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Review

Diablo III Review

  • First Released
  • Reviewed: May 22, 2012
  • PC

Diablo III is a devilishly captivating and addictive action role-playing game.

Once upon a time, the Diablo series defined the hack-and-slash action role-playing game, setting the standard by which all games in the genre were measured. Now, Diablo III feels more familiar than genre-defining, relying on refining the same hooks that have always made this series so compelling. But what a refinement it is. The controls are responsive and pleasurable; the diversity of character classes and skill customization options is impressive; and the constant stream of gold and treasure you earn is irresistible. Blizzard has the recipe for crafting a habit-forming loot-driven action RPG down to a science, and in Diablo III, the results of that recipe are more exciting and more addictive than they've ever been.

You begin your quest just after what appears to be a flaming star falls from the heavens and crashes into the cathedral in Tristram, the doomed town where the events of Diablo took place. This cosmic occurrence has the unfortunate side effect of reanimating the dead, and the people of New Tristram find themselves besieged by corpses long ago put to rest. Diablo III's story is unremarkable, but it weaves in plenty of references to and appearances by characters from earlier games and enriches the established lore of the series. Fans of Diablo and Diablo II will immediately feel drawn into this world.

You certainly don't need any familiarity with the series to jump right into Diablo III, however. If you've played earlier games, you'll likely get even more out of Diablo III--the music that plays in the New Tristram area may send nostalgic shivers down your spine--but the gameplay is welcoming and easy to grasp for vets and newcomers alike. You choose one of five character classes, and though they become quite distinct at later levels, they all start with nothing but basic offensive skills that are performed with clicks of the mouse.

Let no barrel survive!

That may sound dull, but in fact the rate at which you acquire new skills is part of what makes Diablo III so hard to pull yourself away from. You very quickly open up slots for new types of abilities; if you're playing as a demon hunter, for instance, you begin with a basic archery attack, but you can soon supplement this with resource-draining skills like a rapid fire ability, enemy-slowing caltrops, acrobatic somersaults that can get you away from enemies, and other techniques.

These skills are divided into distinct categories--primary, secondary, defensive, and so on--and by default, you can have only one skill from each category equipped at a time. This is a sensible restriction if you're a novice player, because it helps ensure that your character is well rounded, with a complementary assortment of abilities. However, if you prefer a greater level of character customization, you can turn on what's called elective mode. With this on, you can opt to equip whichever skills you want in your available slots, rather than being limited to choosing one from each category. But if you do this, be mindful of your character's resource pool. If you select two monk skills that cost spirit (the monk's resource) and no skills that generate spirit, you're going to have some trouble slaughtering the legions of hell spawn you encounter.

Maybe his life would have turned out differently if his parents hadn't named him Tyrant.

Choosing one skill always means not choosing another, since your number of available key bindings is always equal to the number of active skill categories you've unlocked. (Once you've unlocked all six skill categories for your class, for instance, you have just six bindings to which you can link skills.) But you can change your selected skills at any time, giving you free rein to tinker with your abilities until you find a combination you're happy with.

You never sink points into skills to make them more effective, so you never have to worry that you're not making the best choices. Rather, as you level up, you unlock both new skills and new runes you can apply to existing skills. From level 13 on, for instance, witch doctors can apply the numbing dart rune to their poison dart attack, which adds a slowing effect to this offensive ability. You can eventually unlock a total of six runes for each active ability, though you can have only one rune at a time activated on any ability. This system prevents you from squandering your character's growth by sinking points into skills that leave you ill-equipped for challenges to come, and lets you customize your abilities on the fly to better tackle the challenges you're currently facing.

It's not all about unlocking skills, however. It's about employing those skills to slaughter the monsters you encounter as you travel the world, and collecting the loot the fiends drop. This is where Diablo III's habit-forming pleasures lie. The randomly generated environments encourage exploration; you never know what treasure (or what powerful foe) you might find down each cathedral hallway or desert trail. Enticing art design draws you into these realms. In and around New Tristram, a foreboding mist hangs in the air, and ancient ruins crumble as you visit places long undisturbed. In the lands around the elegant city of Caldeum, you traverse stark landscapes of cracked earth and bone.

