Diablo III Review

Developer: Blizzard Entertainment / Publisher: Activision Blizzard / Played on: PC / Price: $59.99 / ESRB: Mature [Blood and Gore, Violence]

Diablo is a big deal. Just ask anyone and they’ll probably tell you exactly what they were doing and where they were in life when they played the game. In fact, you’re probably thinking of your own story right now. For some people, Diablo and Diablo II were more than just great video games, they were life milestones. When a game is so good that you can identify a period in your life with it, how do you make it better? Fuck if I know, but Blizzard found a way. Every change in Diablo III is for the better, creating a game that is almost perfect if it weren’t for annoying online issues.

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STORY

The story in Diablo III isn’t extraordinary, but it is intelligible and enjoyable, which means it’s improved over previous games. The main plot follows a fairly standard path of deception and corruption and concludes in a predictable way — especially if you’re familiar with Blizzard’s story tendencies. Diablo’s greater success is providing charm and humanity through incidental dialogue. All of the game’s NPCs have interesting back stories that are revealed through chunks of dialogue as you progress in a very Bioware or Left 4 Dead sort of way. These impromptu discussions are well-written and often humorous. By the end of the game, I was actually attached to some NPCs because of their dialogue, which is a new experience in a game that’s usually about clicking a bunch of demons to death.

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GAMEPLAY

The big question here is “Does Diablo III feel like Diablo?” and it absolutely does. You still click on a bunch of demons and collect glistening loot. There are some tweaks to the formula in Diablo III though, and nearly all of them fix problems you never realized were problems. The biggest change is the game’s skill system. Unlike previous Diablos, you never actually attack with your equipped weapon. Instead, all of your attack skills work as modifiers on your weapon’s basic stats. Equip a faster weapon, and your skills will come out faster, and the same is true for weapons with higher damage. It works, but it is a little logically incongruent, especially when your character does an attack that doesn’t involve your equipped weapon at all, like blowing darts.

Here’s the smart bit though; every time you level, you’ll unlock a new skill or a rune for an existing skill that modifies its behavior and appearance. This, combined with different enemy types, means that Diablo III constantly prods you to experiment with new skill combinations that can drastically change the way you play. For example, as a monk I had a combination of skills that would pull enemies towards me then do area of effect damage. Then I tinkered with my loadout and created a set focused on dashing and knockback, meaning that I was zipping all over the battlefield slapping enemies around instead of pulling them to me. This is an incredible improvement over Diablo II, where you’d dump all your skill points into one or two select skills and do the same attack all game.

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There are a host of other tweaks on top of the core mechanics that make Diablo III a more enjoyable experience. Sub-quests called “events” are randomly generated into the map, and if you stumble across one, you’ll get a ten-minute quest involving saving a group of bystanders from monsters or running through a dungeon to find the treasure at the end within a time limit. This capitalizes perfectly on Diablo’s sense of spontaneity and is a great way to break up the hours of demon slaying. The game’s crafting system is simple and brilliant, too. The results you get from crafting are randomized, meaning that you have to roll the dice and hope you get the stats you want. You also have to invest money in the crafters so they can level up to make better equipment, which is a fantastic money sink and prevents the in-game gold from becoming completely devalued like it did in Diablo II. There’s even an in-game auction house that you can use to capitalize on rare loot drops that may not fit your class. It functions nearly identically to the auction house in World of Warcraft, and it’s trivial to search for equipment or list your own for sale.

In fact, I have to get incredibly nit-picky to find something worth complaining about. You can’t compare gear to your follower’s equipment, which is a slight headache. You also can’t run around with the map overlay on, which is also a slight inconvenience. Uh…crafting recipes don’t pull items from your stash, meaning that you have to have the components in your inventory… and that’s about it. The limited and minor complaints I have about the game should speak more to the game’s quality rather than its downsides.

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Of course, that’s all ignoring the elephant in the room – online DRM. While I expect logging in and playing stable games will be less of an issue going forward, it’s still a hassle to log in to an online server to play by yourself. That means you’re at the mercy of lag and disconnects even when you just want to play a quick twenty minutes. When a server goes down or you can’t log in ‘cause your internet is screwy, you can’t play the game you bought and that’s no different than a bug or a crash interfering with the experience. Like everyone else, I experienced several disconnects and connectivity problems in the game’s first week, and that’s a real problem that shouldn’t be ignored.

