Diablo III: 5 reasons it's worth getting excited about
So it’s finally here, just the small matter of 12 years after its predecessor. We’re not even halfway through the year, but there won’t be too many bigger games launched this year than Diablo III, Blizzard’s epic dark fantasy tale that has you taking on hordes of the undead as you fight your way to a final battle against Diablo himself.
Diablo III is officially the most pre-ordered PC game of all time, and Blizzard’s Battle.NET servers nearly melted under the strain when the doors were finally flung open earlier this week and the game officially released.
But 12 years is a long time in gaming, and maybe you need a bit more convincing, so let’s take a closer look at a few of the less obvious reasons why Diablo III really is worth getting excited about:
It’s still Diablo: The problem with a lot of classic gaming franchises that see a big gap between releases is that modernising the gameplay often changes the look and feel that was inevitably part of what made the series so well loved in the first place. Diablo III boldly sets out its colours right from the start: it’s the same world, (mostly) the same characters, and the same look and feel that gamers have spent countless thousands of hours becoming familiar.
Character development is still key: Anyone who’s played Diablo I and II extensively will know that the actual plotline is just a vehicle for what really makes the game tick: characters. That’s not to say that the plot is flimsy in any way: from the richly detailed cut scenes to the slowly building pressure as you get closer and closer to the final showdown, Diablo III is a cracking game with a great storyline. But the real attraction is in building your character, scouring the game world for runes, weapons, armour, potions and of course hard cash to inch your way towards that next character level upgrade and the possibilities it promises.
Real-money auctions: Buying and selling has always been a central part of Diablo’s makeup, but with Diablo III things have moved to the next level: auction houses that enable you to bid against other gamers for in-demand items – or sell items you already own. Blizzard is setting up both a gold auction house, where you pay for items with your in-game currency, as well as an eBay-style real-money version, which will allow you to buy your way to success.
The skill calculator: As we’ve mentioned, your character level and the attributes you choose to favour when you are able to upgrade are central to the whole point of Diablo. But the complexity of the character system can be overwhelming, with different attributes on different character types opening up different abilities and the ability to use different weapons or magical items. It took years for fully comprehensive skill calculators to appear for Diablo II – a reflection of just how involved it all is. With Diablo III, Blizzard has provided a full skill calculator at launch, letting you plan ahead and ensure you’re making the right choices to achieve the character skills you want to focus on.
It’s a real blockbuster: This isn’t a game review, so it’s not for us to say whether Diablo III is ultimately better or worse than other big-budget titles we’ve come across recently. But it sure feels the part. Yes, games should ultimately be about substance, and Diablo III certainly is. But it’s also about style, and provided you’re OK with a slightly darker edge to your style, Diablo III has it in spades. It looks beautiful, and sounds even better, with the background music able to achieve that rarest of things: a sound that instantly grows on you, but that you can leave running over and over for hours without wanting to tear your hair out.