Let’s talk about Diablo III

So, after over a decade long wait, Diablo III was finally released yesterday, and pretty much everyone who has ever cared about video games is talking about it. Never have my Facebook and Twitter feeds been overtaken by the release of a game to the extent that I’ve seen with Diablo III; the long awaited action-RPG sequel that has even retired ex-gamers dusting off their old gaming PCs, or in some cases, asking for advice on how to upgrade their PCs/laptops/Macbooks to play the game.

In fact, the majority of the people I’ve encountered discussing the game are people that I didn’t even know played games, mostly because they don’t anymore. But they did 12 years ago, and IT’S DIABLO BRO.

Anyways, so I’m supposed to write about something today, and at this point it would feel unnatural and forced to write about anything other than Diablo III. So I’m going to share my thoughts so far.

I played the beta extensively a few months ago, and did a few write-ups on the various playable classes. If anything, the beta, like most betas, served only to quell my enthusiasm for the game. The gameplay was not polished, the interface not quite as slick as it should have been, and the scope of the entire experience was just too limited to really hold my interest. I’m pleased to say that most of these issues have been resolved, and Diablo III seems to be an almost perfect action RPG.

The gameplay is fluid, polished, and compelling – and really, that’s what it’s all about. I actually can’t remember the last time I had this much fun playing a game, and I might even begrudgingly admit that I’m having more fun with Diablo III than I did with Diablo II, so far. In a weird way, Diablo III is remarkably minimalist, and I love that about it.  Having spent a shameful number of hours over the last few months exploring the world of Skyrim and battling to save Mass Effect 3’s inhabitants from the mighty Reaper invasion, I find myself now expecting slow, drawn-out gameplay and long, tedious conversation paths to dominate my game time. This is not the case with Diablo III, and it’s gloriously satisfying.

After a brief but straightforward introductory cinematic, you are thrown in the world, and within minutes you are hacking and slashing your way through zombie hordes. The narrative is worked into the gameplay seamlessly, and although you are given a healthy dose of story and background content to digest, it is served in a manner which does not distract from the gameplay. This slick integration of compelling dialogue which doesn’t detract from the fun is part of the genius that is Diablo III.

The pacing is also fantastic. Within the first hour of gameplay you can expect to start creeping up on level  10. In contrast, it can take well over 10 hours to get to the same point in Skyrim. This means that your character, at least early on, develops at a rate which is remarkably satisfying. You are never disengaged, and I think this is what will set Diablo III apart from other contemporary AAA RPGs.

I’m running out of words here, so I’ll jump to my chief complaint so far, and it’s an obvious one. I’ll give you a hint; I bitched about it on this website yesterday.  Diablo III’s obvious problem right now, is that it’s ostensibly a single-player game that requires you to be online at all times, and Blizzard’s servers have simply not been up to the task since launch. Hours of being unable to connect to the game at all are interspersed with laggy gameplay and frequent disconnects. This has led to an inordinate amount of Internet rage, which in all seriousness, I think has been blown out of proportion. I’m willing to assume that Blizzard will sort out these issues within the next few days, and we will be left to enjoy this long-awaited game, which from where I’m sitting, is promising to be something truly glorious.

Have you picked up Diablo III? How has your experience been so far?

For tips on how to potentially improve your Diablo III clicking ‘n’ looting by throwing out the minimalist new-school, here’s a handy link.