+Great dungeon crawling gameplay
+Seamless online multiplayer
-Mandatory online connection
-Graphics don't look great when zoomed in
Final score: 9 / 10
Controller support: No
Fully-updated Windows XP/Vista/7 with DirectX 9.0c
Intel Pentium D 2.8 GHz or AMD Athlon 64 X2 4400+ (or better)
NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GT or ATI Radeon X1950 Pro (or better)
1 GB RAM (with Windows XP)or 1.5 GB RAM (with Vista or Windows 7)
12 GB available Hard Drive space, DVD-ROM drive (for retail disc versions only)
Broadband Internet connection
Video settings reaching a minimum resolution of 1024x768
Fully-updated Windows Vista/7
Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4 GHz or AMD Athlon 64 X2 5600+ 2.8 GHz or better
At least 2 GB RAM
NVIDIA GeForce 260 or ATI Radeon HD 4870 or better
It's been 16 years since the original Diablo was launched, it's been 12 years since Diablo II was released and it's been 11 since the Lord of Destruction expansion came out. Since then, RPG fans have been left hungering for a new experience in the isometric, dungeon crawling universe created by Blizzard.
Now, after many years and a few delays, Diablo III is finally out on the PC and Mac platforms.
Boasting the same dungeon crawling gameplay, with a fixed isometric point of view and a heavy emphasis on role-playing, it looks like the perfect successor to the previous titles. However, the studio made some key additions that may not please many people. Much like World of Warcraft, you now need a constant internet connection to Battle.net servers and, unlike the MMO, you can trade items in an Auction House for real-life money.
Do these changes detract from what could be one of the best RPGs of the year or does Diablo 3 manage to crawl out of the dungeon victorious? Let's find out.
Choose your character ...
... and experience Blizzard's new RPG
Diablo games have always emphasized gameplay, but their stories aren't too shabby either, especially since they're usually portrayed through stunning CGI sequences that give movie studios like Pixar a run for their money.
The third installment is no different, continuing the saga that started 16 years ago. In case you forgot, the action takes place in a medieval world called Sanctuary, where all sorts of monsters run amok after the three Prime Evils wanted to bring Hell on Earth in the last two games.
In this new experience, you play as a hero who's on the hunt for the two remaining Lesser Evils, Azmodan and Belial, but also for the Black Soulstone artifact. Throughout the story you'll meet classic characters like Deckard "Stay awhile and listen" Cain, but also his niece, Leah, and many other people or creatures.
While most of the times the story won't get in the way of the dungeon crawling, the cinematic interludes are a welcome change of pace and Blizzard's top-notch quality is still present, managing to get players invested in many characters, despite many cut scenes lasting just a couple of minutes.
While you don't get much of a choice throughout the story, Diablo III's plot manages to keep things going and provides more than enough incentive to keep killing monsters and completing your quests. Throw in some unexpected twists towards the end and you’re in for a pretty good narrative.
The Diablo series basically kick-started the dungeon crawling role-playing game sub-genre and the third installment doesn't try to mess with the gameplay recipe.
You're still viewing the action from an isometric point of view, you're still crawling through dungeons and exploring dynamically generated worlds, and you're still clicking as fast as possible in order to defeat your enemies and collect your precious loot.
There are now five classes in Diablo III, with the Barbarian making a comeback from Lord of Destruction, while all new characters, like the Demon Hunter, Wizard, Monk, and Witch Doctor, also make an appearance.
Each has vastly different play styles, skills, options, and even mechanics. For those who can't decide, go through the first few quests with each character and then see which one suits your attitude, from the hulking Barbarian, to the long range Demon Hunter, the medium range Wizard or Witch Doctor, or the close quarters Monk.
Each class has different abilities grouped into a skill menu that's divided by default into six sections, which are governed by six buttons (left mouse button, right mouse button, and the 1, 2, 3, 4 number keys). If you enable the Elective Mode in the options menu, however, you can freely distribute and use your skills as you see fit.
