Well it is finally here, Tim’s thoughts on the infamous/famous Diablo III which came into this world after years of development to stumble and fall at the first hurdle. Every internet savvy persons knows about the “Error 37” message that was displayed on the log in screen that denied access to hundreds of thousands of users across the world. But now that this whole mess-up seems to have ended, is the game worth buying?
Diablo III had a lot of hype to live up to. Diablo I and II have become a massive cult following with players still venturing on to the online servers to optimize and maximize their characters to this day. Unfortunately Diablo was a little before my time (me being so young and all!) so I have only played the first act of Diablo II. Back to Diablo III! Despite all the server problems I managed to complete the game on normal difficulty on release day and have proceeded to play my barbarian class up to level 53. I also have a couple of other characters around the level 15 mark. So let us start at the mechanics.
The control system is a simple toolbar system where your abilities are assinged to either 1,2,3, 4 and your left and right mouse buttons. Each class has 24 abilites or so to choose from, with each ability having a series of runes which change and customize the ability in unique ways. For example, my barbarian is fond of the ability “Frenzy” which increases his attack speed up to a cap the more he hits. This is the base ability, but I can augment this with a different rune to add bonuses. The rune which I am using at the moment gives a small chance to stun the target I am hitting. Another rune gives a small % of health back when you kill an enemy using the ability… another just flat increases damage. These runes are unlocked over the whole 60 levels. This is a good system of progression as it always gives you more incentive to level up and play with these new runes. So while there is no skill tree, you can see how this system does actually offer quite a large range of customization for your particular play style.
Each of these skills also look bloody cool, runes not only change the stats of the ability but how it looks. The game looks bloody great, killing is incredibly satisfying watching body parts fly and enemies crumble in front of you. Magic spells filling the screen with amazing effects. The environments too are pleasant to the eyes with it being lightly destructible for no other purpose than to look cool.
The loot! That’s the whole purpose of playing Diablo games right? Well once again the lootfest looks and feels great. When you slay a rare enemy items and gold fly from within them, glowinging beautifully, begging for you to come along and hoover it all up. The satisfaction you get when a rare, or even legendary item drops is unparalleled. No other game I have ever played makes looting so satisfying and addictive.
Story is a key component in all games of course but Diablo III’s is certainly on the weaker side. While it pays homage to characters from the older games and tries to have interesting story twists it just doesn’t really grab you. Especially considering you will have to play through the game multiple times on varying difficulties to reach the maximum level and maximum loot. Having said that, it is acceptable and certainly not boring just not particularly riveting either.
Now there are a couple of serious issues with the game that I have come across. These points really hold the game back from being the astounding masterpiece that was promised and expected from Blizzard. First, is the always on DRM. This means that you must be connected to the internet and the battle.net servers if you want to play the game. Even if you are on single player. This results in you being unable to play during server downtime (of which there was a lot during the release week), instances of lag which is absolutely unacceptable when playing solo, and server disconnects which have resulted in lost items/experience/progression. There is no way of forgiving this, perhaps in the future when internet speeds around the country have improved massively but for the thousands of people who are playing the SINGLE PLAYER portion of the game experiencing lag due to their internet speed is unacceptable.
The second part is that the first 10 hours of gameplay is far too easy and as a result, boring. The problem is that there is no way of upping the difficulty, those first 30 levels of each character you create will be a boring cakewalk. You will have to go through the same boring sections without worrying about your character at all. Even Nightmare difficulty (the 2nd difficulty of 4) was easy and not particularly interesting. The real meat of the game if in Hell and Inferno where you are challenged and pushed to the limits, having to gather better gear and skills in order to progress. Yet you have to put in over 10 hours to get to the good part in the game and that just isn’t good enough. I’m not going to mention the real-money auction house in this review since it has not been implemented yet.
So in conclusion, while it has some heavily flawed systems that hold it back from being unbeatable, Diablo III still comes up as the best clickclickclickclickclick orgy I have ever played. The visuals combined with the immense satisfaction of developing and building your character make this a must play. If you liked Titan Quest, Dungeon Siege or Torchlight then Diablo III is the game to buy, by far the best of its genre.