Diablo 3 | Flashback Review
Diablo 3 review (PC)
Please note: this review is for the PC version, differences between console and PC are mentioned briefly at the end of this review.
Diablo 3, released on 15th May 2012 for PC and 3rd September 2013 for console, is a dungeon crawling hack and slash RPG published and developed by Blizzard Entertainment. With the same masterminds who released the MMO, WOW, behind its creation and a previous 2 games in the main Diablo series under its belt, it’s sure to be good. But what is about and how good is it really?
Before venturing into the world you must first create a new hero from one of the 5 available classes. These are, Barbarian, specialising mostly in close range tanking, Witch doctor, uses pets and creepy undead spells, Wizard, uses a variety of spells to either tank or range, Demon hunter, able to set traps but locked into using bows for their abilities, and Monk, able to heal allies and uses a mixture of striking/magic attacks. Initially you’re only able to select the normal difficulty level, but completing a play through will allow you to carry over your characters and levels onto a higher difficulty, similar to the premise of a new game plus. However, for those seeking a challenge early on, you can set a monster power level of up to 10, which increases your overall experience gain, gold drops and magic item find chance, at the cost of making enemies tougher, although you will need to dig around the game play options a bit to enable this.
The game picks up where Diablo 2 left off after the defeat of Diablo. A brief back story is giving based on the class you choose (voice-over altering to match with gender) before you are thrown into the game. Regardless of you class you picked, you are pulled towards a dark energy that guides you towards the nearby village of new Tristram. After fighting some zombies (as you do), you come to the town gates and are directed to Leah, one of the main quest givers and central characters to the plot. She requests you help find her uncle who is currently trapped under the ruins of a church after it was hit by a falling star (talk about unlucky…). From here you continue to do a variety of quests over 5 acts, from killing mobs, retrieving items and escorting various characters to different locations. Now while this may sound like your average RPG fetch questing (and it is to an extent), Diablo 3 pulls it off so well that you don’t tend to notice you’re collecting items for the umpteenth time even after the first several hours of game play. The variety of locations, mob types and lore scattered around the various areas you explore helps immensely to keep things entertaining.
Dungeon area layouts are randomised, so don’t bother trying to memorise which ways you went to collect a certain object, as next play through it’s unlikely it will even be in the same spot! The variety of mobs keeps you on your toes, with types that spawn more enemies, types that explode upon being defeated and even types that will run away to group with others to keep the advantage. Very few of these mob types short of bosses pose any real threat, especially early on. However higher difficulties will force you to stop and think about what mob type you should attack first and what types of attacks you should be using, which will give committed players on multiple play throughs a little more to think about before rushing headfirst into the next area. The story can be quite easily ignored, however a lot of time and effort has been put into creating it. It certainly sets the scene and for a game type where story usually isn’t the main focus it’s impressive enough, although be prepared to skip a lot of dialogue on future play throughs.
As you go through the game, the main purpose of Diablo 3 starts to emerge. That is, to collect as much rare gear and gain as many levels as possible. As with most RPG’s, there are several grades of gears and enemies that you will face throughout your adventure. Gear can range from white/common grade to super rare/orange grade while mobs vary from basic/white grade to boss/purple grade. At higher levels and play throughs, the benefits gear gives you and the abilities mobs receive increases making the game more difficult at the benefit of allowing you to make your character more awesome. Gear can be broken down at the blacksmiths to form materials that are used for creating gear and some gear comes with slots that allow to you insert gems, which also can be crafted separately, providing further buffs. Better gear can be crafted by using tomes to improve the level of the blacksmith and jewel crafter. Levels will allow you to select from a range of new abilities and runes that can be equipped to give these abilities extra powers. For example, the Witch Doctor eventually unlocks an ability that allows him to throw jars of spiders at enemies (yep, you read that correctly) and a rune can be used to increase the damage this ability does. Upon hitting the max level of 60, players can continue for a maximum of 100 “paragon levels” that increases magic item and gold find chances as well as general stats.
For those venturing alone, there are Non playable Characters (NPCs) which you can recruit to join your party and assist you in your questing. While the NPCs do a decent enough job of distracting enemies, it just can’t compare to having another human on your adventure. Multiplayer is a real joy to play, there is nothing quite like running around blasting away at mobs with three extra friends in tow (it can be quite chaotic!). Each player is given their own gear drops as well, to prevent any nasty arguments over who the gear belongs to, but you can drop gear for other players where it doesn’t suit your class. There is also the auction house, where gamers willing to try their luck can either buy items from other players or put their own gear up for sale for other players to bid over. Real life money can be spent to buy items, although players should be able to play the game fine without being required to do so.
Overall Diablo 3 is a very solid game that has little in the way of flaws. However, it may not be for everyone and there are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, after the first play through, the very nature of the game becomes about grinding out levels and gear. Some gamers may find this very repetitive and get bored fast which can certainly lower the overall level of game play Diablo 3 has to offer, clocking in at about 8 hours for one normal play through. The second issue is that there is no offline play, so those with an unreliable internet connection may have a poor experience and those without internet will not be able to play at all. While these can potentially be major issues, they will probably only affect the minority of gamers and do little in changing what is a very well designed game.
Console differences: Main differences on the console version of Diablo 3 include: Offline play, no auction house, dodge roll (for all classes), inventory wheel and the inclusion of single screen local co-op on top of existing features. More info can be found here: http://us.battle.net/d3/en/console/