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MULTIPLAYER

Though you’re technically online even when you’re playing alone, Diablo III deserves special mention for how easy it is to play with your friends. You can add a friend from either their battle.net e-mail or via their battletag, which is a chosen handle with a random number appended to the end. Once friended, it’s trivial to the point of clicking once to join someone’s game. Given how complicated PC multiplayer can be, that’s amazing and deserves special mention. My only complaint is that the game doesn’t have any voice chat support, which is bizarre. Granted, you’ll probably be using Skype or Vent instead, but it’s odd that a game would ship without that functionality these days.

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VISUALS

Diablo III is Blizzard’s best-looking game yet, and Blizzard makes some gorgeous ass games. Astounding use of vibrant color make Diablo III look like a moving metal cover. The environments work with the background and foreground now, too. Enemies will now crawl up at you from below or jump down from above, which makes it feel less like you’re playing on a large sheet of paper.

My only problem with the game’s visuals is that the environments dip into familiar Diablo territory too often. Act 2 of the game takes place in a giant desert, which is extremely reminiscent of Diablo II’s Lut Gholein. Act 3 even opens in a snow-swept castle and sends you out onto a battleground filled with siege equipment, hearkening to Mount Arreat from Lord of Destruction. Granted, Diablo II came out 12 years ago, so I didn’t mind seeing these environments recreated in 3D, but I was hoping for more original settings. That said, the game is still gorgeous, so even though you’ll recognize these environments from past games, you’ll never get tired of looking at them.

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SOUND

The sound in Diablo III is incredible. Every attack has a meaty thunk that makes you feel like an unstoppable badass on the field. Enemies die so vividly that you can almost see them vomiting blood and guts as they die. That is only multiplied when you’re playing with other people — hearing four players locked in combat creates a buffet of sound that doesn’t compare to any other game. I mean, just LISTEN to this —

Diablo III is also packed with voice acting, and I mean packed. There are audio logs for most monsters you kill, in addition to flavor dialogue with NPCs mentioned previously. In fact, there’s so much dialogue, that sometimes one bit of VO will cut off something else, resulting in some half-said statements that are a little confusing. Regardless, the voice acting is universally excellent and does a great job exposing the world of Diablo.

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BOTTOM LINE

It’s been a long, long wait, but it was all worth it. With Diablo III, Blizzard made one of the most approachable and enjoyable games in the world even better. In fact, aside from the annoying online-only infrastructure, I can’t imagine a single thing I would change to make this game better. That’s when you know you have a classic on your hands, and that’s also when you know you should play this game as much as you can.

9.5 / 10

  1. René Mathias Rojas

    To me Diablo was meh… I never really liked the first two and the last one just feels like a linear grind and it’s no fun because I have to catch up to my friends who have been playing since release and basically done nothing else.

  2. “Does diablo 3 feel like diablo?”

