Rumors had swirled for months; February was the date, then came March. Finally Blizzard ended the speculation, and on May 15th 2012, Diablo rises again! My WOW (World of Warcraft) buddies went nuts, and as weeks eroded to days even I got consumed in the hype! For some reason, I never played Diablo 1 or 2 when it was "the game to play" but some 18 days later, I'm hooked like a fat kid in a candy store!
I guess I should clarify; I am a keyboard kind of guy. I loved WOW for the fact that I could do almost everything without touching the mouse - my hands were precision instruments. I was like a surgeon on the keyboard, and computer mice… mice are for noobs! I've been immersed in WOW for over 6 years and I've grown accustomed to the Azeroth Universe; what would Tristram hold for me and who the hell was Deckard Cain?
I decided I should do some homework on the subject. My first stop was to hit up my own personal Diablo aficionado. My friend, who was still actively playing Diablo 2 up to a few months before Diablo 3 was released, was a great source of knowledge! He laid out the lore, explained the hype, and I could begin seeing the passion that appears to be all too common with fans of the genre! So now I was ready to dive into the series itself!
Diablo 1 reminded me of a time long forgotten. I felt like I was back on Windows 95 playing solitaire and that stupid Hover game that came on the Windows CD. Those graphics, the clicking, the sound of the CD drive constantly spinning, it was literally a time machine. Ah, but that game was linear and simple, but surprisingly fun! I didn't spend too much time on it though because I knew, as people constantly said, Diablo 2 was just so much better! And Diablo 2 was better! And when you add the expansion disc, Lord of Destruction, you could almost see how it survived so long, and aged so well. There was a lot familiar with Diablo 2X (the x is an indication that I am referring to the game including the previously mentioned Expansion installed). It was very evolutionary in terms of the first game. They took everything right, and made it better, cut out some of the crap, and built a highly addictive game. My first night playing Diablo 2X was one of the first times I pulled an all-nighter with a video game in a long time!
Diablo 3 was magic in a bottle. The familiar hack and slash, amazing loot, hordes of enemies and Deckard Cain! It again was a natural evolution of the series. They cranked up the graphics and really created a much more immersed experience! Still quite linear, but then again, what would you expect? With the characters, It feels like they merged a lot of the classes from Diablo 2X, as if all of the old classes hooked up, had kids, and now those kids are the ones you get to play as.
- Witch Doctor - you can summon undead/monsters. Cast curse and potions upon the enemy.
- Barbarian - your melee, with a variety of direct assault ability.
- Wizard - your range, in control of the elements.
- Demon Hunter - light melee and mostly ranged.
- Monk - martial artist that can self-heal.
Let's take The Monk, for example; he feels like the Assassin and Paladin all rolled into one! Leveling felt smooth and while I miss the old skill and stat distributions from Diablo 2X, I tried to be open and unbiased to Blizzard's reimagining of the character growth system.
One of the major improvements, along with the graphics and character progression, is the online and multiplayer aspects. First off, to play, you must always be connected to the internet… honestly; people need to stop whining about it, this isn't your father's Diablo. A lot of new games today require always on internet connections. I'm not arguing the pros or cons here, but if you want to bite the apple, you need to deal with the worm. Back to the multiplayer and co-op - it's fantastic! You can easily jump into any of your pre-approved buddies games. Even better, when you enter, you can instantly jump to exactly where they are currently hacking away. It feels really fluid and marinated in a whole bunch of awesome-sauce!
Character equipping, loot drops, all feel right at home for those from Diablo or WOW. One of the other main departures from Diablo 2X was the redesign of the character progression. Gone are the diverse skill trees with custom point allocations and synergy bonuses. It's been replaced by an unfortunately much more linear skill line. At predefined levels various skills and skill modifiers called runes unlock. It's up to the player to choose which skills to activate and which modifiers to apply. It's definitely quite interesting, but I'm not totally sold on it yet. Though, all in all, it's a whole lot of the familiar that players having been longing for.
Graphics, Graphics, Graphics! Finally no more pixelated sprites and blocky monsters, I can finally play Diablo at my monitor's native resolution! The game's engine itself plays pretty well across a fairly large swath of hardware; however, it definitely requires a lot more horsepower than Diablo 2X. Lastly, the Coop, fantastic, well designed, and seamless are just a few fun adjectives that come to mind!
Some people will definitely be turned off by the always on internet connection requirement. They should just stick with Diablo 2 then because it's not going to change!
Damn that always on internet connection requirement! People who travel frequently and enjoy gaming are going to have a hard time pulling this off. I guess it might be time to finally buy one of those 3G modems.
In closing, Diablo 3 is here!! It's a great game, tons of fun, and really scratches that old itch left raw when you could no longer stomach the graphics of Diablo 2X. It's a huge leap forward, but I wouldn't go as far as to call it revolutionary. It's still the same Diablo from the old days, with a fresh coat of paint and some interesting tweaks to the character progression system and online play. For the masochists in the group, you still have the "Hardcore" mode available to you after you have a character get past level 10. All in all, I'd give Diablo 3 a solid 4.5 out of 5; I'm loving it, and I'd bet you would too!