Top critical review
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Okay game, but it has glaring flaws in its core elements
on 22 May 2012
Like many people, I was excited about the upcoming Diablo 3. I wouldn't call myself one of the core fans, but I liked the first two Diablo games, and this game had been a long time in the coming, and from what I saw in the video previews was interesting.
Even my tempered expectations for this game however have not really been met. Don't get me wrong, I think that it has its place in the gaming industry, but when compared to other games currently on the market, there just isn't enough to it, nor are some of the core elements of it actually functioning as I believe they were intended.
This game is primarily built on nostalgia. I loved that. There is so much of the old games in this new one that there wasn't such a great leap, and you certainly KNOW you are playing a Diablo game. It has the same style of play, the same camera angle, the same way the maps work, but the graphics are updated to modern standards, and I was really impressed with that. So many games these days have dumped the old gaming history dealt out by Baldurs Gate and Icewind Dale, and indeed Diablo and Diablo 2, but this game is certainly living up to that without it feeling dated right now.
One thing should be mentioned is that you don't get to customize your character, at all, except in what way you dye your gear, or what you put on. There is no way, even minimally, to change how your character looks. I was disappointed at first by that, but as soon as you start the game it becomes obvious why that is the case. They have made stories for each of the classes, and the voiceovers and stories with them are illustrated. This indeed helps to draw you into the game, though it does mean that if you don't particularly like the voice or look of the character, well, there isn't anything you can do about it except for playing a different class or gender.
Game length and game acts:
I was not really that happy with the game length. As in the last games, in order to get a more difficult difficulty in the game, you have to complete the game all the way through. But in all honesty, I was expecting it to be longer. I went through first time, doing all the quests (you can't skip doing quests) and fully opening each map when I went through them, and it took me, as a slow player, about 25 hours to go through it at normal difficulty. And yes, of course, you get to do it again on more difficult levels much as the last one, and you can level up more, but it's all the same except for the upgraded monsters and better drops.
Also, the Acts, of which there are four, don't really feel that long, and they are pretty much the same locations as the previous games apart from one. This could be a good or a bad thing really, especially in terms of how samey it feels compared to the previous games. Some people will like it, for nostalgia sake, others will find it a bit boring. At first the nostalgia was good, but after a while, I realized that I would have preferred a world that was a bit more diverse, or had a few more acts that had different locations.
Loot, Crafting and Auction House:
Talking of loot, I don't think this has really worked out as Blizzard intended. In previous games, a lot of the challenge in the game, other than the difficulty, was finding good gear, because it let you take on stronger mobs, and get better loot, and gear up along with your level. This still happens, however they have added Crafting to the game.
I thought the crafting was an excellent idea, because it gave you another way to invest in your character, and indeed your account, because the level of your crafting stays with your account, meaning you can use it to make stuff on your low level characters to. However, you pay to upgrade your crafting, and it is quite a lot of money to do that, and then you pay more, and in salvaged reagents in order to craft things. That is a LOT of money, and in all honesty, I generally found that I was finding gear that was better from looting monsters.
But more than that, and something that I find a serious flaw in the game is that no matter what you make in the crafting, you can get better equipment on the auction house, and it is significantly cheaper. Even if you don't take into account the cost of upgrading your Blacksmith, the stuff you can find on the auction house, put there by other players, is usually LESS than the cost of the crafting you would use, especially since the magical attributes you craft into it are ENTIRELY random. This means that even if you find, out of the limited selection, something you want to craft, you may have to pay to craft the item three times if you are lucky, to get attributes you are generally happy with.
This of course means that the crafting is useless. There is no reason for players to use all their money doing crafting, when they can invest the money in buying gear from other players. It also means that the constant hunt for gear in the game itself is pointless except from bosses or rare mobs, and this actually takes away from the game in my opinion.
The auction house is one of the main reasons why this game was set up to be one that requires a constant internet connection, even if you are playing alone. This requirement for connectivity is, in my opinion, a glaring fault with the game.
Now, I understand that at the beginning of any launch there are bound to be difficulties, bugs, server overload. That is just part and parcel of having a game that requires all the gamers to link up to servers. However I have not been that pleased with the ammount of downtime the game has, especially since I mostly have played it solo and therefore not needed to group up with friends from far away places. It has been a week since the release of the game, and I have been able to play the game around the same amount of time that I have tried to get on the game and been unable to because of the servers being down from errors or from server maintenance. This is a LOT of time where the game I purchased has been unplayable through no fault of my own, and I would be remiss in not pointing out that this has put a damper on my affection of the game.
A game, in my opinion should be playable, and only at the discression of Blizzard/battle.net servers is this the case. I feel there should have been settings that allowed you to play offline, as other multiplayer games (including previous Diablo) ones have done. This would also have aleviated stress from there servers, and therefore hopefully have reduced the downtime and server lagg that many people have put up with.
One thing that has been added is a full list of achievements. These range from different conversations and lore you find in the world, up to different achievements for boss fights and other challenges, including class ones. I feel that it was a good thing to add to the game, as it allows a bit more reason for people to play through things several times.
For all its faults, Diablo 3 can boast to have a good multiplayer setup. It is easy to join up with other friends (assumung they are on the same region server, people in europe cannot play with someone on US servers unless they create a new character on that server) to run around the world together and do the quests. Indeed the game works far better as a multiplayer than a solo player to be honest. The mob levels adjust to how many people are in your group, and what level they are. Indeed, you can have a level 57 character come and help level 31 and so-forth. It also makes grinding the levels pretty easy if you have a good group going, and it also makes it a lot faster.
However, one of the main reasons I liked multiplayer, was the fact that I can run around with my friends and kill things. But the fact remains that I can do that in other games, that are more fun, diverse and interesting than this one, and have more long-term appeal, such as Rift ([...]).
I have heard a lot of people raving about the cinematics in the game. There are several such cinematics. Yes, they are well done, yes the skin texture looks amazing, but this really isn't, in my opinion, a good enough reason to buy a game. A game should be about gameplay, not cutscenes.
For all the hype, I still feel that this game is mediocre.
Compared, as it should be, to older games such as Baldur's Gate, the game is short (perhaps due to all the disk space needed for those cinematics and voiceovers), and the main reason for levelling up and playing the game falls back on money grinding for the use on the auction house, and for achievements.
The game is better by far in Multiplayer, though it has no voice-chat facility, but I found myself thinking that this game is not so much a NEW game, as an updated expansion pack to Diablo 2. If you think of this game as that, then you will be less disappointed, and if you are happy with that, you may well love this game, but it really doesn't seem like a 'new' game, except for a couple of new class types.
Overall, I would suggest to people that this game is not worth the initial price of £35-45 for the standard edition. It is a mediocre game and I would not expect people to pay premium prices for it. I think if you can pick it up for £10-15, that is fair.
I suppose that after playing other games, I just found Diablo 3 to be lacking both in terms of a single-player game, and as a multiplayer when compared to other games on the market. Other games have far more content, better customer service, less online downtime. If you want nostalgia and don't mind paying highly for it, I guess Diablo 3 could be your cup of tea, but don't expect miricles. There are flaws, and in my opinion, big ones.