I’ve lately found myself growing tired of shooters and itching to crawl through some zombie-infested dungeons on my hands and knees looking for loot; I also found myself wanting something with good coop which seems to be a dying art within the gaming industry. Enter Diablo 3, a dungeon crawler with good coop. It’s nice when the square pegs fit perfectly into the square Diabloles1.
Well, perhaps not perfectly. Diablo 3 was what I was looking for, but it isn’t a perfect game. It gets the job done, but it’s a bit of a puzzle really. Parts of it just Diablow2 while other parts are gloriously fun and wrought with good game design.
Let’s start with the negatives to get them out of the way:
The narrative in Diablo 3 is terrible. Everything about it is awful. I’m trying to think of a positive part to the story, and I just can’t. It starts off with a gorgeous cut scene about an incoming cataclysm involving angels and demons…and somehow manages to not work at all.
The story is convoluted and silly, and you’ll be spending your time looking for Soul Stones and other Macguffin nonsense as the NPC characters around you spout off nothing but exposition. Bosses show up to taunt you because they are evil, and then you predictably kill them later because that’s how video games work. Even during the last hour of the game, you’re being fed random facts that mean nothing, though the game seems to find them important.
It’s tired; it’s cliché; it’s Diablorable3.
Tonally, the game is all over the place, and I feel like it’s trying to be funny most of the time but also trying to take itself really seriously. It doesn’t work, and I found myself cringing more often than not.
The voice acting isn’t very good either, though some of that is the bad dialogue. The whole package would be much improved by David Diablowie’s4 expertise.
But, who buys a dungeon crawler for a story? By all means, skip everything and just listen to music or podcasts while you search for loot. That’s what I’ve been doing on my second play through, and life is much improved because of it.
The game’s difficulty curve is also a mark against it. Your character starts off quite weak in the beginning, but by the halfway point you’re diablowing5 through everyone and only dying if you accidentally stand in fire. This has even become the case on the harder difficulty I’m currently going through, with the beginning fourth being annoyingly difficult and the halfway mark starting to become dangerously easy. Bosses have abilities that kill me in one hit, but regular monsters aren’t posing much of a threat anymore. I’m not sure how powerful they’ll be in another few hours of play, but my gear and abilities are only going to go up.
On my first play through, I didn’t die at all for perhaps the last six hours of the game. Bosses were pushovers, and the creepy crawlies between me and victory only existed to burn. Sadly, Diablo 3 is prone to moments of being a Diabloring6 button masher.
The A button is your primary one, and too many actions are mapped to it. It picks up loot, attacks, and skips dialogue, meaning when monsters show up while characters are talking, you’ll wind up missing those bouts of exposition. Likewise, expect to accidentally pick up things you don’t need.
But, those are my four negatives towards the game. Everything else is quite great, and there’s a lot of everything else to talk about.
The hardest part about big RPG-style games is progression, and while the game isn’t difficult for the latter half of it, the want to see that latter half is still there. Diablo 3 progresses like a dream, and leveling up is always a joy and something to look forward to.
You have seven active abilities and two passive ones, and all of them have additions to choose from. Firing a machine-gun level of arrows with a snazzy looking Diablow7-and-arrow is the first RT Demon Hunter ability, but a few levels later and that machinegun becomes some kind of minigun; a few levels further and that minigun is now stuns. Don’t like the mini gun? That’s okay. You can equip deadly-boomerang style chakrams or powerful elemental-infused arrows instead, all of which level-up in the same fashion. This design follows every button, and some change quite drastically as you go.
Despite the variety, character customization isn’t Diabloated8; in fact, it feels quite slick.
In many RPGs’ and dungeon crawlers that I’ve played, leveling up was simply a desired outcome, a means to an end. In Diablo 3 however, leveling up is a reward. Every new level yields a new skill or skill upgrade, so there’s this constant want to keep playing. The game has a devilishly good hook to it, and it’s one I was quite happy to follow along.
Gear options are also extensive, and there’s always loot to be had. Blizzard has a knack for making games addictive, but that isn’t a negative, especially in a game like this. Finding and comparing loot is just really, really fun. Loot isn’t soul bound either like in World of Warcraft, so even though my brother and myself are now playing melee classes, we have no issues trading weapons and armor between us when something new comes along.
And I must tip my imaginary hat to Blizzard for designing one of the coolest pet classes that I’ve ever seen. The Witch Doctor is wicked awesome. From throwing jars of spiders to summoning a wave of bats more akin to a Diablowtorch9, to summoning zombie dogs (up to three if you play your cards right) to ensnaring a giant demon, to somehow spawning little devils with giant knives for the absolute hell of it, you’ll have your hands full.
I believe my brother once had nine pets on the screen. Not all of them stick around forever, but there’s a special kind of joy in walking through the Fields of Slaughter with your own personal army.
The Demon Hunter is also a really nice take on the ranged class. Equipped with two different mana reserves, you’ll never run out of some kind of energy to shoot the hordes of undead. Traps, flips, and arrows with every magical element needed abound, and the class is super lithe and fun to maneuver. I felt like a gun-wielding ninja for most of the game.
The Barbarian seems to be a standard warrior class, though there are some fun little extras to go along. You can summon minions to fight alongside you for a short while later on, and if you set yourself up right, you’ll rarely run out of throwing axes which thrive off of fury. Evidently, Barbarians are always angry.
The Monk is, sadly, a little boring. Equipped with a Diablow10 staff, you’ll be whacking demons and sending them flying with fire-infused kicks, but I’ve found that his best setup involves more passive abilities that work in the background. It means mashing the A button quite often and not bothering with the others.
Graphically, the game is a nice kind of stylized. There’s almost a pastel sheen to everything that keeps the characters and environments looking bright and inviting, even when they are dark and called The Defiled Crypt or The Realm of Terror. Even the backdrops look great, despite a few looking flatter than the intent. The cut scenes are stunning and what everyone expects from a Blizzard game.
With five different character classes and more difficulty levels than I care to count, replayability thrives. The dungeons all have a heavy random aspect to them, so no two ever play alike, and while this means monsters are sometimes oddly paced, it never hinders anything and keeps exploring feeling fresh.
Verdict is 8.0 out of 10
Diablo 3 is a good game. It has flaws, but the experience is still there and very much worth playing through. The level-up system is as addictive as doing Diablow11 off a hooker’s perky buttocks, and though I don’t know how the game feels playing it Diablone12, I’ve enjoyed and will continue to enjoy its cooperative features.
Diablo 3 isn’t going to revolutionize the world like a diabloaf13 of sliced bread or put a hole in the Diablozone14 layer like some major kind of chlorofluorocarbon, but it’s worth kicking off your Diabloafers15 for, putting your feat up on a fancy table, and having some fun.
These puns were brought to you by diablow16 hanging fruit.
Ending Disclaimer: Diablo 3 is my first Diablo game, I played through the entire thing with my brother, I rolled a Demon Huntress and he a Witch Doctor, and we played through on medium difficulty. We are currently halfway through on a much harder difficulty with a Monk and Barbarian between us.