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Review

Diablo III Review

  • First Released
  • Reviewed: September 9, 2013
  • X360

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.

When you pick up a new item, you get a quick, at-a-glance indication of how it compares to your current gear.

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 and gear 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.

Diablo III is better with other players, even when those other players are followed around by creepy zombie dogs.

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.

Hell yeah! Pants!

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

92 comments
TexasDovahkiin
TexasDovahkiin

I look forward to the game, the review was good too. But seriously Gamespot, her/his voice is so distracting from the review...

bowchicka07
bowchicka07

Game is addictive and a lot of fun. tons of dungeons and loot and character skill customization. I agree that the local co-op is very lacking. We tried 4 players to one screen but we all had to take turns with item management, talent picking, and just basic character overhaul. Even the old dark alliance games had split screen for stores and character menus... Come on blizzard

bumsonfire_
bumsonfire_

Yes, i thought it was stupid to have this game on just ps3 and not xbox. It should be more popular on xbox. I know for a fact that I am getting it on xbox!

PrpleTrtleBuBum
PrpleTrtleBuBum

They managed to make a terrible demo. I liked the athmosphere at first, but during the long demo I started to grow bored, and when I realized all the progress is going to waste that was the end of it. But since I haven't gotten a game like this since Ultimate Alliance 2 it might be worth a bargain.

ZombieGuyGeorge
ZombieGuyGeorge

Say, does anyone know what the bar in the personal profile means? it's stuck at 0% and it's not an achievement guide, or experience or paragon or character play. I have several characters past 60 and im sure I am over 85 on every achievement progress, so what gives?

Nietzschie666
Nietzschie666

I like it MUCH better than being hunched over a keyboard. Playing the Barbarian on the controller BAD ASS. My only complaint....corpses disappear WAY too fast. Stopping to survey the vast piles of carnage after a huge battle was one of my most favorite aspects in Diablo. I'ts still great fun...but that irks me to no end to see my body count vanishing before my eyes....:-(

that_other_fan
that_other_fan

8/10, 8.5/10 seems about right, simple, addicting, fun.  One of the best games this year

Gravity_Slave
Gravity_Slave

Seems consoles are doing more and more of what PC's once held exclusive domain over.  I laugh at the PC snobs who say this is a "dumbed down" version.  Why? Because it doesn't have a rip off auction house?  Slightly less resolutions? Nit picking....I think you're just pissed that 7-8 year old consoles are pulling off current PC titles successfully.  

Consoles may not have all the power of a recently built rig (that costs twice as much as a console) but at least consoles don't have to petition for GTA V 

nordafrost
nordafrost

I don't understand this review, or other reviews on this site. Tons of praise with little to no criticism and the game gets an 8? Try explaining the score next time, yea?

TomJimJack
TomJimJack

This dumbed down version of Diablo is still fun to play just don't expect anything new!  

VaFb
VaFb

how long is the campaign in this?

FrankZoex2
FrankZoex2

Does anyone know when Torchlight 2 comes out on consoles? Not hating on Diablo just wondering.

KiLLaMaNiLLa69
KiLLaMaNiLLa69

This is why i don't listen to any of the reviews on this site shit don't make sense at all and people who review games should be a die hard action RPG player or or someone who plays diablo or games like it. This game is amazing and i have played the PC version and this version is alot more fun and doesn't require to be online and the local co-op is sick so this lady needs to stop hitting that crack pipe before reviewing games. And they thankfully got rid of that auction house garbage that has plagued the PC version.

Jinroh_basic
Jinroh_basic

I'm getting a free copy of this game due to my job, and i'm not even going to touch it. i'm stating this not to gloat, but to say how glad i am to be able to rip blizzard off after the crap they've pulled. 

RoseSpawn
RoseSpawn

I can't understand why she would put "Weapon system flies in the face of traditional RPG logic" specifically as a negative feature. 

It's not particularly confusing, and breaking "traditional logic" isn't such a bad thing anyway. It's not hard to comprehend that your skill damage is proportional to your weapon damage. Besides, W&WD would be severely outclassed by DH&B&M if their skill damage had a fixed amount, which the weapons-based classes could easily break just by sticking a ruby into a socketable weapon.

TL:DR - I don't think she knows what DPS means. Saying "xSKILLx deals 140% of your weapon's DPS" seems straightforward to me, and to a lot of other RPG players, I'd imagine. 

So I am honestly, sincerely confused as to why she seems to find this feature confusing enough or odd enough to list it as a negative. Seriously... why?

ingeps
ingeps

Can I play on xbox without internet conection?

