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Review

Diablo III Review

  • First Released
  • Reviewed: September 9, 2013
  • PS3

Diablo III's captivating cooperative loot-driven gameplay makes the transition to console intact.

After causing calluses on clicking fingers far and wide on PC, Diablo III has come to consoles and swapped the mice and keyboards for gamepads. The result is an experience that feels somewhat different; clicking the screen to guide your heroes around isn't the same as having direct control of their movements with a thumbstick, though whether you think one control method or the other is better is purely a matter of personal preference; both are equal to the task. The console versions of Diablo III also don't look as sharp as the PC original, but the impact of the atmospheric art design is undiminished. Most importantly, Diablo III on consoles still makes slaughtering thousands of monsters good fun, especially if you're doing so with a few friends.

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 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.

Loathus the Thorned won't be a…umm…thorn in the side of any other adventurers.

Choosing one skill always means not choosing another, since the number of buttons you can assign skills to 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 buttons 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.

Radial menus help make configuring your skills with a controller a snappy process.

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 realm.

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, on normal difficulty, 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 strikes can send foes flying.

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.

It's pretty gross when monsters explode to reveal they had still more monsters inside of them.

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.

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.

Belial just can't get enough of getting his butt kicked by upstart adventurers.

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. And new to the console versions, there are sub-difficulty options, allowing you to play normal difficulty on easy, for instance, or nightmare difficulty on hard. 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.

You can engage in goofy, consequence-free PVP in the Proving Grounds, but it won't hold your interest for long.

Players can cooperate either locally or online, but while both options are enjoyable, local co-op is quite restrictive, and the interface slows things down. All players must stay on the same screen, and whenever a player accesses his or her inventory, skills, or some other menu, it takes up the whole screen, leaving other players with nothing to do but wait until he or she is done. Other console dungeon crawlers, dating back at least as far as Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance, have split up the screen so that multiple players can manage their inventories simultaneously, and the lack of such considerations here makes the local co-op option feel tacked on. Nonetheless, in local and particularly online co-op, combat is significantly different and a great deal more fun.

On console as on PC, Diablo III is a very safe game. It never diverges from the path carved by its predecessors and the numerous loot-driven hack-and-slash dungeon crawlers they inspired. But Diablo III also proves that when done well, the classic formula can still be absorbing. The powerful abilities of the diverse character classes are fun to use, the world is varied and enticing, and the constant promise of more riches and better gear makes conquering that next group of foes an alluring prospect indeed. Don't take up arms against Diablo because you care about saving the world. Do it for fortune and glory.

The Good
Powerful abilities 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
Weapon system flies in the face of traditional RPG logic
Local cooperative play is disappointing
8
Great
About GameSpot's Reviews
Other Platform Reviews for Diablo III

About the Author

Carolyn's been venturing into monster-infested dungeons in search of riches since the days of Gauntlet. She's always looking for gear that will let her spend less time sleeping and spend more time playing games.

Discussion

589 comments
therake2013
therake2013

The problem with co-op that can resolved, but it's a costly one. On the PS4, they should think about developing a hud for the vita, granted it would need every player to have a vita, but it would allow people to change items on the fly and not have to wait for the player to change between items and look at the map. This just makes too much sense, but again costly.

Kituco
Kituco

Liked a lot the transition to console, made the PC version look not so nice. 

Runock
Runock

Well, at least D3 isn't misogynistic otherwise it would have gotten a 6.

Zylaris
Zylaris

I hated the PC version. I hadn't pay attention to the AH or to the fulltime connection to the internet as I don't play with other players but on the PC it was simply wrong and everything made for you to purchase thus I stopped playing it very fast.

I just purchased the PS3 version and liked it. My weapong crafting can be used, the loots are good and even dropped some legendary weapons. I can play with my wife at home. I can advice it. It feels better on PS3 than PC. Don't buy the PC version.

somatzu
somatzu

console controls are impressive. but here's what I think:

they should have modeled it on a twin stick shooter. it would be way more convenient to map 4 abilities/skills to the right stick. then you could run around and aim simultaneously without having to run into enemies if you're ranged. for dodging, they could have mapped it to one of the face buttons or made it L3.

Morbidlight
Morbidlight

PS3 version far better than PC. I have played both. Currently I am on ACT 3 with 2 friends, and are having an absolute blast.

Absence of the AH and 'always online' makes the loot drops what it should be - exciting!!!


The control mechanics work well with the PS3 controller. The dodge is a welcome addition and really adds a new dimension to survivability. You will see what I mean when you fight Belial. They could not have ported the control mechanism better. Thank you Blizzard for taking the time and effort to do so.

Inventory system is great, simply because allowing the other players to see the gear and build of their allies, allows for a more cohesive and deeper gaming experience. I like to know what equipment and skills my allies are using and visa versa so we can strategize and utilize each others strengths and weaknesses in different situations (we are playing on Hard and this has helped many times). We can also offer help and suggestions to a player working their inventory to use perhaps a different weapon or item. Waiting for other players to work their inventory is something you get used to. Chill out and have a sip or two of your favourite beverage while waiting, or talk about the weather.

