Diablo III – Review

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I mean you in the figurative sense. You personally are not fighting the demons, you are controlling a pre-made avatar that lacks any form of personalization whatsoever. The player is forced to choose from one of 5 classes, and your customization comes in the form of choosing gender and a completely useless name. The name means next to nothing, short of helping you discern your level 60 Monk from your other level 60 Monk in your character select screen. Each player is given 10 character slots, so it’s assumed we would all want to create a male and female variation of all 5 classes. For achievement purposes you may want to do so, but otherwise there isn’t a reason. Dialogue may be different, vaguely, but otherwise the game is the same whether you choose boy or girl parts to act as your digital representative in Sanctuary. Your five class choices are not only a cosmetic choice, but also a choice in how you choose to primarily combat the hellish demons. If you wish to bash them over the head with big sticks you may want to opt for the Barbarian or Monk. Do you have an affinity for mesmerizing spell effects, and summoning the undead to battle the undead for you? Then aim your sights on the Wizard and Witch Doctor. If you’ve always wanted to perform on the gymnastics team in the Olympics while simultaneously taking home the Gold in archery, then make the Demon Hunter your final selection.

In order: Wizard, Witch Doctor, Demon Hunter, Barbarian, Monk

Each class offers multiple ways to dispatch your foes after you hit level 20. Before that you’re forced through a “tutorial” of sorts. For the first 4 levels you’re restricted to the use of only 2 hotkeys, right and left click. At level 4 you obtain the option to use the Number 1 key as well. Every few levels you’re granted a new skill slot until level 19, when all skill slots are unlocked, and 30, when the last of your passive slots is unlocked. The good news here is there is no choosing which skill to place points into in order to make that optimum dart throwing barbarian you’ve always dreamed of. Instead all skills are learned at specific levels, whether you want it or not. The only choice you make is whether you want to spit out poison darts or throw jars of spiders. I kid you not, this is actually something I still debate over, even moving onto level 60. On top of that good news, choices are not permanent. You hate the jar of spiders? Fine switch it for the poison dart, which I highly recommend.

One of the primary complaints out of the vocal minority’s incessant whining was that all characters of a specific class are essentially the same, barring any differences in equipment. Their complaint stems form the idea that, by not forcing players to make any permanent decisions, Blizzard is somehow removing all forms of personalization from the Diablo franchise, which they feel is the one true feature that made Diablo, Diablo. I would disagree with this, as would the numbers. A recent post on the Diablo website stated that the most common builds on any characters, out of the over 6 million players, were only being used by .7% of those who had reached the maximum level with that specific character. It literally amounted to less then 200 people, and in turn told every complaining hipster to shut up and just enjoy the damn game. Diablo III caters to different play styles, and refuses to punish you for choosing your style of play. Rather then force you to make permanent decisions and then later realize that one of your decisions isn’t going to work out for this build, thus requiring you to start from scratch to correct your mistake only to then find out the new build was shit too, Diablo III encourages the player to make changes on the fly. There are incentives for not changing your skill layout every 5 minutes, but those don’t kick in till level 60. Until then you change what you want, when you want, and find out what works best for you.

You will be changing your skills a lot. On any given level you could receive as many as 3 different abilities, including passive skills, active skills, and skill runes. Passive and Active skills should be fairly self explanatory. Passives are skills that benefit you without any action on your part, and Active skills are any skill that is actively used on the field of battle. The skill runes are the interesting thing here. Skill Runes are a way to make old, and seemingly useless, skills useful. Remember that jar of spiders? Sure it sounds cool, but it’s useless. But how about a jar of flaming spiders?! Still useless, but a lot cooler none the less. Some skills gain new perks like heath drain, or more AOE; Others change outright, like the Haunt ability that used to DOT 1 enemy now becomes a flying minion of doom shooting energy blasts at random enemies for a short period of time. It’s quite impressive, and some skills will surprise you as they become increasingly more usefull(less) as the game progresses. Making sure you have useful skills is almost as difficult as actually fighting the minions within Sanctuary themselves.

Act 1 on Normal mode is easy. For all intents and purposes, it’s the tutorial. By the time you’re finished Act 1 you will be beyond level 20, and will be on your way to mastering some awesome skills. Don’t be fooled, you will still die in Act 1. In fact majority of the deaths in hardcore mode, where the game is no more difficult then normal but death is permanent, occur during Act 1. The game gets significantly more difficult as you progress to new lands, but it never truly feels impossible, until you reach the next difficulty setting. While Nightmare seems manageable, it still has you crying for mercy. Hell will punish you so bad that you’ll wish you never made the purchase in the first place. Inferno is the grand master of torture, proving that even the best equipment can’t save you from everything. Despite the large jumps in difficulty, Diablo III still manages to be fun throughout. This is in no part deterred by the fact that new equipment lies within reach at all times, and the “just one more kill” excuse will soon become a standard in your vocabulary.

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is not a boss.

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