Diablo III

Diablo III Review for PC

On: PCPS4Xbox 360PS3

The highly anticipated sequel from Blizzard Entertainment.

Review Verdict Read Review
9Out of 10
Back to game info
Diablo III screenshot
Diablo III screenshot

You know what they say: you just can't keep a good millennia-old demonic evil down, but you can keep him dormant for 11 years.

Diablo is, and always has been, an excuse to gobble up loot and click on nasty bad things wrapped in a lore built with sweeping brush strokes; a war of good versus evil, angels and demons, yadda yadda yadda. But what an excuse Diablo III is, smooshing together things like typecast usage of Jennifer Hale and Claudia Black, doing the exact kind of roles that Jennifer Hale and Claudia Black do, with some ridiculously expensive CGI interludes and that unstoppable march of click, click, click.

Diablo III is a very good game, and it's one that positively delights in being a gamey game. More than anything else, Blizzard's latest is a victory for the diligent systems engineers that have pumped the studio's bottomless resources into their unwavering dedication for lean finesse and steady focus, culminating in a sweeping, masterful crescendo of clicks and clinks as mathematical precision meets an army of demons so dense it stretches off into the horizon.

This is, essentially, a quest for numbers - keeping yours high, augmenting them with number-riddled items, and whacking everybody else's to zero. There are four acts, five classes, and after completing the game in 22 hours and with 11,000 kills I'm barely past the starting gates of Blizzard's latest far-reaching descent through the multi-layered dungeons of Diablo's latest hellspawn.

It's a dungeon crawler that simply refuses to crawl, and Blizzard has designed a game so taut it lends itself perfectly to those simple ludic pleasures I sometimes worry the industry is quick to forget. Any ounce of fat on the series' bones has been sheared off, leaving you with a game that places you instantly and permanently within its loops of tight combat and expansive levelling economics. Blizzard's oft-imitated original template gave you myriad hoops to jump through - get a scroll to identify this, make sure you've got enough of that, then spend more time reading up on character builds on the internet than you'll actually spend playing - but Diablo III opts for less restriction and far more flexibility.

Diablo III screenshot

A litany of tweaks and changes helps keep your loot, complete with resplendent titles like Socketed Flanged Mace of the Bear, wading through enemies across the game's randomly generated dungeons. There's always teleports at the end of a dungeon, the UI makes scrolling through everything a cinch, and the game is perfectly balanced in a way that perpetually keeps you driving forward as old areas are quickly scaled into insignificance. This statistical precision is achieved, in part, by the game's fixed distribution of statistics as characters level up, allowing the actual dungeons to be crafted with laser-sharp precision.

Players opt for a mix of melee, support abilities and magic across the five classes of Wizard, Witch Doctor, Demon Hunter, Barbarian and Monk. Each class has its own meter for special abilities, replacing the traditional mana bar, and each has had its suite of tactics expertly designed. There are plenty of detailed skills across the quintet, with sumptuous accompanying animations; things like forked lightning, teleportation, spinning blades, earthquakes and even a plague of toads. A plague of chuffing toads. Blizzard's focus is to make your characters cool, refusing to compromise on the raw offensive power of fan-favourite series spells, like Meteor, and instead opting to power everything else up to compensate.

Everything is kept purposefully non-committal, and players can reshuffle their action bar at a moment's notice without any penalty other than a brief cooldown. Each skill can also be further tailored with the addition of runes, which can also be swapped around and modify the effects of your abilities; for instance, the Monk's shield, Serenity, can be set to explode at the end of its duration. This versatile range of runes, which are masterfully doled out in pitch-perfect clumps as you progress through the ranks so as not to be overwhelming, are Diablo III's greatest success, and they open up opportunities for customisation that are far more visual, immediate and fun than dumping numbers into a stat sheet or slowly progressing down a one-way skill tree.

So rigorous is this constant loop of unlocks, upgrades and drops that you'll almost always be obtaining or unlocking something and keeping your next upgrade in mind. Even a pair of shopkeepers can be boosted through regular cash (and later item) investments, hinting towards an end game where you forge your own high-level equipment.

