The Diablo franchise started the hack and slash genre on the PC, but it wasn’t until the second game Diablo II that it became legendary. Even games released today are judged on what Blizzard created all those years ago. Diablo III might be play similar to the previous titles, but the flexible skill system and the vastly improved presentation are only the icing on the cake of this deep title.
It has been over twenty years since Sanctuary was saved from the Lord of Destruction, but the presence of a fallen star signifies that the end is near. Diablo always had a decent story element, and I must admit I would listen to each and every NPC my first time through the game. For this reason, I found it hard to group up with random players until I started my second playthrough as other players can skip over the dialogue boxes at will. The story is nothing we haven’t heard before andcontains some twists that you will probably see coming, but it is still enjoyable. People don’t play Diablo for the loot, people play for the “phat” loot and there are bucket loads of it through the four acts and four difficulty modes: Normal, Nightmare, Hell and Inferno.
Diablo III is still relies on using heavy mouse clicking until things die andyou collect their loot. There are five distinct classes to play as this time around, leaving out some past favorites such as the Paladin and Necromancer. The new classes that players can choose from are: Barbarian, Witch Doctor, Wizard, Monk & Demon Hunter. The Witch Doctor replaces the Necromancer and is able to have an army of minions fighting beside him, while the Monk is your best bet if you are missing your Hero of Light in the Paladin. The Monk is my main character and he is able to use both his fists at lightning quick speeds and mantras – much like the auras that the Paladins used in Diablo II. While not designed as a tank character, with the right skills and armor pieces, I was able to solo through the game on the Normal difficulty and most of the Nightmare difficulty.
Hardcore mode is also available for those players that want the ultimate challenge. Death is permanent; so don’t get too attached to your characters.
Diablo III has almost unlimited replayability thanks to the randomly generated dungeons and monsters. Everything outside of the main towns is different each time you play the game. One moment you could be facing what seems like an endless supply of skeletons and the next time you could be facing one giant massive skeleton with added extra abilities like being able to create walls to trap you in place. Knowing this, you really never know what to expect around each corner. It adds to the sense of adventure, not knowing what treasures you may find or what dangers lurk just ahead of you. It’s quite a thrill.
The biggest change to Diablo is the skill system that the game uses. As your character levels up through 60 levels, you are constantly gaining new powers, runes or abilities. Runes are attached to already unlocked skills and increases their potential. A skill that you may have thought worthless at the beginning may suddenly feel more powerful than anything thanks to the augmentation of a shiny new rune. My Monk’s primary attacks in particular seemed weak when they were first unlocked, but when I added a rune that granted knockback and extra damage, I couldn’t have had a bigger grin on my face. Each of my Monk’s skills have six different runes to choose from: some work better on bosses and some are better suited to adventuring through the lands.
There are two options that should be enabled as soon as you start the game: Elective Mode and the Advanced Tooltips, both of which can be found in the gameplay options. The latter provides crucial details on your different skills and the former allows you to customize your skill bar. If you do not turn it on, it will preset your skills into a already predetermined keys.
Visually the game has a more colorful art style than the previous titles. The game is still as gory as ever, with exploding monsters and pools of blood left in your destructive mouse-clicking wake as you battle the demons of hell. Exploding bodies will be thrown through the air; barrels and boxes shatter into hundreds of pieces. The music adds to the experience and I really enjoyed listening to the in-game music as I slaughtered the forces of evil. It sounds downright epic at times.
A controversial addition to the game is he inclusion of not one, but two auction houses. The primary auction house, which is the only one available so far as the real-money auction house has been delayed, allows players to buy new gear instead of spending countless nights farming bosses and elite characters for loot. It does decrease the joy I get sometimes when finding that awesome rare item, when I can log in and buy the same item for less than 500 gold. Of course the AH is completely optional and if you think it is cheating, than simply do not use it.
Diablo III is a worthy successor and is the best game in the genre. The downsides to having an Auction House and the Real Life Auction House is that everyone must be logged into Blizzard’s servers at all times to play the game. I understand the need for this check, as Diablo is not a “single-player” game anymore, even if you decide to play by yourself.
Launch day was riddled with server errors and periods of inactivity and not to mention the normal Blizzard maintenance periods that will occur. If you can get around all of this,Diablo III is the best action RPG experience out there today. The loot system is unbelievably addicting and can keep players enthralled in the game world just to see if they can get one more rare item to drop. The game itself is without a doubt as close as a 10 as games will get, but due to the lackluster servers from Blizzard with the frequent outages and latency, I had to take at least a half a point off.
Note: The Diablo III review was written based on the PC version of the game.