tyrael gets equal screentime. After Cain’s death in Act I, Leah works tirelessly to continue his research and to fight back the demon hordes. Ultimately, Leah is betrayed by her long-lost mother, Adria, who has secretly been in league with the forces of evil. Leah becomes the human host for Diablo, thus bringing him into the world once more. Against her will, Leah is forced to fight for the Burning Hells. She is destroyed by Diablo, in both body and soul.

I’ve been trying to puzzle out just why Blizzard loves this type of character so much, and I’m coming up short. I don’t even know what kind of meaning to extrapolate from it. Every Blizzard franchise now has a female character — in the cases of StarCraft and Diablo, the only female characters of note — whose dark, spooky power was not earned or won, but forced upon her. I suppose you could read something about loss of innocence into that, or even an allegorical version of the rape-victim-turned-superhero backstory seen so often in comics and movies and everything else, but honestly, I find the lines here too murky to read between. Done once, it’s a good story. Done twice, it’s repetitive. Done three times, it’s kind of weird. If there were more women in Blizzard’s games to choose from, this probably wouldn’t bug me so much, but given that their female characters are pretty limited, the similarities are difficult to ignore.

My issues with this storyline have nothing to do with gender, and everything to do with with the feeling of been there, done that. I knew before Diablo III was released that there was a likelihood of Leah becoming Diablo’s host. There had been a lot of speculation in the fan community over her prominence in the game’s advertising, and early concept art of a Diablo with suggestions of breasts and curvy hips certainly pointed toward a female host this time around. I really, really hoped they wouldn’t go that way, but it was obvious after five minutes of talking to Leah how things were going to end. Leah is the sweet, innocent girl that everyone likes. She’s fighting the good fight, just as Kerrigan and Sylvanas were. Her goodness is played up in an attempt to underscore her tragic fate, but it’s an emotional punch that Blizzard veterans (AKA the majority of people playing this game) will be expecting. I was drawing parallels between Kerrigan and Sylvanas when I was in high school. Completing the trifecta over a decade later feels lazy on Blizzard’s part. The original incarnation of Kerrigan is one of the truly great video game villains, and I can’t help but wonder if Blizzard has been trying to milk similar successes from the same formula.

By the time Leah’s big climactic moment hit at the end of Act III, I wasn’t surprised. I wasn’t moved. I just said, “Yup, there it is.” If they wanted to mix things up and have a female host for Diablo, there were better ways to go about it. I think it would’ve been far more interesting to see Adria sacrifice herself to be Diablo’s vessel. Think about it: You get a female villain who has toiled and schemed in order to become one with the ultimate evil, and you get an honest-to-god heroine — the villain’s daughter, no less — who helps to bring Diablo down with hard work and power of her own. And best of all, no one would be making Kerrigan comparisons. Wins all around.

As I implied at the beginning, there are few things I enjoy more than running around killing monsters with friends who live all over the world. In that sense, Diablo III was worth the cost of admission. But as a single-player experience, it’s lacking (let’s not even get started on the ongoing server debacle). None of the problems I have with the story or the environment change in the multiplayer, of course, but the fun of playing with friends makes them easy to overlook. If you’re on the fence about picking this game up, here’s my two cents: If you’ve got friends already playing and you want to join them, go for it. If you’re a fan of the previous games, go for it. If you’re new to the franchise, plan on playing solo, or are part of a group of newcomers considering trying out the game together…save yourself forty bucks and wait for Torchlight 2. I was lucky enough to take part in the beta on Monday, and I can already say that if I could only pick one of the two games, that’s the way I’d go. The gameplay is essentially the same, but the world surrounding it feels more new. They’ve added gender customization, your armor always does its job, and you can choose your skin color, too. All that good stuff. In the end, it’s a place I felt more excited to explore.

Becky Chambers is a freelance writer and a full-time geek. She blogs over at Other Scribbles.

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  • Anonymous

    Makes me wonder why Blizzard are considered to be (in some areas) some sort of masters of videogame storytelling. They only really have one story which they keep telling over and over. Not that they make bad games – far from it – but the stories are always predictable to the point of cliché. But I guess nobody was playing Diablo III for the plot anyway.

  • John Burkhart

    I’m not sure I agree with it, at least not completely. shows two (L~25, IIRC) barbarian sets.

    If you want to compare the gender roles; I’d complain more about the Ditzy Enchantress. I’m hoping there might be more companions later as fun as the Scoundrel.

