The game takes place in Sanctuary, the dark fantasy world of the Diablo series. This world was saved twenty years prior by a handful of unnamed heroes in Diablo II. Having survived the onslaught brought by the armies of the Burning Hells, Tyrael rewarded the heroes by sending them to safety. It is up to a new generation of heroes to face the forces of evil threatening the world of Sanctuary.
Completed the game
Let me preface this review with the fact that I've spent over 200 hours on Diablo 1 and 2 to get you to understand that I love this serie. My highest character in Diablo 2 was a lvl95 lightning sorceress.
Having played through all of normal difficulty and most of the first act in nightmare I think I can give a fair review.
Something to consider is that this is a game that is built around being replayed, not once and not twice but many many times and things may change at later difficulties.
I find Diablo3 to be a worthy successor to Diablo2.
The graphics are good, the sound is good, the monster diversity is good. The story is what can be expected, it doesn't stand out but it does not detract from the game.
Diablo3 stays true to it's predecessors but changes enough for it to be a real game rather than an expansion.
Many have complained about the skills being streamlined and that it is too forgiving with the way that you can change skills without a penalty.
I must say that I think this is one of the better things they've done. The way it was handled in Diablo2 was hamfisted. If you placed a skill wrong it was lost forever. Having the attributes to set yourself was the same. You'd make the mistake the first time and then you'd learn.
Was it worth the 12 year wait? I'd say yes. Is it the perfect game or perfect Diablo? No, but neither was the two previous games. This is the best one to date in my opinion.
Completed the game
## The Final Verdict ##
The last week I've spent with Diablo 3, playing 23 hours on a softcore monk and about 8 hours of hardcore witch doctor. I've defeated Diablo and seen most of the aspects of this game. I'm now sure enough to give you a verdict.
But first, let's go back to my thoughts along the way
1. [Connection problems and creating character]
2. [Playing Hardcore]
3. [Where did character building go?]
4. [Why Online?]
5. [Ups and Downs of Hardcore]
## Impressive ##
There are mainly two kind of players in Diablo 3. Those that played Diablo 2 to an extent that their hands are malformed and twisted forever. And the other crowd that comes from World of Warcraft and never before experienced Diablo. To that crowd we need to say this
> Diablo 3 feels exactly as Diablo 2 felt back in the day.
This is no small feat of Blizzard. As glorified as Diablo 2 have been, they did not recreate the game with new graphics. They took the feeling of Diablo 2 and transformed it into our expectations of Diablo 3. It shows what kind of craftsmen they have at Blizzard, and how much love they've poured into this game.
## Missing improvements ##
There is no argue that Diablo 2 was a great game, as people we're playing it actively 10 years after its release. But we can't assume this was the perfect recipe and there's no room for improvements. One might argue that Blizzard spent too much time into recreating the feeling of Diablo 2 that they completely missed to evolve the concept.
One major change is the removal of the skill tree, and you can now choose from a set of skill at will. Yes, it turns the game much more casual. You can't completely ruin your character anymore by putting intelligence points on a barbarian. For every level you gain, you gain new skills that you may select from. This leads to much more experimentation and there is a good chance you've tried out all of the skills you have available, instead of downloading the perfect build from a Diablo wikipedia. This change most concerned by Diablo 2 zealots makes the game more fun, more creative and will create a greater diversity on how players choose to play their game.
Other than the skill tree I see few improvements from Diablo 2 formula. As I've grown 12 years from the previous games I've come to expect 12 years worth of improvements. Clicking my way through four acts of looting is really not that fun anymore. I can concur with the World of Warcraft audience that there is no skill required to play this game. You have no spells to time, no real strategy in your fighting. This is more of a RPG version of Run-and-Gun game. - Don't think - just click.
Sadly, not even the bosses require much attention as you mostly go head on with a melee character, or kite around with a ranged character. Act bosses has gotten 2-3 fight parts with increasing difficulty, but they hardly require more than a seconds thought to discover their weaknesses and taking them down. This is not what I expect from a game today. Bosses should teach you something that regular mobs don't, and the things we learn should be brought with us to be able to handle the rest of the game.
