Review

Diablo 3 Intro

Diablo 3 is the long-awaited continuation of the Diablo games from Blizzard. A Hack and Slash Dungeon RPG, which has a large following. Diablo 3 continues the Diablo theme of a dark dungeon crawler where you battle the armies of hell.

Diablo III has been incredibly popular across the world and especially in Asia, where in South Korea, Blizzard has a large fanbase due to Starcraft. Asia also had the benefit of having Diablo 3 released there first. However there were a lot of problems at release in Asia with many people who bought the game online not getting access to it.

(Warning: Spoilers contained within the review)

Gameplay

Diablo III is a basic Hack and Slash RPG. The gameplay is fairly simple in that you make your way through the plot, killing vast amounts of demons and the undead. Many of the maps in the game are randomized, so they are different but within the same design structure. This gives you some chance to explore and makes the game a little less linear. There are often optional small dungeons, which are also randomized to appear or not. This was one of the core features of the Diablo series which made it unique. It was this randomized nature that kept it a little more interesting in replays.

As you level up through the game, you can’t spend attribute points anymore; they are automatic now. What happens is you unlock new skills and runes which modify your skills as you level up. Generally the new runes get more and more useful as you level, however, some of the early runes are still useful at level 60.

You can have a maximum of 6 abilities equipped on your character at one time, and 3 passive abilities. You can change any of these ability slots at any time with any other ability, the downside of a short cooldown before you can use the ability again. The default mode locks your 6 abilities into 6 types, that you can’t change from, however by turning on elective mode you can place an ability in any slot you want. I really like this system and it works well in the game; it’s fairly balanced and feels like you have to choose wisely what you want to use, since everything has some use. The amount of 6 skills is also good because 7 would make it just a bit too easy to choose what you want.

Another point is that if you change your skills you lose a buff, which you gain later on for killing rare packs. The buff increases your magic and gold find and stacks up to 5, 1 for each pack of rare monsters you kill. The rare packs are arguably more difficult to kill that Bosses in the game. Since each rare pack has a randomized modifier attached to it. There is a decent amount of modifiers at the moment, but they are all pretty deadly if you don’t pay attention. Later in the game the rare packs have more modfiers attached to them, so they are more difficult to take down.

The classes in Diablo 3 are basically split between Melee (Barbarian/Monk) and Ranged (Demon Hunter/Wizard/Witch Doctor) with basically 3 playstyles in the game,

  • Tanking mobs : taking a lot of hits, and defeating the mobs more slowly than usual. You build a lot of Vitality/HP per sec/Resistenace/Dmg Reduction/Block/Thorn Damage.
  • Kiting Mobs : Just about all the classes can kite, obviously the ranged classes are designed to kite, so have more tools to help you. You generally build max damage.
  • Mindless Max Dmg on Mobs : This is mainly just maxing your damage and not caring whether mobs are next to you or not, you just wade into the mobs and destroy them. You generally need to outgear whatever difficulty you are on to do this.

There are 4 Acts in the game, each Act in is a different area, with no direct way to travel to the past acts. You can change your quest by logging out of your character and choosing from the main menu where you want to start. The Act progression is very similar to Diablo 2, with the exception of Act 3. Act 1 sees you in tristram again, fighting at the cathedral and surrounding fields. Act 2 sends you to the desert, albeit a different desert than Diablo 2’s Act 2. Act 3 focuses on the fortress Bastions Keep, a snowy battlefield and later the bowels of Hell. Act 4 sees you split between Heaven and a few Hell-like areas, with Heaven increasingly taking on the guise of Hell.

I felt that the acts could have been a lot more original and interesting. It was a bit cheap to basically copy Diablo 2 with the exception of the Jungle in Diablo 2, which was also silly since the Jungle was my favourite place in Diablo 2. I felt they should have had more villages and towns and NPCs to talk to. The world feels kind of disjointed in Diablo 3, and I thought it was strange you cannot just directly teleport back to the old acts also.

