by HG Staff
reviewed on PC
Diablo III Multiplayer Review
This review focuses on multiplayer. Be sure to also read our single player review.
You haven’t played Diablo III until you have played it together with one or more friends. Three of our editors locked themselves up in the cellar (well, we imagined it was) to play Diablo 3 from start to finish with only food breaks and sleep to keep them from turning into living dead themselves.
That Diablo III is first and foremost a multiplayer game is instantly apparent by the ease at which you can join friends on their adventures. Starting a multiplayer game doesn’t require a bunch of complicated menus and can be done by a simple click on the name of a friend that is already playing. In multiplayer, the storyline remains the same but gameplay changes quite a bit. The most notable difference is that any and all adversaries become more difficult to beat, greatly encouraging teamwork across the group you play with. The likelihood of being slain by the minions of hell increases as well – but fret not, friends still standing can resurrect your character by using the fresh grave indicating the exact location where you kicked the bucket.
One of Diablo’s best innovations is that loot is tied to the player, not to the group. In effect, the game drops loot for every participant independently and you will only see what has been dropped for you. This gives players the peace of mind to finish fights before picking up loot and removes some of the pressure of being the first to open chests. You can still trade items though; simply drop something on the floor and it becomes visible to all.
Most of your time is spent playing in areas that give you some direction as to where to go. Exploring a dungeon or bridge is a somewhat linear affair and staying together is the natural thing to do. Yet as soon as you move out into some of Diablo’s vast fields or venture into dungeons with a less than straightforward layout, the urge to branch out alone overtakes many an adventurer. With the team split up, you’ll cover more ground but you are more likely to run into trouble that you can’t handle and will start missing out on loot. Staying together requires discipline, the core competency for any successful team.
Major events can occur only after every player has agreed that it is time to move forward. This is a great mechanic but we wished it would have been applied to every story event. Some events trigger by clicking on a person with an exclamation mark hovering over his head, others trigger by simply arriving at a certain location. It is especially frustrating when a companion triggers something while you are still closing in on his location. Arriving late to the party, you will have missed part if not all of the conversation.
Boss fights are very reminiscent of World of Warcraft raid encounters and thus benefit tremendously from the presence of friends. The anticipation leading up to the fight and the increased risks of failure makes victory all the sweeter.
From a Wizard’s perspective (Sergio)
In multiplayer, ranged classes in particular will have a harder time dealing with multiple foes. As every additional party member increases the amount of damage that enemies can deal and absorb, close combat is quickly off the table. I would recommend against playing as a Wizard if you’re not supported by at least one melee team mate who can act as a buffer between the Wizard and his targets.
Fighting from a distance does mean that health globes are all but unavailable to keep the Wizard from dying. In the thick of battle, team mates playing melee characters have no time to worry about leaving globes for their physically weaker brethren and you will have to rely on your own supply.
If managed with care, the Wizard is an incredibly fun class to play in multiplayer games. Many Wizard skills can be used from afar to do damage to multiple enemies bunched together hacking away at the ‘melee buffer’ (hopefully) provided by your friends. When your friends do their job well, the Wizard can become something of a tactician, taking time to position himself so that he can send his ray of death through as many monsters as possible or dropping his ice shards to maximum effect. With ‘friendly fire’ no longer being a part of the Diablo franchise, he won’t even have to worry about hurting his companions.
Wizards do need to keep an eye on how effective they are. Hurling magic into mobs of opponents that are already attacked by others, it is easy to lose sight of just how much of an impact you have. Finding the right staff or wand is a rare occurrence, crafting multiple yourself to find the one that suits the current level of enemies is paramount to the survival of your group.
No quarrels about loot, incredibly easy to get going.
There's no extra or special content specific to multiplayer.