Instead, bosses is only a sure way to get yellow loot.
## Tactics ##
Tactics are mostly limited to the auction house where you try to get good prices on new gear. Finding all your gear in-game is not impossible, just requires some grinding, but I think that most casual players will use the auction house to spend their gold on what they need, instead of pouring hours into mindless grinding.
This is a good thing. I'm not sure how the auction house will evolve with time, but it is surely a good way of keeping gamers from getting borded with the game. As they level up they can just pick up new gear from the auction house instead of getting stuck until you find a new set of pants.
## Hardcore ##
I've already ruled out softcore as a clicking game. You don't really need any skill to complete it, just tenacity. As long as you keep clicking that mouse you will get to max level and get top gear. If you die sometimes, you get a small penalty, but that is nothing that can't be cured with some more click click click.
Hardcore is different. When you die you're dead. There is a thrill of going into battle, knowing that it might be your last. Suddenly you need to think about tactics, how to take on a boss without getting killed. You only have one try so you have to make it count.
The critics say that hardcore is unfair, that you might die because of a bug, network glitch or unfair spawning. This is true, but it also makes the game a little more exciting. It is not fair and it never will be. We can assume that all hardcore players will experience the same amount of unfairness making hardcore characters comparable.
What hardcore really do say is that your level 40 character is better than my level 20. You have managed to stay alive far longer. But your level 60 softcore character is nothing compared to my level 10 hardcore. You just have much more time on your hands than I do.
Hardcore is really the only aspect of this game that would keep me playing after defeating Diablo once. The story is not that interesting to experience over and over. The loot will make you excited for some short period of time, but it is the aspect of having a goal, trying to accieve it while it is possible to fail that interests me.
> Hardcore makes it possible to fail.
## Summary ##
This game has a great atmosphere, great gameplay, mediocre story and high replay value. I miss the feeling of what I do require some skill, which is what hardcore is for. Anyway it is not enough to get my highest score. I need a greater depth that makes me go contemplating the game even when I'm not actively playing.
This game is certainly not interesting enough.
When you choose to play hardcore, you choose the thrill and excitement of death at any moment. You also choose the slow grind to get level advantage over bosses. You choose being able to say that you've played this game without dying.
You also choose to be considered stupid among your friends, admirably stupid.
Well, it is all fun and games until someone dies.
In contrary to what you might believe it is not mobs of Sancturary that are your greatest peril. Not even the bosses. You prepare for those and you won't go into the fight until you're certain of winning.
You're greatest enemy is lag. When your connection to the server starts to lag and you don't know what you're hitting, this is when hardcore stops being fun and starts being about survival - because when network connection starts to stutter, you can end up either dead or alive with no real control over the outcome.
Another happy moment is when you resume your game, and is spawned right into a rare or unique monster you weren't ready for. He's been hitting at you for 2-3 seconds while your computer where loading up all the textures and your health globe is already down 50%.
When life or death is beyond your control, hardcore mode really sucks.
Why is this game online only?
Those of us to bought this game on the release date surely asked ourselves this question. It was impossible to login and play the game since the login servers where flooded.
But why would Blizzard want to force people online? The answer is pretty simple
By making a game dependent on online features it is hard to crack and create piracy copies. This will increase the number of games sold and also revenue, and such cover the cost of keeping servers up and running.
Blizzard wants you to download the latest patch updates to the game. By forcing you online, they also force you to upgrade your game in order to play. This is also a trick that makes it harder to piracy the game.
- Social aspects
By connecting to Facebook, Blizzard will make sure that you're constantly aware of your friends that are online playing. This makes the game last longer and keep people playing it.
The big downside of "online only" games, is that 12 years from now when Blizzard has released Diablo 4 and shutdown the servers for Diablo 3, this game is unplayable. So keep playing while you can, this game has certainly a future death date.
I think that many of us gave up on a sequel to Diablo 2 many years ago. Blizzard was such invested in World of Warcraft and didn't really produce anything else, until they broke the silence and came out with Starcraft 2. That is when I got my hopes back for a sequel to Diablo 2.