  • JoAnna Luffman

    but I don’t see why low levels have to equate to less coverage” Because as an adventurer, you’re using shitty armor – poor construction, lesser materials (leather versus plate). How are you going to show armor with weak spots?

    I don’t think I need to explain why it’s tiresome to see a token female baddie whose entire identity is based around her sexuality” And tell me how many myths have a female deity for sex? 

    I find there are bigger issues to complain about  - server breakdowns, hacked accounts, lack of offline mode – than if they took a formula that has worked before and kept it.

  • Kate Farley

    Though Blizzard’s treatment of female characters certainly isn’t perfect, the characters “whose dark, spooky power was not earned or won, but forced upon her” are not limited to female characters.  Blizzard loves stories of well-meaning hero-types who fall to corruption and become the Big Bad.  Illidan and Arthas both fit that description as much as Sylvanas does.  So in this case, I don’t think the problem is sexism so much as lazy storytelling. (The sexism shows up in other ways, like how Tyrande was basically Malfurion’s arm candy through Cataclysm, despite being a powerful leader in her own right.)

  • Anonymous

    I have to say the complaints about the armor turned me off to the rest of the article immediately. At level ten you should still look like a fledgling of whatever class you’re playing.

    At level 30 when I beat Normal difficulty, however, my Wizard was an unstoppable force of badassery, and had the clothes to prove it. There was a single patch of skin showing, and that was her left shoulder. Whenever I look at her, all I see is the most awesome costume I’ve had on a character in a very long time. I’m glad Blizz actually recognized that women play these games too and gave us something awesome to work with.

    Complaining about the Barbarian or Witchdoctor being naked is just ridiculous though. The male and female versions of those classes are equally naked, if not more for guys at some points since dudes can be shirtless and all. But the classes that *should* be covered *are* covered, and I really can’t ask for more.

    At first I also thought “ok, another Kerrigan” in regards to Leah, but then I realized something more awesome and important anyway. Leah’s Diablo looks *feminine*. It even has these mandible-type things over the torso that look like breasts, except they’re not breasts because they move like mandibles. And maybe some people will see this as women being evil, but I see this as the major bad guy in a long-running and well-loved game series given a shot to be a woman, and that’s awesome to me. Not only that, but they made another major character into a person of color! This game has made me happy on many levels in regards to all this.

  • Brad Cembor

    Wow, this should really have a spoiler warning at the front of it.

  • Becky Chambers

    I understand what you’re saying about the armor, and absolutely, lowbies should look the part. But I think there could be a better way of showing weakness. The starting outfit on the male Demon Hunter, for example, looks like boring yet sensible traveling clothes. I would’ve liked to see them do the same for the female model. In the end, I don’t care about how much skin is showing (as I said, Barbarians are fine by me). I just like seeing both models getting equal treatment.

  • Spinks

    Leah also mentions several times how she plans to go open an inn after the adventure is finished. A sure sign that she won’t be making it to the end.

  • Anonymous

    Great article. I wonder if you can share your opinion on the Witch Doctor? I haven’t seen much discussion about it, which I find strange as the first and only playable black character in the series is pretty offensive racial stereotype.

  • Anonymous

     The starting armor on the female demon hunter is a bit ridiculous, but I had trouble actually complaining about it since the very second I put on gray-quality cloth pants she was entirely covered up. In fact, she was the only female character I’ve played so far who *was* immediately covered when I put armor on her. Even my badass wizard has to suffer with panties and thigh-highs for most of Normal difficulty. So, in my mind, it all evens out in the end. Plus she wears some serious kickass boots.

    This just smacks a little of digging too hard to find things to find offensive. Yes, the starting “armor” is stupid. No, you don’t have to wear it more than five minutes in the game. That leads to the question of “why have it at all then?”, and that’s a simple answer. Because any guys who want to see a female demon hunter in hotpants can put vanishing dye on her armor and watch her run around half-naked, and any woman who wants to play a badass can leave the armor on and be just that. I think it’s a really nice system to provide the best of both worlds and please both sides of the spectrum.

  • Anonymous

    Strange obsession over sex you have.

