REVIEW: Diablo III
I remember when my journey began in the Diablo franchise in 1996 when Blizzard introduced us to their revolutionary game on the PlayStation 1 console as if it were yesterday. The memories of taking a week off from work are fond ones. The game was very simplistic and you could only choose between a warrior, a rogue, or a sorcerer class. Later, in the PC Hellfire patch, Blizzard added a monk class character, but I only played it through once. It took me an entire week, but I have seen YouTube videos where people have walked the original Diablo in under two hours.
In 2000, we were introduced to the second installment of the Diablo franchise and the game was an instant success. Blizzard literally blew away all other RPGs and set the standards for games to come in this genre. In my opinion, this was made possible by Battle.net, where friends could connect to various servers around the world and play alongside each other trying to defeat the prime evils. I personally do not know too many people who have either not heard of or not actually played Diablo II.
In Diablo II, aside from a vast improvement in graphics and the choice of five playable character classes, the leveling up of your character and the distribution of skills points was to go down in history as a model for future game designers to work from. As a result, Diablo II became a legend amongst gamers around the world. It was inevitable that an expansion - Diablo II: Lord of Destruction - would be released, and it was, in 2001. To date, an entire economy exists where real life money is exchanged to purchase high level items for your characters. The game is still running over a decade later, and you will still find adventurers fighting the evil hordes of Diablo and Baal.
Jump to 2008 when we first heard of Blizzard’s intention to develop a third installment to the Diablo franchise. Eventually, after many delays, the game was released on May 15 2012. I for one was one of many who stood in a line at midnight to purchase my Collector’s Edition of the game, and I sat in front of my computer reading the pages upon pages of lore attached to the storyline of the franchise while it loaded.
However, Diablo III, like most modern games, did not run as smoothly as its developers had hoped. Server problems were the first issue, where millions of fans tried to log on to servers which just could not handle the load. I must admit in the three weeks since release, I have lost count of the amount of times I attempt to play and get error messages relating to either outright server issues or full servers.
Many people have felt aggrieved about this, considering the game does not have an offline single player mode. You need an internet connection in order to play any form of this game, unfortunately. Blizzard’s official response to this glaring fact is that they have done this to curb rampant piracy of their product. Fair enough - until you log on to play this much-anticipated game and in 5 out of 10 attempts you can either not log into the server or you are kicked off by the server in the middle of a battle. Some have gone as far to label this game in its third week as 'Diablo 3: Lord of Error' or 'Diablo: 37' - only a few nicknames of the many.
I for one understand that this is a new game and that, with around 4.7 million copies out there, problems with connecting would occur in the first 24 hours. The latest figure of copies sold is topping 6.5 million, which is a world record in its own right. What I do not understand is how could Blizzard not be prepared for these server issues?
Besides server issues, Blizzard technical forums seem to be manned only by the angry gamers who could not connect to the game they just paid money for. In all my hours of reading on Blizzard’s official 'technical support' forums, I can count on both hands the amount of times an official response has been given. In all honesty, I have witnessed game developers with a few hundred employees give better after sales service than Blizzard has so far, especially if you consider that Blizzard has over 5,000 employees around the world. Over these past three weeks it seemed to me like they only had one person who could respond to angry, frustrated posts on their own forums.
Further to that, there are reports of buggy achievement recorders not saving achievements. Many others report items missing from their inventory, and yet others report major issues with the auction house. Some reports tell of accounts being hacked, accounts being stolen outright, quest progress not being saved, item bugs ...
The list goes on and on and on, but after only three weeks I am being a bit unfair to Blizzard as even Diablo II eventually became a polished game after a decade of patches.
I for one really want to hate Blizzard for all their server issues but I have had so much fun with Diablo III thus far that I just cannot.
The game play is smooth and enjoyable. I feel Blizzard need to be given credit here for not making a graphic card-eating monster like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Most computers with an average graphics card will run Diablo III. This also allows internet play with no lag issues. I have heard cases of people playing the game smoothly with a 3G modem.
In Diablo III itself, the story picks up 20 years after the destruction of the World Stone which occurred at the end of Diablo II: Lord of Destruction. Classic characters like Deckard Cain, Tyrael, the Skeleton King, the Butcher, and Izual all make appearances. Unfortunately, the only surviving playable class of character is the Barbarian. Thus, I was very sad to see that I would not be fighting the prime evils once again with my trusty summoner necromancer from Diablo II. Other new classes available to play with include a minion-summoning witch doctor, a magic-wielding wizard, a trap-and-bow-based demon hunter, and a holy melee-fighting style monk.
Diablo III is made up of only four chapters. In the first, you begin in a grassy Tristram scenario battling the minions of a risen-again Skeleton King and another Diablo boss, the Butcher. Each act is very different and has its own identity.
In Diablo II, you could finish the game on Normal, and play it again in Nightmare and Hell difficulties, and now in Diablo III you also have an Inferno difficulty. This difficulty is not for the faint hearted, with certain enemies having been documented doing over 100k damage with one hit.
The game has many characteristics of Blizzard’s other franchise, World of Warcraft, including things like the skill tree and the armour and weapon stats. Having played WoW, I did not feel alienated but rather a little disappointed that the original mechanics of Diablo II were not used. The actual skill tree is not good enough in my opinion, as it does not allow you to customise your character as you did in such detail in Diablo II.
For example, when you reach a certain level, you automatically unlock certain skills. On reaching higher levels, you unlock certain 'attributes' of these individual skills in the form of runes, which once inserted can customise each spell to do different things. If anything, these runes should rather be found or traded for and not automatically given to you. I feel this takes much away from the thought that used to be put into specific build in Diablo II. Now, the most inept player would be able to pick the most powerful build without having to put much thought or effort into their skills, and simply farm for the best items to enhance their basic attributes.
The same can be said about identifying items. Instead of trusty old Deckard Cain identifying items in town or your character using a Scroll of Identify, you now simply right-click on the item and after a short amount of time your character identifies it automatically. Why even make un-identified items if this is the case?
My other gripe - being a hardcore nut - is the delay in creating a town portal which Blizzard has added to deter bots and other third party programs.
Now that I’ve mentioned hardcore, this option in the game is especially difficult, as, in certain areas of Hell and Inferno, you will really struggle to beat enemies with a single life; you can bet that you will die there without the best kit available at that level. In my opinion, some elite mobs are tougher opponents than the individual bosses at the end of each act. When your softcore character dies so many times in Hell or Inferno you lose count, it cheapens the game a little.
The game unfortunately, as in World of Warcraft, is very item-dependent, and if you have either not farmed or bought items from the auction house you will not progress further than Hell difficulty. As said before, Inferno is ridiculously difficult after finishing Hell. In some ways, I feel the difficulty slopes are too harsh but perhaps this will be rectified in future patches.
To finish, I must state firmly after all my complaints that Diablo III is a very good game - one of the best RPGs I have ever played to date and, trust me, I have played a few. I am sure Diablo III will be played to death in the coming years and much enjoyment will be had by its loyal fan base and newcomers to the Diablo franchise alike.
- Audio = 8/10
- Visuals = 9/10
- Game play = 9/10
- Story = 8/10
-Presentation = 9/10
-Lasting Appeal = 9/10
- Overall = 8.5 howzits out of 10
I must be honest, never played Diabli 1 or 2, but this is awsomeness, doesn't make me feel lost, thanks to the story while installing...
so far I was lucky enough not to expierence any connection problems or server problems with D3.
all i'm not happy with, is that I need my job and can't stay home and play all day!