Well, it’s that time of the week. As you may have heard of (if you’re a fan of games and have not been living under a rock), Diablo III came out recently. Sequel to the insanely popular Blizzard game Diablo 2 (which came out a staggering 12 years ago), Diablo 3 has been on the hype train for a good while up to its release. I’m not really going to count myself as part of that train for various reasons, but needless to say it was one of the most anticipated PC releases thus far this year. A lot went into it, and there’s a lot of feedback coming out of it. Not all of it’s good feedback, but I’m here to separate that and maybe give a few opinions of my own about it.
A little background information on my perspective on the series before we begin, I suppose. I played very little Diablo 1. I played a good deal of Diablo 2, but it was in middle school and my memory is a little bit shaky to say the least. Insofar as my hype for Diablo 3 is concerned… I had none at all. I am totally serious when I say that I did not care one bit for the game leading up to its release. However, the day it came out… I woke up that morning and though “Man, I really want Diablo 3″. And I bought it. So for obviously this won’t be the opinion of a rabid fan. Hopefully I can take a step back and offer a more objective view of the product here. Now without further ado, let’s get right to it~
So Diablo 3. There’s a plot somewhere in it. Do I play it for the plot? No. Do I even know the plot? Kind of. Does anyone play it for the plot? Maybe like 3 guys. But here we are at the plot. So basically the world has gone to hell. (Un)surprisingly almost literally. Basically all that Judeo-Christian religious stuff about heaven and hell is true (with some very liberal interpretations) and hell is trying to take over. Well, Diablo and his buddies or whatever want … Actually, okay. Let me be honest. If you just get into Diablo 3, and not any of the others, be prepared for next to no plot. Nothing to get invested in, anyway.
Case in point. I beat the game last week, and I honestly do not remember the motivations for the bad guys to be, well, bad. Other than blah blah hell is evil blah blah humans are good. For example, I could not tell you if Diablo is trying to enslave the earth or destroy it. I just don’t know. Now, that might (and very well could be) a failure on my part since I turned off all game sound about four or five hours into the game and never turned them on again (in favor of my own music, y’know) but I’m pretty sure I kept up with most of the text. Oh well. Needless to say, there’s not much of a plot here. If you were expecting one, please go play Knights of the Old Republic instead. You’ll thank me.
But we’re here for gameplay, right guys? Right? So Diablo 3′s gameplay. If you’re a fan of Diablo 2′s gameplay, you’ll find 3 much of the same. Five possible classes to start. Barbarian, Demon Hunter, Monk, Wizard, and Witch Doctor. There’s that same old never-ending quest for better gear. A myriad of options can array themselves in a myriad of ways on all your armor, weapons, rings, and amulets. Of course it’s always frustrating when you keep finding +intelligence gear on your dexterity-based demon hunter… But that’s what the auction house is for! But before we get there, let’s talk about Diablo’s gameplay for the uninitiated. It’s an RPG. Not turn-based, kind of action-y. You move around a map and you have certain abilities and attacks you can do depending on how you specialize your character (maybe for crowd control, or single target burst damage, etc., etc.). There’s a lot of enemies out there, and they all want to kill you. So you kill them first. You’re driven through many locations, most of which are fairly bland, on your way to kill these enemies and get better gear. Diablo is a 1-4 player game, and it’s certainly more fun with more people. So if you want to play D3, I’d suggest you rope a friend or three into it.
Anyway, you level up, you get new abilities. Big difference from Diablo 2 is that you don’t spec your stats and abilities yourself anymore. Stats are given to you on level up and now you can only modify them with gear or certain abilities. As for abilities… instead of choosing certain abilities (and thus being forced to forgo certain others), you’re instead given access to your abilities as you level up. This is permanent access, but you can only essentially have 6 abilities available for use at any given time. While you can switch them out quite painlessly, there is a hefty cooldown for doing so. As a result it’s generally not wise to do something like that mid combat, especially if you rely on your abilities to get you through combat. But yeah, there’s the basic game in a nutshell. You run through whatever the characters tell you to do, killing everything in your path. Along the way you level up, get better gear (hopefully), and have some fun.
But of course that’s not it. So you beat the game once. You think “Man, that was easy. I even got through act 1 without using a single potion, and barely died in the normal game.” so you click this little thing called nightmare mode and start all over again. And really, this is where the game truly begins. The difficulty ramps up considerably, and you really have to begin thinking about how you’re going to play and what gear you’re going to use just to survive. The rest is in your clicking skills, I suppose. Anyway, Diablo 3 has 4 difficulties. Normal, which is quite easy. Nightmare, which actually becomes fairly difficult and really offers a new realm of fun. Hell, which I haven’t gotten to but which I’m sure is more difficult than Nightmare, which is already quite difficult. And Inferno, which.. Well, it’s the stuff stories are made of. I haven’t played inferno either, but from what I understand it’s pretty much the bee’s knees in terms of difficulty. Prepare to die. A lot.
A big part of Diablo 3 is your gear. Your weapons and your armor and your little trinkets. They make or break your character, more than anything else really. And, well, it can get quite frustrating when you keep getting gear meant for other characters. Luckily Diablo 3 has, to a degree, rectified this with the Auction House. Find a bunch of great gear that’s just not right for your class? Sell it at auction. And then you can use your sweet sweet earnings to buy your own character some gear some other guy couldn’t use. Honestly, it’s win-win for everyone and has led to me finding a lot of great deals for gear. I have to say, I’m a huge fan of the auction house idea.
Now this is a little less important to me, probably about on the same level as plot. Graphics and sound. Like I said earlier, I hadn’t listened to in-game sounds in quite a while (I have maybe 40 hours clocked in the game?). What I remember about the music for the most part is that it was bland. Nothing great. I guess some of the stuff was good as atmosphere and whatnot? Since you’re generally in deadly and morbid and lonesome environments fighting legions of hellspawn. To that end it’s kind of fitting, I suppose. The voice acting for the game is… mediocre, with the brief exception of Deckard Cain, who has always had an excellent voice. Insofar as the graphics are concerned… Okay. Most of the environments are quite bland (with the exception of a few I actually found kinda cool) which is a bit of a downer.
Moreover, if you play the next few difficulties, you’re going to be seeing a lot of these environments. Luckily you probably won’t notice it because you’re getting your ass kicked by hellspawn every forty seconds. Other than that… I do like the unique armor pieces and whatnot, and I think it’s cool that you can dye your armor to different things (even invisible!). However, I know when I first turned on the game I was rather disappointed with it, graphically. From character models to environments, I think graphically the game is kind of below-par. Still, it’s not about graphics to me or most people. Especially the people still playing Diablo 2. The gameplay is, if that’s your thing, ridiculously addictive and being able to play it with friends just adds to the fun.