As with most Blizzard games it has taken an awfully long time to get here, and, to be frank, I didn't know a whole lot about it starting the game for the first time. I was not in the beta, nor did I read many previews. This is not to say I'm not a fan of the series. I've loved Diablo since being shown the first one at a friend's house in Grade 7 and have played both for years. But, Diablo 3 marks the first time in a while that I was going to be playing a highly anticipated game with almost zero knowledge of it prior to starting. How exciting.
Welcome to Hell, wait.. no, not just yet
The client downloaded while I was at work. Over the course of the day I had managed to get myself into quite a state of excitement; more Diablo! I returned home ready to play, only to find that the servers were down. I won't pretend to know the details but you would think Blizzard would've anticipated a few people would be interested in playing their game.
My frustration can be summarized thusly; I paid $60 for your game, I expect to play the game I paid $60 for.
I intended my first play-through to be single player only and the fact of the matter is, I cannot do this if my internet is down or their servers are having issues. This is ridiculous - I do own this product after all.
I am aware of the arguments for the online requirement, but for me, there is no excuse for not having an offiline, single player mode. Blizzard have demonstrated they cannot deliver the same experience through their online system.
The servers eventually came back online so, onward to the game itself.
Who Dares enter Hell?... no not you, your name is too long
There is a 12 character limit on names. How is JoeBucksVoice supposed to tackle the minions of hell? No, my name will not be shortened or abbreviated.
Com(bats) or Swords
I choose to play a barbarian, named him Andonious, and off I went. After a brief introduction about how tough barbarians I was thrown into combat almost immediately.
This is more satisfying than I could have ever hoped for. Each swing of your weapon strikes with force and ferocity. Considering you are just clicking a mouse, the feedback you get is remarkable. The enemies themselves are varied, numerous and interesting. They die in gloriously animated explosions of blood and limbs. The environmental destruction adds another layer of excitement during combat. Weapon racks, cages, support beams, and just about everything else that isn't nailed down are reduced to rubble. You can collapse sections of walls on your enemies - not very effective but quite enjoyable. Diablo 3's combat is utter mayhem to behold.
This is aRPG combat taken to its zenith and man, is it ever fun. click click click.
Gaze on the horrors of Hell... it's surprisingly bright
Blizzard have developed a unique art style over the years. The world of Sanctuary has become a much brighter and vibrant place since my last visit. The environments are without question beautifully crafted and rendered, the problem is, while playing, it appears that your screen has been coated with grease. Everything is blurry, and in my opinion just a touch too bright.
Never fear, the desolate shroud has your back. I whole heartedly endorse downloading this shader, I couldn't play without it - and haven't been banned yet. It makes the game a little more Diablo and a little less World of Warcraft.
I have posted some comparison shots below.
|Who oiled up this dungeon?||Much better.|
I actually had to turn to 'the google' last night to see if I was missing something when it came to the skill/stat system. The answer was, no, you aren't missing anything, it was never there.
I appreciate a lot of the streamlining that has been done to the game but the skill and stats have been dumbed down, and made worse. Your stats come from items, and there are no consequences when it comes to selecting skills as you can instantly re-spec your character.
The lack of stats, and interchangeable skills doesn't make me feel like I am building my hero - strong in some ways, flawed in others - just a generic one.
I think this will really hit home in multiplayer. Certain play styles emerge as the most effective and players are naturally drawn towards them.
Here's an example from the previous game. Whirlwind Barbarians were extremely popular, until someone figured out that dual throwing was equally devastating. To make the switch you had to build up your character over time, perfecting your play style. If you didn't have the time you just stuck with your existing character. This kept pvp, and even cooperative play interesting and varied.
My fear is Diablo 3's online world will be filled with identical characters and as a result be a much less interesting place to be.
What the hell is going on here?
The story exposition is almost non-existent. Yes I realize that Diablo is all about bashing monsters and collecting loot, but I have no idea what I am supposed to be doing and why. My character just seems to wander around taking instructions from strangers and massacring everything he comes across because he can. That being said the voice acting of these strangers is spectacular.
What does all this mean?
So a mixed bag then. There is a lot of negativity in this article, and I must admit I am a little disappointed with the game so far. The online requirement is completely unacceptable, and the character development feels as shallow as a puddle.
That being said there are many positives; it is exceptionally well made and oozes class and quality. Combat is satisfying, the environments are beautiful.
If you can get past my criticisms this is certainly a great game.
I hope to write a full review once I have beat the game and explored the online aspects. So, I guess its back to hell for me.