You explore ornate, musty manors and spider-infested caves. You make your way through rat-infested sewers and emerge into a dusky, teeming oasis. And though the inspiration it draws from The Lord of the Rings is a bit obvious, a setting in the game's fourth act effectively makes you feel like part of a desperate, large-scale war between humanity and the forces of hell. Just when you've had your fill of one region, it's time to move on to another, and each location is so different from the one that preceded it that you feel as if your quest to rid the land of evil is taking you across a vast and varied land.

As diverse as these locations are, they all have one thing in common: they're crawling with monsters. In the early stages of your quest, most monsters fall to your attacks without putting up much of a fight, though if you get swarmed, you might still need to keep an eye on your health. (Unlike in Diablo II, you can't spam health potions to immediately counter any damage you suffer; potions have a cooldown timer, requiring you to play a bit more cautiously.) Your attacks look mighty and effective, which makes the simple act of unleashing them feel empowering. The demon hunter's huge chakrams weave through the air, blades spinning; the barbarian's hard-hitting attacks can send foes flying.

After your time in gloomy New Tristram, the city of Caldeum is bright and inviting.

Without fail, you're rewarded for mowing down monsters with gold and gear. This is typical of the series and the genre, but it's handled here as well as it's ever been. You never feel like you're being showered with riches and items you haven't earned, nor that you're having to slog through too many foes to earn anything significant. Loot is doled out at a pace that makes your victories fulfilling and makes fighting the next group of foes lurking in the shadows ahead nigh irresistible.

The way your rewards emerge into the world is rewarding in itself; slay an elite monster, and coins and items pour onto the ground, making you feel like you've just won a jackpot in Vegas. Sometimes, the gear is junk so low in value that it's not even worth picking up. But you never know when you're going to stumble on a weapon or piece of armor that's superior to your current equipment, making you more capable of facing the coming hordes. Even if something isn't worth using, it's often worth grabbing, either to sell or to have it salvaged by the blacksmith in town for materials that can be used to craft other items.

Weapons function in Diablo III a bit oddly, though, and that may take some getting used to. Often, you may elect to have your primary skill be something that isn't weapon-based. You may choose the demon hunter's grenade attack, for instance, or the wizard's magic missile spell. Although these skills don't involve your characters actually using whatever weapons they're holding in their hands, the damage of your equipped weapon still comes into play. In other words, all other things being equal, a wizard's magic missile spell does more damage if she's holding a club that does 12 damage than if she's holding a dagger that does 10 damage. It's a system that makes more gear useful to more classes, but that usefulness comes at the expense of typical fantasy RPG logic.

Scrolls of Town Portal are gone, replaced by a spell you can cast at any time.

If you haven't yet found the perfect helm, boots, or crossbow for your character, you may opt to have the blacksmith craft you items. As with the stuff you find in the wild, the magic properties on gear he crafts are random, so there's often no guarantee that something he creates for you will suit you better than your current equipment, but odds are that sometimes he'll craft something that's ideal for you.

Unfortunately, you need to spend a good deal of gold on training him to level him up so that he can craft higher-level gear for you, and early on, it can feel as if you're sinking all your gold into this and reaping little reward. The rewards do come eventually, though, and all your characters in a given mode share the same craftsmen (the blacksmith and, later, a jeweler), so once the money is spent on training, you don't need to worry about spending it again.

The cycle of combat and loot and more combat is addictive, but without peril, it would eventually become unfulfilling. Thankfully, the hosts of hell become increasingly dangerous over time. Boss fights are numerous and frequent, and those that bring each act to a close can be challenging. They also offer more traditional action-game mechanics than the series has seen before. An early boss charges into walls, for example, leaving him stunned and giving you a chance to attack safely.

