Hi there Faceplanters, it’s me, Elrood. NOT, as Tophat would want you to believe, Elrood 2. I did miss last weeks article due to a combination of things, namely I’m about to move across the country and that the Prime Evil has unleashed demonic hordes upon the world of Sanctuary. I can see arguments from both sides as to which of these events is more important to me personally. As I’m still extremely busy I won’t going be going over Diablo 3 with a fine tooth comb here, but it’s a massive release from the biggest developer on the planet, so let’s hit some key points shall we?
Diablo 3 is an isometric view action RPG in which you pick from one of five classes and rend the hordes of hell asunder in your eternal quest to get sweet loot, and also possibly save the world. The saving the world part is all well and good, and the story is actually pretty cool, but it quickly becomes the sidebar to the loot. Pretty much everything written about Diablo 3 makes this point, but it’s really the most pertinent one of the game; every single monster, rock, barrel, treasure chest, all of which can show up in the last unexplored bit of the map, could potentially have that next AMAZING magic item. It’s that drive to find the next big thing that will keep me playing.
While there are five classes, I admit the only one I’ve spent significant time with is the wizard. I’m impressed with the versatility present for how to play though. I can build a wizard that has tons of ranged nukes or one that has a bunch of close range abilities. If I’m doing the close range, I can add in some armor buffs and defensive cooldowns that let me stand in the thick of it and take some hits, or if I go ranged, those cooldowns can do things like teleport me out of there, or make mirror images of myself that will distract enemies while I run away. When I say “build” in this case I mean change my abilities up in a few seconds, which is an amazing concept that I applaud Blizzard for doing. Despite all the complaining before the game’s launch from those who wanted a return to the Diablo skill trees of old, this is clearly the better system. Between the myriad of skills and the even more abundant runes that can be applied to them that will basically completely change the entire ability, there are more than enough builds to go around for everybody here. And the fantastic thing is, THE PLAYER CAN TRY ANY OF THEM. It’s fun to experiment and not be penalized. Find something you like and if you find something that’s better….switch. Or not. The lack of restrictions makes each skill combination you choose with a character a totally different experience.
In consistent Blizzard fashion, Diablo 3 looks good and is not a system hog. Hacking and slashing deep into the night will be no trouble on a fair to midland system, which is just one more thing that makes the game accessible to many. One of Blizzard’s mantras when they make any game is “easy to learn, difficult to master” and that feels entirely appropriate here. Casual players will be pleased with the smooth graphics, addicting gameplay, and lavishly produced cut scenes (seriously, some of these are insane) while the hardcore will find the aforementioned skill system something they can tinker with for ages so they can use the literally MILLIONS of items that will be found.
So Diablo 3 is an incredibly fun game that gives you constant rewards, but the real issue that seems to have everybody up in arms is the requirement to have a constant internet connection to play, even single player. The internet has lost their collective shit over this, with Diablo 3 receiving about a 4.5 user score on metacritic because people are just giving it zeros for having to be online. This is a tough issue. I don’t like the fact that I am REQUIRED to be online that much at all. Like I said, I’m moving soon, so internet may be shaky at points and I would love to be able to fire up D3 and crawl my way through some dungeons without worrying about it. However, I think Blizzard made the right move. With the upcoming real money auction house, they need more control than ever. Suddenly you being hacked is a much bigger deal than losing those epic items in World of Warcraft. It’s real dollars potentially down the drain. I’m no technical expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I believe Blizzard when they say that by having almost everything server-side and not client, hacking becomes much harder. It also fits with Blizzard’s goal of being an almost social network unto itself in the form real id. I can join my friends with one click of a mouse! Granted just having that option be invisible when offline would be the easy solution, but I think Blizzard made a decision that’s going to become increasingly common. It’s a pain, but it’s a reality that we as gamers are going to be facing more and more as time passes.
So get online and play the damn game! The loot fest has never been more polished, addicting, or just plain fun that Blizzard has made it here. Screaming about loot with your friends, getting to say “Nightmare Illusionist Sand Pygmies, oh no!” out loud and it meaning something, there’s so much to like here. Was it worth waiting 12 YEARS for? Probably not, but at this point I’m having so much fun playing that I don’t really care.