Classes

Barbarian

The classic barbarian, a favourite in Diablo 2; the Barbarian continues to impress in Diablo 3. The Barbarian is a melee class that has a wide range of smashing abilities. The Barbarian’s abilties revolve around Fury which builds up from abilties and taking damage and can be spent on other skills to demolish your opponents. I played the Barbarian first, and it’s probably my favourite character (it was also my favourite in Diablo 2). It’s more fun to be in the thick of the battle, smashing all the enemies, than kiting about waiting to be 1 hit. The Barbarian also looks the coolest late game, a massive armoured warrior with a big weapon.

  • The Barbarian benefits from Strength as their main attribute.
  • A lot of abilities heal you when you deal damage.
  • The Barbarian Leap is very satisfying, as are all their skills to be honest.

Demon Hunter

A ranged class that uses bows and crossbows to pierce their enemies, similar to the Assassin class from the D2 expansion. The Demon Hunter has 2 special attributes, Hatred and Discipline. These are used for different abilities, usually split between offensive and defensive ones. The demon hunter also has a lot of traps and other tricks up their sleeves to dispatch the minions of hell in flurry of arrows. I do like the Demon Hunter, but the playstyle overall doesn’t attract me, neither does the look of the character in late game.

  • The Demon Hunter benefits from Dexterity as their main attribute.
  • A lot of escape moves, to stay out of melee range.
  • The Demon Hunter is arguably the fastest at moving about. Even with those high heels on the female version, her feet must be killing her.

Wizard

A powerful spellcaster, the wizard has an array of different spells to demolish and control their opponents. The Wizard uses Arcane Power to cast certain spells. I made a Wizard as my second character, since I like the sorceress in Diablo 2, The Wizard definitely has some really cool spells, but I find I’m using the same couple of spells over and over again since they are the best. With the other classes I felt I could switch things about a bit more to suit the situation; but with the Wizard, the same spells seem to cover every situation equally, which is a shame.

  • The Wizard benefits from Intelligence as their main attribute.
  • A lot of control spells and abilities like Teleport and Mirror Image to avoid enemies.
  • As expected has a lot of AOE skills.

Monk

A melee character who deals damage incredibly quickly; the monk uses Spirit to unleash certain skills. The Monk has abilities that help buff his party. I haven’t tried playing the Monk much. I played it on Beta and it was reasonably fun; but as a melee character the Barbarian felt more fun, so I chose that instead.

  • The Monk benefits from Dexterity as their main attribute.
  • Helps buff their party and can heal from attacks.
  • One downside, the Monk is the only class that can’t really kite, but I guess you wouldn’t choose a monk if you wanted to kite anyway.

Witch Doctor

This spellcaster can summon demonic beings to fight under his will, using Mana in a similar way to the Wizard. The Witch Doctor is similar in design to the Necromancer from Diablo 2, as a summoner class. His minion helps him immensely in his battles. The Witch Doctor is definitely a weird-looking character, especially the male version. I never really liked the summoner playstlye. Getting minions to attack for me just felt annoying; I prefer to be killing everything on my own, not being helped by minions all the time.

  • The Witch Doctor benefits from Intelligence as their main attribute.
  • Summons minions to tank for him; has arguably the best AOE spells.
  • Their minions look really weird, especially the big one.

I’m not really sure why Blizzard didn’t implement any customization into the look of the characters. I guess they didn’t bother since they expected all the characters to be covered up in armor by the end of the game. And the game is played quite zoomed out, you can’t see your character’s face too easily except when you’re in the menu. And by keeping the same look for each class, it adds more characterization to the class. However, I still feel the option for a little customization would have been well-recieved and easy to implement.

Maybe a choice of hairstyles and skin colors would have been good, since I was instantly put off playing Monk because of the look of both the male and female models. My main gripes are that the male Barbarian is an old man, the female version just looks plain weird, and her hair sticks out of Helms. The male Witch Doctor has a massive belly and hunches over. The male Wizard looks like a female. The Demon Hunters are about the only reasonable characters, with my only gripe that the female Demon Hunter’s shoulder armor doesn’t look as impressive as the male’s because of the size. Still all these are only minor complaints and don’t really affect the game much at all, since like I mentioned, you’re covered in armor by the end of normal mode anyway.

