Diablo III

Diablo-III-Box-Art
9.5 Overall Score

Simple gameplay with a surprising level of depth.

Unpopular online only decisions.

Written by on May 22, 2012 in [, , , ]

Blizzard Entertainment’s Diablo III has been out for a week. If you weren’t aware it was kind of a big deal. This also means you likely already have Diablo III. For those of you still on the fence or who haven’t ever Diabloed before, let’s get some of the basics out of the way.

Diablo is, at its core, loot porn. Diablo III is no different. From the occasional piece of gear that flies out of a bad guy to the loot pinata bosses, you’re going to be acquiring a lot of items that do various things to your stats in the game. Completely streamlined is the process for using these items. Previous Diablo games required you to identify gear (usually via scrolls that you found). Now all but the rarest items come pre-identified for your use. The others? You right-click and wait about three seconds for the suspense to build, then see what you have. That’s really most of the game in a nutshell; the anticipation of what you’ll get next.

Diablo III is pretty straightforward to play; it’s possible to play through the entire game on normal with a mouse alone. Left-clicking moves your character around and does a basic attack, and right click does a different attack (usually governed by mana or a cooldown). As your character advances you’ll get access to different skills, and up to four additional hot-keyed abilities. All six of these potential skills are modified by passive abilities and runes. Before long you’re managing different builds and skill approaches for a variety of situations and gear. The game does make this a little needlessly difficult to figure out, as information Diablo fans would consider vital (numerical values for various abilities, unlocking the ability to freely mix and match skills) are behind a couple layers of menus without much in the way of explanation.

Those of you from Diablo II‘s heydey remember throwing huge numbers of stat points around every level, and pumping one to three skills to ludicrous degrees. Diablo III doesn’t work that way. Skills don’t rank up, and stat points are assigned automatically. Where you customize your own specific demon murderer is in the gear and which skills you use at a time. The singular (and significant) benefit of this is your ability to completely rebuild your character at the drop of a hat. This gives you a chance to see and try almost every style of build in the game without dropping a significant chunk of your life into rebuilding a character.

The other improvement has come in terms of the auction house. Taking a nod from World of Warcraft, Diablo III contains a huge, eBayish style auction center for gear. It’s easy to use, offers a patient player the opportunity to make some gold, and lets you crowdsource your search for that perfect pair of gloves. It’s a pretty solid feature and largely eliminates the trading runs and other things that kept you from clicking things until they died in Diablo II.

The auction house and crafting system also work to enforce an economy of sorts for Diablo 3; one not driven by unique items. Gold has a real purpose in the game, and you’re regularly spending it to craft gear (Diablo III‘s replacement for the gambling of Diablo II), combine and move socketed gems, and acquire still more loot. This also takes us to some of the more controversial aspects of Diablo III‘s release.

In about a week you’ll be able to sell and buy virtual goods in Diablo III for real money. This isn’t a first for the industry, but it is the first time this option is available within the game itself on this sort of scale. This is set to open in a week, and is likely one of the primary requirements for Diablo III‘s always online functionality, as Diablo II was rife with duplicated and hacked items primarily due to the player’s ability to edit local files. It’s a definite lack of trust from the part of Blizzard, but not entirely unjustified, particularly when people will be shelling our real money for their loot. Not that it hasn’t led to a few issues.

At this moment there are approximately a billion angry rants about Diablo III‘s server issues, Blizzard’s selling out, and assorted other nonsense. From the woefully low Metacritic user score to spiteful Cracked.com top fives, the launch has been less than well-received by a very vocal minority. For what it’s worth, I’ve had zero difficulty logging on since the second or third day of release, and the game itself is about the most perfect perfect distillation of loot porn you may ever find in a PC game. You’ll likely finish Diablo III on normal in ten to fifteen hours, but grinding for more loot and playing through the tougher difficulty settings are going to push that to forty or fifty hours easily. Taking a character to the maximum level of 60 will require at least two additional runs through the story. Perhaps the greatest asset of the game’s always online requirement is that it keeps your entire friends list accessible. Drop in/drop out multiplayer is easy, and Diablo III is far better with a group.

Diablo III is a fantastic game. It’s almost unquestionable. The amount of polish and detail that have gone into everything from character animations to sound design to the fully voiced pieces of lore and cinema-quality cutscenes. It’s also a very specific game. Nothing here will sell you on an isometric hack n’ slash adventure. But, going off of the sales numbers and game populations, nothing needs to either. Though it was marred by an unfortunate first day that emphasized the paradigm shift to online, you’re still probably going to play Diablo III, and keep playing it for a long time.

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Author: Zach Snell View all posts by
Hi there. If you're reading this you've probably read some material of mine. If you want more go here and read my stories about a guy who punches wizards. http://www.amazon.com/Zachary-Snell/e/B008G0MORI/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

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