Diablo III


By: Alan Bell    On: PC
Published: Wednesday 23 May 2012 11:00 AM
 
 
 
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Every year, in addition to the hundreds of other games that are released to varying levels of hype, there's one or two which you just know are going to be a big deal. Good or bad, success or failure, the significance of the game is without question.

It should come as no surprise to anyone reading this that Diablo III is one of those games for this year. The weight of expectation, in part, is because the developer is the legendary Blizzard. It's also partly as a result of the fact that the title has been in development for eight years. It's also sequel to one of the most beloved franchises in PC gaming history...

It is, then, something of a big deal.

For the unaware, Diablo III - like the two titles before it - is an isometric perspective action role-playing game. While the structure follows a narrative, the core drive of your average Diablo player is less about ploughing through the story and more about obliterating hordes of enemies in search of ever better equipment ("loot") with which to equip your character.

Diablo III doesn't stray from this formula, at all. While some of the technical details have changed (and we'll get to that in a moment), the core experience is pure Diablo. If you could find a Diablo II fan from back in the day who was unaware Diablo III even existed, you could pop them in front of the game and know that within seconds they'd have identified exactly what they're playing. That Blizzard have managed to achieve this and still make a game that's (mostly) relevant to 2012 is a testament to their dedication to delivering a game when it's done, rather than when it's time.


Boss fights in Diablo III often have interesting mechanics, including this new version of The Butcher

So what's changed? One of the more significant differences, and one that caused more forum-based ruckus than almost any other change, is the way in which you build your character. Instead of apportioning stat points each level, attempting to advance down the tree of skills that you think will work best for you, you'll progressively unlock skills and modifiers that you can use at will. Remarkably, instead of reducing your options, this change gives you many, many more decisions to make - and they are decisions you can make on a fight-by-fight basis, if you like, instead of just once per character.

There are some limitations as to which skills you can assign to which button. This takes a bit of adjusting to if you're familiar with similar games (like World of Warcraft), but ultimately this guidance does help to structure the experience. You can switch on a "hardcore" button configuration mode, but after experimenting with my skills (I played through the game as both a Wizard and Barbarian), I found myself using the skills the way Blizzard had intended anyway.

Other changes include the complete removal of scrolls of identification and town portal, a unified stash for all of your characters to use, and numerous other "oh yeah, that's heaps better" improvements. There's achievements, a basic crafting system (including the ability to level your craftsmen - something you only have to do once per account, not per character), and deep social integration to keep you in touch with your other battle.net friends.


Spell effects are often truly spectacular and make you feel very powerful as you play

Combat, a strong component of the title, is well realised, with the brutal melee combat (the Barbarian plays a lot like this guy) a real highlight. Ranged classes aren't left out, either, with some spectacular (both visually and in effect) spells to rain destruction down on entire groups of enemies at once. If you like to wade in and wage war on dozens of enemies at once, Diablo III caters well to your proclivities.

There are some slight balancing issues in the game, with the Barbarian in particular being very gear-dependent. The Wizard can get away with almost anything, with a combination of ranged damage spells and crowd control that can keep all but the clumsiest gamer safe from harm in any situation. The Barbarian, on the other hand, needs to have great gear to survive the first encounters in Act II (the second of four parts of the game), where the difficulty suddenly spikes and melee classes will always be taking damage.

Continue reading on page 2.




 

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Comments (12)

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Orcmeister
On Wednesday 23 May 2012 2:02 PM Posted by Orcmeister
It's my loss, I know, but the 'always on' internet is a deal breaker for me. I need to cut down on my swearing but I can't see that happening if I was playing this game and my internet connection dropped out for a bit. It does this often enough to be a pain in the backside for a game like this.

I can't imagine it would be difficult for Blizzard to provide an option to create single player character that simply can't interact in any way with the online systems they've set up. Solo gamers could cheat to their heart's content and won't be able to dupe anyone else when trading simply because that character and their items are not on the official game servers. They have the code to generate everything like characters and items already. It's just a question of putting a version of it on user machines.

Blizzard's choice not to do this is why I believe this is more about DRM than they care to admit. The requirement to only play while connected to their servers is just plain intrusive and wrong for those of us who just want to play the single player game.
 
 
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00evans
On Wednesday 23 May 2012 6:08 PM Posted by 00evans
I brought it on sunday and must admit i'm enjoying it. I've been running the same boss over and over waiting for my friends to catch up with me in level and it still never gets boring. This will last until Guild Wars 2 is released I think.
 
