First Impressions: Diablo III

Diablo_Head

When it comes to a mammoth release the likes of Diablo III it is better to take your time, get accustomed and really invest the time it so rightfully deserves. Many fans of our site asked us whether or not to go out and grab it. Due to a cancelled show this week I’ve been lucky enough to have the time to scribble down some notes to give you a breakdown of my experience thus far.

... and the quarterback is toast!

When I got to work the day of the Diablo III launch I noticed something I haven’t seen for a long time. Unabashed excitement. Not just from customers and the fans. Everybody in the store was talking about it. I clearly remember longing for Diablo III years ago, speculating what would be new and improved, avidly discussing and spectulating what should be in a next iteration of the franchise. Now the day has come and gamers of all ages, shapes and sizes pile into stores to grab their copies, and I was no exception. I raced home, started the download and was logging in before my bag even hit the ground.

Looking beyond the awesome cut scenes and stylish interface the question remains, what has changed?

So many choices
For starters character classes have had a massive overhaul. Barbarian is the only true carry over class. The remainder are new or evolutions of previous classes. Barbarian is still the tank dealing huge damage and sporting heavy armour. Demon Hunter is all about agility and powerful crippling attacks. Monk is all about crowd control, up close and personal with a slew of knock back attacks. Witch Doctor is the Necromancer equivalent with curses, summons and poison just a few of the tricks this class has up its sleeve. Lastly, Wizard is… well, a wizard with casting insanely powerful and impressive array of spells. After what seemed like an eternity I popped my cherry with Monk and rushed in to gallantly and most humbly save the doomed town of Tristram.

Pew! Pew!

Will it run?
Visually, this game is amazing. It looks crisp and is impeccably detailed with plenty of tweaks available for those with older systems. It runs quite nicely even with an on board graphics chip (pretty smooth on my Ultrabook) meaning Diablo III doesn’t require you to rebuild or add liquid coolant to your computer to just to play it. The feel is very familiar to previous versions, very much like Starcraft was to Starcraft II, taking the best of what you loved from the originals and adding a ridiculous amount of polish, not at your hardware’s expense.

Round 1 – Fight!
Combat is really where it shines brightest. Combat moves are varied and the effects are hugely customizable. Players will find themselves changing attacks and passives skills based on their environment. The new physics based attacks bring with them a more dynamic feel. Swarming is less of a threat with many knock back attack options to send enemies flying away allowing for escape or a hasty retreat to safe distance. Team play is where it’s at. You can rush in and survive most of the time but group attacks are the key to a safe victory. With so many classes and combinations at your disposal the possibilities feel almost endless.

Friends not included!
Online play is the other killer feature. Players can now jump in and out of games with no other effect on play other than an appropriate scaling of enemy strength. I found myself often dropping in on friends for a short jaunt of about thirty minutes doing my best to help tackle a tough boss battle or assist in clearing a dungeon or two before heading off. Diablo III is very much like World of Warcraft for the casual gamer, and in no way is that a bad thing. Checkpoints are generous and the town portal no longer requires scrolls for activation so players can head to safety any time they are outside combat. On top of this, players can teleport to companions from the town center at any time, particularly handy for loot whores (like Dave) who will be frequently in need of merchants to offload excessively stockpiled gear.

What’s the verdict?
So far the experience has been rock solid. Given how Blizzard usually roll, I’m confident the enjoyment factor will be the least of my worries. The only real question that remains is on overall longevity and how much true variation is on offer.

What do you think? Are you guys enjoying Diablo III so far, or has your experience been vastly different?

Let us know with a comment below!

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Joshua Philpott

Tech MacGyver
Games writer, podcaster and tech wizard. Obsessed with obscure horror films, crazy gadgets and caffeine. Passionate, argumentative and open minded. Freelance writer and co-founder rawDLC.

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  • The Chad

    I’m loving it. Pretty much every moment I am at home I am playing Diablo 3. It’s a little frustrating when you can’t play solo if your internet craps out, but that’s forgiven by how much fun I have when I do play.