    To me the answer so far is no, I grew up on diablo 2, and know there were a lot of interesting things added over time but the core game was brilliant, it forced the players to not only rely on the armor sets, or unique items for combat but to rely on skill and setting. It forced the player to plan how they were going to play the game long before the game was actually played. When you did finally get started and found the unique items or complete sets you checked to see if they built up your planned characters. The beauty of the game was that your character was not only following the footsteps of the game they were following the footsteps literally of malius and his foolish quest. The other things about the game that I like were that your characters only spoke breifly when entering dungeons or caverns for the first time, this single line of text did not say much but it helped to solidify the different versions of each hero, I also liked how the NPC’s treated each class differently, now granted I haven’t got to far but it seems like very few of the NPC’s treat your character with any individuality, for example in D2-act 1 gheed hated necromancers, and if I remember correctly Act 2 or 3 saw a few NPC’s that either reverred necromancers or treated them harshly but fairly point being that these subtle hints aided in establishing the acts and the overall world of Diablo 2.
    That being said what seems to really be a step backwards from the days of diablo 2 is the way the interface has taken a major step backwards, example number one is the potions, in D2 you could equip different potions or scrolls to any one of the number slots and use them as needed,also the potions seemed to never provide the player with the instantaneous effect D3 has but instead they provided a massive increase in the regen rate of the effect fields. Running, what happened tin the world of diablo, did its people forget how to run, well it seems like it since the stamina bar has been removed completely in favor of the latency bar as well as shrunk down to almost nill. Spells and abillity mouse selection seems to have been streamlined into a small little section at the bottom where players get the basic MMO set up as to compared to D2 where you could set up your personal number interliers from 1-9 plus mouse keys and switch on a whim, now your restricted to the left, right and numbers 1-4 due to the next disgrace. The skill system.
    In diablo 2, the players were given a wide variety of skills based on the player skill trees, in diablo 3 the skill trees have been vastly reduced and now skills level up with the players level as opposed to players choosing where to put skill points into. This limits the players interactivity with the game and seems like mistake on blizzards part. Not only are we no longer allowed to advance skills at our leisure we now have one of the most ingenious systems of D2 and its expansion removed and altered for D3, and that is the rune system. In D2 runes were used to create special words that made unique items, that if combined correctly the item would gain special benifits, this fell in line with the Gem/socket system brought about in D2. In D3 the player no longer has that abillity instead the player’s rune system has been altered to serve the skill tree now, and while this is a good idea to an extent it destroys one of the love parts of diablo 2:LOD since the player has lost their customization of items for game play purposes. I would have like to see the socket/gem/rune/jewel systems maintained while also exploring this route but blizzard felt that was not what they wanted, which is a shame because it would have built upon an already excellent system.
    Final few things i’m going to say about this game, one its not a horrible game, but so far the difficulty levels seems very off compared to D2, but i’ll reserve judgement fully on that till I finish the game, and two the always online single player, there are times where one can understand the benefits to always online and there are times where it looks like someones trying to be greedy, in this case blizzard/activision tried to be greedy. First off for a company that boasts 12million WoW players how is it that at launch their servers cannot handle the capacity of about 4 millions players, especially given the preorder numbers and the open beta weekend but i digress, what bothers me the most and i’m sure that many agree, having the single player be online only causes several problems, 1 being the short term server failure paperweight game, 2 four sets of TOS agreements that basically tell gamers that blizzard reserves the right to shut down accounts for no reason in one and that users are entitled to their money back if they refuse the last one before playing the game(I counted its four 2 page TOS agreements, I payed 60 bucks for a game, not to have to go to a lawyers office),3) D3 is the only known game that has full lag in the single player campaign, I give ubisoft credit because at least their servers can handle the load of their popular titles… and last what precedent does this set for blizzard games, does this mean that for both starcraft and diablo fans who still play the old games when blizzard decides it can no longer afford the cost of servers to house 20 million players, 30 million players, 40 million players, given estimates based on WoW and decides to shut down the servers of older games that don’t charge monthly premiums?

    Thats the concern this practice presetns, what happens when we are no longer allowed to graciously play the rented game we payed sixty bucks for.

    At least I trust steam to hit the off switch , I don’t even think one was designed for blizzards new generation of games.

