After the success of Diablo II it is no secret that Diablo III had a lot to live up to. It didn’t help that we have been waiting for 12 years for the sequel. And every year that Blizzard delayed the launch just ramped up the anticipation. Was the wait worth it?
As a huge Diablo fan there was no way that I was going to miss out on this one, I lined up with all the other fans at the midnight launch to get my copy as soon as possible. Since then I have been playing as much Diablo III as possible.
The first thing that you will notice when you fire up Diablo III is the beautiful graphics. This is extremely noticeable if you have been playing some Diablo II to get in the groove over the last few months. As you would expect the 12 years between titles has had a dramatic effect on the visuals. The detail in the landscapes as well as the character animations are exceptional. Package that up with the dramatic music that Diablo is famous for and you are fully immersed in the game. I wouldn’t be surprised if Blizzard released the soundtrack for this, it’s that good.
The UI is slick and streamlined, with everything where it should be. Blizzard have done a great job of making the game accessible for people who have never played a Diablo game before while managing to keep the advanced features that Diablo fans wanted.
Where the beauty and sound take DIII to the next level, the story brings it back down a few notches. While the games overall story is good and the cut scenes between each Act are amazing, the narrative that plays out between these just feels flat. Speaking with NPC’s throughout the game feels very scripted and stale. Sure this is not something that Diablo is known for and not a major part of the game but RPG’s have come a long way since DII and this is apparent in DIII. I can see what Blizzard have tried to do, by streamlining the story elements as much as possible in order to keep the pace and action of the game as fast as possible, but it does feel like they came up a bit short on story.
In addition to this – and we are still debating as to whether it is a good thing or a bad thing – but the nostalgic creaters of DIII have quite simply created a new game by consolidating the last 3 Diablo games. Let me explain, Act I takes you back to the town of Tristrim, the same town that Diablo I was set in. Some of the original characters of DI are still alive and well in DIII, even the end boss in Act 1 is the same as that from Act 1 from the original game. Then, Act 2 feels very much like the bulk of Diablo 2, almost entirely. You battle through desert & then the forest, slaying loads of demons that are splitting images of the demons you would have found in these environments in DII – they’re simply enhanced by today’s technology. Act 3 surprisingly enough sees our hero travel back to Arreat. Only this time, you are not ascending a mountain, you are descending into an abyss. The boss’s you kill in Acts II and III are quite literally the same as the boss’s from DII, just with different names. The only level that felt new to me was Act 4, which is set in heaven as opposed to hell.
So was there a major lack in creativity in the assembly of Diablo III or was it about going with the tried and trusted format?
So what about the core mechanics that have made the original Diablo famous? Well as I played through the game, I had a huge amount of fun hacking and slashing, leveling up and collecting loot. DIII does everything that DII did and more. The enemies that you face are exciting and challenging. They vary widely as you progress to different areas of the game ensuring that you are always in need of those 5 extra damage points that a new weapon has to offer. The inclusion of an upgradable blacksmith and artisan really provide some nice depth, investing money inot their crafting skills really pays off later in the game.
While playing I was thinking to myself how I need to do this all again on the next difficulty level and then again with a different character. DIII has some very unique character classes gives the game massive longevity in terms of playability. Have a look at our class guide if you need help chosing a character class.
But it does not stop there, DIII includes a massive improvement to the the multiplayer engine. Remember the days of dragging your PC to your mates house to LAN DII? Well, in order to play DIII, a user needs and active internet connection and a Battle.net account in order to login to the game, making the game, in essence an online game. The advantage of this is that players can at any time simply pop into a co-op online game with a bunch of random players or join a mate’s game and set off on an adventure. It’s very simple and easy and is one of the great things about DIII. Blizzard have also created multiple loot drops, so you don’t have to fight over the loot that you get from monsters (often the root cause of a proper barney at a DII LAN).
As fun as this feature is, I would urge you to play the entire game first by yourself at your own pace before you jump straight into multiplayer. Reason being, the biggest advantage of playing multiplayer is also the biggest disadvantage – Speed. You can level up and complete quests in minutes, often missing NPC’s and tombs or caves that are scattered along your route. Other users can also skip cutscenes and primary quest dialogue events.
One of the major enhancements of this game is the inclusion of the “Online auction house”. This allows users to buy or sell cool items of all quality types that can be found within the realm of DIII. The developers have added a nice little spin to this, as users can purchase & sell items with the gold that they collect in-game, or for real money which they can use to buy more items, or take home to pay the electricity bill (note that the real currency auction house is not live yet, Blizzard has been focusing on the server stability issues and promise to release the currency system by the end of May).
The server errors have to be noted. You have probably already heard of the infamous Error 37 (server full error) which showcases one of the downfalls of the online login, in order to play DIII at (even single player) you will need to login through the Battle.net servers. I understand the problems around launch time, but if the Battle.net servers go down for maintenance as they did recently, you will be unable to play. Let’s hope that Blizzard now has this under control and we will see fewer of these outages.
All in all DIII is a well rounded game that brings users more of the same action and gameplay that they have come to love and enjoy from previous Diablo titles. So much so, that at the end of the game, you will simply start again in Nightmare mode…which comes with a few new surprises of its own that will keep users playing right up until the end. The game manages to appeal to the hardcore fans as well as people that are entirely new to the Diablo franchise, with a very easy learning curve.