Diablo III Review: Evil is Back
By Meredith Watson, OnRPG Journalist
It has been eleven years in the making. Evil is back.
Blizzard’s Diablo III was released on May 15, 2012 after being first announced in 2008. Diablo III was the most pre-ordered PC game of all time on Amazon.com and it is predicted to sell up to five million copies. However, what should have been a brilliant launch for Blizzard turned into a bit of a disaster. The plan to make the game online only, even for single player mode, has always been controversial, and with untold numbers trying to log in on the release date it turned into a very frustrating experience for most players. Twitter and the Diablo III forums were all abuzz with various complaints and insults being hurled in Blizzard’s direction. These ranged from the humorous “You are not prepared” to the more sarcastic “Come on guys, cut Blizzard some slack. They’ve never released a big game before”
In true Blizzard fashion, they were quick to fix their issues and all was mostly forgiven by the player base. Diablo III is shaping up to be the biggest PC title of the year and for good reason.
Character customization as far as appearance goes is next to minimal. The player can choose male or female of each class, which does seem to be a step up compared to most action RPGs. That in and of itself is enough for this type of game but Blizzard goes one further and adds purchasable dyes to change armour colour. There are 15 colours to choose from as well as the vanishing dye and the All Soaps Miraculous dye remover. With the collector’s edition there are two reusable dyes as well.
When the player first logs in, he will notice a banner on the character selection screen. That banner is completely customisable. The player unlocks patterns, sigils and decorations for her banner by gaining achievements. The banner is deployable in the game world for show as well as being functional in town as a way to teleport a player to their teammate whose banner he clicked on.
Customisation isn’t all about appearances of course. There are other ways a player can customise his or her character in Diablo III. One of those ways is gems. While gems have nothing to do with appearance they have everything to do with killing and survival. Gems can add stats, life regen, and/or damage to a socketable item depending on the gem’s colour and condition. Along with gems there are runes to enhance the spells of the player. Each spell has several runes to choose from which are gained as the character levels. With the number of spells, gems and runes there are enough options for the player to create the character they enjoy playing.
There are five playable classes in Diablo III: Witchdoctor, Demon Hunter, Wizard, Barbarian, and Monk. Each carries their own unique play styles and unique abilities. The player can, through a quest, open up the blacksmith where he or she can learn to forge armour, weapons and salvage. The jeweller is also available through completing a quest. Once completed, the player can learn to combine gems to make more powerful ones. There is also the option to remove the gems from the player’s gear. The gems are not destroyed in the process. It should be noted once a player has a character that has learned blacksmithing and/or jewelcrafting it is shared amongst all the player’s characters.
Also through questing the player will open up the three followers: the Templar, Enchantress and Scoundrel. Only one follower is available in single player mode but can be accessed in all difficulties. Followers are not available in co-op play and are not shared amongst the player’s characters.
Multiplayer games are available using Blizzard’s Battle.net service. Players can pop in and out of public games or join up with their friends. One particularly welcome feature of co-op play is loot drops are only seen by the player they are intended for. Another nice addition is that gold is auto-looted.
Health globes, which are a new feature, are a nifty way to regen health in battle especially for melee characters. When the player runs through the globe it heals the entire party. Having health globes does add to playing strategically rather than just popping health potions one after the other, which can’t be done in Diablo III due to cooldowns.
There are two auction houses in Diablo III. One of these is the standard type of auction house which requires in-game money for virtual items. The other auction house is virtual items being sold for real world money. The real world money auction house is currently not in game.
At this time, there isn’t PvP in the game; however, there are plans for PvP at a later date.
Combat is fast and furious with many monsters to kill of varying difficulties. Random events and dungeons are par for the course, making the game feel alive. With four difficulty levels available (normal, nightmare, hell, and inferno), there is plenty of room for re-playability. There is a real sense of urgency especially in the later acts fuelled by an aggressive soundtrack and waves upon waves of monsters. The physics of the game are brilliant. Is there anything more satisfying than seeing a monster’s head go flying down the corridor? A lot of things in the world can be destroyed such as barrels, vases, light posts, or tables to name a few. Some of these items will drop gold or experience in the form of a lore book.
Blizzard rules apply. Don’t stand in stuff. You will die.
Every map in Diablo III is different ranging from dark, dank and creepy, to Moroccan styled bazaars to fiery pits and everything in between with the required ominous settings for particularly dangerous zones. It is a beautiful game full of atmosphere enhanced only by an excellent soundtrack.
Recommended graphics hardware:
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260 896 MB or
ATi Radeon HD 4870 512 MB
Diablo III will definitely be among the top selling games of 2012, and may even be in the running to take the title for itself. There is plenty to love about this game with exciting combat, a beautiful game world and many clever features. Weapons glow, things explode, and body parts go flying. What’s not to love?