Diablo III Review

I have a long history with this franchise, but when you really think about it, what respectable PC gamer doesn’t? I was an avid player of video games in my youth, but when Diablo was introduced into my life, I began the long journey to become the gamer that I am today. And Diablo III is a great addition to the franchise. It offers gameplay for the many different styles of gamers out there. Despite its rough launch, it has surpassed all sales records for the PC.

For all intents and purposes, Diablo III plays just like Diablo and Diablo 2. However they have thrown in a more diverse skill system so long as you know how to manipulate it, which with one minor change in the settings really isn’t that hard to do. But overall, this is still the same addictive game that we all (mostly all) love and remember.

To me, the story wasn’t really the highlight of the game. It is filled with cheesy lines and clichés and often predictable twists and turns. But maybe that’s the charm of this game. But even with the cheesiness of the story, it still shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the gorgeous cut scenes. Some may view the voice acting as superb, and while agree that the narrative during the cut scenes was stupendous, it kind of seemed to fall short in the rest of the game. It was largely comical, especially given the actual script, so all-in-all it was still entertaining.

This game did actually provide a degree of difficulty… once you get past the first act. I actually found myself having to plan out and grab the freshly dropped health globe so that I make sure I use it to my advantage. I found that your gear is definitely a deciding factor in the game. If you are not keeping up with the latest and greatest of gear in the area you are at, you will have a tough time of making it through. And gathering your loot is one of the more fun aspects of the game.

I know, it seems like this would be a minor part of the game. But all in all, it’s really the point of the game to begin with. I still giggle a little and get excited every time I see a monster take its final blow and spew out fountains of gold and loot. There are three basic levels of loot. White, which will be your basic gear, could have some great stats, but you can usually find better. Blue, which are your magical items, come with an assortment of stat gains ranging from additional damage/protection, to lightning damage, even to a bigger radius for grabbing gold as you are running around. Then you have your yellow loot. When you pick up any yellow item, you do not immediately know what stats the item has. You have to identify the item by right clicking on it in your inventory to “discover” its attributes. But nothing beats that giddy feeling when you’re waiting the second and a half for that identify progress bar to fill up so that you can discover the stats.

The white items in the game are pretty much useless. They can (and should) be sold to the nearest merchant at the earliest opportunity. Unwanted magic items can be sold also (I would recommend the Auction House), or you can visit the blacksmith to break it down for crafting materials. Gold comes from this and in loot drops from monsters, which is typical of the Diablo franchise. But unlike the preceding games, gold is a much bigger commodity and a lot harder to amass. It drives up so much in this game and can be used to level your artisan skills (blacksmith and jeweler), to purchase items from other players, purchase additional space in your inventory and stash and to repair your equipment.
I have not had much experience with the auction house yet, and given that Blizzard has postponed the real-currency portion of it, I will not dabble on this subject at this time. Look for my follow up on this subject after full functionality of this feature becomes available.

So all this loot has to be applied to the most important part of the game, your hero! There are five classes of heroes to choose from in Diablo III: The Witch Doctor, The Barbarian, The Wizard, The Monk and The Demon Hunter.

The Witch Doctor is a new class that is reminiscent of the necromancer from Diablo 2. However, the skills and abilities are more associated with the shaman or voodoo. The Witch Doctor has the ability to summon monsters, cast curses, harvest souls, and hurl explosives and poisons at enemies. The Witch Doctor draws on mana to cast its spells, which is slow to generate. It is important to note that Blizzard is adamant that the Witch Doctor is not the evolution of the necromancer, and it’s very possible that we might see the necromancer in a future expansion.

The Barbarian has a variety of revamped abilities at his disposable based on the use of his incredible strength. Fury powers his ability to cleave through crowds of monsters, whirlwind through swarms like the tops we played with as kids, and crush anything that stands in his way. This fury is generated by attacking enemies and attained through using certain abilities. Unused fury will degenerate over time.
The Wizard, another new character, is similar to the sorceress from Diablo 2. The Wizard can shoot lighting, fire and ice at its enemies. It can even slow time and teleport around enemies and through walls. The Wizard fuels his skills with arcane power, which quickly regenerates.

The Monk is a true melee class. He uses martial arts to combine the elements of Diablo 2’s assassin class with that of the paladin. He is fueled by spirit and is slowly generated through attacks like the Barbarian. But unlike the Barbarian’s fury, the Monk’s spirit does not degenerate.

The Demon Hunter combines elements of Diablo 2’s assassin and amazon classes. Demon Hunters use crossbows as their main weapon and also have an assortment of bombs to throw at enemies. The Demon Hunter is fueled by discipline and hatred. Hatred is a fast generating resource that is used for attacks, while discipline is a slow regenerating resource used for defensive abilities.

Each hero has an array of abilities, which are accessed upon leveling in the game. The great part is that whatever you choose when you level is not permanent. You have the option to change them at any given moment during the game. At every level your character will receive a new power, a rune that will augment these powers, or a new passive ability. It is best to experiment with all of these as they become available to see what works best for you. Runes are a very welcomed addition to the franchise. They breathe new life into skills that you earn pretty early on that appear to be useless by augmenting them to become awesome.

Multiplayer is very easily accomplished in the game too. You can find your friends very easily with their new Battle Tags, or by searching for them with their email address. Hopping in and out of your friend’s games is seamless. And it doesn’t matter what level you are, you can help them with any quest that they be working on, all the while earning experience for yourself as well.

In Conclusion
There is so much to do in this game, it’s absolutely great. I am the type of player who really likes to take his time and play through everything I can. Which can be very time consuming in Diablo III thanks to randomly generating dungeons. But after 12 long years, there are many who are rejoicing about the arrival of this game. Granted many are not so happy, especially about the always online portion of the game. But that is the evolution of the gaming industry.

So many things have been improved in Diablo III from the previous games in the franchise, but it’s still an approachable and enjoyable game experience due in large part to its familiarity. It is a pure addiction to me, and I am sure that many others will agree. I am looking forward to many hours of playing through this game over and over, and to the expansions that will inevitably come our way.
Because there is so much to explore with each class, this is will not be the end of my review. Be on the lookout in the future for my write-ups on each character class. In the meantime, I’ve got to get back to the game!

4.5 out of 5 stars.