What I’m playing: Diablo 3 review

12 years after Diablo 2 hit the market and had people looting endlessly for all sorts of rare weapons and armor, Blizzard has finally graced us with a sequel.  Every single Blizzard game that I’ve gotten my hands on has lead to many, many hours of gameplay joy and I have to say that this is no different.  Blizzard always knows how to hit it out of the park.  But none of their experiences have come without some criticism and I’m never afraid to talk about it.

I’ve logged nearly 35 hours into my Demon Hunter class since the game’s release last week, already beating the game a couple times on Normal and now well into the Nightmare difficulty.  But since I’ve sunk so much time into this game over the weekend I figured it was time to give you guys a real review.  So we’ll try something a little different today: what works and what doesn’t work.

What works?

Easy to pick up – This isn’t a difficult game to play by any means.  The vast majority of my kills come from rapid left-clicks.  Oh sure, there are plenty of skills to earn and employ during battle, but I wouldn’t be surprised if you could get through the entire game on Normal by left-click alone.  When one of my friends turned me on to the fact that you could remap the type of skill you wanted to any button I quickly put the frost arrow skill on left click and found myself kicking some real ass.  Even a complete Diablo noob could get into this game quick.

Overabundance of loot – One of the real draws of Diablo and action RPGs in general is the loot system.  When downed enemies literally explode with randomized weapons and gold for you to pickup, it can be hard not to get excited when you see that occasional rare item crash on the floor.  Not only that, but the much more simplified system of everybody only seeing what they themselves can pickup streamlines the process so much.  If you pickup something that isn’t your class, either sell it or let your buddies know, its much simpler than fighting over it.

Powers overwhelming – There are a lot of different skills to choose from, many that will make you feel like a true BAMF, but what’s even better is not worrying about which skills to sink arbitrary points into.  You either pick the skill or you don’t and you can easily change your mind about that on the fly.  Its extremely easy to swap between a skill you don’t like to something more powerful and the only cost to you is the amound of cooldown time it takes to use it.  When I first heard about this system I thought for sure I would hate it, convinced it would dumb the game down too much, but at this point I love its ease-of-use.

Playing with friends – This is where the game truly shines.  The game’s always-on mentality may be a bane to many of us, especially from that awful opening day, but it also makes it extremely easy to hop into friends games and get to fighting together.  This is how I’ve played the majority of the game so far and its been a blast.  Its a lot of fun to show off your new armor, skills and weapons as well as brag about your total damage or health.  Its also a great game to shoot the breeze in, since its not too complicated, which makes it a great choice for casual online meet-ups where you still want to run a train on some demon lords.

What doesn’t work?

Overabundance of lame loot – The old saying of “too much of a good thing can be bad” applies heavily here.  This is probably typical of any action RPG, the drawback to so much loot is that not all of it is going to be amazing.  Blizzard did a great job this time of getting rid of the “inventory tetris” game that we all hated, but didn’t really solve the problem of “what do you do with all this crap I have?”.  Interestingly, other games have already solved this problem, like Torchlight’s pet who can sell your crappy loot instantly.  An “instant-sell” button, or anything that would prevent you from using town portals all the time would have been appreciated.  Better yet, perhaps a system that knows when to not drop all the inventory-wasting garbage.

Crafting is the new gambling – Gambling was a interesting way of getting great weapons and armor in Diablo 2.  All you did was buy a certain type of item, like a helmet or ring with base stats and unknown extra stats and you would find out what the item actually was on purchasing it.  It only cost some gold and was super easy to do.  I was sad to see the system gone, but it appears to be re-done in the new crafting space.  Now you must salvage your current items into some base crafting materials to essentially do the same thing as gambling: choose a base stat item and learn its actual attributes when you craft it.  Seems like a lot of effort to replace what was already a decent working system in the old game.

The bizarre meta-economy of the Auction House – But add onto all of that gem crafting and armor crafting the new auction house.  Its where players can easily post their best finds in the game and have people buy them outright or bid with in-game gold.  Soon the game will allow you to use real-life money, but for now its strictly in-game.  What’s the point in wasting so much time and money on crafting gems when you can easily purchase them from the auction house?  Why break down your extra items into crafting material when you can sell it outright for money toward items you know will be good?  Its weird right now and I don’t know if I like where its going.  So far the crafting mechanics seem to be pushing you away from them and toward the auction house.  I’d rather see crafting get some more love, especially in the earlier levels.

Final verdict?

Buy this game – Diablo and really any action RPG games I’ve come across are tons of fun and will keep you and your friends occupied for hours, constantly coming back for more loot.  I can’t attest to the lasting appeal of this game yet, but I imagine it will be long, possibly years.  Maybe not the sort of appeal that Diablo 2 had, but for the moment that’s niether here nor there, I say go grab it and get to lootin’!


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About Ryan Saul

Hailing from Portland, OR I work by day and blog by night. I like to consider myself a video game connoisseur, playing as many new things as I can get my hands on. Its hard to hold me down to one game for very long before I move on to the next big thing. Luckily, that works pretty well in terms of video game blogging.

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