If you play singleplayer in Diablo 3, there are 3 follower NPCs that you can choose from to join you and fight alongside you: The Templar, The Scoundrel and The Entantress; each with their own mini stories which you uncover as you play. The followers are actually a really good addition to the game. I feel their AI has been done well. With the exclusion of them attacking treasure goblins before you, I really enjoy having the followers with me. You can control a few pieces of their gear, and also choose between 4 sets of skills for them to use. Obviously the follower system could have been made more complex, but I’m quite happy with how they’ve been implemented overall to give singpleplayer that co-op feel to it.

Game Modes

Diablo III has 4 difficult levels and 2 game modes. With difficult you have Normal, Nightmare, Hell and Inferno. Each difficulty has a level requirement and a requirement to have completed the last difficulty. Inferno is really the only challenging difficulty, since the gear requirement jump is much higher than the other difficulties. In particular Inferno Act 2 is much more difficult because the enemies level vs max player level. You will die very easily unless you have very good gear.

The two game modes are Normal and Hardcore, similar to Diablo 2. Hardcore characters permanently delete when you die in game. Thus the recommended playstyle in Hardcore is a much more cautious one, rather than just wading into your foes and destroying them, you have to make sure you aren’t going to get overwhelmed and lose your character.

  • There are basically 6 types of enemies in Diablo 3.
  • There are the normal fodder creatures, that are easy to kill.
  • The normal big creatures, that are slightly harder to kill.
  • There are the boss enemies, around 2-3 per Act, with special mechanics attached to the fight.
  • There are random champion packs, which are normal mobs but with a modifier attached to them; these modifiers make them more difficult to kill.
  • There are also random rare enemies with minions; these also have modifiers, and are essentially the hardest enemies to kill in the game at Inferno.
  • Lastly there are unique monsters; these are less random, some always appear in quests, and some randomly spawn; they are easier than champions and rare monsters; they are basically mini-bosses.

Before the release of Diablo 3, the game’s creators said that the Inferno Mode would be very difficult and rewarding. They had their best testers play it until it was really hard, and then they supposedly doubled the difficulty. All I can say is Blizzard needs some better testers, since someone completed the game four days after its release, with a 4 man complete shortly after. Inferno mode isn’t really more difficult in the sense that you need a much better understanding and ability to play the game. It is simply difficult in terms of that you need better gear. There are no real new gameplay features that are introduced. The only thing introduced is that the rare elite packs have more modifiers. And the enemies are a higher level than the max player level, so resistances/armor, etc, are not as good vs them.

This is a pretty pathetic attempt at making a mode more difficult, which is why it’s no wonder people completed Inferno so quickly. Not to mention the fact that 3 classes had workarounds to make the game incredibly easy. Monks could go in a party of 4 and use an ability to make each other invincible and repeat it. Demon Hunters could spam an ability that made them invincible. Wizards could abuse a spell that made it so they had hardly any vitality but using life regen could tank any mobs easily in inferno with one of their abilities. Obviously all of these workarounds have been nerfed this week, and Inferno play has gone back to a gear grind. However I just feel disappointed in Inferno massively. It was hyped up to be this amazing difficulty where you’d need better skills at the game to complete it. When it’s simply a gear check mode, that will be facerolled in a few weeks by everyone who’s put a reasonable amount of time into collecting gear. Another note is that the first 3 difficulties are a complete walk in the park. You hardly even need to upgrade your gear for each one, and the skill needed to play is zero; you can just spam kill everything.

Of course there is still the harder Hardcore to complete on Inferno, however, I feel Hardcore is a terrible mode in that, because singplayer is online in Diablo 3, lag and disconnects will kill your character. This is really annoying on Inferno, and by far the biggest difficulty factor in playing it if you have a temperamental connection. The actual difficulty in Hardcore is simply being more careful, and grinding more gear before you continue on in difficulty. It’s an absurd way to include difficulty in a game in my opinion.

I just think the difficulty curve in Diablo 3 is very badly planned out. The only real gameplay difficulty in this game is positioning. There are certain abilities that leave fire/plague on the floor and one called Arcane that has a spinning beam. Instead of these 2 factors being implemented, there should have been 20 factors.

