Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
Preview Platform: PC
Release Date: May 15, 2012
There are some franchises out there that only get updates every five to ten years. Even before our yearly Call Of Duties, gamers used to have to wait two or three years on average. Blizzard is a company that you can expect the decade franchise update cycle with. Diablo 3 is coming out nearly twelve years after Diablo 2. This follows suit with the Starcraft franchise finally getting a sequel 12 years after the initial release in 1998. Interesting thing about both these franchises is that the previous games are still being played over a decade after release and still regularly updated. There are not many games that are good enough to still be played as such and that leaves big shoes for Diablo 3 to fill.
Luckily at its core Diablo 3 plays like a Diablo game. It is essentially a Diablo clone, though surely that popular phrase can not apply to a sequel to the games it is derived from. From a third person isometric view, you click the mouse and your hero moves to that spot. If an enemy is in that spot he hacks or slashes or hacks and slashes at that enemy. Right click and your character will do a different skill at that spot. Hit a number key for your hotbar and you will do that skill at that spot. It’s a really simple gameplay mechanic and that is what makes Diablo games fun.
Players get to choose between 5 different character classes and their sex. This is a huge departure from the fixed sex classes of Diablo 2 and while minor, will allow a little bit more personalization of the hero for the player. The Witch Doctor has powers/skills that resemble shamanism and voodoo allowing them to summon monsters and cast curses. The Monk is the holy warrior in Diablo 3 combining martial arts with aura type skills. The Wizard is the spellcaster of the bunch launching elemental spells at an enemies from a distance. The Demon Hunter is a dual wielding crossbow shooting ranged fighter that loves throwing bombs and laying traps. Lastly, the Barbarian is the traditional warrior archetype slashing his way through the hordes.
The open beta consisted of being able to play all 5 classes up to level 13 and the Skeleton King encounter in Act 1. Players could quest and dungeon crawl solo or in groups up to four. The more people in the game the more experience and monsters were available but the difficulty of the encounters rose to match the extra fire power. Another interesting change from Diablo 2 is that loot was instanced to each individual player meaning that when loot dropped in the game each player saw a different set of random loot that was only available to them. That means no more fighting over loot drops or bots running in auto looting everything faster than a human can click. The classes were all fun to play but you really couldn’t tell how they will end up with only being able to play to level 13. Like previous Diablo games, items show up on your character changing their look and can be another point of personalization.
The quests consisted of the same go here and kill this or do this or gather this series of quests that the genre is known for. They do move the game along and when you start up a game you can choose which quest to start it but it will restart your progress in the game to that point. The blacksmith feature was available. You can destroy magical items or better for blacksmith components and with a little gold get items with a certain number of random magical properties for a fraction of the price it would cost you to buy them off the merchant. You can train the blacksmith to be a higher level with gold and components and each training you give him allows him to make more gear.
Achievements are another huge improvement and give even more incentive to replay the game to get them. They are set up similar to Starcraft 2 and are tied to your battle.net account. It will be interesting to see if down the line we get some kind of interface that will allow us to see other Blizzard’s games achievements similar to the system Xbox has. Graphically the game has more primary colors and better lighting than previous Diablo titles and that is not a bad thing despite the protests that happened back when screenshots were first released. Presentation is just what you would expect from a Blizzard game, top notch and AAA.
Due out May 15th, Diablo 3 looks like it will continue the AAA reputation that Blizzard has.