Diablo III, third in the dungeon crawling fantasy series by Blizzard Entertainment, released in 2012 for PC users and set a record for the fastest selling PC game within the first 24 hours of its release.
While fans ate it up, some weren’t thrilled with certain features, such as the auction house, having to be constantly online (even in single player mode), and a loot system that often doled out lesser items instead of the legendary items everyone hoped to find.
Now, console players get to have their first crack at the franchise since its first appearance on the PS1 and some changes have been for the better.
Gone are both the auction house and the always-online requirement. The loot system was also tweaked to drop more useful items instead of the same old junk. The game looks great, even though it falls short of the PC version (but not by much), and controls quite well. Abilities are mapped to the controller’s face buttons, making it easy to use in combat even if Diablo III is still mainly a button mashing affair (You may wear out your X button on your PS3 controller by the time you’re done playing).
The varied abilities do come in handy, as larger bosses may require a bit more strategy. Also, movement is streamlined, with the left analog stick used for moving your character about and the right analog stick used for dodging and rolling out of the way of enemy attacks. The result makes for a satisfying switch for those who previously played the PC version, going from the keyboard/mouse combination to the game controller.
Diablo III’s story is fairly well told, with a few twists you may not see coming. Even if you’ve never played the first two entries, enough of the story is relayed through conversation and documents you find in your travels, making it relatively easy for series newcomers to dive right in without feeling lost. For series veterans, familiar characters make a return and those who have been with them for the previous installments may find certain events pack more weight.
It all boils down to you, playing as the hero, helping to free the land of Sanctuary from the clutches of the evil demon Diablo and his minions. Your hero can be picked from one of five classes (Barbarian, Demon Hunter, Monk, Witch Doctor, and Wizard) and can be either male or female (there are slots to create up to ten characters if you wish, allowing for a gender choice of your preference for each of the five classes).
Each character has their own unique beginning and particular skill sets that you unlock as you progress through the game’s four Acts. Throughout the game you’ll find various weapons, armor, clothing, etc. as you defeat enemies and open chests. Items can also be bought and sold through merchants in your hub towns (of which you’ll have three, one for each of the story’s three acts, the last hub town serves both Act III and IV).
You’ll also have a stash to place items you don’t wish to part with but don’t want to be burdened with carrying. Your stash can be upgraded for a hefty sum to provide more slots for the loot you’ll find.
And you will find plenty of loot.
Lesser enemies cough up basic items, health globes, and some coins. There are special enemies, usually highlighted in gold, that while more powerful and difficult to take out in combat yield a greater haul. Bosses drop plenty as well, and you’ll have to decide what’s more important to keep, discard, and equip.
You’ll also get a choice of a traveling companion after certain points in the game (a Templar, enchantress, or a scoundrel) who you can also outfit (to a point) and assign skills to. You can swap them out in your hub towns, or stick with the one you like. NPCs also occasionally journey with you, providing aid against foes. The voice acting for the game ranges from decent to very good, and there’s quite a bit of amusing banter between characters as you traverse the various dungeons.
Environments are decently varied, as you’ll go across deserts, vast plains, through web filed caves, and sewers, among others. They’re nicely detailed, as are the various enemies you’ll face. The foes range in size from small to fairly large. The bosses can be challenging, but nothing here is overwhelmingly so. Higher difficulties increase the challenge, making things a bit tough to survive.
Some may find combat a bit repetitive, but it can be quite fun slaying wave after wave of enemies. All of this combat serves the purpose of gaining you experience to level up, making your character quite powerful by the time the end of the game rolls around. For those who want to play with friends, the game does support co-op, both local and online. One issue with playing co-op is that there’s no split screen, so if one player wants to fiddle with their inventory the other is stuck waiting. If you’re just playing with one other person it may not be that big a deal, but with four players it can slow things down quite a bit.
All in all, Diablo III is a fun dungeon crawler/action-RPG with fun combat and a ton of loot to find, with a decent story and bright, colorful graphics. It controls fantastically, and some may find that this is the definitive version of the game.
Its addictive gameplay will keep you going through the 20 to 30 hours it takes to get through the four acts. With maybe a bit more if you explore every inch of the map and tackle all of the side quests (called events). Gameplay is varied enough between the available classes that you’ll want to play through multiple times, giving the game a fair amount of replay value. It’s well worth checking out.
Killing monsters and finding loot has never been so devilishly fun.
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