They could have had things falling from above, from different angles that fired at a timed interval. They could have had a change of target factor implemented, a more advanced version of the shielding modifier. They could have included something you need to click in the level structure when fighting, like levers or buttons to help you fight. They could have implemented the level traps better, so they were more useful, or so powerful that you had to use them to defeat foes. There are countless ways they could have improved the way difficulty affects the game. But instead they have a handful of different modifiers that you need to deal with, which basically entail you simply not standing still for a few seconds. That’s it. The sum of the difficulty in Diablo 3, grind gear, be careful in Hardcore especially because of lag, and move from the fire on the floor.

Graphics

The graphics are pretty basic in Diablo 3; they are nice, but they aren’t amazing. You won’t be dropping your jaw. The cinematics are quite nice, especially the Hell one. But I feel Japanese games still outdo Western in terms of CGI for both quality and length. In JRPGs, some of the cinematics go on for a long time, with constant action. In Diablo 3, they don’t really last that long, and most of the time they’re filled up with easy to render stuff.

There is a zoom function in the game, where you can zoom into your character. But this is basically pointless for playing the game, it’s simply for checking out your character more closely, which you can do through the main menu anyway.

One thing that is great in Diablo 3 is the destruction of the environment. I think this was a great addition to the game; with previously only barrels and urns being destroyable, now a lot of the environment can be smashed to pieces. Whoever came up with this feature should be praised because it’s small details likes these that improve a game greatly.

I think another thing that is commendable is that, the game runs very smoothly even with a massive amount of stuff going on in the game. There are maybe 150 models walking about attacking and you can wade into them and unleash hell back on to them, with the game not faultering a frame. I think the game has been optimized well for a large ranged of system specifications, and this is something I feel Blizzard does well in all their games. It’s probably one of the main reasons why their games are so popular. With the combination of game polish, a strong identity of brands and the optimization across system specs, it means Blizzard can deliver a quality product to more people. It’s something a lot of the flashy games forget; they have the mindset to make the best-looking game and forget that the majority of people aren’t upgrading their computer every year, more like every 3-5 years. With that said, my setup is two and a half years old and runs Diablo 3 perfectly. This is something I greatly appreicate, since it’s annoying to have to specifically upgrade your PC to play a game you want.

Music and Sound

The Music and Sound is basically the same as the other Diablo games. There is a continuation of the type of music from Diablo 2. There is one particular track that’s kind of the theme to the game’s antagonists. I think it was really well done. The rest of the music is kind of forgettable. In fact after completing the game, I’ve turned the music off, and listened to my own music. Much like World of Warcraft, the music isn’t really a great part of the game. It’s very atmospheric music, rather than targeted at a certain emotion. I think this isn’t really a good point. I prefer a game to have an amazing soundtrack all around. Something where each track covers an emotion felt in the game perfectly. I remember the Metal Gear Solid soundtrack as being one of the best I’ve experienced. Everything was tailor-made for the game’s experience by Harry Gregson Williams, and he created everything without being there for the game’s development. They merely told him over the phone what they wanted. I think Diablo 3 could have done much better with its soundtrack. It’s similar to how I’m disappointed with the Act locations, the music doesn’t really have any impact, other than the one track I mentioned.

The sound effects in the game are done very well however. The crushing of enemies, bones and flesh has been done extremely well, and the grunts and screams of your characters don’t get too annoying. There are a few abilities that have an annoying sound if you spam them. I’m speficially annoyed by some of the Wizard’s spells; you quickly get tired of them. Nevertheless, overall they’ve done an amazing job with the sounds in the game, and they help immersion greatly.

The voice acting is quite good overall, I have to say. There’s a large amount of voice acting in the game, and if you play single player with a follower, your character often has some funny conversations with the follower at random intervals. The followers, specifically the Scoundrel, are voice-acted quite well. Although after a while of grinding, their comments start repeating a lot, and I wish there was some way to specifically turn them off.

Crafting

Crafting in Diablo 3 is done via the Blacksmith and the Jewelcrafter, both of which you unlock through quests in the main plot of the game. You can spend gold to level up both of these NPCS, with the level being shared between all your characters on that game mode, the same way gold and player stash is shared. Thank god they implemented this feature, as I might go insane if I had to level the blacksmith and jeweler for every character. That said, they are both kind of pointless at the start of the game.

