After a little over a decade, the prophecy made by the game developing company Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. has finally come true: Diablo, the Lord of Terror, has returned, and gamers everywhere are forgoing buying groceries or doing homework in favor of getting lost in the addicting, beautifully designed, hack-and-slash, spell casting gameplay of the highly anticipated Diablo III.
Set twenty years after the events of the immensely popular computer RPG Diablo II (released back in 2000), players must once again choose from five character classes (this time, with the ability to choose their gender), each with their own strengths and weaknesses, to go on an epic series of quests, played out in four “acts,” where they must face off against the demonic legions of the Burning Hells as they rampage all over the fantasy world of Sanctuary.
This time around, the classes are the Wizard who uses powerful magical attacks, the Monk who channels his power through his fists and body, the Barbarian, a big, scary he-man who can use two swords to decimate foes, the Witch Doctor who uses hexes and can summon spirits to do his bidding and the Demon Hunter, master of the crossbow and of magical traps.
For fans of the first two games, the gameplay might seem all too familiar: from an overhead view of the map, you point and click on a monster to kill or chest to open and your character runs and does just that. However, the differences between Diablo III and the previous entries in this series lay in the details.
All the major aspects of the series have all been improved upon in ways that make what could have been familiar gameplay a totally new and unique adventure. This is especially true of the way your chosen hero grows throughout the game.
In Diablo II, when your hero leveled up, you were given an allowance of points to spread around base attributes and skills, forcing you to choose a particular direction for how you wanted to use your hero. This time around, the point system has been eliminated, with all of your skills eventually unlocked for use. The trick is picking which skills to assign to number keys one through four, in addition to your mouse.
Each skill has several variations of itself in the form of “runes,” which greatly change how an ability functions. This results in a practically unlimited number of ways your character is able to fight evil in a more enjoyable, more user-friendly format than before. No two adventurers are alike, even if they are the same class.
Other improvements are the addition of health orbs dropped by slain monsters that heal the player, reducing the need to constantly click on potions to heal yourself. Also, the loot. Oh, so much loot. A good half of the fun of Diablo III is seeking out awesome new weapons and armor, from swords and wands to belts and boots, which not only defines your attributes, but also can make for a pretty unique looking character.
After you beat the game on “normal” mode, higher difficulty levels are unlocked, presenting harder challenges with greater rewards, giving the game a very high replay value.
While the story of the Diablo series is pretty easy to follow, players who have grown up playing Diablo I and II will recognize certain motifs and recurring characters, such as Deckard Cain, the old man who’s been offering advice to the player from the start, or even the witch Adria, who hasn’t been seen since the first game.
However, the story is told in a way that allows newcomers to the series to pick up what’s happening without all the epic backstory. Then again, many people who play don’t necessarily even care about the story — they’re just in it to see their explosive, god-like hero blast apart entire armies of demons with the click of the mouse.
Diablo III, like many of Blizzard’s other games, is geared towards the online, multi-player experience, with players able to join in on quests and games together. However, therein lays a slight issue; one requires an Internet connection at all times to play the game, even if you’re playing by yourself.
So, when Blizzard decides that maintenance work needs to be done on their servers … tough luck, buddy. One of the biggest annoyances so far is how Blizzard will shut down the server for maintenance – which prevents everyone from playing. While getting less frequent as time goes on, the launch day was infamously known for having server crashes and shutdowns throughout the entire web, leaving many users wondering how prepared Blizzard was for the launch – something they certainly had time to do.
However, when stacked against the rest of the game’s many pros, many players ultimately shrug it off and grit their teeth through the occasional system errors; Blizzard’s games have a reputation of being a “continual work in progress” as it is.
Rest assured, this won’t stop many a student from putting off their finals work in favor of many long, drawn out hours cloistered away in their dorms or apartments, wrapped up in the struggle against the dark lords of Hell in a game that redefines the genre it helped to influence.Contact Daniel Alvarez.