While some characters, like the Monk, only use a single resource called Spirit, others, like the Demon Hunter, use two, in the form of Hate and Discipline. As always, the recharge rates for these consumable resources and for your health can be augmented through certain abilities and gear. Just like in previous games, you can encounter all sorts of things throughout your adventures, from weapons to armor and accessories.
What's more, in the opening segments you'll unlock two different Artisans: The Blacksmith and The Jeweler, who'll create for the player either new weapons and armor or new rings. You can invest in improving their level, thereby unlocking new and better gear, but must first salvage the loot you find in order to get raw materials.
Other NPCs you'll interact with are Followers, of which there are three: a Templar named Kormac, a Scoundrel named Lyndon, and an Enchantress named Eirena. Each offers different experiences and, as they accompany the player into encounters, will level up, making them even more valuable.
In terms of AI, Followers tend to handle themselves in combat and don't need that much baby-sitting, but you should always be careful, especially on higher difficulty levels, as they can easily get swamped by mobs. If they’re killed, they’ll respawn after a certain time, but you’ll have to fend off enemies by yourself until they reappear.
Enemies, on the other hand, are quite capable, even on the lowest Normal difficulty. The learning curve is pretty balanced but, as you progress through the acts, you'll encounter different types of opponents whose attacks can easily surprise and kill you.
Death, when you play normally, takes you back to the last checkpoint, as there's no manual save mechanic. What's more, after you surpass level 10, each death will result in deterioration for your weapons and equipment, so always make sure you keep a finger on Q, which is a shortcut for the health potions.
Diablo III also offers a Hardcore mode where each death means the end of your character and you have to start over again. While this may seem like a bit sadistic, special gear and distinctions await those that want to try it out.
I could go on and on about the intricacies of Diablo III but, simply put, it's the quintessential dungeon crawler RPG with almost perfect mechanics that will thrill all types of players, even if some may not find the degree of customization they were looking for.
Gather lots of loot ...
... and then see what it's worth
It's hard to say just what classifies as multiplayer in Diablo III, as the game requires a permanent online connection to Blizzard's Battle.net servers, just like an MMORPG like World of Warcraft, even when you’re playing alone.
This has proven to be quite problematic because the servers couldn’t cope with the millions of players who wanted to play the game right after its launch. This resulted in lots of errors and problems, not to mention lengthy periods of inaccessibility for players who just wanted to experience the long-awaited game.
In terms of traditional multiplayer, the same 4-player cooperative mode from Diablo II makes a comeback, with players being able to instantly make their matches public or invite their friends to quickly drop into the experience.
As more players enter the adventures of the host, the enemies become more difficult and the chances for unlocking better gear increases. Unlike Diablo II, however, the loot is finally instanced, meaning every player sees the things he himself can pick up, so fights over certain items or gold are a thing of the past.
Player-versus-Player combat hasn't been implemented in the final version of Diablo III but, according to Blizzard, it will be launched at a later point in time as downloadable content.
Visuals and Sound
Diablo III is a pretty game but, due to Blizzard’s desire of running it on a wide range of PCs and Macs, the graphics tend to look a bit low-quality when you zoom in on the action. From the standard isometric point of view, however, things seem quite decent, so you won't really notice the lower quality.
Visual effects, like lighting or shadows, are much better and they make the dungeons you go through seem even spookier. While the color palette is varied, some environments, like the desert from Act II, tend to abuse certain colors and make you feel tired just by looking at them.
Sound-wise, Diablo 3 is quite good, with top-notch voice acting giving characters, both NPCs and playable ones, a distinct attitude and feel. Monsters also sound great and combat always reflects the abilities and skills you use with satisfying cues.
The soundtrack is impressive, as always, featuring both reworked songs from Diablo II, like the Tristram theme, but also all new compositions and orchestral themes that make your adventures feel even more epic.
Choose your skills ...
... and face off against the enemy horde
Diablo III is a great game. It manages to deliver a top-notch experience with satisfying gameplay, decent graphics, impressive sound and a solid multiplayer. Sadly, it's being let down by the mandatory internet connection but, once people stop overwhelming Battle.net and Blizzard realizes that it does need more servers, it will no doubt prove to be a much better experience.