After you complete the game on the normal difficulty setting, you can continue on to nightmare, which is much more than just playing the same game again against more resilient foes. Nightmare changes things up by giving enemies powerful new abilities and placing challenging enemies in places where they didn't previously appear. Conquer nightmare and yet another, even more challenging difficulty becomes available. Whether you want a relatively easy, rewarding experience that you can pleasantly click your way through or an incredibly stiff challenge, Diablo III has what you're looking for. And for that added element of risk, you can play in Hardcore mode, where death is permanent.

Each class has the offensive capabilities to take on the forces of darkness alone, and the three AI companions you can choose from offer a helping hand and a sense of camaraderie to solo adventurers. But joining with up to three other players makes for a far more interesting dynamic. Freezing enemies in place when you're playing solo as a wizard is useful, but when doing so aids a team of players who are working together, it's much more fulfilling. Similarly, activating a mantra of healing as a monk just when your party is in dire need of a health boost is far more rewarding than just using this ability to save yourself.

Witch doctors can summon packs of zombie dogs. This is useful in battle and for scaring friends at parties.

It's extremely easy to invite friends to your game or to jump into their games, or to text chat with friends who are going about their own adventures in their own realms. But be warned: as players join your game, the forces of evil become more powerful, and if you don't stay close to each other and work together, you might find that enemies who were previously pushovers are suddenly quite dangerous. This added challenge encourages teamwork; a friend who joins your game and then runs ahead to take on monsters alone is no friend at all. For all its focus on teaming up with friends, though, it's odd that Diablo III doesn't have built-in support for voice chat. Speaking to your friends to coordinate tactics on the fly is helpful, but you'll need to resort to third-party software in order to do it.

Unfortunately, though Diablo III often feels like a well-oiled machine of adventure and reward, it does occasionally sputter. You're required to be online at all times, even if you're playing solo, so if you don't have a reliable internet connection, you simply cannot play Diablo III. The servers go down periodically for maintenance, so you might find the game unavailable to play at times that you want to play it. Additionally, even when the game is up and running, you may experience the rare bout of knockback lag. When enemies and attacks fill the screen (as they often do), you may encounter some severe slowdown. And for all its refinement, there's the occasional rough edge to the action. The monk can teleport to enemies and attack them, for instance, but this effect is abrupt and jarring.

There is unrest in the forest. There is trouble with the trees.

But these problems and frustrations are dwarfed by the pleasures Diablo III offers. There's a good chance you've played games a lot like Diablo III before, and at no point does it dare to surprise you by tinkering with its tried-and-true formula. But it creates such an enticing world and offers up such enjoyable abilities that it makes that formula feel fresh again. You may ultimately be victorious at vanquishing the forces of hell, but if their true mission is to give you a compelling reason to sacrifice sleep as you keep clicking your mouse into the wee hours of the night, then they have won a decisive victory.

The Good
Powerful abilities and tight controls make combat enjoyable
Flexible, customizable character classes
Endless, alluring loot
Varied locations that cry out to be explored
Harder difficulty levels change up the game significantly
The Bad
Online connection requirement can cause some serious frustrations
Weapon system flies in the face of traditional RPG logic
8.5
Great
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Discussion

1460 comments
drift133
drift133

as its own RPG, and not a part of the diablo series, I really did enjoy Diablo 3. However, as a potential sequel to the absolute revolution that was the Diablo series, sadly this disappoints. too many beloved things from the previous games have been strangely altered or dropped, leaving this title without the feeling of freedom in character design that helped make Diablo 2 shine.to clarify, I am referring to skill setups and play style customization, as opposed to changes in character look, which Blizzard seemed to focus on very heavily.

The reduction of options and play style setups was disturbingly limiting, due to (among others) the fact that instead of being able to choose my own path and style of play for skills from 3 skill trees, I was stuck with the 1 set path that specific character could use and had to modify my own personal preferences to adapt to the skills I was given. 