For erstwhile aficionados, this is a game that begets multiple playthroughs, as characters advance through Normal, Nightmare, Hell and (the new) Inferno difficulties. In this sense the game becomes a fairground ride, as players run back to the front of the game for another go, and Blizzard's design focus is clearly to welcome back its players time and time again with open arms. As the risk ramps up so do the rewards, and the addition of Inferno difficulty should help calm expert players incensed by Blizzard tailored tweaks that initially render the Diablo III experience a complete doddle.

Variety is also added into these procedurally-generated dungeons thanks to a set of mini-quests that perch alongside the 31 main quests. These help alleviate the frustrations that come from poking through the fog of war and unearthing absolutely nothing, and now your idle exploration is occasionally rewarded with additional lore and events.

This is now Blizzard's most immediately accessible franchise, lacking the accelerated chaos of eSports darling Starcraft II or the terrifying sprawl of World of Warcraft. But Blizzard's seven-year reign of the MMO genre has not escaped Diablo III, and this new, modern Blizzard brings in plenty of recognisable elements from its gaming giant - World of Warcraft's fingerprints are all over this. Immediately noticeable is a slightly cheerier art direction, complete with cartoonish character models, that adds degrees of hue and saturation not found in previous games.

Diablo III screenshot

Yet Diablo III is still a tremendously dark game, and by blending these bold colours with rich, busy details, an impressively diverse range of enemies and a lavish focus on background animations Blizzard has produced a visual treat that runs well on even low-spec systems. It's a bit of a shame, though, that the third game is in the thrall of its predecessors; an opening jaunt through New Tristram is riddled with understandable callbacks, but this nostalgic goodwill departs when the second act takes you to an area reminiscent of Diablo II's second act, Lut Gholein. Thankfully the pace (and aesthetic) picks up for Diablo 3's conclusion, but the disappointing second act drags somewhat in a game that is otherwise perfectly executed.

The game's underlying Battle.net infrastructure, which requires an always-on Internet connection, reveals a studio that's now gotten so used to its players being permanently connected that it's wholly unprepared to let go. These interconnected services, when they function, are at the very least capable of impressing - the speed and ease of which you can hop into an online game with one of your friends almost forgives a clumsy and unwieldy BattleTag ID system, and the slick integration of an auction house (which I assumed I'd hate) makes tailoring your hero just how you want them that little bit easier.

Blizzard's argument that Diablo III is a better game in co-op is also true, allowing for more specialised builds against buffed enemy forces, and it's easy to see how the system is a good idea when it works. But it's bloody frustrating when it doesn't, and we've seen the system crumble in launch week, and even days later the game hasn't quite recovered from the initial frenzy. I just don't believe the Internet is as stable as Blizzard thinks it is.

A few threads are left dangling in the game's campaign, almost certainly to be properly tugged in further updates and expansion packs. Right now Diablo III is more refined than it is brave, and while the future might bring the thrill of new additions it is clear Blizzard's current intent is to advance this now-crowded genre by polishing its set of core mechanics until they shine as bright as the sun.

This is not the most adventurous action RPG on the market, then, but its razor-sharp and uncompromising focus on structure and mechanics ensures it's one of the most playable. Diablo III quite simply revels in being a video game, and when a game is this well-executed it's impossible to resist those charms.

Version Tested: PC

New stuff to check out

To add your comment, please login or register

User Comments

jayjapay's Avatar

jayjapay

Hey I got some cool trick and tips in playing Diablo 3 hit me up if you are interested.
Posted 03:43 on 06 July 2012
Bloodstorm's Avatar

Bloodstorm

So far it is yea.
Posted 18:08 on 22 June 2012
InvalidUser's Avatar

InvalidUser@ Bloodstorm

Still GOTY then?

LMAO
Posted 17:56 on 21 June 2012
Bloodstorm's Avatar

Bloodstorm

You're right, was not a happy bunny.
Posted 14:06 on 26 May 2012
Neon-Soldier32's Avatar

Neon-Soldier32

Nothing (directly) to do with Diablo but, I'm sure on SC2 you can play offline but only the campaign (as opposed to human V AI) so surely that would be possible with Diablo?

Unless I dreamt it.
Posted 13:02 on 26 May 2012
lsc9x's Avatar

lsc9x

I can totally understand why people are slamming Diablo III: If you pay for it and you can't play it worth a damn, it should get a 0 out of 10. I agree. I also agree that if you have a *****ty internet connection or no internet connection at all, there is nothing for you here, move on.