  • Anonymous

    The stereotype was far too kind, I’m sure.  BTW, can you find an example of this happening with the races reversed?  I bet not:

  • a p

    yeah, you’re not looking at the whole picture here. the male demon hunter gets PANTS. the female demon hunter gets LINGERIE, and never makes it out of HIGH HEELS. (have you ever worn heels while trekking through soft ground like sand, mud, etc? i have, and let me tell you, 10 minutes in and you’re going barefoot.) the male wizard gets PANTS. the female wizard gets a SPORTS BRA and a LOINCLOTH. why don’t these ladies get the dignity of boring but nonsexual clothes like their dude counterparts?

    i mained a barbarian lady and i never had issues with her outfits–even when she’s exposing stomach that would’ve been sexual on another type of woman, “oh man nice sword-hole, can’t wait to see the consequences of being totally open to being stabbed never come to pass”, on the barbarian they scream of “hahahaha, I’D LIKE TO SEE YOU TRY.” but when i started up a wizard and got her to 17 and still hadn’t made it out of a sports bra, while her male counterpart is still running around in a shirt and pants like it ain’t a thing, that’s an Issue to me.

  • Anonymous

     If you’re wizard was still in a sports bra at level 17, you may have been playing wrong or something because I had no issues with finding awesome shirts for her. It was her lower half that gave me issues until level 20 or so.

    Also, no complaint about the demon hunter’s high heels from me because they are just too damn awesome looking and I wish I could walk in stilettos so I could wear boots like those.

    Anyway, the point of having the women in somewhat sexualized underclothes is so anyone who is low on wank material can put vanishing dye on the armor and have them run around in their panties. That’s fine with me. If someone wants their wizard or demon hunter in panties, I am fine with that. What I am also fine with, and even thankful for, is that *my* wizard and *my* demon hunter don’t have to run around like that. They put some pants on, they get a sweet robe, some awesome boots, and a spikey-fingered gauntlet, and they go save the world as a couple of badasses.

    So if the tradeoff is skimpy starting gear so I can be completely amazing later on, I’ll take it. Especially since the skimpy gear doesn’t stick around for long. You start getting loot five minutes into the game anyway, so I just don’t see that as a major complaint.

  • Sean Samonas

     It’s not the first black playable character in the series.  Diablo 2 Paladin was black.  But yeah, not going to lie, I saw the Witch Doctor and was just embarrassed.

  • Sean Samonas

    Honestly, from what I’ve seen both in the arena of racial and gender stereotypes, it makes me wonder what the hell happened between Diablo II and Diablo III.

    Diablo II you had amazons and assassins and the enchantress as playable female characters.  The paladin was black as well as Deckard Cain was always black…and he somehow became white for Diablo III.  *sigh*

    The whole thing is rather annoying and I really wish that we could just drop all the bull shit “sex sells” excuse and just make stuff that is enjoyable.  I mean, crap I play Dungeons and Dragons…I like realism in character models.

  • Life Lessons

    Very cool write-up. Though I am still in Act I I refuse to hire the silly scoundrel because I mean, what an ass.

    I think perhaps Blizzard needs to work on female characters and portrayals. I volunteer to help. :)

  • Lily

    Just replying to one point, because I haven’t actually played the game.

    While many cultures have a female deity that represents sex, seduction, or reproduction, they have females that represent MANY other aspects of life. Like war, death, destruction, victory, healing, family, love, crafts, art, strategy, wisdom, harmony, etc., etc., etc.

    I think what the author was trying to say is that it gets old when a female character (good, bad, playable, or not) is ONLY defined by sexuality. 

  • Jill Oliver

    The first round of greys my demon hunter got included booty shorts and thigh highs. Maybe you were lucky. I did get a pair of pants by level 10 though. My poor wizard is still in thigh highs. My barbarian main, the npcs talk about her behind her back which borders on rude. They are lucky they are bystanders.

  • Anonymous

     I hardly consider Low Quality Cloth Pants to be a lucky find, but they certainly entirely covered the demon hunter up.

  • Jill Oliver

     And it’s the only female character to get a definition. If there was Mistress of Lust on one level and Mistress of Murder on the next then it becomes, “oh, this is a well rounded female pantheon” rather than “I have boobs, so I seduce you.”

  • Lib

    Very interesting, Robofish.  Maybe they found one story that worked and decided to stick with it?  Maybe they’re too lazy – er, overworked – to come up with another story?  Or maybe – and I’ve been in more than one discussion on this exact subject – it’s because Blizzard is a videogame company and not a bunch of writers.  The games are definitely engaging,  but some of us wish they’d hire some new writers to put more sense, more variety, and more continuity into their stories.  

  • ShifterCat

    Just once I’d like to see a Demon of Lust manifested as a creepy flasher-type guy.

  • Michail Velichansky

    Curious, why? Is there more to it than just that the witch doctor is a witch doctor? I thought the witch doctor was pretty well done — mostly because the voice acting and the writing I’ve seen so far has been good. But, interested in opposing view!

