by Chris Capel
previewed on PC
Co-op and PvP
The five classes have all manner of fun and crazy attacks, and despite the similarity between some (notably the Witch Doctor and Wizard) they all appear to be unique to play. Blizzard seems determined to make all classes extremely enjoyable to play and make it as difficult as possible for players to choose one to stick with.
At least it will add compelling reasons to replay the game. All classes are certainly unique already and great fun to play, giving the feeling of being utterly overpowered and yet still being level fighters. It’s an astonishing trick that Blizzard’s pulled off, really.
The quest system and the way players receive them has apparently undergone a major revamp. Once again adding to the replay value, there will be random side quests and mini-missions that players won’t see every playthrough.
Then of course, I’m not talking just single-player replay value here. The wonderful co-operative play is arguably the main reason why the Diablo series is so enduringly popular throughout the world, with the fast battling/quick looting gameplay proving perfect for group play. It is definitely the main reason I’m incredibly excited for Diablo III, even if I have to go through Battle.net to do it. There’s PvP too, although that is there for fun only. Blizzard has made it clear that (unlike Starcraft or World of Warcraft) it is not going to make any effort to balance out the Arena mode, so think about it before you jump in and get slaughtered.
The art style used to be a bone of contention among fans after the first screens showed a far brighter dungeon than the previous games (there was even a petition against it signed by 63,000 people), but I’m pleased to report that the game now looks just as wonderfully dark, gothic and hellish as the previous games. Just with 2011 PC-exclusive-quality graphics of course, so if you have a meaty PC you will have one of the best looking games around.
Moving on to skills, there is no talent tree. It is just a simple list, with the player buying and upgrading at will. The system is simple to use but staggeringly complex to describe. There are 20 skills, seven of which can be equipped at any one time, but you won’t be able to fully upgrade them all. Every skill can have a rune attached to it that makes it more effective in some way. There are five types of rune with seven skill levels of their own. Each type has its own colour, and will have a colour-specific effect on the skill you attach it to. Get all that? There must be thousands of possible combinations, and yet Diablo players will definitely end up managing the system without any difficulty.
There have been rumours of Blizzard potentially bringing Diablo III to console audiences, as unlike the RTS of Starcraft, the Action RPG of Diablo has proved not only doable but also quite popular on the Xboxes and Playstations of the world. Even Torchlight, the main Diablo imitator (developer Runic Games is comprised of ex-Blizzard staff), is soon coming to XBLA. While it is entirely possible that Diablo III will leave PC-only pastures, I wouldn’t hold my breath for it any time soon. Either way I can’t see it being as smooth and fun without a mouse.
Worth the wait
A recent report from Activision suggests that Diablo III wouldn’t be out until 2012, despite being in development for an almost Duke Nukem Forever-rivalling seven or eight years. Blizzard has stated that it is aiming to get the game done this year, but it also said that last year. Whenever it does appear, I’m sure it will certainly be worth the wait.