    • sorry forgot how long that was lol

      • * gotta amend a few things here, 1, The game play is still easy as i’ve almost gone through the entirety of act 1 without dying save for a couple of simple mistakes on my part. Also merchants are extremly lacking in characterization and detail.
        _ there are three merchants in the first act’s town of new tristram, out of all three they are ininteresting, atleast gheed, ayaha(spelled it wrong), charsi and warren are still memorable due to their personalities and the interaction they had. In D3 so far this interaction is minimal, there are no conversation options for the merchants, and their inventories are lack luster at the most, useless at the least(atleast on normal mode, you know the mode your defaulted into until you beat the game, also every merchant in the town of new tristram can repair equipment, meaning that you no longer have to talk to the black smith unless you want to craft something…. speaking of crafting its a mediocre game play mechanic so far, basically you find a magic item, you bring it to the artisan, you break it down into magical essence of 1 of three types of color coded essence matching the magical items you broke down to make it, then once you have enough you can take regular items and use said essence to make magical ones, right now the whole system seems geared to trying to make special items that can be brought to the auction house for sale once it goes live, to be honest it has potential but will blizzard use said potential in future patches like they did with D2, i’ll wait and see
        Other wise they only other mediocre aspect of the game is the inventory management, D2 has a realistic nature to it by sizing different items to match different weapons, D3 its either 2 spaces or 1 space and I have yet to come across the anything thats changes that mechanic and I had to at least have come across 150+ different variations of regular items during gameplay(same item/name different stats), another issue but don’t need to get into that.Even the stash has fundamentally changed as well and personally for the worst.
        basically the game feels almost like it was designed to bombard the player with as many items as possible to force the player to spend unnecessary time sifting through all items and dumping them at merchants to keep them from cluttering the battle field, well atleast gold it auot picked up along with the god of war esque health orbs.

        was too tired last night to really go into more detail regarding why this game is a step backwards from the innovations blizzard put forward in diablo 2. It isn’t a horrible game but it feels like blizzard completely forgot the innovations to game play they created in diablo 2, it boggles the mind how such wonderful features that added decades of replayabillity could be so blatantly ignore, unless of course I beleive that activision’s corporate culture is set to prevent such products from being made…. That is why diablo 2 in my eyes will always go down as the better game, because not only was the story arc in the game well done, but the game mechanics themselves created an immersive experience that drew players in, in droves and created such a fan out pouring for the sequel a decade and a half later, and blizzard could not match that success because they forgot about the mechanics that made that game great, this game is going to be mediocre at best.

      • *gotta amend the amended section – you don’t craft magical essences onto regular items from your inventory, the black smith provides the item, for some essence and gold

        i’m hoping this mechanic improves in the later acts as i’m still wrapping up act 1 but so far its still lack luster

  3. hey, but the second dude speaks 100% truth. Agreed, new 1 just not the same.

  4. SoulProvider’s points seem much more accurate than the actual review that glossed over
    huge problems with the game and tries to portray negatives as features! “all of the acts are rehashed but now in 3D! Woot”
    Also, you can still attack with your equipped weapon but the UI is so kludgey the reviewer did not realize it was possible.

    • The reviewer did know it was possible, but decided not to use words on what amounts to a useless action in the game. There’s no reason you’d do a basic weapon attack instead of a skill-based attack.

  5. Excellent review. Agree 100%. And nice to see an actual review of the game and not focusing on DRM issues. No need for a diatribe of opinion as others have posted, it is not D2…it is D3 and it is better in my opinion. Awesome game, will be playing it for quite a while. Highly suggest getting some good earphones too…it just makes it even more epic.

    On a side note, I will say….the day that Blizz simply breaks down and makes a full feature film using their CGI…will be an awesome day.

  6. SoulProvider’s cute little review there is him going on about how much this isn’t Diablo 2. Newsflash people, it’s not. And after 10 years of Diablo 2 and LoD, I’m glad it’s not. It’s a different game with new experiences. I’m so happy that it’s here to stay and am thankful that people who wish the game was more like D2 aren’t game developers in the first place. Do you “D2 Veterans” even realize how different D2 is compared to D1? Yet both of them have the “same feel” as Diablo, but the new one doesn’t? B!tch please.

    • the point of Diablo three is to build upon the previous installment, the problem here is that D3 took several steps backwards. I like the new concepts but they should not replace the tried and true system, instead they should add on to the said system, I expected blizzard to build upon and improve their franchise like they did with starcraft, unfortunately blizzard decided to dumb down the innovations of its previous installments in favor of a top down WoW lite gameplay with dungeons….

      This has lost its feel, even the first diablo has more thought set up and fell to the game play, this just feels like a borefest because i’m very limited in my abillities.

  7. I’ll rather play the torchlight 2 beta since its made by the people who made diablo while Diablo 3 isnt

  8. This game is way more FUN than Diablo II. You have so much freedom to try different skill combinations. It’s cool to make builds with friends that compliment each other. I’m at level 40 with my Wizard and have been able to her three different ways and don’t have to stockpile skill points for 20 levels so I can use one skill from then on.

