Diablo III

The mouse has to be without doubt one of the most boring pieces of technology available. It might be as useful an invention as the car or the railways, but rarely will we be doing backflips over a new piece of mouse-related hardware. Thanks to Diablo III, this has all just changed.

Diablo transforms the mouse into a potent instrument of death. With a simple left or right click you can unleash a vast flurry of attacks and dish out huge amounts of damage to hordes of on-screen enemies. The mouse is the driving force behind all of Diablo III’s genius; delightful simple and easy to grasp, yet infinite in its possibilities.

What is Diablo?

So here’s something a bit naughty. Diablo III is the first title in the series we have ever played. The lack of a decent computer, combined with the fact we were simply too young to play the earlier games, means it isn’t until now that Diablo has been on our radar. This is one of the reasons our Diablo III review is coming slightly late, simply because there has just been so much game for us to get stuck in to.

At its core Diablo is about clicking. Click to move, click to attack and hit a few keys in between to switch attacks. This might seem far too simple to be an enjoyable experience, but the near-infinite level of customisation coupled with a super-addictive gameplay style makes Diablo III watertight.

Starting out with Diablo III, you are given the choice of a few very simple character classes. Players pick between a witch doctor, monk, barbarian, wizard and demon hunter. All are fairly different in the way they play, which we will be looking at later. The initial decision between characters is very easy and streamlined compared to other games of this type. It is seriously refreshing to just pick a character and get going, free from the worry that a decision made now could have a detrimental affect to the game 20 hours in.

Once you have a character picked, Diablo III sets you out on a straightforward quest. Forget vastly complex and branching story arcs, this is about using a story to drive the gameplay on and keep the fun coming. Set 20 years after Diablo II, your character is given the task of investigating a fallen star at the village of Tristram, which is causing all sorts of beasties and creatures to come out of the woodwork.

Without giving away too much, Diablo III’s story will see you adventuring through all sorts of environments, including towns, inns, graveyards, cities and of course dungeons and crypts. The latter, like any click-orientated dungeon crawler, form the backbone of Diablo III’s combat sections.

How does it play?

Depending on which character class you have picked, Diablo III will play fundamentally in one of two ways. It is a very quick game in terms of combat, which makes some characters rely on lots of small less-powerful attacks, with others being about few attacks that are very powerful. Every character class is fundamentally aggressive, although some will have more emphasis on healing or defence moves.

We chose the monk to play through the game. A character that is all about rapid-fire attacks and secondary powerful attacks. These require spirit, which is regenerated by attacking. The result is a clever balance between going mad with the left click or using the right to inflict maximum damage. Other character classes such as the witch doctor do things slightly differently. This character uses mana, which regenerates very slowly, entirely changing the way in which you tackle enemies.

The end result of this, particularly when playing with friends, is that some characters do best rushing in, others better holding back and doing damage from a far. As always  with Blizzard titles, it is perfectly balanced.

How does it look?

It has been a long time since Diablo last graced our PCs. Graphics have changed a lot since then and most demand impressive looks from any title. Skyrim springs to mind as does the likes of Battlefield 3, both looking swish in different ways.

Maxed out, Diablo III certainly is a nice looking title. It isn’t going to blow any minds but the rich colours and decent lighting engine make it an enjoyable experience for the eyes. Change the settings down though, and the game rather predictably starts looking a lot worse. Crucial to all this is that Diablo III will run on absolutely everything. Even a rather retro PC will be a able to run the game on lower settings at a decent clip.

This is important because Diablo III is all about accessibility. Running on any machine means that just about everyone can enjoy playing it  - and, quite frankly, the graphical jump between lowest settings and max is small enough. The game is still hugely enjoyable anyway, as its core experience is all about gameplay.

Loooooongevity

Don’t expect to tackle Diablo III overnight. This is a game that is going to suck away your life more than any other RPG you might have played before. We found ourselves permanently thinking “just another 20 minutes”. This 20  minutes then turns into an hour and before you know it, it’s dark outside.

Diablo III is almost mockingly aware of its own addictive nature, even adding a permanent in-game clock to the top right corner, so you can see just how long you have been playing. Loot being absolutely everywhere and in everything also means that it is easy to build up a bit of a collecting obsession. We found ourselves constantly warping from dungeon to merchant after picking up what is practically worthless weaponry, just because they were lying out in front of our character temptingly.

Online, Diablo III becomes an even more addictive beast. Playing non-ranked PVP matches, despite having no sort of Call of Duty-style points system, is just addictive because it is incredibly fun. As with a lot of Blizzard games, expect to get quite a hiding from other players.

Verdict

We could go on writing about all that makes Diablo III so much fun, but we want to get back to playing it. This is a standout PC-only title and a game that any PC player should own. It is absurdly addictive, to the point where you will need genuine giving up smoking levels of self control to draw yourself away from the computer screen.

Polished, playable and easy for anyone to get into, Diablo III has been more than worth the wait.



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