We’re a week and a half on from the launch of Diablo 3, one of the biggest releases of the year, and only now are some people starting to crawl out of their caves. Being released nearly 12 years after the previous title, Diablo 3 falls back on the traditional, carpal-tunnel-giving roots that everyone knows and loves about the series. The light at the end of a very long tunnel, Diablo 3 promised to sate new and old fans of the series alike. But am I satisfied?
What Diablo III Got Right
Classic Diablo feel -
I’ve played a LOT of Diablo 2 in the 12 years since it has been released, and from what I had seen of Diablo 3 before it launched, Blizzard had seen fit to change a lot of the feeling of the game that I knew and loved; the game looked much brighter and not as foreboding as the previous instalments, the graphics were clearer so people couldn’t see barely 5 feet in front of themselves and there was even a screenshot with a rainbow in it.
I was actually pleasantly surprised when the feelings of nostalgia began pouring in. Between slaughtering Quill Rats and the Moon Tribe, I’m quite content with how this is ruining my wrists.
Interesting storyline -
Story is a big part of the Diablo games and Diablo 3 is no different. Taking place 20 years after the events of Diablo 1 and 2, the game is set in Sanctuary on the brink of war and destruction, thanks to Hell responding to the capture of its Prime Evils. While at times the story is a bit predictable, for the most part it's engaging and a great way to tie up the trilogy.
An enjoyable nightmare -
On normal difficulty, Diablo 3 is not exactly the hardest game to plough through in a solid 15-20 hours. The meat of the game isn’t normal though, however; it’s the ever-increasing difficulties of Nightmare, Hell and Inferno. In-between the thousands of particles flying across the screen and melee classes not really having anything going for them in any difficulty above Nightmare, the game becomes an ever-frustrating, totally enjoyable… nightmare. Yeah.
Between slaughtering Quill Rats and the Moon Tribe, I’m quite content with how this is ruining my wrists.
Simplified, but not made easy -
Diablo 2 had a broken system that didn’t vary much between classes. The basic theory was, all you needed to do was pump all your stat points into Vitality because it was such a great stat and kept you alive so much, and then for all your skill points you would follow a certain cookie cutter build.
Blizzard moulded the game at higher levels around this theory, which created a sense of staleness after playing for 1000 hours. So in Diablo 3, they decided to scrap the entire classic levelling system of previous games, and auto-allocate your stat points and unlock your skills (and runes) at certain levels.
Now, when people played the first 10 levels of the game and didn’t get the chance to unlock everything their class had to offer, it’s easy to understand why people cried and said Blizzard ruined their own game. This isn’t the case, however; while it means everyone’s base-stats will be exactly the same, stat modifiers from items are now actually important (whereas before they were used just so you could equip more gear). Coupled with the skill system that unlocks more and more as you go along and has a surprising amount of depth to it (until you get to harder difficulties), Diablo 3 manages to deliver a well-needed upgrade to the combat system.
What Diablo III Got Wrong
The lag -
This is centrally an Australian issue, as this is an Australian review, but the lag in Diablo 3 is unbearable at times. I tend to play through any game the first time solo; I like to take my own pace through the story and explore as much as I can about the game before I get ready to run through the game as quickly as I can with friends.
However, due to Blizzard not really wanting to pay for local servers, Australian players are stuck with anywhere from 270-500ms ping on average. This might not sound like a big deal, but at higher difficulties, and with the eventual PVP, lag makes all the difference in game; ping is the difference between dodging the fireball that kills you, and not.
It’s also incredulously frustrating playing a game on your own and lagging. A lot of people don’t really think about how bad lagging on your own is until it happens – I didn’t. But standing still for 14 seconds because the server hiccupped or my Internet decided to throw a bit of a fit is irritating to no end.
Lack of PVP -
One of the big things in Diablo 2 is end-game PVP – Hardcore PVP, regular PVP, it’s all a lot of fun and really all that there is to do at the end of the game after you grind for your gear. Blizzard again, being the omnipotent wizards they are, noticed this trend and decided to structure Diablo 3 around this. The game is supposedly meant to be balanced at end-game for the PVP Arena, with each class having their own strengths and weaknesses in PVP.
There’s just one problem. Blizzard did this thing where they forgot to include the PVP Arena. Well, they didn’t forget, they just decided to not include it on release so that they could get the game out of the door. You might be reading this and saying “Oh, big deal. They didn’t include PVP on release, who the hell cares. Just enjoy the game.” That’s all well and good, except that Blizzard are actively balancing the game around PVP and the “metagame” that is supposed to be developing (hint: it’s not developing due to lack of PVP). This brings me to my next gripe with Diablo 3…
Constant hotfix nerfs -
The game has been out for a week and a bit, and people have already completed Inferno difficulty. Some classes – Wizards and Demon Hunters specifically – can even solo it with a bit of hassle. The melee classes, however, can last less than 3 seconds before they die in combat.
To combat this broken stage of the game (no-one is supposed to be able to solo Inferno, just for your information), Blizzard have decided to nerf whatever they see as overpowered and fix it at a later date. Recently they struck the monk class with the nerf bat, and actually destroyed a Rune because it was providing too much power (it was the best heal Monks could get as it was the only one that scaled) and Blizzard didn’t like that too much.
When people need to structure their items in a game where you will be able to spend $100 of your real, hard-earned dollars, on a build that you hear is good in PVP only for Blizzard to stealthily nerf it with little warning (they haven’t released patch-notes for their multiple nerfs as of writing this), it’s quite frustrating to find out only on the forums after searching that a certain core skill has been crushed into the ground.
The game, at higher levels, is completely broken. Not in the sense that it doesn’t work, in the sense that it doesn’t make sense. Magical item drops, the 3rd worst class of item in the game, are frequently seen to spawn better stats than Legendary-tier items which should be, well, legendary.
The squishiest classes in the game – Wizard, Demon Hunter – can solo the hardest difficulty on their own, while the tank-melee classes – Barbarian, Monk – die in less than a handful of seconds. Combined with the idea that boss-fights are weaker than hero-class monsters, Diablo 3 at the later stages is currently filled with a lot of crying and frustration, and not the good, Demon Souls-esque kind, either.
The Final Verdict
Diablo 3 is the result of a 12-year marathon and it certainly feels like it. Rushed towards the end, it’s definitely worth the wait and the effort, if you want to see how the saga ends. The original feel of the Diablo series is ever-present, and whether or not you’re a fan of the series, you should give one of the biggest titles of the year a shot.
By Thomas Robinson - Bio