It’s been twelve long years since players were asked to defeat evil in Blizzard’s epic Diablo 2. After the years of clamoring for a third installment, players are once again called to defeat evil in the mysterious world of Sanctuary. Although the excitement for Diablo 3 has seemingly not diminished at all, it has met it’s share of skeptics, many calling the game out on it’s “colorful” visuals and it’s “overly simplified” skill system. Could these issues be enough to stop Diablo 3 from satisfying it’s adoring fans for over a decade as it’s predecessors have?
In short…. not at all.
The combat of Diablo 3 is very similar to that of it’s predecessors. To be reductive, you click on enemies, they die, you open treasure chests, and you pick up buckets and buckets of loot. It may not sound all that enthralling, but the formula somehow manages to stay incredibly fun, even for extended periods of time. The game is fairly easy on Normal difficulty, but once you complete that and are given the ability play the Nightmare difficulty, you’re suddenly forced to be much more careful with how you use your potions and abilities. If you use the wrong ability in a situation, death is pretty much guaranteed. Strategy is required for players who continue to play through the higher difficulties.
While it’s skill progression may not be as deep as that of it’s predecessor, it gets the job done. Where in Diablo 2 you would be spending skill-points on abilities, in Diablo 3 all abilities (and their modifiers) unlock over time. For example, the Barbarian has 22 different active abilities, 15 passive abilities, as well as 5 runes (modifiers) for each active ability. One modifier can be equipped to an ability at a time (E.g. make a particular attack give you a certain amount of HP or Mana each time you use it). The skill progression can be pretty deep if the player is willing to put the effort of experimenting with different combinations to find the one that suits him/her best.
Diablo 3 is a good looking game. While it’s visuals have gotten ridicule for being too colorful and for not matching the Gothic tone of its predecessors, it is by no means a “colorful” game. Each character model looks stunning and the environments are appropriately eerie.
More-so than with its predecessors, I found Diablo 3’s story to be entirely compelling. It manages to pull-off some great twists and stay far away from the overly-used conventions I had originally expected it to follow. Cutscenes have always been the Diablo series’ primary method of storytelling. While I’m not normally a fan of heavily cutscene dependent games, the cutscenes of past Diablo games have always been so well done that I have had no problem with it. Diablo 3 is no different. They all look incredibly realistic and are all consistently (as much as I hate to use this word) epic.
Diablo 3 follows in it’s predecessor’s footsteps with fantastic co-op. The game’s difficulty scales very well to accommodate 3 additional players. And another player’s loot wont show up on your screen, so there wont be much of a loot race anymore. I will say it is a bit of a shame there can only be a maximum of 4 players in a single game, instead of the 8 player cap of Diablo 2.
It’s incredible how each class complements the others so well, I played through a majority of the game with a buddy of mine who played a Demon Hunter. As a Barbarian, I would rush in and try to do as much overall damage as possible to our foes,while my friend would shoot them with his crossbow from a distance. The Demon Hunter also has a skill called Caltrops which causes the enemies to move slowly, this would give me a chance to run in and dispose of them while they were stunned.
While it is expected that there will be some amount of server lag in a multiplayer game, players will have to get used to the fact that they will experience server lag while trying to immerse themselves in a single-player game. It is a incredibly disappointing design decision on Blizzard’s part that there is no offline single-player mode. Every game you play is on their servers.
As every Diablo player knows, beating the game on the normal difficulty is just the beginning of your Heroes adventure. Each difficulty makes what you thought was a incredibly powerful high-leveled character seem weaker then he was at level 1. Enemies have new abilities as well as massive amounts of HP. And with Blizzards new found love for adding achievements to their games, many players will find themselves more compelled to 100% the game than they did with past installments.
In the end, Diablo 3 is what most fans have been waiting for. It has most of the elements we remember from past installments and attempts to modernize it with relative success. While it isn’t perfect by any means, Diablo 3 is still a must play.