- Hits the perfect nostalgia/new balance
- Couch co-op is great
- Lackluster story
- The companions suck
I know I’m way behind the curve on this post. Diablo 3 has been out for years and I’m only just getting to it. That being said, Diablo 3 is the perfect blend of nostalgia and innovation. I played it on Xbox One, which is a vastly different experience than playing Diablo 2 on PC. However different, the experience is entirely pleasant.
Diablo 3’s Best Points
Diablo 3 follows the pattern set by the other successful titles in the series. It’s a top-down button-masher with cool character classes, abilities, and gear. Most maps are randomly generated, which makes going to each area a different experience every time. In fact, almost everything in the game follows a similar pattern to that of the previous games, but with some updates and modernizations that make this an exceptional and current game.
The inventory management system is far more streamlined than in previous games, at least for Xbox One. Instead of having to rearrange your inventory to make everything fit into a grid, you simply have slots for whatever equipment you want to carry in your backpack. The inventory system also gives you a quick-reference as to the quality of the gear you pick up, by showing between 1 and 3 green or red arrows. The color of the arrow indicates whether the gear boosts or drops your primary stats (attack, defense, and health), while the number of arrows show how large the change is. That system works really smoothly, making updating items a lot easier to evaluate.
However good the inventory system is, this game stands out because of the character classes. Only two classes truly holds over from the previous game, the Barbarian and the Necromancer. The other classes are new, if familiar in some respects. The Demon Hunter uses bows and crossbows, and has a slew of powerful abilities that keep her enemies at range. The Monk is a fast-hitting, fast-moving melee character. When I say fast, I mean really fast. The Witch Doctor is a quirky class that I never really got the hang of, but it does have a lot of flavor. Finally, the Wizard is much like the sorceress of Diablo 2, with some significant differences. Every class has abilities that are well thought out and fit the class.
Abilities and Skills
When you select abilities to use for Diablo 3 on Xbox One, you have the option to bind them to any of six buttons (A, B, X, Y, RT, RB). You start the game with only access to A and RT, but as you progress more binding points unlock. When you bind an ability to a button, you may also equip a runic upgrade. Each rune changes the way an ability works. Sometimes those changes are significant, sometimes not. Regardless, I really enjoy the variability that the updated ability system offers.
Diablo 3’s Worst Points
I loved this game. That being, said, it’s not without its warts. This game had a completel uninspired story. You have AI companions who serve only to clutter inventory and steal kills. Gear was fun and plentiful, but it was generally a simple matter of swapping out the current magical item with the one I just picked up. The Necromancer cost far too much for a simple character pack, and there is a LOT of content that is exclusive or otherwise inaccessible to the average player.
To be clear, I’m not saying that Diablo 3’s story was worse than many other video-game stories. I’m saying that it was utterly predictable. There was not a major plot element that we couldn’t predict well before. Of course, I’ve said the same of most movies and television shows I watch. It’s not surprising, after all, the other games in this series followed the same patterns. I just hoped for more.
Companion characters are one of my least favorite elements of any game, and this game does them better than most. That being said, the companions you can bring along in this game include a Templar, a Scoundrel, Enchantress, and one or two others. I stopped paying attention after a while. In my experience, they served no purpose. They accompany you, get in your way, and steal kills. Oh, and you pick up loot that only they can use. In other words, they’re effective – which is one of the worst things, in my opinion, that an AI companion can be. Companion characters also get in the way, which is the other worst thing an AI companion can do. So on both counts, the Companion characters in this game failed.
The gear in Diablo 3 was plentiful and had some fair variation. Even more, you could transmogrify and dye it to make your character look pretty dang awesome. That being said, there were very few times I couldn’t just look at the little green or red arrows when comparing equipment and know which I would use. Additionally, until I got to Adventure Mode, there weren’t any set items. I did not have to juggle the benefits of one piece of gear against the bonuses given by having two under-leveled items.
Additionally, the weapon and armor crafting always resulted in gear that was over-level and under-powered. It made me question why I paid to upgrade Haedrig’s crafting station. The same goes for Covetous Shen and his gem market. Combining gems is exorbitantly expensive, and you cannot complete his progression in the normal course of the story. Instead you have to complete a Rift and hope that a specific item drops. Not a fan of that, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself.
Downloadable Content & Additional Content
I know that it’s a common trend in gaming to have exclusive content, and DLC out your ears. Diablo 3 manages to only have two paid expansions: Reaper of Souls (covered below), and the Necromancer. The Necromancer comes at a steep price, only to add a character and some cosmetic items. I don’t mean to disparage the work or thought the designers put into the Necromancer pack, but it’s just as expensive as buying the entire game (with Reaper of Souls) was for me.
More than the cost of the Necromancer, I struggled with the idea of the cosmetic upgrades and certain bonuses that could only be obtained by playing the game well beyond the scope of the story. To upgrade Covetous Shen and Haedrig to their maximum levels, you have to play through rifts in Adventure Mode and hope to get drops of highly specialized items. Additionally, getting any of the cosmetic items required either a pre-order, playing for untold hours hoping to find a Menagerist Goblin, or some other kind of mindless loot farming.
Loot farming was the thing I liked least about Diablo 2, and unfortunately, it’s back in Diablo 3. Add to that exclusive items you can only get by playing through a Season, or by pre-ordering, or other exclusive means, and you’ve got a game with content that drives me crazy.
Reaper of Souls Expansion
The Reaper of Souls expansion follows the same pattern as the rest of Diablo 3, albeit with some additional elements that expand on some of the more wearying points of the story. In Reaper of Souls, you’ll fight the angel of death. He’s determined to wipe out humanity. So, of course, you have to take him down. It’s another predictable story, but it does set the stage for a sequel. All in all, Reaper of Souls is just an extension of everything in the base game. It doesn’t appear to add anything significant.
Buy Diablo 3
I know I had some negative things to say about Diablo 3. Don’t let that throw you off. I really enjoyed the game, and I’d highly encourage you to play it. You can pick up the version I bought on Amazon, by using the link below:
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