So I am big fan of the Diablo franchise. Diablo 2 remains my favorite PC game of all time and I literally marked out when Diablo 3 was first announced for the console, a while back at the PS4 reveal.
All that bad news of always online, the rise and fall of R.M.A.H. (Real Money Auction House) and a dumbed down version of the R.P.G. genre couldn’t budge me from the decision that Diablo 3 was something I wanted, nay needed to play. It became the first game that I per-ordered (which is a big thing, the noob never per-orders), it also became the first game that I played local co-op on the PS4.
Since the August 19th launch of the game, both me and my brother have been playing the game relentlessly. I had played the demo on an X-Box 360 and had a hard time killing the first boss of the game. Cooperatively however, the game feels and plays so much more easier. I cranked up the difficulty to the highest setting possible on the first play through and we still waltzed our way through the complete game in 1 week (that’s around 5-7 hours each day). We had our moments of repetitive deaths and frustration, sure; but it never felt like all hope was lost; a feeling that both of us were all too familiar with when playing Diablo 2.
Local co-op is also designed for plug and play. If a new player joins an already leveled up player, he would earn experience much more quickly and his stats would be temporarily boosted. He will also receive items which the player can use, instead of loot which is out of his level reach just because he was playing in a higher level dungeon.
In fact the whole game has been streamlined to make you spend more time playing than preparing. All items come with comparisons of basic stats so you can equip an item, just by looking at the red or green arrows instead of equipping a item and then comparing your stats with the earlier ones. When you die, you have the option of resurrecting next to your partner, to the nearest checkpoint or to town. You also never loose any of your stuff on dying, ensuring that you have the best items equipped at any time. Basic stats are upgraded automatically as you level up and the only decision that you need to make is how to use the next set of unlocked skills.
Not all thing have become easier though. You can not for example drink potions one after the other, there is a cool-down in place, so you really need to plan when is the right time to drink a potion. Town portals though are now unlimited in number, they are not immediate and take some time to open however, during which if you are disturbed the whole process needs to start again. You also cannot change your skills when in a boss battle or when they are in cool-down, so you need to settle on a game-plan well in advance.
For people looking for an experience more akin to Diablo 2; the game really begins when its over. Once you have leveled out to the cap limit of 60, you can earn Paragon points. These points can be used to increase attributes such as strength, speed, vitality etc the old fashioned way. These points however will be common to all characters from your profile, so points gained from one character can be used on the others. Hardcore characters however share a different pool than normal characters.
Video & Sound- 8/10
Story wise, its more of the same. Go there, kill that, some philosophy about good and evil and everything in between. The cinematic though are top-notch whenever they come, which are far too few. Graphically the game ran at 1080p and 60 FPS as advertised, however I did notice some glitches on the screen after some long hours of play. The voice acting is nothing to write home about though, and that hurts the game more than it should. The sound and the vibration that precedes the arrival of the Nemesis however is pretty awesome and ominous. The game also comes to the consoles with the latest Reaper of Souls D.L.C and the Loot 2.0 update included.
The main campaign is pretty long, and if it wasn’t for the marathon runs that me and my brother were doing (running through dungeons, finishing only bare minimum quests), players can loose themselves into Diablo 3 for months. Even the end game material, seems tempting enough, offering random dungeons and legendary loot to keep you entertained.
In eyes of many Diablo 3 is a dumbed down version of Diablo 2. I can see where they come from, but its still a very well made and thought out R.P.G. In fact if Diablo 3 was missing the features above, a lot of people would have complained of it being out of its time. Blizzard focus was on easy playability instead of a Dark Soul experience, something which is clear in their other games as well. Easy to understand, quick to play all with very high production values.
Diablo 2 was one of the games that defined a generation, Diablo 3 is not as revolutionary as that but its still pretty good. I would expect all fans of Diablo 2 to have some complaints, but for most (like my brother and I) it would be fun to finally play together instead of taking turns playing Diablo.
Diablo 3 Ultimate Evil Edition is #NoobPick for August 2014