At the Blacksmith you can salvage gear for crafting materials; the equipment is destroyed in exchange for the materials. But people quickly realised that you might as well sell the equipment to the vendor instead, and buy crafting materials from other players on the Auction House when you need them. Obviously if everyone did this, no one would be selling crafting materials. But I think at the start everyone was under the impression that they needed to salvage everything. Secondly the items you create with the Blacksmith are created with random stats. This proves quite annoying as you will have to sink a lot of materials into getting what you want later, when you can simply go to the Auction House and buy exactly what you want. I think currently the Blacksmith is rather pointless, but once some of the best gear starts to be accessed from only blacksmith crafting, I think people will quickly see the benefit of levelling it up instead of paying millions of gold on the Auction House.

The Jewelcrafter seems equally pointless in that he creates higher level gems from low level ones, but jewels drop so much from mobs that you don’t really need to combine lower level ones at the start. The only good thing the jewelcrafter is there for is to remove gems from your gear so you can keep your best gems.

Story

The story in Diablo 3 is basically saving Tyrael, an Angel who has been cast of Heaven, getting a soulstone to absorb two of the Lords of Hell, currently waging war in the world and finally defeating Diablo, who apparently planned the whole event to get his brothers captured so he could absorb them all and become the Prime Evil.

It is a really basic plot with one twist at the end in respect of Diablo having the plan to absorb his brothers. I feel the plot is pretty boring overall. Deckard Cain gets killed off at the start of the game, which was a bad move I felt. And Leah, your quest companion for the game, gets destroyed since Diablo takes over her body. Nothing was really done in respect of the loss of Leah. It seemed to be cast aside in the plot, even though she was a nice character and active throughout the game. The end of the game is a bit rushed and it feels it isn’t as interesting or rich in terms of the plot as the first Act in any way. The fight to defeat the Skeleton King feels very epic, whereas climbing through Hell to defeat Diablo seems like a chore, and isn’t really that interesting. A lot of the main dialogues are stilted and cliche also, only the Scoundrel has a decent characterisation; the rest of the cast of characters seem quite lifeless and unbelievable. I would actually enjoy a game that’s completely featured on the Scoundrel and his home city of Kingsport, which sounds like one of the more interesting places in the Diablo world.

Overall the story was badly implemented, but it’s not a massive problem since you don’t expect Diablo to have a good story. It’s a Hack and Slash game, but a good story would have been a welcome suprise anyway, and it’s not even difficult to weave together some parts of the history in the game with in-depth characters and intelligent non-cliche conversations.

Itemization

When you kill enemies, they have a chance to drop gold and items. This chance is increased through a stat, Magic Find for items and Gold Find for gold. Similar to Diablo 2, by increasing your Magic Find you will find more high quality items.

The type of items that can drop are as follows:

  • Grey Inferior (No idea why these are in the game, sell for nothing)
  • White Superior (Again no idea why they are in the game, useless items without stats, and sell for very little to vendor)
  • Blue Magic (Currently you can get Blue items which are better than many rare and legendaries, specifically weapons, which makes no sense at all)
  • Yellow Rare (These are the decent items, in abundance, but not many with exactly the right stats you want)
  • Orange Legendary (Some of the best items, very rarely drop, randomized stats still, but can be worse than rares and even blues which is strange)
  • Green Set Items (I think these are the rarest items in the game, some with very good stats, set bonuses are usually worth it since the other set piece is also amazing)

Auction House

The Auction House is split into the Gold Auction House and soon-to-be-released Real Money Auction House. The Auction House system is pretty badly done so far. It was incredibly unstable at launch and still continues to have some instabilities which are postponing the release of the RMAH. You can only have 10 auctions at a time, and after 5 minutes you can’t cancel your auctions, so they are there for two days. I feel this whole system is bad; they should have designed it to be exactly like the World of Warcraft Auction system, which is arguably one of the best auction systems created in a game. The sorting system of the Auction is very subpar, and you have to put in a lot of variables to get what you want. I feel a lof of the time I spent on the Auction House is wasted because of its inefficient design.

My main concern is what will happen to the Gold Auction House when the Real Money Auction House is released. All the best items will be flogged for real money, which is very depressing considering the only efficient way to progress through Inferno is to buy things from the Auction House. I just think they should cancel the RMAH, since it’s not even needed. It’s a greedy move on Blizzard part to get more revenue for virtual items.