The only problem I have with local coop is that sometimes things can get a bit crazy on screen, and players can get lost amongst the hordes of monsters. We are playing on a 46" TV, so it hasn't been too much of a problem, but people with smaller TV's will most likely get irritated with this. Big screens for 3 or 4 players is a must!

Overall, this game is the type of hack 'n slash dungeon romp the PS3 has been missing since it's beginning. 9/10 for me.

BradBurns
BradBurns

I finally got to play it before buying and decided not to yet, thanks to a demo.


The thing that bugged me the most about the game was the lack of any real lighting. I kept comparing it to an old PlayStation 2 game Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance.

It actually had worse graphics. The electricity effects on Dark Alliance were far better and the lighting in Diablo seems to be totally absent on spells. Apparently, the spells were good enough to slap a monster across the face, but not quite up to the task of reflecting off of the surrounding environment.

Also, the character models looked inferior as well.

It's not often I can say a PS2 launch title is better looking than a much higher budget end-of-PS3's-life one.

Synysteria
Synysteria

After over a year, this game is still bad. Auction house destroys the in-game economy, breaks progression, and just diminishes replay value. Fixing these things for console and leaving the problems with the PC users is really underhanded. I paid 60$ for a game, and it comes out over a year later, and I'm told

"Hey, we know you already bought the game, but if you wanna play, you're gonna have to buy it again."


electro57
electro57

Best version of the game out there.

elancion
elancion

console version so much better


Leonagard
Leonagard

I need teh same drop quality e frequancy on PC to destroy the need of the auction house...  loot on Ps3 is batter ...


lowkey254
lowkey254

Carl provides two complaints and effectively knocks 2 points off of the score. How are these games actually ranked? IGN at least provides information at the end to explain how they got their number.

orangesonic
orangesonic

i loved the diablo series, played D1 and D2, but didnt get D3 for PC because of the always online stupid thing... now i got it for xbox and it is really fun to play with friends...

i think it is worth it!

Arch-Villain
Arch-Villain

"Weapon system flies in the face of traditional RPG logic"

I don't see how this complaint is relevant because the entire Diablo franchise is a far cry from a traditional RPG.  

Also, if I read your review correctly, you explained that you found local cooperative play "disappointing" because you have to stay on the same screen and you can't browse your inventory at the same time your friends do?  I will concede that this is an annoyance, however I don't really see how that makes local cooperative play disappointing.

Those points aside, I found the rest of your review quite accurate.

BoltFire
BoltFire

"Local cooperative play is disappointing."

Well, we didn't play the same game. I play it with at cooperative gameplay with my son and I really have a good times.

Gankstar_VX84
Gankstar_VX84

i don't often disagree with carolyn's reviews, so I've no reason to doubt this one. I might get the next gen versions if they're better wait n see. I didn't bother with this on pc either, so might not anyway.

eyerok
eyerok

I have no idea why people are reacting like retards on this review. GS getting paid to give away 8.0? Maybe you should check out the metacritic score and you'll see its higher than what Carolyn Petit gave this gave, and GS's score is in fact one of the lowest. 

Exotrax
Exotrax

can't believe that peoples are still playing this obsceneness of game.

GS score 8 ???

How much Blizz pay for the score ?

Dave_Burns
Dave_Burns

I loved the Diablo 2 series... Diablo 3 (PC) not so much. I can't recommend it to anyone in good faith. Pretty much did one pass on D3 with each class and just couldn't bring myself to play it anymore. It isn't that engaging. Sorry.

UnbearableStank
UnbearableStank

A rating like this gives serious consideration to the idea that game companies pay for positive reviews.  Keep your integrity GS!

Timmy_Gwar
Timmy_Gwar

The game works, its playable, and it has the diablo feel. So, based on the ratings system, maybe 8, sure. Having that said, I still want a refund for the PC version and this doesn't look terribly different.

noirtenshin
noirtenshin

if this got 8.0, what would Path of Exile get? 11 out of 10?

EdAl2112
EdAl2112

I wish they make a new Xmen Legends. The Diablo style was really good in the Xmen universe. They messed it up with Ultimate Alliance where the universe is so big that the story was spread too thin.

abarteau
abarteau

I realized they don't make games for people like me anymore. If you watch the video above you see a demon hunter shooting what looks like something that should be out of star wars. Everything is so colorful which is immersion breaking for me. I guess I'm too old.

Rooten
Rooten

still....fix the godamn game on PC and that loot system needs to improve, just can't wait for that damn loot v2 system to come out....!!! we NEED A MAJOR UPDATE NOW on pc.

Mangelrock
Mangelrock

I'll buy it just for the local option.

theblackfrog
theblackfrog

lol the console local coop and better loot is the main reason. carolyn failed again. dunno why i come back to gamespot again and again....i always get angry when reading the reviews

JustSignedUp
JustSignedUp

Diablo 3 is garbage it looks like that garbage birds eye view marvel game that came out a long time ago

SFMrAnderson
SFMrAnderson

I stopped at the cliff notes, "Local cooperative play is disappointing."  Nothing more for me to read here.