  9. Diablo 3 is an evolution from the previous titles. The skill/rune system offers many, many more gameplay options for each class, the combat is a hundred times improved, graphics, sound, interface, boss fights all much, much better in D3.

    The in game gold auction house is much better than leaving items on the ground to trade with people, the games loot system is amazing and the way you can hot drop in and out of players games is seamless.

    There is no dumbing down of anything in diablo 3 even the inferno mode makes the difficulties in D2 seem like modes mad for children.

  10. OMG 9.5 /10! How many Action RPG games has this reviewer played? Diablo III is a fairly good game but in no way does it deserve that score. The big question here is “Does Diablo III feel like Diablo?” and it absolutely does as well as every other Action RPG ever made.

  11. Some good opinions here. I tend to agree with those that believe Diablo 3 not being the same as Diablo 2 is a good thing. I grew up playing Diablo, when the Hellfire expansion came out i got that too. When Diablo 2 came out i bought it day one, same with Lord of Destruction, and i was still playing it right up to a couple of days before Diablo 3 was released.

    People that never played the first one to death wont remember just how different Diablo 2 was from its predecessor. Change isnt always a bad thing, Sometimes it is required in order to move forward, which is exactly what Blizzard have done here.

  12. Alright, I just finished a solid playthrough with the Demon Hunter and have to say… WOW. Blizzard made a serious overhaul of the Diablo formula without sacrificing it’s integrity. My fear of online DRM were serious enough to nearly warrant me to avoid a purchase. Thank God I ignored that gut feeling. And I agree with Lawrence. The act with the desert and the falling kingdom were very similar to Diablo 2 and the expansion, LOD. However, I enjoyed every second of these environments. Gameplay was a serious plus. I can’t tell you how much I wanted to allocate already spent skills in Diablo 2.

    All in all, I would give this game a 10/10 simply because the flaws outweigh the pros on every level. File a missing persons report because I’m going to be missing for a while.

    • Mugenite said: “the flaws outweigh the pros”.

      So you are saying that it is terrible, because the problems overshadow the good things, sorry it was just too tempting…

      Anyway, as a rookie (I bought Diablo 1 and 2 plus every expansion when diablo 3 finaly got a release date) I liked Diablo 2 better than 1 and 2 better than 3, because the random generation was awesome since you couldn’t steamrole through it, and the ‘normal’ mode of Diablo 3 was more of a ‘very easy’ mode compared to most other action RPGs, the only difference is that I got lag in the singleplayer aswell as in the multiplayer when I normally don’t have those kind of problems.
      Also, the skill builds in Diablo 2 were much more customizable than the skills you get in Diablo 3, since in Diablo 3 getting a skill better is also based on a luck factor, instead of making progress.

      Also like mentioned earlier, Blizzard didn’t really care about the Diablo fans when they released it, because they made it so you can only play online, meaning that once they stop making a profit they pull the plug of the servers and then you will have a large amount of people being unable to play a game.

      Anyway, this was my opinion on it, it is far from refined since I haven’t put that much time into all of the games, but if I were to judge this game I would say that it would get a 6.5/10 with some proper patches that allowed you to play offline.

      P.S. I pirated the game, even though I own it, just so I could play offline…

  13. Idk what everyone is complaining about, I got the game the first week it came out, an I’ve had ZERO problems with the game so far. The only disconnects I got were from being idle too long

  14. I like the game, I just don’t think people will be playing for too long.

    The maps aren’t random any more, I mean I remember to this day having to search everywhere for the Black Tower in Diablo 2, or looking for that tree to help aid in the quest to find Tristram.

    I loved how mysterious the Horodric Cube was as well, I was continuing to find hidden recipes and combinations to this day.

    These ”Events” in Diablo 3 are only a short distraction, like the random events in Red Dead Redemption, they are not really something that compels you to keep playing.

    Another thing is the graphics, in my opinion I don’t think sprite-type graphics are bad. Timeless games such as Diablo 2 and Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee used sprites perfectly and as a result the games are still playable and the graphics accepted to this day. But, Diablo 3, there will be a time when we consider it’s graphics ”outdated” in comparison to newer isometric RPG-type games.

