God dammit. I thought I'd managed to escape Blizzard's clutches. I've put my years - and money - into World of Warcraft but I kicked it. I did! Sure, the temptation was always there to go back, but I resisted. The new Starcraft game came out and I was interested, yeah, but I said no.
I knew I could hold out when Diablo III
was put out on the PC - after all, my computer struggles to run anything even vaguely complex... but then there was that announcement at E3. A Blizzard game? On a console? Shit.
I have never played a Diablo
game. Never even played anything in the same genre. Torchlight
and its sequel passed me by, but now I can try out the daddy of Action RPGs - albeit in what is apparently a slightly neutered version. However, having had no previous experience, I go in untainted. And I tell you something, this is bloody hilarious fun.
Here's the basics: choose a character from one of five classes and wade into battle against hordes and hordes of bad guys, beasts and demons.
There is a story, ripped from the pages of the most generic of dark fantasy novels, involving the rise of Diablo and the birth of a new hell on earth but in all honesty you won't be paying much attention to it. Your main focus will be on causing the total destruction of everything that the game throws at you, taking all the loot and making your avatar the best it can be.
One thing that I've found Blizzard is very good at is easing you into a game. Like a pusher, those first few experiences are cheap and easy, getting you into something new.
Soon enough though, things get a little more complex: it's not just a matter of mashing the buttons and hoping you're tooled up enough to drop everything around you before they take you down.
You realise that you're going to have to start putting a bit of thought into your actions and all those flashy things that have popped up onscreen as you've attained a few levels... well, you're going to have to see what they do.
A bit of digging around your character screen shows that you've got some powers, so you try a few out, assigning them to different buttons and seeing what they do. Some monsters explode, others bleed out, and you try a few more.
You check out some of the gear you've picked up during your early adventures and realise that they have effects on your dude too, so you begin tinkering about with that stuff too. Then you've spent twenty minutes comparing different belts and oh god this game what the hell has it done to you?Diablo III
is the perfect game for those who love to optimise stats, yes, but this is not just some constantly evolving spreadsheet.
Yes, the storyline is as hokey as it gets, but there's actually a lot of humour in there as you wander about the world of Sanctuary, and while you could boil the gameplay down to making sure that your many and various abilities aren't running out while you're surrounded by near countless foes, it feels much more than that.
There's a visceral pleasure when you wander into a mob and take down thirty or forty of them in a matter of seconds, then go and do the same thing all over again - just bigger, better and so much faster.
The single player mode does become a bit rinse and repeat, I'll admit. Accept a quest, apply some boots to asses, level up, get loot, go home and max out your gear, then start over.
However, those who fancy a true challenge will go straight for the Hardcore mode with all of its permadeath brilliance (well, once you've dinged up someone to level 10).
On top of that, there's also the option of up to four player co-op play locally or online - something I'm yet to venture into that much, but my limited time trying it out on the sofa has been grand. Not sure about fighting my wife for legendary level drops though.
Still, at least there's no need to worry about the Auction House, on or offline - it's been entirely removed from the console versions, meaning that there's no need to fuss about with it. While some have complained about it being taken out, I don't see it as a problem - it lets me focus on playing the actual game rather than worry about whether I'm charging enough for something that doesn't actually exist...
While Diablo III
is firmly in the ARPG genre, it doesn't feel like anything I've played previously - definitely a positive thing. Yes, I've thrown probably far too many hours into stuff like Dark Souls
, but this feels like a game where the A stands more for Arcade rather than Action.
In the best possible way, it reminds me of chucking 20p coins into a stand-up cabinet, obliterating everything that stood before me - its just that now there's also the added satisfaction of grabbing epic amounts of loot and adapting your character in whatever fashion you choose. Pretty to look at, more options than you could handle in months of play, and splendidly satisfying. Pros+
Easy to get into, offering a challenge no matter what your previous experience+
Visually and mechanically greatCons-
I suppose the auction house thing not being there is bad for some people?-
Might have been nice to customise your characters appearance as well as gear.SPOnG Score: 4/5