    (Regarding the article, so far my lady WD has had the most normal looking armor in the game once I put actual armor on. Way better than the boots-and-garters Demon Hunter >.<)

  • Anonymous

    I agree. Blizzard does have a love for that type of story telling.

    The arm candied Tyrande is very new and was made by Richard knack who has written the last few wow novels and he LOVES to make the female characters little arm candy Princesses.

  • Jen Roberts

     It does: “Fair warning: Massive spoilers ahead.” above the cut, after the first 2 intro paragraphs.

  • Jen Roberts

    Illidan and Arthas sought power and succumbed to corruption. That’s not exactly the same as having dark power forced upon you. Sylvanas was just trying to protect Silvermoon and then wanted to die in battle. She didn’t seek any part of what happened to her.

  • Anonymous

    Good article just wish you gave WC III more credit. There is a entire RACE of females that rule their people and are considered very deadly when fighting against. Aka they drove the orcs back to drinking the corrupted waters so they could stop getting their rears handed to them. 

    Granted they are scantly clad they at least where not just for eye candy. 

  • Anonymous

     While Blizzard does seriously love the corrupted hero, the Difference is that Illidan Chose to collect the waters of the well of eternity, and later chose to take the power of the skull of Gul’dan, and Arthas chose to take Frostmourne and Chose to become the Lich King while Sylvanas Chose to fight the Scourge of Undead, and for her Choice she had corruption forced upon her. Another example? Deathwing Chose to Listen to the Old Gods and Chose to play the Orcs and Humans against each other and Chose to initiate the Cataclysm, where as Sinestra became corrupted basically because her boyfriend (Deathwing) forced it on her.

    Even what we know of mists *SPOILER ALERT* Jaina gets attacked and changes because of that attack, but Garrosh will probably chose his own adventure as it were

  • Francesca M

    I cringe everytime I see tyrande

  • Anonymous

    But, the Amazon was white, the whole jungle fetish level, the zero clothes on the women characters, the lack of women in the plot… I actually thought d3 was a step up all things considered.

  • Anonymous

    As I said above, a Black Witch Doctor is problematic- from the colonial term “witch doctor” to the implication of dark, evil, magic to the racialized sexuality of the model- fantasy is not free from racial steriotypes just because it’s alternate world races being dreamed up *see: Tiger Lilly*. Having a POC narrate the Witch Doctor teaser was supposed to make it “ok” I guess- yikes. Aknowledgeing that something is informed by racist/colonial/ sexist tropes is not a zero/sum game- you can like things about a text without ignoring that others are really not good- we all do this as geek feminists, so we can also do it as geeks invested in debunking harmful tropes of all sorts.

  • Jill Oliver

     I apologize, I checked my character screen when I got home and realized I was thinking of my Monk’s clothing options. I don’t remember when my demon hunter got pants, but yes, at 10 she is fully clothed in pants (that I think are bad ass) and an underbust corset with a bra. It doesn’t appear to be attached and different colors, so I’m pretty sure it’s not an over bust corset. but at least it has some straps. My 25 barbarian currently has a metal corset that I’m not sure how she manages to keep on because it’s barely clinging to her chest.

  • Sean Samonas

     Mostly because like I said, in Diablo II, the black guy was a paladin.  And I always thought that was really impressive.  It shows a black man as a strong and culturally advanced member of a church.

    Now, you open up your character selection and the black guy looks like he just came out of the jungles of Africa.  And he’s a witch doctor.  And he speaks in that horrible Jamaican accent, “We got da VooDoo for ya, mon.”

    It’s like the Jar Jar Binks of Diablo or something, is all.  To me it just seems like it’s a continuation of the idea of the black man as the “African Bush Baby” or something.

  • Sean Samonas

     There were women in the very beginning of the game.  The entire first level was about the Amazons.  But yeah, they were white too.  But hey, it at least was a little more progressive then Diablo III in my opinion.

  • Bret Hewes

    Lady Jaina Proudmoore features just as prominently, if not in greater capacity, than Sylvanis in Warcraft 3, leading humans out of the Eastern Kingdoms to avoid the Scourge and set up camp in Kalimdor.
    Then there’s the Malfurion, Illidan, Tyrande love triangle.
    Oh, and speaking of Illidan, there’s his jailer, Maiev Shadowsong

  • Wulfy

    Fair points all round, but I have to say that I always saw Sylvanas rather differently. She didn’t gain power from becoming undead against her will, because her power was in being a genius tactician and an awe-inspiring leader who cared about her people, all of which she had when she was alive. She was powerful and awesome in life, giving Arthas’s forces a hell of a fight, then she was killed and become a slave for a while, then she broke free and continued to be as she was before, only now with extra fury. Unlike Kerrigan, her personality didn’t change in death, other than the obvious torment her and the Forsaken suffer.