  15. 9.5? you must be kidding me.. Torchlight 2 is more like Diablo games then Diablo III itself, this game has serious issues and the builds for different characters are just lame, in this kind of games you always to have the freedom to increase different stats in you char and different Skill trees.. Torchlight 2 has all that and more.. ain D3 you have to be online even por SP.. it’s a real joke.. better no comments on the score.. but we all know why is so high.. metacritic is far more reliable then any “official” review

  16. I kept looking for a review. The reason…should I play it or just add it next to it’s elder brothers, Diablo 1 and 2.

    I agree with most of the people here. Some like, some don’t. I played the Starter edition, and, actually, I was impressed by the monk, although I hated that type of character ever since the first monk gameplay was shown.

    My opinion:

    – Diablo had (I mean it, “HAD” not “has”) a dark atmosphere. Diablo 1 was great, with all the mourns and drum sounds. Diablo 2 was brighter. And there was a lack of grotesque, but still, was a great game. Diablo 3 is too damn colored. I believe that this game is not to go for the ones that are fans, but is aiming for WOW players. And most of the MMO players. Really, it’s a business, not charity. Blizzard is not about “hey, age 30 and more love us, let’s be melancholic”. Nope, it’s not. So, they had to adapt. They had a good receipt with Warcraft 3 and kept on milking that cow. Really, now, it’s not the to adapt the games to what’s been played 12 years ago, but us, the old school game players, to adapt to new games. If no…well, stick to our childhood.

    – about characters
    Yes, it’s a fantasy game, true, but where the hell does the Demon Hunter keeps all the bolts? And why the male Demon hunter so manga style? Really, dafuq is that?
    Also, NPC movement was a little more intelligent while used in Diablo 2, just moving around. I’ve seen Leah jumping with joy, but with a flat dialogue that didn’t fit the mimics. What is that?

    – gameplay
    The items look great. It’s nice to see that improvement, but, again…too much color.
    Great job with the Town Portal. That’s a plus.
    About the skills, I think that it’s not much of a mess. Really, before that 1.09 or 1.10 patch (i can’t remember) for D2, you had to think what skills to go for. And you were tied up to those. After that patch, thing got both better and worse. Now you had to go for even more skills. But D3 is, I must admit, better. And gives the freedom of choosing the type of attacks, without affecting the game.
    A lot monsters, which is great. Diablo is all about hack & slash.
    Gravity…now that’s one thing that really sucks. It’s like fighting on the moon. Characters are running…sorry, characters are floating, bodies look like helium balloons. That’s not ok.
    Also, I find it to be quite annoying to see all those bonus pop-ups all the time. Ok, i get it, I killed 40 monsters. Great! Just let me be and stop show me that!
    Also…bonuses for crashing crates? What is this, Zuma? I’m all about kicking monsters, not crates. Give me the loot and shut up!
    I was talking to a friend the other day and he said:”dude, while playing multiplayer, there were so many colors and skills flying around that I had no idea who’s a fried and who’s a foe. I stood back, being afraid I was the target”. So, again, the graphic is too crowded.

    But, after playing it, I will buy it. It’s not the brightest but I’ll do. Maybe, several patches later, it’ll come to be something better than it is now. For the moment, as an old school game-player, I’d give it a 7 out of 10.

    – cut-scenes:
    Great. Still manga style, but great.

  17. The game feels rushed after the second act. When you get to the diablo fight it’s way too simple. They should have included all the demons from the black soulstone in the shadow phase. I mean the Belial fight was more engaging than diablo’s . I also predict the next expansion to deal with Imperius’s fall diablo’s true intention,also deal with Adria and finally the 2 new classes will probably be Paladin/Templar and maybe Bard.

  18. CoD will still score better, explain.

  19. Pingback: Diablo III review (8.7/10) | Gamerrz

  20. check out this guide for daiblo 3 i used it and i leveled up faster and easier. http://tinyurl.com/diablos-hell-guide.
    true gamers love it

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