We have already paid for the game, so why do we now have to pay for items in the game? I don’t mind paying for things in a free game, like League of Legends. Especially since the things you buy in League of Legends don’t improve your character in any way. But in Diablo 3, gear is everything and as soon as it’s up, all the best gear will be put there for money, because people are greedy. Everything of worth will be bought off the Gold Auction House and sold on the Real Money Auction House. In fact, the reason why I’m playing the game so much now is so I get the items I need before RMAH is released.

I think if the RMAH is released it should be on a seperate game mode, in the same way the Hardcore Mode Auction House works seperately from the Normal Mode. Also you should only be able to sell items once on the RMAH, or at least if the Auction House isn’t implemented seperately, items that have been on the Gold Auction House shouldn’t be able to sold on the RMAH, to stop people buying up the Gold Auction House.

Random Points

  • Wasps in Act 2 are ridiculously annoying. They spit out these high damage bees, and they fly away.
  • Sometimes chasing Treasure goblins results in death if they manage to get a clear run away, since you’ll pull a ton of enemies at the same time.
  • Some blue quality weapons being better than Legendaries is a silly implementation.
  • Character Damage being based around Weapon Damage and then modifying off other stats is a bad idea, causing item stats to be not as sought-after, just get a high dmg weapon.
  • Having to leave your game session to access the Auction House is an annoying point. I don’t really know why it was seperated as it’s simply an inconveniece.
  • It’s also annoying to have to leave a session to change quests. These menu problems should have been ironed out even before Beta, apparently testers were either ignored or inept.

Pros

  • Polished Hack and Slash Game.
  • All classes viable and fun to play.
  • Runs well on a wide range of computer specs.
  • Has a large playerbase and thus demands usually get met (eventually).
  • If you like Diablo 2, you’ll probably like Diablo 3 (not guaranteed however, some hate it).
  • Really nice sound effects and spell visuals.

Cons

  • Singleplayer have to play online; lag/disconnections can kill you in Hardcore very easily.
  • Auction House is badly implemented. Real Money Auction House will break the game, and is incredibly greedy on Blizzards and PayPal part.
  • Normal – Hell Mode are too easy. Inferno has no real difficulty but a large jump in gear requirement, just grind gear to complete, skills not needed.
  • Forgettable music overall.
  • Terrible plot and characterisation except for Scoundrel.
  • Zero customization for character.
  • Itemisation problems; Blues better than a lot of Legendaries.

Summary

Diablo III is a good game, to be honest, it’s a great game but it still has a lot of flaws. I think these flaws could have been easily avoided which is frustrating. And ultimately they are all due to the head game designers, who decided on the focus of the game. There were some good design decisions, such as destructable enviroment, removing choosing skill attributes on level and having the max 6 skills equipped. However there are so many bad decisions that completely cross out the good ones.

Blizzard is such a big company now, you really expect them to produce something better than this. It’s like the World Champion running a good time, but not running a World Record I guess. People want to see World Records at the Olympics and people thought Diablo 3 was going to be one of the best games ever made. However it really isn’t. Still, it’s worth buying and playing until the RMAH comes out and breaks the game. I don’t think Diablo 3 will last as long as Diablo 2 or World of Warcraft did. There are some big titles being released at the end of 2012 and the begining of 2013, and I think people will migrate away from Diablo 3 unless the expansion and hotfixes deal with a lot of the problems in the game.

I think generally the Diablo series would benefit from a lot of the Japanese RPG elements, whilst obviously ignoring some of the bad parts of Japanese RPGs. I know that not everyone likes JRPGs, but in reality Eastern and Western methods of creating games should be combined and the best of both put into a game. It seems modern-day games refuse to learn from the mistakes of the past and keep on making basic mistakes because they just want to recreate old games exactly. They don’t want to risk anything. It is a bit disappointing that in its core, Diablo 3 is basically Diablo 2 with better graphics, a couple of slightly different classes, online singleplayer and a Skill system overhaul. That is not to say it’s a bad game, I mean Diablo 2 was a great game, so it’s not a bad thing to recreate it. But I just think there is so much more potential that has just been wasted.



About the Author

Flava
Flava, Redflava writer.


Game Overview

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Our Final Take:
 3 / 5 - Above Average
 
Reviewed by: Flava