In addition, the stat system was also a huge detriment to choice in advancement, as it set you with 2 character specific stats and did nothing for the other 2.this was a sad replacement for the standard 5 point skill system that allowed so much customization and control over character development. Now i have to resort to finding stat bonuses in items that could better use other effects.

Now as i said, in its own right, this is a  good game that deserves a playthrough. However, the level of actual choice in how I preceded was a staple in my Diablo experience, and no amount of monsters or loot can replace the freedom that Diablo 2 had given me. and in that sense, Diablo 3 is the exact opposite of what we wanted from Blizzard. true followers of the series wanted a true sequel, and sadly, what we got was just another RPG, unconnected but for the name and the bare bones.


kocur
kocur

this looks like a game for kids with lots of shiny color effects and in typical ugly blizzard-wow design. where is the great dark, demonic and creepy atmosphere of the first diablo game?

Ripper_TV
Ripper_TV

How could this game get an average of 9? That's absurd and means the next Blizzard game will be just as bad. The game is a disaster. 

LoL_Metal
LoL_Metal

Just finished it on normal and I won't be playing it again anytime soon ........ People who like this disgrace of a game are obviously new to diablo ..... Coz real Diablo fans know that this game is rubbish. And it was so easy that I never had to use a single potion while playing with the monk the entire game ..... and I never died .... except once for bad internet connection :) ... This just proves the point that games are now made stupid to appeal to a broader audience the game was stripped of some of the most important RPG elements that previously defined diablo ... anyways ..... My honest opinion ... newcomers will love it .... old fans like myself will hate it .... it's your choice ...

cloudwarrior79
cloudwarrior79

For many who do not care about this game they are still trolling everything to do with Diablo 3 over a year and a half later. Move on guys.

Oh and this fantasy that DII was some epic build anything do anything game was a myth all you did was do cows and then baals and run your bots on pindle 24/7

Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

It is funny reading some of the comments below. I've only just bought it. I have played maybe half an hour of Diablo I and due to out of date graphics it made it hard for me to care.

I knew the game probably wasn't going to be brimming with enthusiastic people. I knew that the auction house is looked on in disdain by most but I played the demo and found it really fun.

Since buying it all of my other games that I bought on Steam on the summer sales are abandoned at the road side. I am so addicted to this it is untrue.

Yes the loot drop system is kind of annoying and the abundance of really rare items on the auction house kind of takes the edge off of the possibility of finding 1 of 5 of the rarest items to grace the game through chance alone.

But you don't need that stuff to enjoy the game for what it is. It is an action RPG and it is epically fun. What more do people want? Games are supposed to be fun, if anything a decent story would make it more awesome but even without I still love it. 

Best game I've bought since Bioshock Infinite and I must say it ranks better for me personally than most of the games of last gen.

akozar
akozar

How can the devs fuck up on such a huge budget? Disappointed in this game.

Mabrry
Mabrry

If I loved Baldurs Gate: Dark Alliance (Gamecube) and Champions Return to Arms (PS2), would I like this? Not sure how this game is compared to the ones I have played and enjoyed for hours on end with friends. 

Grbonjic
Grbonjic

  I bought a game and I'm playing it for 200+ hrs. The game is never ending..... With so many character/difficulty combinations it gets more & more addictive as you play it. Maybe D3 is not perfect and the developers created so much hype in pre-order, but it is DAMN GOOD if you're a real RPG fan. If anyone of you like flashy colors and childish games, then you should play Torchlight. 

I never regreted a dime spent on Diablo III ! 

VAMPYREANGELUS
VAMPYREANGELUS

i wonder how much blizzard paid gamespot to rate this piece of crap so high.

FreezingFire314
FreezingFire314

I don't know why everyone is saying that this game sucks or is a turd or what not... I actually like it very much. Why? Because: the gameplay is good, the story is not that short (keeping in mind that it has 4 difficulties), bosses are not that easy to beat and the ability of making money out of selling items is always appealing.