  • Valerie Schoman

    I’ve been playing the female witch doctor, which is a kickass character.  Racist, ithinkso, however I like the wise and caring nature of the character…
    … But yeah, would be nice if there were more race variety in all classes.  One can dream…

  • Paula Smith

    I agree that there are a lot of positives to Diablo 3 that the writer seems to have overlooked. There is good variety in the body shapes for the playable female characters. Two out of five playable classes feature POC characters (wizard and witch doctor). I agree that the witch doctors are toeing racism, and blizz probably should have been better off just making necromancers again rather than making a racially problematic class. However, as an asian american, I was thrilled to see that my race wasn’t pigeon holed into the “kung fu monk” the way we usually are, but instead as a bad ass spell slinger! Also, no one has mentioned that Tyrael is totally a POC instead of your stereotyped blonde haired, blue eyed angel. 

    The clothing complaints are unwarranted because once you hit lvl 20ish, if your gear is decent, you will be pretty much clothed up. The Wizard takes the longest to get fully clothed, but my lvl 40 wizard is in awesome flowing robes with metal plate covering up the weak-spots. No skin at all. The demon hunter’s ever present stilettos are unrealistic, but really, only 1/5 of the women characters being over the top sexualized isn’t bad. Some women enjoy the sexy characters, it isn’t just male fan service. I personally don’t mind the stilettos, even though I realize how stupid it would be to run around in dungeons with them on. While Leah is a boring character, I don’t think she is a sexist one. There are plenty of female characters in the story line; Leah and Adria being the main ones, with a female captain of the guard character in Act 2 and two main female demoness villains. Also Diablo’s feminine characteristics were a pleasant surprise. The only point in the game where I felt women were under-represented was in Act 3; all of the random soldier NPCs on the battlefield are men. 

  • Anonymous

     I liked that about the monk and wizard too, partially because the Asian aesthetic for wizard robes is *totally* awesome, and partially because a Russian monk is a bit funny to me.

    But Tyrael especially was something awesome to me. He’s TYRAEL, and he’s not white! I was blown away in a very, very good way. I might be biased because I think Tyrael is one of the biggest badasses of all time and have a bit of a crush on him because his wings are super sweet looking, but the fact that Tyrael, the archangel of COMPLETE AND UTTER BADASSERY, is a POC gives Blizz ridiculous amounts of brownie points in my book.

    I also don’t think Leah is a sexist character. Sure, she ends up being used as a vessel for the bad guy, but before that she takes up Deckard Cain’s legacy, and that’s no small feat. That’s the problem with analyzing things like this. It’s not enough to say “she was a vessel for evil”, everything has to be put into the context of the universe it’s situated in. To me, following in Deckard Cain’s footsteps is a big deal, but she did it. Unfortunately, she was still a boring character, but you can’t win them all, I suppose.

  • anddy black

    I’ve ever played, nor did it capture me as its predecessor did, but I
    am looking forward to my continued adventures in Sanctuary throughout
    the weeks ahead.

  • Niklas Björnberg

    Yes, omg. The (manu-)scripters at Blizzard must have been taken not from the veteran lines but from the recently graduated. Out of high school. While I have not suffered from D3 as much (due to not understanding everything since I play it in Spanish), the stereotype dialogue between that big marine guy and Jim Reynor in SC2 was almost intolerable. Sure, if it was your first meeting with a storyline ever, it might have been cool. But for anyone who has taken part in any Western culture over the last 25 years it was kinda… old.

    (Altho I guess it’s a relationship/role setting that is easy to make justifiably likeable by the perceived consumer base, and at the same time a motivator for plot building inter-character tension etc, or whatever it should be called).

  • Smoke Tetsu

    You know, not to be needlessly contrary or anything but I just have to say. Any guy playing a game looking for wanking material is pathetic as far as I’m concerned. Honestly there are far better and plentiful sources of wank material (it goes without saying.. but it’s also ridiculously easy to find in the interwebs as well) than throwing some vanishing dye on some armor in a game to get one’s rocks off. 

    But maybe I’m wrong here and guys ARE playing games simply so they can find wanking material….. uh… ok… O_o

  • Anonymous

     I agree. Which is why I assume all guys who play games looking for wank material are actually 13 year olds playing games looking for wank material because it’s easier to get away with and less likely their mom will find something they shouldn’t.