Ayato_Kamina_1
Ayato_Kamina_1

"Fans of Diablo and Diablo II will immediately feel drawn into this world."

 Nope, I felt immediately like I'd been suckered by Blizzard and they'd managed to pilfer $60 of my money. 

HeroClixFan88
HeroClixFan88

proof this site is full of bad reviewers. they all need to be fired.

Jericho1111
Jericho1111

Considering that I own D3 on both my PC (which I might add I modded up to medium D3 requirement standards just so I could simply play the game ($500 later)) and my Xbox, I would find it safe to say that this game was not polished as finely as it's latter; Diablo 2. The graphics on the PC were simply outstanding at first, 3D HD with a 64 bit perspective view gameplay, but the graphics took a major hit on the Xbox 360, with maybe a 32 bit perspective. 
There is also the absence of the Auction House; which if anybody played Diablo 2 they would know that D2JSP.com made the game thrive as long as it did. Without the Auction House, or any method to help players trade their items for ones that are needed, the game on the consoles will be put back into its case and put on the shelf in a matter of months simply because the Magic find has little purpose if you cannot PVP and trade items.
I'm a Diablo 2 veteran for damn near 13 years, and I plan on playing D3 until the sun comes up regardless, I love the story of it.

maniaczak
maniaczak

@Gravity_Slave As far as Diablo III is concerned, Blizzard is just milking console dipshits $60 for a mediocre game that was released over a year and half ago that was never even close to pushing the envelope graphically or gameplay wise. That and your whole "costs twice as much as a console" is just pandering to the same idiots who paid full price for GTA5 just because of its name, kind of like the PC bozos who did the same for D3. I hope you have fun pretending that your comment has any actual relevance to the subject, that being the game, not your inferiority complex about PC gamers.

Lee0703
Lee0703

Well said!! I've played both the Mac version and Xbox 360.....I have to say the console version with the more refined loot drop, the ability to roll out of danger and there is no MUST BE ONLINE TO PLAY makes this the best version of Diablo III.

lithus
lithus

@Gravity_Slave 

I had more fun in one night on the console than three months on the PC.  Its nice being able to quickly turn on a console and play offline.

Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

@KiLLaMaNiLLa69 Wait a minute a reviewer NEEDS to be a die-hard fan of a game to give a review on it?

Did you never write book reviews when you were at school? Did you NEED to be a die hard fan of the book or of literacy for that matter to write a book review? No. 

There is a method to writing reviews and anyone can write one. What would be the point of ANYONE doing a review at all or anyone ever reading a review, if they were all going to give super series fanboy praise to every single one? They would all be exactly the same.

I do agree with you otherwise but man you need to understand what the hell a review actually is.

Gravity_Slave
Gravity_Slave

@RoseSpawn 

I can't understand why you ppl keep calling him a she.  Would you date "her".  His hands could palm a basketball...

bilboad
bilboad

@RoseSpawn She didn't say she was confused by it.  She acknowledged the benefits of things working this way, but said the feature defied traditional RPG logic.  I agree, as I was struck by the same thing before ever reading this review.  It seemed odd and somewhat nonsensical to me when I first noticed that merely having a weapon in my inventory affected my damage dealt even if I wasn't using the weapon.  While I'm sure I can invent various rationalizations for things working this way, it seemed a little immersion-breaking even in the fantastical world of Diablo.  I understand that if they removed this feature without changing anything else, it would imbalance character classes like you said, but they could have compensated for this in various ways, such as making more gear that wizards could use, or giving non-weapons based characters alternative ways of buffing themselves. 

KiLLaMaNiLLa69
KiLLaMaNiLLa69

@HeroClixFan88 Someone who is speaking my language this iste is trash for reivews. And has gotten so much worse then used to be.

Atheosis
Atheosis

@Jericho1111 The Auction House is the number one flaw of Diablo 3 on the PC.  WTF are you talking about?

xXxshadiexXx
xXxshadiexXx

@Jericho1111  You really think the developers give a shit what you do with the game after purchase? You fronted the $60+ in the first place, they don't give a shit if it sits on a shelf for the duration of the games life.

Bgrngod
Bgrngod

@Jericho1111 64 bit perspective gameplay and 32 bit perspective?  What the heck are you talking about?

Frankly, I'm glad to see no AH.  That is what made the PC version a complete pile of shit because the entire game was crafted around forcing people to the stupid ass AH.

BlueFlameBat
BlueFlameBat

@Lee0703 You have to be online to play the PC version even if you just want to play by yourself? Does that go for the retail addition too or just the free Starter one?