 
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TONGZ
On Wednesday 23 May 2012 6:22 PM Posted by TONGZ
Can anyone hook it up with a guest pass? I need to test it on my macbook air before I buy it.
 
 
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Jemsin
On Wednesday 23 May 2012 7:00 PM Posted by Jemsin
I agree pretty much wholeheartedly with this review, the only two points I'd switch around would be the sound could probably drop half a point and the graphics increased half a point.

I think Blizzard went for an entirely stylized graphics experience in this game, and I don't really see any error in their execution of this.

My only thought is perhaps the character models themselves (ignoring armour and weapons) don't look that flash in the character select screen.

and while the sound (effects) I agree is 10/10, the music was very good, but forgettable, I've found myself chucking on some of my own music instead now.
 
 
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phantom
On Thursday 24 May 2012 9:22 AM Posted by phantom NZGamer.com VIP
23 May 2012, 07:00 PM Reply to Jemsin
I agree pretty much wholeheartedly with this review, the only two points I'd switch around would be the sound could probably drop half a point and the graphics increased half a point.

I think Blizzard went for an entirely stylized graphics experience in this game, and I don't really see any error in their execution of this.

My only thought is perhaps the character models themselves (ignoring armour and weapons) don't look that flash in the character select screen.

and while the sound (effects) I agree is 10/10, the music was very good, but forgettable, I've found myself chucking on some of my own music instead now.
The graphics dropped half a point as a result of the in-game cutscenes; they look a bit wow-ish, with simplistic animation and spell effects that really don't match up to the rest of the game. The way your NPC companions will jerk around a bit (especially while running) and have short animation loops, etc, all lead to me dropping it just that tiny fraction. I love the look of it, though, I think it looks amazing!

Surprised to hear your comments about the soundtrack! I love it, but I'm a sucker for well produced music of that type, so I guess I'll grant you a modic*m of personal preference ;)

Thanks for the feedback! :D
 
 
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cutm
On Thursday 24 May 2012 4:19 PM Posted by cutm
I totally agree with Orcmeister's comments. My turn to rant...

Why could Blizzard not make it so that when you created a character you chose between online or offline, much the same way you can choose PvP or PvE servers when you're creating a character in WoW? (It feels like they're making Diablo more like WoW anyway with the online only, auction house, etc.)

They just have to make sure offline characters can never access the online servers or that online characters cannot LAN with their offline counterparts so no "dodgy back-door dealings" can take place.

They can even make online more enticing by making sweet PvP gear available only in the online version, some cool PvP arenas, and maybe even an extra playable character or two? That way those who play and pay for online are still rewarded for investing in an online character.

This way those online can play in a hax free environment, those with a crappy net connection can still LAN it with their mates, the modding community can continue to give us the extra action bars, macros, skins, etc. that we enjoy in other games, and most importantly on the weekends I will be able to take my laptop out to the inlaws place (no internet) on the West Coast and hit the beach during the day and dungeon crawl in the evenings.

"Given it's 2012, how much of an issue this is for you personally is something only you can determine."

So what you're saying is if I want to play D3 on the weekend I need to stay at home instead of seeing the inlaws and enjoying the beach or go somewhere I can leech internet from? It's awesome to live in 2012.

In an age where mobile companies offer a million different service plans to suit your budget and user preference it's like telling people who have purchased a smartphone that they can't unlock it without buying a monthly internet plan for it. Yes I know it makes it the phone a million times better but you don't 'need' it in order to enjoy the other things the phone can do.

I'm going to vote with my wallet instead and put my D3 money towards uprgrading to that sweet limited edition pre order for Borderlands 2 :)
http://goo.gl/XzZlZ
 
 
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phantom
On Thursday 24 May 2012 4:51 PM Posted by phantom NZGamer.com VIP
24 May 2012, 04:19 PM Reply to cutm
I totally agree with Orcmeister's comments. My turn to rant...

Why could Blizzard not make it so that when you created a character you chose between online or offline, much the same way you can choose PvP or PvE servers when you're creating a character in WoW? (It feels like they're making Diablo more like WoW anyway with the online only, auction house, etc.)

They just have to make sure offline characters can never access the online servers or that online characters cannot LAN with their offline counterparts so no "dodgy back-door dealings" can take place.

