-=Author’s note=- If you have not played the game yet, or are unsure about purchasing it, please read to the end – I have 3 keys to give away.
-=Author’s note 2=- All the guest passes are already given away, but feel free to continue commenting. I’m also working on a prize within the next month or so, drawn from a random person who “Likes” the MisGuilded Facebook page.
It’s almost a month since Diablo 3′s original release, so I thought I’d share my experience so far, as well as a bit more insight to those that haven’t purchased it yet. I had taken 3 weeks off work to concentrate solely on D3, but unfortunately a wedding and a few birthdays got in the way of me getting to the level cap in the top percentage. Oh, and an early warning – this review contains no screenshots and is the longest game review on this site.
Anyway – my experiences: On first installation I was greeted with, as could be expected from a Blizzard title, a patch download. Thankfully this was nowhere close to the size of your average pre-expansion WoW patch, so I was quickly up and playing. After a few “The server is busy” errors I was in and heading in to New Tristram. For fans of Diablo 2, the first thing you notice is how well the game feels. Instead of reinventing everything, they stuck to the original formula where they could. The playstyle is immediately identifiable as Diablo, something that they could have gotten wrong so easily.
The main differences come with how health is regenerated. Instead of the original usage of belts with tons of health potions of your choice that can be used as rapidly as you can press buttons, there is a single “quick heal” button with the currently selected health potion. This is further hampered by the fact that, like the way they changed WoW in early Burning Crusade, there is a cooldown on the potions. No more spamming potions while facing a difficult boss. This, along with other changes I’ll be going over a bit later, are all part of the push toward more e-sport orientation – the PVP balancing element. Thankfully the health potions are supplemented with health globes that are periodically dropped by creatures as you kill or damage them. These are not inventory items; instead you run across them and they heal you for a certain amount. This has its own pros and cons, mostly in the fact that you usually accidentally pick three or four up at the wrong time as you’re fighting a big creature.
The skills have also been simplified – gone is the old skill tree, to be replaced by a set of skills for each class, with runes unlocked as you level up. These runes change the way each skill behaves – some will grant you additional health on usage, others will change the area of damage or the amount of damage, or add a stun effect or the duration of the ability. This change also makes sense from a balancing point of view. With less skills to worry about, Blizzard can tweak them to perfection for use in PVP, or nerf (as they so love to do) skills that are too popular and cause the PVE gameplay to be too easy.
Another new addition is that, along with your left and right-click abilities, you now also have four skills that are assigned to the buttons 1-4 on your keyboard, a selection previously reserved for all those extra health potions.
A fourth difficulty, Inferno, was also added. This is a super Hell difficulty, and definitely adds replayability to the game. Compared to Inferno, Normal, Nightmare and even Hell seems like a cakewalk. My Diablo-killing gear in Hell was not even close to the level that was needed to defeat the first pack of rare mobs I encountered in Inferno. And this is where the Auction House and new crafting abilities come into play.
The blacksmith allows you to craft new items, but the only problem is that the gear is crafted with random properties. The chances of crafting a piece of gear that will actually suit your character perfectly is small. You might craft a new two-handed mace for your barbarian, only for it to appear with +80 to Intelligence and +3 to Dexterity. Not exactly what you need. Instead, why not go to the Auction House, set the stats that you’d like and the price you’re willing to pay and see if you get any results. Gearing just became easier.
And a good thing too. With a level cap of 60 which is reached about halfway through hell if you’ve just been playing through without extra grinding, skills and personal growth stops way before the challenges of Inferno. Once you’ve chosen the ultimate killing combination of skills, the only growth is through gear, gear and more gear.
The world, characters and story are all stunningly done. There was a big uproar in the development stages that Blizzard was making Diablo 3 too colourful, but the end product really came out nicely. The colours suit the different environments – bright where it should be and dark (and I mean REALLY dark in some places) where it fits. Fog and weather effects further immerse you in this world, and the new companions add their banter to the tedium of grinding away at mobs.
A lot of the current players of Diablo 3 are people who recieved the game free with their annual pass for World of Warcraft, I’m not one of those. These same players are also for the most part the ones that will easily drop the game to return to WoW, especially considering the numerous errors the servers have been having over the last week, making the game totally unplayable even in single-player mode. Personally, I can see myself (and my significant other, who up to now has shown no interest in gaming) playing this for a long time, so the little bit of problems that there were will in no way put me off. Speaking of which, if you haven’t got a copy of Diablo 3 yet and wish to try it out, I have 3 guest passes available, which will let you experience the first half of Act 1. Leave a comment below and I’ll mail a key to you – first come, first serve.
- Blizzard kept as true as they could to Diablo 3′s predecessors.
- Advanced crafting and auction house.
- Easy multiplayer interaction with RealId and friends integration
- Superb world and story.
- No offline single player or LAN multiplayer – if the server’s down, you can’t play.
- A little too much focus on the upcoming PVP events.
- Limited skills to go with the level 60 cap, I miss the old skill tree.
- Teething problems with login and world servers.
Final score: 4.5 our of 5 stars – this game will definitely be played for years to come, as Diablo 2 was and still is. Oh, and there is no cow level