Diablo 3 Review
Once more unto the Cathedral’s basement, dear friends.
Oh Blizzard, why do you play games with our hearts? Twelve years. Twelve years we have, not so, patiently waited for you to make another Diablo game and oh, how you’ve teased us. We’ve been reading snippets, and seeing fleeting images, since 2008 but today is the day, it’s too late for you to back out now. Does absense make the heart grow fonder or was the build up just too much? A little of each, if you ask me.
While you may have played any number of clones over the years, there is only one Diablo. Diablo 3 sticks to the familiar, top-down, point-and-click format that made the series famous while updating everything around it. The new entry in the series is still easy to pick up and play, but there is a level of depth here that will leave you with no doubt you’re playing an entirely new game. Also, before we get too far into this, there’s still loot. Oh yes, there’s still loot.
Diablo 3 is fairly simple to control and this, I think, is what makes it so addictive. You move by clicking where you want to go on the screen, or by pointing yourself in a direction and holding down the mouse button. If you see an enemy, click on it to attack or right click to use your equipped secondary attack. You will also have some defensive skills, which are mapped to the number keys and quite useful, but this is about as complicated as it gets. You click, the minions of hell die. They die, and drop sweet new gear for you to equip.
The progression system has been streamlined in a big way from Diablo 2 and this might disappoint some people. Skills and abilities are unlocked by reaching certian levels rather than distributing points in a complicated tree. The only true customization options available are runes, these can be applied to augment your favorite abilities and offer the only real variety in character builds. The character classes themselves will feel somewhat familiar as they all take after a class in the previous game, but some of Diablo 3′s characters just feel like more bad-ass versions of each. Did you once favour the rogue? Now you’re a Demon Hunter. Liked the necromancer? Trade in your skeletons for the spiders and zombies of the Witch Doctor. Then there’s the barbarian… again. Well a little familiarity never hurt anyone right?
Combat in Diablo 3 has evolved nicely from previous games in the series, and various clones, to become something more than simply hammering away on the left mouse button. Defensive skills really add strategy to fighting large groups of enemies and adding these to your arsenal, along with your primary and secondary abilities adds a layer to your battles that I think you’ll enjoy. In terms of gameplay, it isn’t hard to get hooked on the action in Diablo 3.
The environments in Diablo 3 are well designed but aren’t really up to the graphical standards of today’s games. You won’t be blown away by the textures and there are plenty of rough edges but that doesn’t mean Diablo 3 is hard to look at. The detail and variety that go into each area make up for the quality. Levels are filled with breakable items, traps (both defensive and offensive) and various other moving parts. Even the old broken stone dungeons feel alive as you move through them. The environments also change very quickly and offer much more variety than other RPG’s so you won’t be bored, even if you’re like me and explore every inch of the map.
As fun as Diablo 3 is to play it carries a number of issues that can’t be overlooked. First, if you didn’t know, you must be online at all times to play this game. Actually, to be more accurate, you have to be online and the Battle.Net servers have to be up and accepting connections. Even if you’re playing single player. When this info was made public it was met with much skepticism and trepidation from both critics and fans. It turns out these concerns were justified as players experienced a laundry list of errors during the first two days the game was live, with the servers being completely down for maintenance in numerous four hour chunks.
Some might say that there are hiccups with any online game at launch but the problems lies with the fact that Diablo 3 can be played from start to finish in single player. When the servers are down it would be semi-reasonable to just jump over to your single player game but that is impossible with Diablo 3 and, if you ask me, completely unreasonable. On top of the early connectivity issues there were other technical issues including a game breaking bug, confirmed by Blizzard, in which equipping the Templar follower with a shield caused you not to be able to log in to the game. Three times, while playing co-op games my crew was unable to complete an objective because the item or person we needed to interact with was simply not there. The only thing that fixed these issues was to exit the game and start again. Being disconnected during a game can also cause you to lose items and progress as Diablo 3 isn’t constantly saving your game, only at checkpoints and if you logout properly.
When all goes well, Diablo 3′s co-op experience is one of the best out there. Blizzard have made it very easy to not only join a co-op game, but to play one as well. There, unfortunately, is no LAN option but you can easily jump into a random public game from the character selection menu and at any time you can turn your single player game into a public game in the options. You can also access a friends list easily from within the game so private games with your friends are never far away either.
Playing the game with friends, or strangers, is a great experience as well. Loot and gold drops separately for each character so you can feel free to just pick up everything you see as the other players can’t see your loot, and have their own to grab. You can, however, drop gear for other players if you have an item you think they might like.
Getting lost is a thing of the past as you can always travel back to town and click on your teammate’s banner, conveniently located next to the portal, to instantly teleport to their location. Co-op is fun and easy in Diablo 3 and I recommend travelling in a group as often as you can.
Diablo 3 carries a number of issues that can’t be ignored. Some will be fixed with patches, others are inherent and will always be there. I don’t think people should avoid Diablo 3, I just want them to be aware of the problems they will run into while playing. Underneath the bugs and server issues is a great game that moves the series forward with a number of new elements and some generally addictive gameplay. I will be playing Diablo 3, warts and all, for quite a while.
Price: Starter Edition is Free, upgrade to full for $59.99
Available On: PC and coming soon to PS3 and PS4