However, it also has some pretty bad aspects like PvP. But i am sure is going to get better in time :)

I would totally recommend this game :) Trust me. I have spent whole nights playing it and also made a pretty big amount of money from selling items :)

Black_Tribi
Black_Tribi

User Score vs Metacritic Score, let the battle begin!

Seriously though, I think 'the critics' didn't play long enough to see the flaws of D3.

For me the game was ok. It could always be a lot worse.

VAMPYREANGELUS
VAMPYREANGELUS

i wonder how many people are still playing this turd.

klez86
klez86

I actually like Diablo 3

PsiKoticKiller
PsiKoticKiller

How the hell can the editor here post "Flexible Customizable character classes" as being a good point in Diablo 3????  There is no customization or flexibility, No uniqueness at all...    Either Carolyn Petit is on Crack or she didn't actually play the game..  Or perhaps she was completely new to the genre and never played any of the Diablo clones or Previous Diablo Games that were 1000 times better than this nonsense...      Yeah like Blackfrog says... Go play Torchlight 2 instead.. Never tried Path of exile but I may give it a shot, it sure as hell has to be better than D3

theblackfrog
theblackfrog

guys check out torchlight 2 or path of exile, way better than diablo 3.....

and you guys should review this game again, many bad things got noticed later....its just a rip off, nothing else. a strategy money simulation (rmah) and the exterior is a mediocre APRG

HomerSimpson89
HomerSimpson89

How this garbage got 88/100?

amazon rating 2/5

gamespot 7.2

gamefaqs 6.9

This game fucking sucks!

im-a-roustabout
im-a-roustabout

I'm sure most of you guys (or gals) know this by now, but just in case you don't; If you're upset with Diablo 3, then check out Torchlight 2. It's only 20 bucks and it's made by a few of the same people behind the first two Diablo's. It's more robust in every way, the only thing that might turn off some is the graphics don't look gritty like Diablo. It's more of a World of Warcraft type style. Still looks fantastic in my opinion, I just noticed some people complaining about the art style so I thought I'd address it. Anybody else playing T2? Thoughts?

colekhoo
colekhoo

um, why is the user score panel empty??? and i cant even vote???????

FreedomPrime
FreedomPrime

I haven't been on D3 in forever, mostly cause the game is terrible. But i decided to go online just to see how many people where still playing, i checked my friends list which was massive, couldn't even count how many friends ( anyone I played with or traded with I added as a friend so naturally my list was pretty big) so I figured most of them were still paying right!?!?.... wrong, not a single person was play that steaming pile of crap. this just shows that 90% of the people that D3 after purchasing the game and playing it realized how terrible the game really was......

chinchillables2
chinchillables2

It's amazing what people will do to try and make some money off of trending topics... even more amazing how many people fall for them (cough cough... content locker on the keygen crap)

VAMPYREANGELUS
VAMPYREANGELUS

people keep saying its not an online game, but as long as you have to be online to play it is.

Droverson
Droverson

I've been a fan ever since the first Diablo came out and I can see where the hate for this game might come from (dumbed down, too colorful, levels don't get randomized as much as in previous games, atmosphere is not as creepy anymore as in previous games, real money in auction house yadda yadda), but all this doesn't stop me from thoroughly enjoying Diablo 3 nonetheless. I mostly play it with my life partner in co-op and we have a lot of fun killing demons together. :-)

Wensea10
Wensea10

Just by looks I can tell this is an amazing game.

mhaed
mhaed

I'm not here to add to the seemingly unending lists of love/hate comments about Diablo III, I'm just here to say this: Blizzard, you had fans, and you had money, and you chose one, and not both.

Organic88
Organic88

Thank god diablo 3 sucks, not even close to d2.

This was made so that blizzard could earn as much money as possible, they dont give a shit if its good or not!

 

Shame on you!!

