wheady's Diablo III (PC) review

My Thoughts on Diablo 3

I never played Diablo 1 or 2. Believe me, I tried! I bought the game chest that came with both games and the expansion and tried multiple times to get into it, but this was years after release and all my friends weren’t really interested. It also had some old game mechanics (running back to your corpse, no respec etc) that turned me off of it. When Diablo 3 was first announced, I didn’t really care. Then I started watching some videos and took part in the open beta weekend and that cemented my decision to buy it. After 110 hours I would say I had an overall great experience.

Gameplay

I’m sure you already know, but Diablo 3 is a point and click, loot driven dungeon crawler. The whole point of the game is to kill more enemies, to get better gear, so you can defeat harder enemies, so you can get better loot…you see where this is going. If that’s not your kind of game, then I suggest you stop reading right now. I have to say that this type of mechanic is very addicting. Every object you smash, every enemy you kill has a chance to drop loot and it feels very much like a slot machine; sometimes you win big, but most of the time you get nothing. I know that doesn’t sound that great, but the rate at which you can kill/smash things is very high so you don’t really notice all the crap.

Of course, Diablo 3 is also an RPG. When you start your adventure, you can select 1 of 5 classes: Barbarian, Monk, Demon Hunter, Witch Doctor or Wizard. Each has their own set of abilities that you unlock as you level up. Don’t expect to be assigning talent/skill points though, every time you level, your stats are automatically increased by a set amount determined by the class you play (same is in WoW). This doesn’t mean you can’t customize your character though. Each spell you unlock also has 6 different runes that are also unlocked as you level. These runes modify the spell in various ways, such as adding extra damage or adding an effect to the spell. I really enjoyed this system as it let you change out your skills/runes at any time so suit the need of a specific encounter and also allowed a large amount of customization for people.

New to Diablo 3 is the Auction House. Here, people can post loot they find and you can buy that loot for a certain amount of gold (or real money when Blizzard opens the Real Money Auction House). This is both good, and bad. The good part is that you can go to the AH and buy some really nice gear for your level that lets you rip through the hordes of hell with ease which is…also kind of bad depending on how you look at it. The bad part is that it kind of feels like cheating. In a game like this you are supposed to grind the gear you need to progress, but why do that if you can just buy the gear you need on the AH? I guess you could still grind out the loot if you really wanted, but that’s a big pain which leads me to my next point.

The loot in Diablo 3 is extremely random. I don’t just mean the number of loot drops you get is random, I mean the stats on the gear is random. You might get a piece of gear that is locked to the Barbarian class, but gives Intellect and Dexterity as it’s main stats (2 stats a Barbarian doesn’t really look for). Why would someone playing this class pick this item over something that gave them more damage or health? Even items that are class specific get random stats. I have seen a Wizard set item that had a plus to a Barbarian skill! I don’t know how this makes sense at all. I get enemies dropping random loot, but do the stats really need to be random as well? Another part of the loot system that I don’t really like is that nothing has a set loot table. You get different random loot from each boss, so if you are looking for a certain item you have no idea where to look. I think it would have been better if Blizzard followed the WoW method of giving certain bosses set loot tables so people knew where to find the loot they wanted.

There is also a crafting system in Diablo 3. Magic, rare and legendary items can be broken down into components that can then be made into items for a certain amount of gold (blacksmithing). You can also combine gems to make more powerful gems which fit into you gear to make them more powerful. The problem with blacksmithing is that, again, the stats on the gear you craft are random! You have to pay for the mats and cost of the item and it isn’t even a sure thing. Why even try to do this when you could spend just as much or less on the AH and know what you’re getting? This is just another example of how the AH feels a little like cheating.

Story/Characters

The story in Diablo 3 was alright, but definitely not something to write home about. At the start of the game, a comet falls into the Old Cathedral in Old Tristram and it begins to raise the dead. Each class has their own little back story about where they come from and why they have come to Tristram. From there you get caught up in an epic battle to save the world! There are a couple of little twists here and there, but nothing special. There are 3 followers in the game and you can choose to take 1 with you when you go out adventuring. Each follower has their own story and honestly, I found those stories to be more interesting that the main plot.

While the story may be just OK, the lore in the game is great and it is clear that Blizzard has put some time into building this world. Every new enemy you kills puts a lore entry into your journal that you can either read, or have it read out to you while you continue to slaughter everything in your path.

The characters in this game, go well with the story; they are just OK. I didn’t really feel anything for them and it felt like they were just there to give me more quests. I might just feel this way because I never played the first 2 games, so I don’t have any kind of emotional ties to them.

The World

I really liked the world in this game, it feels very fleshed out (as stated above) and Blizzard keeps things fresh by constantly moving you from location to location. You’ll visit zombie-ridden graveyards, monster infested desserts and oasis’, snow covered keeps as well as a few others that I won’t spoil. Each area has it’s own very distinct look and feel and the NPC’s fit right in as well, not only in appearance, but also in how they sound.

Sound

The characters in the game may be a little stale, but the voice acting was very well done. There were even a few familiar voice in there (Jamieson Price (Duke from Tales of Vesperia), Crispin Freeman (Baldur from Too Human)) which was awesome. Each character felt authentic and it was awesome to listen to them.

The music was well done, but it’s nothing I’ll be putting into my music library. It did a good job at being background noise while I played the game.

Graphics

The main graphics in the game look decent. There are better looking games out there that’s for sure. But honestly, if you’re playing Diablo 3 for the graphics, you’re playing it for the wrong reason. Spell effects looks cool, as did most of the enemy types and every so often you were treated to a fantastic view from a high up position. The in game cut scene’s, though, are a different beast. These scenes bookend each act and look absolutely gorgeous. The CGI people at Blizzard really need to make a full movie.

In Closing

I had fun playing Diablo 3, plain and simple. The drop in, drop out coop is great and I had a blast whether I was running solo or with friends. There are a few small things that bothered me though. Like I said, I had fun, until I hit Inferno. Act 1 was ok, but after that the difficulty spiked to the point where it was not fun anymore. In order to progress I could either kite for 5-10 mins per pack or just run past the enemies. And sometimes the first option wasn’t always available (damn fast/mortar/wall/teleport/vortex mobs!). Blizzard may want the game to be this hard at Inferno, but it’s not the way I want to play. Also, I wish there was some kind of cross-game party chat. If I find a nice piece of loot and want to show it off to my friends, I don’t want to have to send a message to each one. There were a few other small things, but I can’t really remember them right now, just says how little affect they had on my overall experience.

Long story short: if you like loot driven dungeon crawlers, get this game, you will not regret it.

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