They can even make online more enticing by making sweet PvP gear available only in the online version, some cool PvP arenas, and maybe even an extra playable character or two? That way those who play and pay for online are still rewarded for investing in an online character.

This way those online can play in a hax free environment, those with a crappy net connection can still LAN it with their mates, the modding community can continue to give us the extra action bars, macros, skins, etc. that we enjoy in other games, and most importantly on the weekends I will be able to take my laptop out to the inlaws place (no internet) on the West Coast and hit the beach during the day and dungeon crawl in the evenings.

"Given it's 2012, how much of an issue this is for you personally is something only you can determine."

So what you're saying is if I want to play D3 on the weekend I need to stay at home instead of seeing the inlaws and enjoying the beach or go somewhere I can leech internet from? It's awesome to live in 2012.

In an age where mobile companies offer a million different service plans to suit your budget and user preference it's like telling people who have purchased a smartphone that they can't unlock it without buying a monthly internet plan for it. Yes I know it makes it the phone a million times better but you don't 'need' it in order to enjoy the other things the phone can do.

I'm going to vote with my wallet instead and put my D3 money towards uprgrading to that sweet limited edition pre order for Borderlands 2 :)
http://goo.gl/XzZlZ
"So what you're saying is if I want to play D3 on the weekend I need to stay at home instead of seeing the inlaws and enjoying the beach or go somewhere I can leech internet from?"

Nope, what I'm saying is "if this is an issue for you, only you will be able to determine that and you should then make whatever decision you deem appropriate".

I totally understand that this is a deal breaker for you and I support your right to vote with your wallet. What I'd love to see from other people that feel this way (and I'm not including you in this, you seem pretty level headed!) is some acceptance that this isn't a deal breaker for some people (myself included), and that our feelings on this matter are also valid.
 
 
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emetic
On Friday 25 May 2012 7:48 PM Posted by emetic NZGamer.com VIP
Yeh the necessary online connection is a dealbreaker for me too. No biggie though.
 
 
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Orcmeister
On Tuesday 29 May 2012 8:07 AM Posted by Orcmeister
The more I read about this game, the more I see the 'always on internet' is not just about DRM. That's still a big part of it, but I suspect that this move is to expose single player fans to the Real Money Auction House whether they want this or not. Given there are already reports of D3 accounts being hacked and items being taken from characters, I have little faith in this system. I would rather opt out and not expose my characters to such risk. I guess Blizzard have no interest in my money if they think they can't tempt me to buy from the auction house. Of course, if they were smart, they could make the auction house traffic one way for those of us who prefer to play offline i.e. items from offline single player games can't be exported to the Real Money Auction House, but items can be purchased there and uploaded to an offline game.
 
 
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t0mby
On Thursday 31 May 2012 3:57 PM Posted by t0mby
23 May 2012, 02:02 PM Reply to Orcmeister
It's my loss, I know, but the 'always on' internet is a deal breaker for me. I need to cut down on my swearing but I can't see that happening if I was playing this game and my internet connection dropped out for a bit. It does this often enough to be a pain in the backside for a game like this.

I can't imagine it would be difficult for Blizzard to provide an option to create single player character that simply can't interact in any way with the online systems they've set up. Solo gamers could cheat to their heart's content and won't be able to dupe anyone else when trading simply because that character and their items are not on the official game servers. They have the code to generate everything like characters and items already. It's just a question of putting a version of it on user machines.

Blizzard's choice not to do this is why I believe this is more about DRM than they care to admit. The requirement to only play while connected to their servers is just plain intrusive and wrong for those of us who just want to play the single player game.
It won't just be about DRM, but also about monitoring peoples play habits. Do they do this more, or this less, how often do they die here, etc etc. It also the reason why LAN has been taken out of so many games. The publishers want full knowledge of how people play, when, how often, game modes etc.

I do agree that DRM would be part of it but definitely not all.
 
 
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superstar_yh
On Sunday 3 Jun 2012 4:26 PM Posted by superstar_yh
TONGZ y dont u jst check the system requirements
 
 
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Camiclemills
On Monday 4 Jun 2012 10:08 PM Posted by Camiclemills
I don't see why everyone is ranting? This game is amazing and actually blew me away. It not only provides great gameplay. But watching people like the Yogscast or TGS play it is hilarious. I especially like the hardcore mode, reminds me if minecraft. Overall, Good job Blizzard!!
 
 
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