When did it all get like this? You’re sitting down, playing this addicting game for the long hours of the night. Hours of sleep diminish per day, the sunlight begins to hurt your eyes, whatever social life you may have is probably gone.
Sure, what I’m describing would be the same for all tales of gaming addiction. Repetition, loot finding, grinding, being the ultimate badass. Blizzard has been around the block multiple times with the Diablo series and World of Warcraft. They continue to fuel your addiction with Diablo III.
Once again, players tackle the demons from Hell with a new set of classes and a new customization system that gives you a multitude of skills and modifications to select from. The ability to switch out and try on different skills gives Diablo III a sense of freedom that a lot of other Action RPGs of this point-and-click roguelike type seem to lack. While typically a stat allocation or skill tree system would be in place, Diablo III has done away with all of that. Some may argue it’s dumbing down the system, but anything that would help me avoid looking up stat builds and to avoid permanently ruining my character is perfectly OK in my book.
You have access to six active and three passive skills as you’re roaming around and killing fiends. The six active skills can be chosen from a pool of different skills which all have runes that can be augmented to them. The runes act as a modifier that changes how a skill works. These modifiers can range from minor changes like increasing the skill’s damage to adding in additional effects that completely changes the skill. This level of customization with the limited amount of skills you can have active works fairly well in practice. I don’t think I’ve encountered very many who share the same Wizard or Monk builds that I’ve been using.
Presentation is what makes Diablo III such a blast to play. The way that the enemies just literally explode and body parts flying everywhere gives you a sense of being… well, a demon killing badass. Each attack you deliver is backed by great use of over exaggerated physics, effects, and sound. Oh god, especially the sound! Playing this game with a headset is something I would insist on. The music does feel a bit underplayed, though independently from the game it sounds great as every other Blizzard soundtrack. The music unfortunately does get drown amongst the destruction. At some points, I never really noticed the music being played in the background.
Graphically, the game will not be pushing your computer to its limits, which could be a good thing as it does make it more accessible. However, Blizzard did make use of whatever they could and that resulted in giving an atmospheric environment while maintaining performance during the massive destruction with gibs and explosions flying all over the place.
The story has taken a big step back from the spotlight, and probably for good reason. Diablo has always been a game that most people will repeatedly play again and again, and it definitely is not for the story, but more so for the items and loot. The main plot, if you pay attention to it, can easily hold your attention. Spending time interacting with the NPCs will hides a great abundance of flavor and find yourself entertained as you dig deeper into the various characters and their personalities. After that, you’ll be hitting that Escape button again and again just so you can move on to the next demon.
Really, killing copious amounts of monsters that drop loot is your ultimate goal in Diablo III. Gear and gold can be found on any monster or chest that you encounter out there. There are also a huge variety of monsters that will you to change up your tactics. You will eventually start running into Elite monsters, which are stronger monsters with their own set of modifiers and abilities to make them a harder adversary.
As you kill and kill, you will stumble on rare gear. Stats on gear have been fairly simplified. However, there are some confusing aspects that were not made clear and could easily slip someone up. There is ultimately no real incentive to equip a weapon that is class specific and certain stats only benefit certain classes. The use of strength, for example, does not increase the damage output of a Monk. Another example is that a Demon Hunter can equip a staff if they so desired, they will still fire projectiles with their choice of skill regardless.
While Diablo III is multiplayer focused, going solo is still viable and practical. However, the requirement that easily peeved people off is the fact that the game must be played online regardless if you’re a lone soldier or not. While this not mean that you’re forced to interact with other players, this does mean that if you do not have any sort of internet connection, you cannot play. While Blizzard’s track record generally is great with being able to maintain constant server up time, maintenance is something that Blizzard does quite frequently. This also means that if you are traveling and can’t get a connection, you just can’t play this game.
On the plus side, Blizzard’s implementation of Battle.net 2.0 does give a foundation that can handle the hacks and exploits that could easily plague a game like this. However, the importance of this may or may not be significant to you. It can be argued if the solution is worth the trouble of needing a constant connection to play.
Thankfully, joining other players is seamless and easy. If you are friends with someone and they start a game, you can click a Quick Join button and hop immediately into their game. You can also play public games with others. However, there is no server browser and instead opts for a matchmaking system based on which quest you want to do. While the need to have a perfect class composition is not so important, this can get a bit annoying if you’re looking for a group that plays a particular way. Sometimes you just want to find a group that will cover each map and leave no stone unturned.
Diablo III is divided into four difficulty levels. Normal is a very easy breeze through the game, it might even be insultingly easy. Nightmare and Hell provide the right appropriate challenge by encouraging players to constantly check their gear and to play with some skill. Inferno is very difficult and it might not be everyone’s cup of tea. It will require a lot of gold grinding and luck to obtain the right gear to even attempt Inferno. Even then, dying is very common. Chances are that if you don’t have the patience to continually fight mobs by slowly chipping them down while running away, you’re not going to enjoy Inferno.
Blizzard has put Diablo III in the churn for a long time. They took great care in developing Diablo III by making everything fresh for a genre that is generally very repetitious. This is not to say that Diablo III isn’t guilty of being repetitious, but enough of a change from the norm of the roguelike Action RPG genre gives Diablo III a nice change of pace that will remain addictive for years to come.
This review of Diablo III is based on… 82:30 + 29 hours of play… so according to my maths, that’s 111 hours while trying out different classes. Currently, I’m sporting around a level 60 Wizard that’s stuck on Act 1 Inferno, a 50 Monk on Hell. Do I have free loot? No, don’t ask… unless I like you, then maybe…