Probably spent about 800-1000 hours on the PC version and am thoroughly enjoying the definitive console version.  (At least until 2.0 comes out).

WarL0rdzz
WarL0rdzz

Wish they'd make a diablo 2 HD


Mega_Loser
Mega_Loser

still too high a score but.. oh well.

Morbidlight
Morbidlight

@Synysteria The game is not bad, in fact the PS3 version is excellent. You just have a bad taste in your mouth from the PC version. The thing is, people like you knew it was going to have AH and always online play, yet you bought it anyway. So the only person you have to blame is yourself.

eyerok
eyerok

@Arch-Villain yah I was wondering the same thing..its an exaggerated complain, especially about staying on the same screen. I mean, its pretty obvious that you have to stay on the same screen, thats how it is in almost all top down Co-op RPGs. The inventory issue seems like a minor annoyance.

matticles
matticles

@EdAl2112 

Marvel Heroes is close but may not be for everyone.  It's free to play so there's really nothing to lose by trying it.

If you like the ARPG genre and are a fan of Marvel characters, it's a decent game but needs some more time to mature (again, it's free, can't complain too much).

BlackBaldwin
BlackBaldwin

@WarL0rdzz 

Or even just a series reboot would be nice but I guess its still a bit to early for that yet.

Gissur66
Gissur66

@Mega_Loser 

I have to disagree here.

The most dissapointing factor with the PC version, was the Auction house. That alone made the game completely uninteresting. It went from farming loot, to farming gold. Or buy things for real money...

The console version lacks the auction house and this alone makes it the better game, by far. Sure, you dont need the use the auction house, but the mere fact it is there, means the community diminishes down to chinese farmers and kids with cash. Simply put, the online community is dead.

I think the Console version will be THE version for those Diablo fans out there. Personally I had my share on the PC and even though the game is pretty good, the fact they implemented an Auction house took away all pleasure playing this game, including on another platform.

Still the score is ok, thats my point. its definately worth an 8, especially with the exclusion of the AH.

randallsilver
randallsilver

@Satanasitox @SFMrAnderson Or a life, apparently  :-P let's take 900 hours. That would mean you had to play Diablo 3 for 7 hours a day, for a little more than four months straight!

BlackBaldwin
BlackBaldwin

@Gissur66 @Mega_Loser 

I have to agree with Mega_Loser, the score is too high just because in my opinion if you stand up all three diablo games side by side and look at what they all brought to the table D3 is the lesser of the group in terms of pretty much everything.  

I would cut blizzard some slack if there was something about D3 that made the game stand apart from its previous betters but in truth besides the updated visuals their wasn't anything that made the game a worthy successor in the diablo line.  I personally would've gaven it a 7 but hey thats just me.

SFMrAnderson
SFMrAnderson

@randallsilver @Satanasitox @SFMrAnderson 

Wow harsh words everyone.  Yes I have life and a beautiful wife.  The PC version has been out for over a year people.  And while I did exaggerate my actual time with the game.  I believe I'm actually more around 500 hours.  But for those that really got into the game, it has a sort of MMO vibe as far as always looking for better gear.  And not to mention multiple classes to gear up.  

randallsilver
randallsilver

@Enkhrypthor it's not an issue, just a remark. I've been gaming for more than two decades myself, but you have to admit that 1000 hours in one game is just not healthy anymore. I'm not judging people like that, just urging them to go out and see that "sun" thing other people sometimes talk about  ;-)

Enkhrypthor
Enkhrypthor

@Satanasitox @alien33 @randallsilver @SFMrAnderson What the problem with don't have a life ?

why ppl who spend a lot of time playing is a issue for another people? :| i dont get it.

alien33
alien33

@randallsilver @Satanasitox @SFMrAnderson I've done this with Championship Manager 2003-4 and I had a girlfriend at that time too. My life was CM for 10 hours, girlfriend for 4 hours and 10 hours sleep for many months. Good times.

elancion
elancion

@BlackBaldwin @Gissur66 @Mega_Loser 

play the console version of this game and i bet you change your mind

miser_cz
miser_cz

@BlackBaldwin @Gissur66 @Mega_Loser Some complain D3 is too much different from D2, others that it brings nothing new... I haven´t seen game with more contradicting critics. I say it was impossible for Blizzard from the start to please all those kids who have grown up with D2. The best they could´ve hoped to do was to create great game for (almost) everybody else, and they did it.

Diablo III More Info

  • First Released
    • Macintosh
    • PC
    • + 4 more
    • PlayStation 3
    • PlayStation 4
    • Xbox 360
    • Xbox One
    Blizzard's hack-and-slash lootfest Diablo III is coming to the and will include four-player co-op.
    7.3
    Average User RatingOut of 5016 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Diablo III
    Developed by:
    Blizzard Entertainment,
    Published by:
    Blizzard Entertainment, Square Enix
    Genres:
    Role-Playing, Action
    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