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Diablo III (PC) artwork

Diablo III (PC) review

"Overall, Diablo III is a solid experience worth a try. If you have not played it since release (as I had not), I highly suggest giving it another go, if for no other reason than to take the bad taste out of your mouth from playing it the first time."

Note: This review is current as of patch 2.0.5

In the Beginning...There was a lot of Suck
Let’s be real here, when Diablo III was originally released in 2012, despite a lot of critical praise, it sucked. A lot of people hated it. There were a lot of server issues initially that prevented people from logging on or playing the game. They forced more linear progression rather than the strictly randomly generated areas of Diablo I & II. The auction house, although great in theory, totally ruined the end-game by sapping away any sort of reward from grinding and finding gear. People complained about pretty much everything from the graphics to the gameplay and celebrated almost nothing. “Disappointment” was the word that best described Diablo III. Two years and one new game director later, Blizzard has released an expansion, Reaper of Souls to the ill-fated Diablo III. Fortunately, there is nothing disappointing about this breath of fresh air on a declining franchise.

Diablo III (PC) image

Phat Lewtz 2.0
One of the core gameplay elements of the Diablo series always has, and always will revolve around getting the best gear for your character. With that said, perhaps the main improvement over the original Diablo III is the removal of the auction house function and revamping the loot drop system for the individual player. Now, loot relevant to the player’s class will drop instead of the random kaleidoscope of trash that would drop previously. This, coupled with limited trading options between players, encourages the player to play the game to get the gear upgrades rather than forcing them to rely on trading or an auction house to get items for themselves. They have also fine-tuned the drop rates so that you will find gear upgrades at a decent pace...not one slow enough to be frustrating and un-rewarding, but not one so fast as to break the game. Additionally, Blizzard has created items in the game that actually have a massive effect on skills and skill usage...which can totally change the build that the player may want to run with.

Stay Awhile and Listen
The lore of Diablo III is actually really interesting, in-depth, and well-developed...outside the game. Blizzard has released multiple novels and compendiums documenting the history of the forces of Heaven and Hell in the world. Even on the website, they have extremely well-written short stories accompanying each class (the crusader’s story is a must read). In-game, however, the storytelling is undoubtedly lacking. There are 5 different acts in Diablo III. Acts I-IV make up the original game and have you battling against the last two lords of Hell, Belial the Lord of Lies and Azmodan the Lord of Sin, to stop the End of Days. Act V is a new addition with Reaper of Souls and introduces a new villain...Malthael, the Angel of Death. He seeks to end the Eternal Conflict (the battle between Heaven and Hell) by wiping out all those whose souls contain demonic taint...including all of humanity. The premise of the storyline in Diablo III and its expansion is pretty awesome. I mean, you get to fight against both angels and demons in an effort to save all of humanity from annihilation. It doesn’t get much more epic than that! On the other hand, the dreadful in-game storytelling ruins any shot at an unforgettable tale to be told. The original Diablo III had some laughable, 2-dimensional characters and really cliched storytelling, and Reaper of Souls sadly continues this tradition. They really lost out to have a truly memorable and great villain in Malthael, the former aspect of Wisdom whom has fallen, as he’s barely featured outside of the opening cinematic and final fight.

Diablo III (PC) image

Classes and Artisans and Followers, Oh My!
There are 6 different classes to choose from in Diablo III, 3 melee classes, the barbarian, crusader, and monk, and 3 ranged classes, the wizard, witch doctor, and demon hunter. The crusader class is new to Reaper of Souls and plays a bit like the paladin from Diablo II, even sharing some of the iconic abilities like blessed hammer. Each class allows a player to choose 6 different active and 4 passive skills from a diverse pool of abilities. This not only lets the player to choose from distinctly different classes, but permits players to play each class in many different ways. Of course, some builds are a bit better than others, but there doesn’t appear to be “one build to rule them all” for each class, allowing for a lot of diversification.

Artisans are a new introduction to the Diablo universe. They are basically craftsmen that perform different functions for the player. The blacksmith can create armor for the player using materials found in-game or salvaged from magical gear. The jeweler can socket or unsocket gems into gear (provided they have slots open) and can combine gems to create more powerful ones. Finally, the mystic, new to Reaper of Souls, can change the appearance of gear and also replace one magical statistic on items with another randomly generated one. The mystic really helps the game as she allows you to find that one legendary piece of gear that is not quite perfect...and lets you make it so. This really gives the gear a longer lifespan for the player as well as providing a great in-game money sink. The jeweler is also pretty important for the player, but the blacksmith is hit and miss as the player cannot decide on the statistics for the gear crafted...sometimes leaving you with trash for the hard work put in to find the materials for crafting.

Followers are a carry-over from Diablo II and you get a choice of 3, a tanky Templar, a crossbow bearing scoundrel, and the ethereal enchantress. The player can equip them with some of the items found and can choose 4 abilities to use (from a pool of 8). The followers don’t really contribute too much, especially on harder difficulties, but are welcome additions to a single player game and even have their own unique stories and (in Reaper of Souls)) subquests.

Diablo III screenshotDiablo III screenshot

Rift It Forward
When Diablo III was originally released, the end-game was a boring, monotonous grind that consisted of repeatedly running the same areas in story mode over and over and over and over again. It’s no wonder that the large majority of players left after a few months. In Reaper of Souls, however, Blizzard has added in a new end-game...adventure mode. In adventure mode, you have access to the whole game and are asked to complete bounties in each act. These bounties range from boss kills to event completion and give you an xp and gold reward. More importantly, however, is that you can earn rift fragments. These fragments allow the player to open up a rift to a randomly created dungeon and THIS is where the real end game is. Rifts have a heightened chance to drop legendary pieces of gear and completing bounties and rifts is much faster in the player is subtly urged to form parties with different players to do this. Farming rifts (especially in a party) is much more fun than the old story mode farm without a doubt. The new adventure mode is a welcome addition that really gives a lot of longevity and replayability to the game.

Diablo III (PC) image

You Reap What You Sow
I’ve said a lot of good things about Diablo III: Reaper of Souls, because, over the original release, it has been a vast improvement. Does that make it a great game though? Not really. There are still some gaping holes that are missing. First and foremost, is PvP (player vs. player)...the system installed in the game is laughable at best and disgustingly disrespectful to the memory of Diablo PvP at worst. The in-game story telling is so horrible that it really ruins a lot of key moments that could have been truly powerful. The game also requires you to be online to play it, even if you just want to solo...while this isn’t really an issue for me, it is worth mentioning because a lot of players really seem to hate it. Overall, Diablo III is a solid experience worth a try. If you have not played it since release (as I had not), I highly suggest giving it another go, if for no other reason than to take the bad taste out of your mouth from playing it the first time. I give Diablo III: Reaper of Souls a 7/10. It is fun, but flawed and will be a great experience for any fan of the point-and-click action-RPG’s...but doesn’t really reach across boundaries like its predecessors did and grab fans from outside the genre.

Never3ndr's avatar
Community review by Never3ndr (May 15, 2014)

Retro-Gaming Enthusiast!

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