We have been looking for a spiritual sequel, and there has been many. I'm thinking about Torchlight, Dungeon Hunter and actually World of Warcraft. But they have been lacking. Lacking the universe of Sancturary, the steel guitars and the matte black of Diablo.
Still I think that Blizzard has learned a lot from World of Warcraft and brought in to Diablo 3. They've learned that the casual audience is where the money is, and that is why Diablo 3 is perceived as a much easier game than Diablo 2 was. I'm not sure that is the case, but the entry difficulty is lower.
![Skill tree of diablo 2]
When you gained a level in Diablo 2 you got points to invest in Strength, Dexterity, Vitality and Energy. You had to find a good balance that would fit your character. You also got skill points to put in the skill tree. Once spent you couldn't go back. If you made a mistake you were doomed with it.
While playing you would notice that you hadn't put enough points into vitality and it would take a couple of levels to fix it. Those could be hours upon hours of pain, grinding lower level mobs because you can't advance without those points.
This has been fixed in Diablo 3. Everything is free and automated.
![Diablo 3 skill menu]
As you cannot do anything wrong in Diablo 3, you have no investment in your character that demands knowledge or skill. All you need to do is run around and do brainless bashing. There are no choices that can't be undone, and you need not do any research on character builds.
I'm not saying it is a bad thing. I'm just saying that Diablo 3 has made Diablo casual.
## Hardcore ##
Yesterday I reached level 10, the minimum requirement to start a hardcore character. This might be the most controversial feature of Diablo, and probably the most asked for. Once you die in hardcore mode, your character is dead. Dead dead. As in never playable ever again.
That is probably why it is called hardcore.
I started a Witch Doctor and have played it to level 9. At first the Witch doctor seemed very unbalanced as I had trouble with even small groups of enemies. But after a few skill upgrades there's really no trouble at all.
![Three dogs follow you around]
Your primary weapon as a low level witch doctor is the poison dart. It doesn't make a lot of damage, but combined with other tools it does its job.
You also get three minions called 'dogs' (but more look like some foul demons) that also doesn't make a lot of damage but makes a great job distracting mobs away from you.
Fire bats, is a skill much like any cone of fire and it makes huge amount of damage, but its range is very limited and it burns your mana quickly.
The witch doctor can also throw spiders at mobs and call fourth arms from the ground that slow down enemy progress. All this tools together makes a toolbox enough for most encounters.
Compared to the monk, the witch doctor is much harder to play, but I appreciate the challange.
Lots of similarities to World of Warcraft.
Expected that there'd problems logging in at launch but not quite that bad.
The game is more streamlined and more accessible than it's predecessor but it works very well so far.
As always the cinematic parts are top notch.
Having followed this game for a long time on different webpages and forums I had a quite good grasp of what to expect (though not in detail as I wanted the pleasure of discovering those myself).
So far those expectations have been met and I haven't found anything to be disappointed about so far.
I've waited 12 years for this, and all I got was this stupid #error37.
It was quite easy to anticipate that the login servers would be overloaded the first 24 hours. I would expect Blizzard to be able to handle it after so much experience with World of Warcraft.
![D3 login screen]
Anyhow, after an hour of trying to login I finally got to the character creation screen. Many RPGs lets you customize your character for a unique look, but in Diablo 3 all you can select is class, gender and name. It is true to the Diablo legacy, but I find it quite pathetic. Why should my monk look like any other female monk?
The classes are Barbarian, Demon Hunter, Monk, Witch Doctor and Wizard. I choose Monk. Barbarian (warrior), Demon Hunter (rogue) and Wizard seems like classes we've played hundred of times before and I wanted something different. Monk and Witch Doctor seemed to be interesting and I choose Monk for normal difficulty, and will later create a Witch Doctor for nightmare.
![I see dead people]
Once you're inside Sancturary doing quests, everything feels like an advancement of Diablo 2. This game is true to its predecessor and will amaze you with great graphics and awesome hack and slash.
Yesterday evening I dinged level 7 and today I will continue my quest through this old new world.