Guest Review by Mr. Meyagi
Come, stay a while and listen. Before we begin, I need to bring some things to light. The first time I ever played the original Diablo, I hated it. Blasphemous, I know. But bear in mind that it was probably around 2004, so I definitely started a little late. I was knee deep in console gaming at the time so one computer game was not the end of the world for me. I hated Diablo so much that when I went to play Diablo II, I just could not get that gritty taste out of my mouth. And that was that- the legacy of Diablo was lost to me forever. Skip ahead to the present day, friends and coworkers all around me are hyping up Diablo III. Being easily swayed and a very social gamer, I decided that I was going to approach the newest title with an open mind. So began my quest!
From the get go I found myself pouring hours upon hours into this game. That is, after I got past the whole, “error 37” debacle. I can understand day one issues, but was it really a good idea to wait until Pacific Time midnight to unleash hell upon the servers…I think not. (I just hope the fire extinguishers were up to code.) Moving on! After gazing upon the epic opening cinematic I thought to myself, “Okay…so…some shits going down.” Enter the monk, one of five playable classes, including wizard, witch doctor, demon hunter and barbarian. Right from the start I was pleased with the multi-player aspect of the game. The friends list is easy to access, along with the ability to see what is going on with said friends. Joining a random game is very easy and the creators did a great job of making sure that the party you joined matched your level to a certain degree, insuring genuine game play. The party system is sweet and simple with seamless drop in and drop out capabilities. With each person that joins the game, the monsters become increasingly more difficult. This results in better loot.
In game, you feel like a total bad ass destroying everything within range. To do this you use skills, six to be exact, and up to three passives once you hit a certain level. Each skill has several runes you can attach to it, basically changing the skill mechanics. For example, on my monk I have a skill called “Wave of Light,” which is essentially a giant bell that descends from the heavens. I kick the shit out of said bell, destroying anything in its immediate vicinity. Once I hit level 57, I was able to attach the “Pillar of the Ancients” rune, turning the bell into a monolithic pillar that deals insane amounts of damage (210% weapon damage to be exact)! The game offers a ridiculous amount of skill combinations ranging in the hundred-billions. This does not even include your single player companion. One thing that I did notice was that to truly customize your skills it took you going into the options menu and changing an almost unnoticeable check box (elective mode). I feel that it should have just been a default setting, but I digress.
After hours and hours of play I had assembled quite the collection of gear, ranging from a pair of sickly looking axes, to some shoulder pads that made me look like a serious ass kicker. Despite all those hours of game play, my need to obtain better gear was never diminished. Once you have replaced your gear you can bring it to the auction house, wherein resides one of my biggest gripes. Selling gear and other items really could not get any easier or more secure, but only being allotted ten items on the auction house is a little restricting. I am all for putting a cap on it, because let’s face it, seeing 20,000 “Crappy Sword of Justice” would get pretty old. Ten is such a low number. A single run through act four on hell difficulty renders a pretty good haul, but to see any decent coin out of it I have to wait a week to sell everything. Also, I would like to see some more options to help refine my searches. Being able to filter out items that do not have a buyout and sorting the results by the amount of time left in the auction are just two examples.
The story progresses smoothly enough, showering you with achievements along the way. Some are pretty arbitrary and some are downright crazy. How about trying to kill all four of the main bosses without taking any damage? Pfffft F-that. The boss fights are pretty well done in that they force you to do more than just sit there and wail on them. Some bosses have several stages where they have different attacks and some have more environmental dangers. If you die while battling a boss in a single player game you have to start over. Sometimes you have to die many times before finally giving up or trying a new tactic like going back and farming old bosses, “’cause…that’s the game.” Dying in co-op can have different implications. Usually you die because you screwed up somewhere along the way, be it standing in fire, not moving out of the way of a slow pool of death-hate, or just not paying attention to your health. Either way, your teammates are responsible for picking you up off the floor. It takes about three seconds to revive you and if they take any damage it cancels the spell and they have to start all over. This in turn could lead your whole party to wipe on the last boss of the third act on inferno. Good job.
While playing with friends is great fun, sometimes you just need some alone time. Unfortunately, playing the game disconnected from the Internet is a no go. And I can see both sides of the argument here. It keeps the game in the hands of those who paid for it, but at the same time if I buy something I want to be able to use it wherever the frack I want! All the same I don’t think 6.3 million sales in the first week are going to sway Blizzard to do anything differently.
Still to come at an unreleased date is the Player vs. Player (PvP) combat arena. It is said that the reason that PvP was not part of the game on day one was simply due to it not meeting the standards set forth by Blizzard themselves. What we do know so far is that you will be able to use your own characters that you have leveled and the gear you have earned to face off against others. There will also be achievements that will be centered on PvP as well as a player progression system. While I am slightly irked that it was not finished in time for the original game release, at least many players will have been given the chance to reach level 60.
All in all, Diablo III has completely changed the way I view the franchise. Maybe one day I will be able to revisit the first and second game and give it another shot. Hopefully this has inspired you to pick the game up if you have not. I’ll see you in hell!