And to think the only thing really stopping me from buying the PC version was lack of gamepad support.

TheWatcher000
TheWatcher000

@Gravity_Slave @RoseSpawn I can't understand why the civilized world puts up with knuckle dragging, mouth-breathing, bigots like you who simply cannot co-exist peacefully with others in the world.

What is it that you have to offer the human race other than hate and negativity?  A cockroach has more value.

I would go further, but I think Lily Allen's song "Fuck You" pretty much says all that anyone needs to know about you.  

Look it up on YouTube if you ever want to know a review of yourself, you irrelevant oxygen thief.

thedivider1
thedivider1

@Gravity_Slave 
 I think its pretty appalling that you would continue to bring this up. We live in a world that has moved on.. Take your archaic bigotry and hit the bricks. She has done well ignoring the garbage from people like you on this site.

Jericho1111
Jericho1111

@Atheosis @Jericho1111 In the perspective that D2JSP made Diablo 2 thrive for as long as it did (with the help of bots), you don't think that the AH will do the same thing to D3? Think about how many people who were not able to play D3 because their GPU on their PC was out-dated who are now able to play it on their console. The fan base for D3 on the console has exceeded that of it on PC by a landslide, which means more loot is being found, which then means lower prices, which then means different ways to play the game, hybrid PVP/PVM toons? Having MF gear to help you find the fabled Tal Rasha set blacksmith plans with a set of back-up gear to knock out the nightmarish, plagued, extra strong, extra fast, arcane enchanted, physical resistant eleet? 

i guess what I'm talking about is based on my perspective man...

Jericho1111
Jericho1111

@xXxshadiexXx @Jericho1111 No, you're probably right, but you would think that if blizzard earned a fan base for a game that is thirty years old, giving them countless amounts of money, that they would want to give a little more to their fan base?

KiLLaMaNiLLa69
KiLLaMaNiLLa69

@Bgrngod @Jericho1111 yeah the auction house has ruined the game because they took advantage of people and barely gave legendary shit then the people who did raped people for like 200 mil in gold fuck that shit

Jericho1111
Jericho1111

@Bgrngod @Jericho1111 I'm taking about the graphics of both the xbox and the PC. 

I wasn't a fan of the AH prices and how they would sky rocket after each patch, but the fact that we could trade anonymously with other people for the exact item with the exact stats that we wanted was pretty nice. It was blizzard's version of JSP without worrying about getting banned or tagged as a "scammer".

Jericho1111
Jericho1111

@NYSailorScout @Jericho1111 The loot system has been turned up on the console version to compensate for the lack of the AH, but this makes it extremely tedious and time consuming to boss out a PVP or a GFG MF PVM toon. There is also no way to trade exact loot with other people to find that one piece of gear that you need.. Do you understand where I am coming from?

Gravity_Slave
Gravity_Slave

@thedivider1

Since when is calling it out like it is "bigotry"?  Why should I sit back and pretend something isn't there when it obviously is!   You tools dare to say I'm closed minded and unsophisticated...kinda ironic when you're so politically correct it affects your thoughts and behavior.  If anything, you're the knuckle dragging, automatons with no values.  

Ever heard of the story "The Emperor and His New Clothes"?  Well I'm the kid calling him out and you're the sheepeople who act like it ain't happening.

Simply put, this dude still looks like a dude and I refuse to call him a woman no matter how hard HE poorly attempts on straining his voice to sound feminine. 

Jericho1111
Jericho1111

@lannyboy334 @Jericho1111 @xXxshadiexXx Yeah I was exaggerating lol. I'm simply making a comparison to D2jsp and the AH. I'm under the influence that Blizzard was thinking about the future of the game rather than the instantaneous gratification that players will have with their new and improved legendary drop system. I've had the same legendary drop on me twice now.. with just a higher lvl req and slightly better stats.

lannyboy334
lannyboy334

@Jericho1111 @xXxshadiexXx You obviously love Diablo and have played it a lot, but you are so full of it man.  The AH is basically cheating in D3, the gear you can get on there straight up BREAKS the game. Getting through normal is so easy gear is irrelevant, by the time you get to Nightmare you can pick up one game breaking weapon since resists aren't a big deal until Hell, at which point you just need money to fill a few key spots and you are into Inferno where the game is so hard it isn't fun for most players.  I picked up a 750 DPS crossbow at level 46 and I almost wished I hadn't, but it is a part of the game, I'm not cheating, it just feels like it and it isn't rewarding, that isn't a dilemma I should be faced with.

Also, Diablo came out less than twenty years ago...

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 5006 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