After 12 years of waiting Blizzard have finally released the third installment of its insanely popular Diablo series. Players must choose one of five playable classes (Wizard, Demon Hunter, Witch Doctor, Barbarian and Monk) to conquer the evil threat but mainly to find the best loot. For loot is the key component of a Diablo game and the third is no exception, although the formula is very basic, it is also very addictive. However the question remains: Does Diablo 3 live up to the franchise’s reputation and especially its twelve-year hype? Or is it just like Duke Nukem all over again….
The first thing you’ll notice upon playing Diablo 3 is the improvements graphically. This is, of course, expected considering it is a sequel to a twelve-year-old game. Even so, the game is extremely detailed and is very aesthetically pleasing, all the time maintaining smooth gameplay and animations. The cut-scenes are especially memorable and act as excellent ways of beginning acts or key events within the story. During your play through of Diablo 3 it is common to be surrounded by large numbers of enemy mobs and even with a lot of action taking place on-screen, the consistent frame rate allows the game to run smoothly without lag (provided you have a good internet connection), allowing no distraction from the gameplay.
In terms of gameplay Diablo 3 is as addictive as ever, several hours would pass by without my knowing, too busy focusing on obtaining my next level up or new weapons, this is mainly a symbol of how fluid the game is. Going from one enemy to the next without noticing a gap in combat keeps players constantly immersed within the game and adds to the overall experience. There is also a greater emphasis on choice for different play styles. Players have six skill slots in which they can fill with the average 25 skills that are available to them as well as an extra 15 active skills for which you can only choose three. It is clear that Diablo 3 gives as much choice to the player as possible. Each skill also contains five runestones, each one greatly change the damage, healing and even function of the skill allowing for even more customisation. This allows the player to create their character exactly how they like and within coop games it is common to see players of the same class supporting completely different builds, all is down to player preference. Throughout your play through you’ll frequently be changing skills and trying new combinations to find the perfect build for how you like to play.
Diablo 3 is also surprisingly accessible to those new to this genre or even new to pc games due to the user-friendly interface, tutorials and the initial easy difficulty. During the normal difficulty few people will struggle or find much challenge however by inferno difficulty only the hardcore and dedicated players will stand a chance of survival. It is this difficulty curve that both allows casual players to have fun and hardcore gamers to find a challenge allowing for greater rewards. Diablo 3 also gives summaries of the previous Diablo games allowing new players to pick up and follow the story easily, although story isn’t exactly the main focus of a game like Diablo, it is always good to see new players being able to catch up with previous events in the series. The story itself is intriguing and exciting enough to follow, however it is often predictable, thankfully though there are enough twists to keep the player involved and interested in the story. Still, in Diablo, story is secondary to leveling and exploration.
The main flaw with Diablo’s story lies within its repetition. Each class shares the same story with only changes in narrative, voice and back story, so once the game has been completed as one class you will have to undergo the same thing with a different class. Unless you choose to access the new difficulty unlocked upon completion which unfortunately is also a repetition of the exact same story however now with stronger enemies and tougher challenges. This process is repeated untill the final difficulty is reached and after a while does prove tedious. The starting difficulty, though made to be more accessible to new players, is not challenging at all and it is mandatory to play through to access the harder difficulties. This for me was a poor choice from Blizzard. However the story and gameplay are strong enough to make this excusable and the wait is well worth it.
Exploration is also rather limited due to the fact there are little side mission outside the main quest. Although ,due to randomly generated dungeons and mobs, each players experience will be unique and always changing. There are also several easter eggs for the more determined to find and without spoiling them, you should definitely attempt to find them. However the greatest flaw of Diablo has been left to last and that is the DRM attached to the game. This means that to play Diablo, even the single play segment, the player must always be connected to the internet. This will definitely pose a large problem to some people, especially those wishing to play Diablo on the go. Yet even those with constant connections may suffer because if Blizzard take down a server to repair or update, then there is no access to Diablo and players must wait untill the server is back online. This was especially evident upon the games release in which the majority were not able to play due to servers crashing. Though when Diablo works it makes up for this poor choice from Blizzard. The mandatory online also provides an excellent social hub where players can easily see who on their friends list is online at time and drop in and out cooperative makes playing with a group of friends easier than ever.
Overall Diablo 3 is a fantastic offering from Blizzard and maintains the impressive reputation of the Diablo franchise. If you’re a fan of any other Diablo game or even that from the Torchlight series then this is a game that should not be missed! I believe everyone owes it to themselves to at least try Diablo 3