After 12 very long years of waiting, Diablo III has hit shelves, and the fans went wild. But is Diablo III actually worth all the hype? With the way gaming is now, it’s not uncommon to get extremely hyped over a game, only to have it disappoint in the end. This is especially true for those whom are either over critical of a game, or are still very attuned to older games. Readers from across the world, I am here to tell you that Diablo III not only delivers a hot, steamy plate of kick ass, it does so with a flying Chuck Norris roundhouse to the head. Correcting some of the flaws in D2, and bringing a lot of fresh new content, D3 is definitely a game designed for those who love true PC gaming.
I’m going to jump right into this feature with something that I believe is D3′s strongest and weakest points within the review, because everything from here on truly does just get better. As some may have been curious, D3 does require a player to be connected to the servers at all times. This makes for seamless internet play, an always accessible friend list, and drop in and out gameplay that so easy and fluid to use, I have absolutely zero complaints. If any readers have played Burnout Paradise, you know exactly what I am talking about. There is hardly a brief moment before the player takes his or her character from stomping around in their world and moves it to a friend’s world. With each world having completely randomized maps, each experience through the world, be it a new character, a new difficulty (four to eventually choose from) or a new friend, no map that I have encountered has been even remotely the same.
Where this online only type of gameplay does take a hit is when Blizzard chooses to bring down the servers. At those times, the game is rendered completely unplayable, as we all experienced during the first few days of either trying to log in, or during the patches. These times were frustrating, and it was easy to see how not being able to play a game that feels like a single player game is limited to whether or not Blizzard can keep up the service is a little disheartening. I am under the impression, however, that Blizzard will have no problems keeping the downtime to an absolute minimum. I have been playing non-stop myself since launch, having no trouble with Day 1 login, and haven’t noticed any impact on my end whatsoever. To those it has affected, I believe that you won’t be affected by it much longer. One thing I can tell you: with the huge install (over 15GB) and the always online gameplay, there are almost zero load screens to sit through. The game plays through everything so fluidly, it took me a while to figure out what was missing.
Beyond that, the game is glorious in every sense of the word. D3 has been rehauled in a way that makes old fans of the series recognize a lot, while streamlining everything. I am simply amazed at the steps that Blizzard has taken to make that happen. Starting with the leveling system, players now no longer have to fear about destroying their build by allocating stat or skill points to the wrong areas. Stats are now arbitrarily distributed to each character per level, which builds that character up appropriately as necessary. Skills are earned every level, with a new system of augmentations for each skill. What this allows for is pure customization of a character’s skills to suit your playthrough. For example, the Monk has a skill that is similar to a tornado kick. With augmentations, different effects can be added to that kick, allowing that Monk to either push back enemies farther and ensnare them, or to deal more damage and hit more foes. Not to mention that there isn’t a single level that goes by where the characters do not learn a new skill or augmentation, so each level up feels like a reward. This system is extremely effective, and makes for anyone to create a play style that is right for them.
Gold has now been given a much more significant role in D3. Whereas in D2 it was hardly used but to replenish Town Portal scrolls, repair, and so forth, in D3 it is used to upgrade various shops that are unlocked as the story progresses, to increase the amount of spaces in your stash and even buy weapons and armor from other players in the Auction House. Gold and stash spaces are also shared among all of the player’s characters, so if you pick up a great weapon with your Witch Doctor that you would have loved your Demon Hunter to have, have no fear! Just drop the item into your stash and pick it up later for that character. Also, no need to worry about scrolls of town portal or identification sucking up some of that hard earned gold: Blizzard has decided that these things should be streamlined too, and have given both of them unlimited uses as you need them. No more lugging around scrolls to occupy two spaces.
The toolbar for skills and potions has also been refined to feel a lot more like an MMO interface. Four skills are now assigned to 1-4 on your keyboard. Potions have been limited to one slot, and assigned to Q. While they got rid of having a belt of potions, enemies now drop life pots that can be picked up for instantaneous health, which help during those heated battles. You are also given a primary and secondary skill assigned to left and right click, respectively. The left click does not deplete your skill points, which is named differently for each character (Spirit for Monk, Arcane Energy for Wizard), but rather restores it as attacks are made. The right click skill and all of the numbered skills are what depletes that sphere. Each skill number is given a category (Defensive, Offensive, Support) so the player can understand what kind of skill will fill those slots. It’s really become a whole lot more streamlined.
All of your favorite things that you’ve come to know and love about the Diablo series is here, including the dark setting, the wonderful cast, and of course, the glorious loot. This game comes equipped with hundreds upon hundreds of pieces of loot that make exploring every nook and cranny totally worth it. There are four colors of rarity, as always, going from white to gold, and with each new color of text adds yet another additional stat to the piece of armor. Even when it came to the common items, rarely did I find two pieces that were identical. Add in the fact that the Auction House will allow players to sell for both in game currency and real money (not yet available at the time of playing), and you will never not be able to find the items you desire.
As you play, a lot of familiar music will find its way back to the dedicated fan’s ears, as old tracks are remastered and brought back, as well as all new and original material. It is all haunting and fitting for the newly rendered areas that are presented. No longer does the game run on a predrawn isometric background, but the objects and characters in the field are beautiful and rendered in 3D. At full settings, the game looks gorgeous, and still runs fluidly should your PC have an average to good setup. It is a refreshing change to see Diablo make its way to the new generation of graphics, and yet at the same time, it is still not the best it could be.
What I enjoy most is the balance that the game has stricken between normal battles and boss battles. In the older games, the only real challenge came from named characters, or bosses. When these characters showed up, things were extremely difficult. However, in D3, the entire game seems to be on a difficulty feel that is challenging, but never hard enough to frustrate. Sure, waltzing into an enormous hoard of enemies will most likely leave you dead, but facing them at the right pace will find you struggling just enough to break a sweat. And, if you really think you’ve got what it takes, after you’ve gotten a character up to level 10, you can start any characters after that in the mode that seems to be garnering a lot of attention: hardcore. In this mode, if your character dies, that character is no longer playable. All you get is one life. In fact, it is so real, that Blizzard actually puts up a disclaimer before you build the character.
With countless amounts of quests making Diablo 3 one of the longest Diablo entries to date, and a new achievement system in place, there is plenty to do within this game. There are ten character slots available, and if you plan on getting all of the achievements, please be prepared to use all ten slots. There is definitely a small nuisance not being able to play your game when the servers aren’t available, but I highly doubt that will be a problem moving forward with the future of the game. Diablo 3 is a must play for any fans of the series, any fans of action RPGs in general, or for those looking for a challenging new entry into their video game collection. I can assure you that Diablo 3 will deliver to you a very unique, and highly addictive type of fun that will do anything but disappoint.
Rating: 5.0 / 5.0