There are only a handful of gaming franchises that can lay claim to being the catalyst for countless clones like Diablo can. Frankly, anything that slightly resembles its mainstay dungeon crawling and loot grinding mechanics is compared to it, and often times labled as a “Diablo clone”. With Diablo III, Blizzard returns to its dark fantasy role playing roots and forgoes alot of the traditional RPG mechanics to forge its own dungeon crawling experience. Offering an endless loop of rewards and unlockables to achieve for putting in your time slaying demons is the essence of the franchise. A measured yet flexible game, Diablo III has seen a good bit of change in the recent release. This latest title stays true to Diablo II in many of the game’s combat mechanics, but also gives players far more flexibility in the way that they choose to customize their character, as well as adding jaw dropping attention to detail in visual department.
While it certainly hasn’t been the franchise’s major draw over the years, Diablo III tells the rich continuing story of Sanctuary through what are arguably the best looking cutscenes in the business. Playing supplement to the in-game content, these cutscenes accompany fully voiced character interactions and lore loot narrations, which will fill in many of the game’s blanks. Sprawling dungeons and varying locales in the game’s four acts are a visual treat, though even modestly powered PCs should be able to run the game at its highest settings.
Finding the right combination of skills and pointing and clicking your way to victory is only one part of the equation in Diablo III.
You’ll spend most of your time in the game’s action mode, a 3/4 top down viewing angle where the bulk of the story will unfold into a journey down a relatively linear path. Players can choose from one of five character classes: The Wizard, Witch Doctor, Demon Hunter, Barbarian, and Monk. Each with their own distinct special abilities and specialties like melee, support, magic, and ranged attacks. After comitting to one character, that’s about as tied down as you’ll get, because after that just about everything can be adjusted on the fly to fit your specific playstyle. Passive and Active skills will be unlocked as XP is earned during your time in Sanctuary, and these skills can also be customized with different runes, that provide both aesthetic and functional benefit. Experimenting with these different options are paramount to the Diablo III experience as they can greatly affect your success in a given battle,area, or dungeon. Since Blizzard continually throws new enemy types at you throughout the game, its definitely advantageous to keep an eye out for new combinations of weapons and skills to use. Optimization for specific areas plays an even bigger role when you start to venture up the difficulty ladder.
Finding the right combination of skills and pointing and clicking your way to victory is only one part of the equation in Diablo III. The game is certainly just as much about managing your inventory as it is about picking the right skills. Since you’ll be constantly coming across new tools to use, comparing specs and buffs will allow you to determine whether or not a certain weapon drop is even worth picking up. Depending on whether or not you have a follower with you or not, you’ll also need to take them into consideration as well. There’s a constant cycle of rewards and incentives to keep you clicking forward through the game’s four acts. Whether its item drops that harbor the potential for rare finds, gold that can be used to buy new weapons,craft unique ones, or purchase other upgrades for your warrior, or XP grinding you to new skills and abilities, Blizzard constantly reinforces your forward progress in Diablo III by continually giving you rewards, or dangling one just slightly out of reach. This continues far after a single playthrough, which is probably Diablo III’s biggest feat.
Considering that it is a game that was designed specifically for you to return to time and time again, there is always a reason to come back for more. Bigger, better equipment is the reward for playing Diablo III at its highest difficulty levels. At it’s toughest, this is one game that will make you beg for mercy… Or at least beg for team support. Cooperative play is one of the launch features that Blizzard managed to sneak into the game, and you shouldn’t have much trouble finding someone to play with since everyone needs to be online to play the game in any form. PvE will allow you to join up with other travelers to tackle any of the games four acts as a team. While it takes away slightly from the more intimate single player experience in Diablo III, the cooperative gameplay is fun and exciting from a gameplay stance. Unlike World of Warcraft there is no rolling for loot in Diablo III, you’ll only see items that you can pickup so in that sense there’s a better chance that your time will be aptly rewarded. The only real cons to the cooperative play is the ability for any player to trigger events that play a large role in the story or skip through them entirely.
The online component of Diablo III has its great features, but have been implemented at a cost.
The online component of Diablo III has its great features, but have been implemented at a cost. Which brings us to the big elephant in the room, Blizzard’s DRM and its requirement that you be connected to the internet when playing Diablo III. It’s already lead to a public outcry from the Diablo community after causing widespread server errors at the game’s launch. Not being able to play the game in offline form in any way is a bit of a bummer. While the problems stemmed from Blizzard’s side this time, there will sure be times when players want to play and have connection issues of their own that prevent them from doing so. Equally impressive in its single-player and cooperative modes, Blizzard’s DRM is really only a problem if we know its there. Unfortunately, after the huge build-up to the release of the game, it was clearly evident that this new feature had kinks that needed to be worked out.
While most of the issues have been fixed relatively quickly, players will likely be waiting longer than expected for features like the real money auction house, and PvP gameplay to come to fruition. Allowing players to sell goods found in the virtual world for real-world cash is just another reason of many that’ll keep you coming back for more, but there’s no telling when that will occur. It was originally scheduled for May 22nd, and indications suggest that the real-money version will arrive on May 29th, and we’ve yet to see if that deadline will be hit.
With Diablo III Blizzard took some of the best features of the past and has merged them with more modern design philosophies. While most of it’s big changes come from the remodeled leveling system, much of what made Diablo II such a good game is still present in some form or another. That’s probably because some things just never get old. Blizzard knows how to set the stage and keep gamers coming back, day-in and day-out. Whether it’s to marvel at the sights in Sanctuary all by your lonesome or tackle The Butcher on Inferno difficulty with friends, there’s something that’ll likely give you that itch for one more click in Diablo III.
- Available On: PC
- Published By: Blizzard Entertainment
- Developed By: Blizzard Entertainment
- Genre: Action Role Playing
- US Release Date: May 15th, 2012
- Reviewed On: PC
- Quote: "Blizzard knows how to set the stage and keep gamers coming back, day-in and day-out. Whether it's to marvel at the sights by your lonsome or tackle challenges with friends, there's always something that'll give you that itch for one more click in Diablo III."