Diablo III, the game many of you have waited 12 long years for, is finally out. You can download the game from Blizzard Entertainment’s Battle.net online PC gaming service.
The game has gone through a series of tweaks, but remains true to Diablo II. The mechanics for collecting loot and fast travel have been improved, without changing the core of the game.
In Diablo III you control a hero (who can be a barbarian, a wizard, a witch doctor or other specialized class) with your mouse. The viewpoint hovers some distance above your character, giving you a bird’s-eye view. You must click to move, explore the world, interact with objects, and attack monsters.
There are many different types of monsters that require fresh combat strategies. There’s even a little puzzle-solving, but for the most part, Diablo is a click fest that requires you to go from dungeon to dungeon, killing everything that moves.
Bigger and badder: A barbarian warrior fights off demons
Blizzard has created a cohesive world where each area feels real and lived in by the many monsters you fight. Nearly everything you kill drops loot, and as you progress the loot improves, keeping you hooked to the game.
The game mechanics have been streamlined for a new generation of gamers. Instead of earning “skill points” to unlock traits, you automatically gain skills as you progress in the game.
Similarly, instead of managing a limited supply of health potions, you heal by killing enemies, who drop glowing orbs of health. Getting back to towns from dungeons filled with enemies no longer requires expensive scrolls either.
The game is faster and more aggressive. You are encouraged to think about the way in which you’re dealing with monsters, and to notice changing attack patterns and powers.
Combat—the core of the genre—is highly satisfying and varied. There’s a satisfying ebb and flow of difficulty in the game—some parts will leave you feeling godlike, while others see you overwhelmed.
One big change that isn’t great is the requirement to be online to play. People can drop in and out of the game, and playing with four people at the same time is a brilliant feeling. The game is tougher, but the rewards are better, and it feels much more dynamic than playing alone. You can also trade items collected in the game with each other, or at the auction house.
However, the predictable downside is that when you’re not on the Internet, the single-player game that you bought and paid for does not run. That would still be all right as a developer decision if it worked properly, but for many people connecting to the game is proving difficult.
That’s because the number of people logging on at the same time is higher than Blizzard expected, taking its servers off the Net. The company gives many reasons for the requirement, such as authenticating items to prevent cheating, particularly as it plans to allow people to sell their items for real money.
But in aiming to protect that possible revenue stream, Blizzard has made a business decision that nearly undoes the design brilliance it shows in Diablo III.