MMO News, Reviews & Opinions
MMO News, Reviews & Opinions
- Written by Sm1tty Sm1t
Diablo 3 presents a challenge, both in a literal sense of the game and in the sense of fans looking to continue their dungeon-crawling addiction. I’ve written and rewritten this review four times, each focused on disappointments, surprises, and amazements that have greeted me with nearly every battle. I’ve settled on scores ranging from mediocre 5’s to amazing 8’s, each of them rationalized and earned. So why does Diablo 3 present such a range of emotions from a veteran game reviewer who’s so familiar with the franchise?
As a game, Diablo 3 is wonderful. It meets every gamer’s needs: an interesting story, wonderful visuals, and deep gameplay. It gives players the familiar experience of leveling a character -- this time to a current maximum of 60 -- and more importantly, the thrill of finding some amazing loot.
Character classes are surprisingly varying, allowing players to select close quarters, melee combatants like the Monk and Barbarian, or opting for distance based damage dealers like the Sorceress, Witch Doctor, or Demon Hunter. Each class feels genuine and the skills included feel unique to whichever character you’ve decided to spend time with. Oddly, though, there is a strange familiarity to each class. Sometimes it can feel as if you’re simply playing a re-skinned version of your favorite class from Diablo 2, released over a decade ago.
The one caveat is that the game has completely changed the character customization. It’s been streamlined and arguably dumbed-down. Instead of obtaining skill and talent points, skills are automatically assigned based on which class you are currently playing. Additionally, instead of choosing which talents you can use, upon reaching pre-set levels you’ll have different talents made available to you. Further, these talents are used only in designated slots. Gone are the days of selecting the best available skills for your class. Instead, you’ll be selecting the best available skill for each particular slot. Granted, the addition of runes -- that is, multiple modifiers available for each skill -- allows for a degree of customization, but nothing like we’ve come to expect.
The gameplay, though, is where the soul of the Diablo franchise has been removed. For those not familiar with Diablo 2, the essence of the multiplayer game featured up to eight players teaming up and killing bosses in an attempt to get better gear. It sounds simple, “group, kill, loot, rinse, repeat.” Hell, it is simple and for some reason it captivated us for more than ten years. But multiplayer sessions have been limited to four players and, instead of finding games that sound interesting, when searching for a game you’ll just get plopped in with anybody. Gone are the days of finding games like, “Cow Killing-01” and continuing with the same group for 50 or 100 ‘runs’. The change to four-players seems ‘consoleified’ and, even as a console player, I’m not sure that’s a good thing.
Also stripped from the game is the ability to farm bosses. Farming is the term used for creating a game, doing one thing, quitting the game, then doing it all over again. It’s a tactic assumed by thousands of Diablo fans to level up, gain money, and gear their characters with high-level, legendary weapons. Each boss has a particular loot table (built into the code) that determines which equipment will drop and at what rate. A ‘Wonderful Sword of Troll Killing’ might drop 0.05%, while a ‘Cracked Helmet’ might drop 15.0% of the time. With the new system, each boss has ‘diminishing returns,’ that is each time you kill it on a particular difficulty, the percentage at which loot drops decreases. Instead, Blizzard wants players playing through entire levels in order to experience the full content, not focusing on one or two bosses. It’s a great theory, but as a player I expected to farm bosses, get loot, and love it. Only it’s gone and that upset me. But as I pondered the game and its history, it became quickly apparent that Diablo 3 is intended to be an evolution to the genre. Had it been a re-skinned, updated version of Diablo 2, I’d have complaints that they didn’t do enough to change.
The one thing that’s different and universally agreed upon as a terrible decision is to require a constant internet connection to play even the single player campaign. I can again understand their reasoning, but that doesn’t remove the problems that it brings. For players who have no desire to search the in-game auction house or play with other people, on days when a patch is done or the server crashes, forget it. You’re stuck waiting, just like the multiplayer herd.
With sparkling visuals, a story that’s deep and filled with surprising twists, and an overlying system that will deliver hundreds of hours of replayability (read: loot hunting), Diablo 3 is a wonderful game. But if you’re a player who grows tired of ‘clicking on things until things pop out of them,’ or you've come looking for the same experience as its predecessor, you’ll want to skip it.
Overall Score: 8 out of 10
Disclaimer: Blizzard provided a copy of this game for review purposes