Even with the errors and the problems, Diablo III still manages to impress and, given Blizzard's desire for perfection, you can expect it to be improved upon for many months to come with updates and DLC.
One thing - Don't expect DLC IMO. On that front un/fortunately Blizzard is still Old School enough to do Expansion Packs, so "major updates" will be a while out, like Starcraft II is still waiting on the Heart of the Swarm Expansion Pack.
We'll get Patches as normal of course, and Arena will be added in with a Patch, but don't expect 10$ DLC Packs or something.
Comment #2 by: diablo for 20 years on 18 May 2012, 13:26 UTC
currently enjoying the game, although to be frank, I did rage on launch day when I couldn't log on to battle.net. I've come to terms with the stuff they axed such as the char stats. I think they did it to allow for better "builds" even for careless players and to ensure the new swappable skill system is as effective as possible
Comment #4 by: El Pollo Nero on 18 May 2012, 13:57 UTC
This reviewer has obviously decided not to jump on the d3 hate wagon but IMHO the score is too high! It will be rather interesting to see what other sites say, especially after all the MetaCritic shitstorm
Comment #4.1 by: Rauch on 18 May 2012, 15:10 GMT
Reviews are somewhat subjective, if the reviewer liked the game he's tend to give a better score, if he didn't he'll throw the game through * and cow dump... that's why i prefer to take started edition and see for myself if i want to pay the awful amount of dough instead of rushing in like the millions of newbies that gave away 60 euros for a mere promise of a good time. :)
OFC 60 euros may seem like pocket money for a week in some countries, but in other countries, like mine, 60 euros equals to 1/3 of the minimum wage...
Comment #4.2 by: the rockmasterr on 20 May 2012, 12:55 GMT
60 eur is a lot and it kinda douchy, since in the US the game sells for 60 dollars. that's why I didn't get the game from blizzard, I got it from a site that sells scanned codes from retail copies they get at major stores for cheaper prices
Comment #5 by: CardinalPhoenix on 18 May 2012, 16:28 UTC
I've only gotten just past the Skeleton King quest, and I'm just wandering into the next land so far, but to be honest, I really don't understand what people expected! D1 was ridiculously simple, even had SLIGHT storyline inconsistencies from 1 to 2. D2, while still amazing, was also a ridiculously simple game, not very complicated. The only reason it was so engaging is because the difficulty was high and it required people to really strategize where they put skill points and stat points. Unfortunately, if you weren't good enough a player (or, *whisper* don't tell anybody, but...if you don't look up "builds" online, before playing), you can maybe get halfway into Nightmare difficulty before hitting a wall. Seems like in D3, by the time you get that far along, everyone else is that far along as well, so aside from having good enough equipment, most characters will have the exact same tools. It's all a matter of switching out the right kinds of skills, trying new things, and finding the right style for most different situations. Basically, it means 1) you likely don't have to start a completely new character (*whispers* and not have people RUSH you through) if you can't progress any further, and 2) if you're having trouble, it isn't so dire that you immediately need to turn to the internet and strategy guides. It's like puzzle. You have all the pieces in front of you to solve it, as well as the answer on the front of the box. It's your job to put it together.
Critic score, 9 out of 10. User score, 3.5. Pretty big disparity. For every 9/10 score by a critic, there are literally thousands of disappointed players baffled on how easily the bugs and flaws in D3 are being over looked. The mass majority do not praise this game so highly.
Comment #6.1 by: Zelorra on 19 May 2012, 04:41 GMT
If you're talking about Metacritic, that's because a lot of idiots gave it a 0 rating when they got connection errors in the first day. That's not "review", it's stupidity. Also, Metacritic should change their rating formula, currently it's just completely retarded
I think the score is just fine. Games are about adventure and having fun. And it has been a while since I just had to much fun playing a game like I am with Diablo 3.
Blizzard really honed down on what made the Diablo series fun and got rid of the chaff. I was weary of the lack of customization, but after spending time with the rune system(something the reviewer should have talked about more) I really don't miss it.