Diablo 3 is the latest game from Blizzard, a sequel to a great game with superb cinematics, good story and nice itemization. From the start I have to admit I didn't buy D3 at launch. I waited until this month when i decided it’s time to at least try it out. I didn't at first bought it because of the always online DRM for playing a game in single player and RMAH (real money auction house). So, is this game as good as the mainstream media, paid reviewers and casual gamers wants us to believe? Well, let's see. But wait! Why is this review even here? It's a not a MMORPG! I know, that's why is not even listed on this site.
Diablo 3 is the sequel to the highly acclaimed Diablo 2, a great game, considering its release date, that even now can be enjoyed with some mods for higher resolution. And it’s still good for what it is, a hack and slash RPG. Diablo 2 was developed by Blizzard North (a different studio from today’s Blizzard). In 2003, after some fights with Vivendi (Activision/Blizzard Owners), they went to create on their own studio forcing the official closing of Blizzard North in 2005 also practically killing the team that was originally working on Diablo 3. Back then they had a playable prototype where you would adventure through both Heaven and Hell with a similar art direction to Diablo 2. Blizzard didn't like this, probably because it didn't have the 1 million colors on screen at all times and it also didn’t have RMAH so they canned the project and started on the Diablo III we have now.
Diablo 3 has an improved skill system which can be customized anytime with inbuilt runes and tons of abilities, ranging from stuns, CC, powerful charges and so on. You choose the active and main skills available from a selection based on your level. From there you can create a build based on what you need. It works well.
There is a crafting system in which you can craft blue and rare items with a fixed number of proprieties and a Gem Crafter. These crafters are shared by all characters, so you just have to upgrade/train once per account.
Although somewhat cartoonish, the graphics are good but on some acts are too colorful and lack the grim and dark atmosphere of Act 1, or some of dungeons of Act II and Act III. Animations and effects of the skills are great and contribute to the bad ass hero (i hate this cliché) that you are since your companions barely do any DPS (Damage Per Second).
There are three companions and each have 8 skills from which you can choose 4 at certain levels. While they don't do DPS as they should, the skills you can choose for them can help in the long run. The Templar is a tank that can heal, taunt or charge, the Scoundrel can increase critical rating and the Enchantress is a crowd control mage thingy.
The combat is more challenging since there is a cool down on health potions, which is great. There are however health power ups that monsters drop from time to time and most of the healing comes from your defensive skills which you need to use effectively in order to survive. Due to this change, you have to experiment with builds for each act or bosses, and of course for those challenging unique bosses in Hell and Inferno.
The voice over script (not the voices), is awful. While they hired big actors to entertain us with their voice talent, the script breaks any quality of that. For the companions the lines are few and repeating too often and the overall script you will read/hear will make you think it came from a cheap soap opera for housewives that watch too much TV. It's really bad. In act III and IV every time you complete a main quest, Azmodan and/or Diablo spawn a hologram and they start telling you their plans like the dumb villains that they are. To add insult to injury, during the battles, even when they are like 10% hp from death, they will tell you that they are invincible and that you’ve lost. The stupidity of the script is beyond anything I’ve seen lately.
The story in Diablo I and Diablo II, was the same cliché you've been feed up in the last 100 years, with good vs evil from McDonald writers, but it had some nice twists, background and so on and a general gloomy atmosphere that made it enjoyable. In Diablo 3, you will figure out the main twist of the game in the first hour, if you’ve played the previous games. The second one is also "DOH!" obvious. The only thing that saves the whole story somewhat is the idea behind the last act, which I can only guess came from the original prototype made in 2005 by Blizzard North.
The randomization of maps is only present in dungeons; on open maps it only changes the terrain and the location of secondary dungeons. It doesn't bother me that much or at all, but it decreases the re-playability of the game.
The itemization due to RMAH Greed is not that rewarding as it was in Diablo II. While you will often find blue and rare (yellow) items, their stats won't be that great, and legendary are very rare and found mostly on Hell and Inferno. This is a major flaw of the game since the whole gameplay revolves on getting epic loot in this type of games, but this decision was made because of the RMAH. In fact the whole game seems it was developed with the RMAH in mind, which is terrible, but hey, the poor shareholders at Activision/Blizzard need "moar "money to buy some third world countries or something.
There are five classes from which i only like the Barbarian and Wizard. The Demon Hunter is ok-ish, but overall the classes diversion is pretty weak compared to Diablo II, and completely inferior to Diablo II Lord of Destruction. You don't have permanent and interesting summons for any of the characters. You only have 2 melee classes, one of which being a Manga type melee character which i don’t like at all (Monk). The old Assassins, Paladins and Amazons were far more interesting. The witch doctor relies mostly on temporary summons. As an overall class it lacks originality, interesting skills and summons compared to the awesomeness of the old Necromancer and Druid.
The patch system must be made by 12 year old programmers since every time they update the game if you’re from EU, well you’re going to get lots of crashes, service not available errors and so on. Sometimes the game even updates the EU client with US patch, and then you have to re-download 2 GB or the full client. I mean i can understand server instability but some of this stuff isn’t happening at much smaller companies.
A good feature that Blizzard told nobody about and most of the journalists don't know much about is the elective skill system. By default you get skills on certain shortcuts, but with this system you can assign any skill to any shortcut you want, keyboard of mouse. However, even with this feature, you are limited in your builds with skills available for your level, so until you reach a high level of 30 or more, you won't be able to develop unique class builds.
Since 2005 the new game design approach of Blizzard is to make games for casual players and ignore the older fans that in fact made the company what it is today. So yeah, it was inevitable to remove the stats customization in Diablo 3, because we are too stupid to assign stats to characters.
The DRM Online for single player is probably one of the worse decision made for this game. It lags if you don't have a good connection and on Hell and Inferno, that will create some serious problems. You will die because of lag, you will lose epic items because you lagged out before you manage to take them and so on. What is the saddest is that you cannot play hardcore due to this. If you have small connection problems even once and you got killed, that's it, bye, bye character and tons of hours of gameplay. And sometimes it might even not be your fault; it might be the server issues again.
Diablo II was modified in patch 1.12 to support high resolution. Even more than that, Meridian XL is a huge mod for Diablo II and it’s that good that even Blizzard Employees played it and gave a favorite impressions. Diablo III can't support mods because of RMAH and online bullshit. YAY!
The RMAH. Oh baby, the RMAH. While Diablo 3 is not bad game, it actually a good and fun game overall, the RMAH simply destroys the enjoyment of the game, by messing with the main gameplay principle that one of grinding and getting "phat lewt". Even without Real Money, a normal Auction house still breaks the system in single player so it shouldn't be available. THIS IS NOT A MMO, no matter how much Jay Wilson’s inexperience in games tries to convince us. It's clear that was a decision made out of corporate greed that messed up the potential for a great game. Unfortunately most of us participated in this charade by buying the game and now Blizzard will try this again because it has worked. Expect the next single player from Blizzard with triple DRM Online for single player and RMAH for everything. You’ll be buying your player levels from the auction house. Because playing the game is not the center anymore, it’s trading stuff.
Overall if you are not put off by The Bad and The Ugly, you can get at least 20 hours of gameplay for the 60$/Euros invested, but pray that you don't lag out on high difficulty and if you want Legendary Items, well, farm them for hours and hours in Inferno (if you don't get bored by then) or open your wallet and give more money to Blizzard, since they can't get enough of it.Diablo 3 - The Good, The Bad and The Ugly,