Diablo 3 Review
An addictive dungeon crawler with great replay value and strong foundations. Always online requirement hurts solo players.
Posted by Ben Thomas (nutcrackr) on May 28, 2012 - 8:26am EST (May 28, 2012 08:26)
Health orbs, dropped by monsters, provide a large portion of your health regeneration in this sequel. There are no mana potions and health vials have huge cool down times so they provide a single heal during most battles. You will never need to buy health potions when you go back to town on Normal difficulty. No need to sort belt slots so you are ready to heal when the time comes. Larger monsters just need damage before they drop a juicy health orb for you to gobble up. Rather than pressing a button to heal, you stand toe-to-toe and absorb health as you perform powerful attacks. You are rewarded for being efficient in combat and will still need to dodge certain attacks. It brings the focus back to the skill set and takes away the need to constantly consume health potions.
Monk was my class of choice and he excels at fast, powerful strikes as well as mantras (auras) that aid allies. With no Paladin the choice came down to him or the brutish Barbarian. The Monk, fuelled by spirit gained after each strike, has skills that involve fists and kicks. He has area attacks, like being able to suck enemies towards him in a Cyclone and then perform a kick to knock them back. Multiple punches produce spirit for heavy hitting attacks. There are a few powerful attacks but they never felt distinct. Some Rune unlocks, like a directional fire kick, proved extremely ineffective during battle. Despite being able to swap skills at any time, I was drawn back to a specific selection every time. For a game that touts a huge combination of skills, it didn’t really feel like it.
Diablo 3 requires players to be online at all times. Occasionally there is noticeable lag in single player which hinders combat. Lag spikes result in delays when using skills, dropping items or healing. I gradually got used to 200 - 400 pings from Australia, waiting briefly for treasure drops and pre-empting some healing. After you notice these network intrusions it will be hard to fully enjoy the experience. It isn’t pleasant when your character warps half way across your screen or fails to attack at crucial moments. The problem is not noticeable all the time but for those in remote locations consider it a warning. [Ed. It hasn't been much better for our editors in North America and elsewhere] The always online component hurts solo players in an effort to stamp out piracy.
You don’t have to fight evil alone. You can play with real people online or use AI followers. The three followers have unique personalities with verbal quips that minimized the stagnation when you reach a dead end in a dungeon. The Scoundrel is a funny thief who attacks from a distance with arrows. The Enchantress expels magic and her odd admiration of you keeps her interesting. These followers, and other story characters, can be prompted to answer questions for back story. The lore from characters and books is usually worth listening to and more can be found during subsequent play throughs. The follower AI is good enough to avoid damage and stay out of your way but multiplayer is where you will find real longevity.
It’s effortless to transition from playing solo to playing with friends or just joining a random public game. Minions grow stronger as player counts increase and each character has their own loot. Bosses and champion monsters are very difficult when you play the higher difficulties with four people. It’s enjoyable to play with lower level characters too. You’ll still get XP from completing quests and performing satisfying multi-kills. The huge array of achievements brings continuous progression and more reason to replay areas. A wide range of skills become viable when you take on lower ranked minions. Adventuring with friends and sharing the spoils of war is almost therapeutic and minutes can quickly become hours. The multiplayer produces exceptional replay value.