Maxarah
Maxarah

Well I would give only 6.0 score if I play in regular mode.But when I start to play in Hardcore Mode.......I realized that this is what I'm looking for Adenarine Rush 8.5 is not enough ^^

zenstrata
zenstrata

Diablo 3 is terrible.  The always online requirement and itemization to make the real money auction house a money-maker for blizzard killed the game.  All my friends I know who purchased the game on release day are now saying they greatly regret purchasing it.  I strongly suggest people stay away from Diablo 3.

Armedranger
Armedranger

True Diablo fans who have liked Diablo from way back when will truly appreciate this game. Dont listen to as on poster put it below.."Ea Fanboys" who are talking trash about this game.

atheus42
atheus42

@LoL_Metal Try Dark Souls - if you don't die in the first 3 areas on your first run I will worship you.

zzamaro
zzamaro

@Dannystaples14 It's got nothing to do with that. The developer got greedy and chose not to care about it's fans.

kouji03
kouji03

@Dannystaples14 agree i played this on launch and i dont get the hate on this since i spent a lot of hours playing this when RMAH was not around, with the people only whining on how hard the hardest difficulty was now that it was reduced they go jump to other things.


Though some really dont like the game i just dont see how so much hate it has 

StarsiderSajun
StarsiderSajun

@Mabrry I grew up playing those and wasn't a big fan of Diablo 3 personally. Then again I really did not enjoy Diablo 2 either.

Man I miss Champions.... played that soooooooooooo much as a kid.

petez34
petez34

@PsiKoticKillerI laughed when I read that as well. "flexible" my arse. It is a really bad and unrealistic review. Honestly I don't believe she played the game from reading the review! After playing it, 4-5 is all i would give it. A 'great ' game? NO, poor to mediocre at best.

invaderzim0406
invaderzim0406

@im-a-roustabout i actually love Torchlight 1-2 graphics (maybe because i love cartoons). but i am also into good engaging level-me-up games (esp Pokemon).  i haven't played and finished T2 yet and haven't purchased or played Diablo 3, because i usually purchase/download games after a few months so i get opinion and read reviews.

i'm still thinking of buying D3 just to experience it for myself. still thinking. =)

invaderzim0406
invaderzim0406

@im-a-roustabout i actually love torchlight 1+2 artstyle. it's cartoony but i guess it depends on how people immerse themselves when playing.  

FreedomPrime
FreedomPrime

 @Armedranger True fans!? lol if you were a true fan youd be playing torchlight considering most of the people that made that game also made the original diablo LOL. D3 is a joke and anyone who still plays that game deserves to get rip off.

Steba93
Steba93

 @Armedranger True fans aren't like that, true fans don't blindly just like the game that has the same name as previous title in the series. True fans are the ones who give the best feedback because they really know what makes the game work and what does not. True fans are the ones who should really hate and criticize the game, because then company can learn what they really want.

zenstrata
zenstrata

 @Armedranger

 True Diablo fans will be dissapointed with Diablo 3.  Blizzard does not even employ the same people who worked on the first two Diablo titles.  Diablo 3 was crafted specifically to suck as much money out of its players as possible with little regard for actually making a game which players would enjoy.

 

And I am not an EA fanboy.  I actually dislike EA greatly.  Blizzard has lost my respect with what they did to Diablo 3, I will not purchase another product from blizzard until they apologize to their customers and stop their blatently greedy business practices.

Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

@zzamaro Yeah by making a game I physically couldn't put down for about a week solid. Shame on them!

Wensea10
Wensea10

 @FreedomPrimeI will take your word for it; to make you happy I would rather play Torchlight II before this.

 

Diablo III More Info

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  • First Released
    • Macintosh
    • PC
    • + 4 more
    • PS3
    • PS4
    • Xbox 360
    • Xbox One
    Blizzard's hack-and-slash lootfest Diablo III is coming to the and will include four-player co-op.
    7.2
    Average User RatingOut of 5054 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Diablo III
    Developed by:
    Blizzard Entertainment,
    Published by:
    Blizzard Entertainment, Square Enix
    Genres:
    Action, Role-Playing
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Mature
    All Platforms
    Blood and Gore, Violence