As a complete and utter newcomer to the Diablo franchise, I didn’t quite know what to expect from Diablo III. I knew that it fell in the top-down, dungeon crawler corner of the game’s world but apart from that, I was going in blind. One thing’s for sure though, you do not have to be a long running fan of the series to enjoy this installment.
When I booted up the game for the first time I was faced with a number of options in terms of both gameplay and character customization. I tend to choose to play as warrior types too often so I went out of my comfort zone and picked a necromancer. I also chose to play Diablo III in what it describes as its classic mode, for the best introduction into the game as a newbie. First off, I am so glad I chose to be a necromancer, I’ve not felt this bad ass in a long time. “You’ll make a fine corpse” my character snarls as he summons bone spikes from the ground which obliterate the first group of undead. From this point on I am totally hooked.
Visually, everything looks astounding. It has a real classic RPG feel. The enemy design is awesome. From classic undead to massive spiders to trees that come alive to smash your face in. Diablo III has it all. The dungeons themselves are also well designed. It always feels fun to imagine what the dungeons were used for years before you explore them and why there are so many damn torture devices around.
The maps in Diablo III kill me. All areas of the game are completely empty on your map when you first arrive and its up to you to explore every nook and cranny to fill it out. Of course this means that I absolutely cannot leave an area until every square inch of that map has been revealed and I definitely have found everything there is to find. Of course this means I get a lot more out of my Diablo playthrough because I don’t miss much, but boy the time I’ve spent rolling around a huge open space of map like Link in Hyrule Field just can’t be accounted for.
Diablo III pleasantly surprised me in the simplicity of its controls. One thing about some RPG’s and dungeon crawlers that really put me off is a control scheme that requires hours of practice and studying to get right. I’m not a tactical person at all. So when Diablo tells me press A to kill the things; I am very happy. Of course there is more to it than that. You unlock more and more powers as you go along which add some depth to the combat. I myself am a big fan of summoning a skeleton army to do all the hard work for me and occasionally turning all of the bones from nearby corpses into monster-seeking missiles.
The devil’s story is interesting and engaging. I don’t usually bother with collectible audio logs and such but the story of a past king gone mad is told superbly through voice dialogue collected in books. The game is also full of black humor and this usually comes out in the side missions or in other interactions with NPC’s. Once I saved a farmer from an onslaught of monsters and he told me to come in and meet his wife. He is so full of joy when talking to his wife who is a long-dead skeleton in a rocking chair. I couldn’t help but chuckle at moments like this. The voice acting of even the most static NPC’s is done so perfectly that I love to just run by and listen to what they have to say now and again.
Of course it goes without saying that it has got the gore factor down. It feels so fun to watch smaller enemies explode and leave behind nothing but torsos. Larger enemies can burst and smaller enemies like eels or imps come charging out of their corpses. Once I seen a man birth a monster spider like that scene from alien while screaming about how he’s finally been blessed. It is a truly gruesome experience but in the best way possible.
Finally on to Diablo III’s main mechanic. The grinding. Normally this is a word that rings quite harshly to me. I don’t really want to constantly run around one area hacking at enemies mindlessly until the game sees me fit enough to move on. This isn’t the case in Diablo however. Loot, armor and Weapon drops occur so frequently that I find my gear constantly getting better and better. My character levels unlock so many cool new powers to try, so I don’t mind killing some extra monsters here and there. But the levelling up is so seamless that I never really felt under-levelled or under-equipped for the next quest.
The issues I have with the game are very minimal. All-in-all it is a great game and a joy to play. However I found that a vast portion of the game was just too easy, I was regenerating health from my equipment faster than enemies could take it off me and even if I stood still and did nothing they couldn’t seem to kill me. Of course that changes later in the game but I feel that more of a challenge in the opening would make the experience that more engaging. As well as this, there is no quick way to change your attacks. If I wanted to change from my bone spikes into a traditional weapon I had to go through a few selections on the skills menu which feels like it breaks up the combat a little.
Even though I am a first time player I can safely say that Diablo III hooked me right from the start. I have no doubt I’ll be spending countless more hours experimenting with the different modes and characters that the game has to offer. Well done Blizzard you’ve earned yourself another fan.
Thanks to Nintendo for providing us with a review copy of Diablo III: Eternal Collection for the Nintendo Switch.