Having said that, if you do have a decent internet connection and your computer doesn't suck, Diablo III is a GREAT game. I've started and shelved I don't know how many games over the last few years, mainly because they aren't my type of game, and Diablo III is welcome back many times over.

Yeah, the first run through is easy IF you actually take the time to learn your abilities and gear your character right, but having played through to the 1/2 way point now, I fully feel like I got all of my money's worth and then some. There is huge re-playability here with 5 classes and 4 difficulty levels, a slew of achievements to accomplish, the variety of available character gear and play styles is staggering - for example you can melee a wizard IF you want to go that way as opposed to being strictly ranged DPS class.

The art is great (as expected) the game play is fast and furious and there's even perks for blowing stuff up.

Bottom line? Yeah, I think Blizzard made a mistake forcing people to play online only (there should have been an offline mode!) but for those of you who have the gear and have been waiting for something fun, Diablo III will give you hours of entertainment.

No, I wasn't paid to write this, but I think as a "Gamer" who actually ditched World of Warcraft because Blizzard ruined that game, they got this one right on most counts.

If you are still angry because you have to connect to play, you should be thankful you only have to pay for the game and that you get FREE network access to battlenet. Purely based on a cost/hour for entertainment, it's pennies on the dollar.

Thank you.
Posted 05:09 on 26 May 2012
altaranga's Avatar

altaranga

Enough with the links, or you will be banned.
Posted 16:43 on 19 May 2012
s_h_a_d_o's Avatar

s_h_a_d_o

You had me at "Claudia Black"... :P
Posted 04:32 on 19 May 2012
Bloodstorm's Avatar

Bloodstorm@ InvalidUser

Hi there, you're a twat.
Posted 03:26 on 19 May 2012
InvalidUser's Avatar

InvalidUser

9/10 for the worst game release ever.

Accessible LMAO.

Huh? Battlefield you couldn't wait to tell the world it was broken, which was total bollox.

Garbage.
Posted 21:59 on 18 May 2012
coletrain's Avatar

coletrain@ Clockpunk

It does to a point. Normal mode is incredibly easy imo (apart from the last boss), so obviously the feeling of dread is increased at higher difficulties.

You do sometimes have to deal with HUGE swarms of enemies, which can give you that 'OH SHIIIT' feeling.
Posted 17:15 on 18 May 2012
Bloodstorm's Avatar

Bloodstorm

LOVING IT TOO! GOTY!
Posted 16:45 on 18 May 2012
FantasyMeister's Avatar

FantasyMeister

I've ploughed 22 hours into Act 1 so far, I'm very OCD when it comes to Diablo. Destroying every log, jar, gravestone and opening every chest in existence isn't enough anymore, because they've added Achievements. So now I have to read every lore book, have every conversation possible, complete every event, let my companions get the last hit multiple times etc., just so I can tweak my Banner a little bit more.

That's 22 hours, one Act, on Normal. There are 4 Acts. 4 Difficulty levels. The levels and events randomly spawn each time. This is one title that will take me years to 100% complete, and that's without having to worry about acquiring decent loot. Pretty sure I've got my money's worth.

Oh and I'm loving it to bits.
Posted 13:48 on 18 May 2012
Hooded's Avatar

Hooded

Bought this yesterday, i've played a couple of hours, currently level 7 barbarian. I will read the review at work later today :)
Posted 12:09 on 18 May 2012
munkee's Avatar

munkee

I'm slightly dismayed at the lack of comparison with Call of Duty, or Battlefield. That's always good for a debate.

I'm really looking forward to playing this. But, perhaps harshly, I'm considering waiting for a decent off-line crack for the mac version. I'll happily buy the software, but can't be bothered with all the connection bull*****.
Posted 10:58 on 18 May 2012

Game Stats

System Requirements
Diablo III
9
Out of 10
Diablo III
  • Rune system
  • Accessible
  • Loads of fun
  • Could be braver
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 15/05/2012
Platforms: PC , PS4 , Xbox 360 , PS3
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
Genre: RPG
Rating: BBFC 15
Site Rank: 437 112
View Full Site