Diablo III ReviewMike Villalon
After a twelve-year gap, Diablo is back and with it comes many new improvements that will cater to long-standing fans, and pique the interest of newcomers to the series.
Straight out of the gate, Diablo III drops you right into the story, moments after the cinematic prologue. You can choose one of five classes, which all offer unique and different play styles. The game takes you through four acts, which divide into a number of quests. These quests can be replayed as often as you like and work as small chapters in the story. Replaying quests is actually fun and it doesn't get tiring because of the variety in location, enemies and atmosphere. This is all fine on its own, but where Diablo III truly shines is in its multiplayer. When playing in a public game, you pick which quest you would like to join, or you can simply play your single player story and make that game open to the public. Of course, you can invite your friends and play in a closed environment with only those you choose. Playing Diablo III co-operatively is the most fun way to enjoy the game, even more so with those who you know. You can make a team of up to 4 players. Each time someone new joins, the foes become stronger. This keeps the game balanced, allowing for a reasonable amount of difficulty no matter how many players there are.
You begin by choosing one of five major classes in the game. The Barbarian, The Wizard, The Monk, The Demon Hunter and The Witch Doctor. Each of these classes offer a unique style and each of them are quite well balanced. Their skills vary, as well as their 'Runes.' The way skills work in Diablo III allows for a diverse character build. This is because you can always change which skills you have chosen, both active skills and passive skills. On top of this, you can partner each active skill with a single Rune. Runes complement the skill and just like skills, they can be swapped whenever you feel the need. For example, The Barbarian has an active skill called 'Hungering Arrow,' which attacks the enemy with a magical arrow. There are a total of five runes for each skill and one of the Runes for 'Hungering Arrow' is called 'Devouring Arrow.' This Rune allows each consecutive hit of 'Hungering Arrow' to increase in damage by 70%. Of course, there are many runes and skills and finding a build that works for you is part of the fun in Diablo III.
Diablo III requires a constant online connection. This means that if you do not have an Internet connection at all, you will not be able to play. Likewise, if you have an unstable Internet connection and you wish to play Diablo III, then upgrading your Internet service may be your only choice. This creates a solid online environment, but the major problem is that during single play, you may encounter lag. This seems totally awkward and often feels like it should never occur in that type of gameplay.
Your main goals are to complete quests, level up and collect loot. Get used to this, because this will be your major gaming experience with Diablo III. Even though there is a story to keep you moving forward, its not one of the best aspects of Diablo III and works more as a reason for you to continue leveling-up and collecting rare items. The loot system is very well developed and you will get a great sense of excitement every time you kill a demonic obstacle and watch as a number of items jump from its corpse.
The loot system is great, allowing the game to create multiple randomly generated items, based on a set weapon or armor item. For instance, magical items come with boosts to certain stats or personal upgrades. One may increase your dexterity skill by 20, but you may find the same item with a stat boost that increases your dexterity by 30. The type of upgrade that each magical item provides is randomly generated not only when you find the item from a monster, but also when you craft it at The Blacksmith. The Blacksmith works in a very easy to understand way. You choose which item you want The Blacksmith to craft and, for example, it will say '+4 random magical properties.' This means that when you create the item, it will randomly pick four magical upgrades, such as +20 dexterity' or 4% more chance to find magical items.' It's an exciting process, but it often feels limited by the fact that most of it is random.
On top of this, some weapons have empty slots in which you can place gems. These gems have the same magical properties that you can find in weapons and by attaching them to your equipment; you will be able to add a new magical property to the item. This allows you to have more control over what magical properties your equipment have, but like The Blacksmith, it still feels a tad limited.
As you progress through quests, the strength and swarms of the enemies will increase. Killing a number of enemies in quick succession or defeating a number of enemies in one hit will yield experience boosts that constantly drive you to kill as many foes, as quickly as possible. Being swarmed can be difficult though because of the cool down times of not only your skills, but your potions too. In order to stay alive for longer periods of time, you need to use your potions, healing skills and healing orbs in a smart fashion, otherwise you will find yourself slowly dying with no way to recuperate your health. This is a great way that the game keeps you focused on what you're doing, constantly making you think about your next course of action.
Diablo III is a great game that is made even better by its intuitive cooperative play. The main quest won't take very long to complete, but replaying it remains fun. Once you complete the story a single time, you will unlock Nightmare difficulty, which increases the overall difficulty. Likewise, completing Nightmare opens up Hell difficulty. You can see that repeating the story is a very integral part of Diablo III and that the randomly generated enemy, item and chest locations is an important mechanic to the overall gameplay. The Blacksmith system, as well as the Gem system could have been less limited and allowed for more choice and the single player lag feels totally unacceptable, even though the constant Internet connection makes sense when you think of the big picture. Diablo III took a long time to release but the game most definitely delivers to those fans that have been waiting for such a long time.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.