by Sergio Brinkhuis
reviewed on PC
Stay a while and listen
Twelve years is a long wait for a sequel, but Diablo III is finally here. Not quite unexpected, the game’s launch was far from smooth. Many players had to wait a day longer as Blizzard’s Battle.net servers gave out to the tremendous pressure of millions of gamers logging in to play. Things got so bad that another publisher, Headup Games, started an “Error 37 promotion” for their own Action RPG Greed: Black Border. A fun jest towards the hundreds of thousands of players encountering that error logging into Diablo III that serves to show just how big a deal this release really is.
Diablo III takes us back to Tristram, or rather to New Tristram, a settlement close to the ruins of Old Tristram where Diablo’s reign was first ended 20 years ago. You traveled there to investigate a fallen star but soon find the town in need of a hero. Hordes of the undead are besieging the town walls and the defenders are on the brink of collapse. Glad to see a friendly face, Captain Rumford asks you to speak with Leah, the adopted niece of Deckard Cain. She tells you that she is Cain’s niece and that he must still be alive after the star fell through the roof of Old Tristram’s Cathedral. You vow to bring Cain back and set off on an adventure that is both warmingly familiar and refreshingly new.
They’re coming out of the woodwork!
Right from the get-go, Diablo III makes it clear that it has every intention of giving you an experience unlike any other Action-RPG. The core gameplay is very much ‘Diablo’ but where its predecessors often felt static, Diablo III’s world is a living, breathing world.
Venturing out of town for the first time, you are soon confronted with the wide, imaginative bestiary. Sure, there are skeletons and walking dead prowling the lands, but new adversaries such as Wretched Dead that vomit up reinforcements and Grotesques that explode into snakes or imps spice things up tremendously. When a defeated Walking Corpse turns into a Crawling Torso for the first time, you learn not to take any death for granted. You will learn a similar lesson looking at an empty field or hallway and taking it for a clear path to your destination. A bush here, a collapsing wall there, creepy-crawley’s literally pop out of the woodwork to take a stab at making you join their ranks indefinitely.
But the environment does not only conspire to work against you. Lumber piles can be nudged to roll over groups of enemies and chandeliers come down with a satisfying ‘thunk’, scattering or killing whatever lurked beneath.
Naturally, most of the killing will come from your own hand. Whether playing a ranged class such as the new Demon Hunter, or a more hands-on type like the Monk combat is a fast, fluid and above all thrilling experience. While the lower class foes will soon turn into little more than cannon fodder, new monstrosities are served up regularly, each with surprising new abilities that force you to work out new ways of dealing with them.
Great storytelling, gripping ambiance.
A little too streamlined.