Fifteen years ago Diablo was unleashed upon the computer gaming world. It wasn’t a perfect game by any means. And despite its interesting isometric, top-down perspective, in many ways it was the same dungeon crawler we’d been familiar with since the invention of the text-based adventure game. You choose a hero type and then descended level by level into hell to confront the Lord of Terror himself: Diablo. The dark fantasy action was punctuated by visits to town where you could buy things, have brief conversations with townsfolk and have your equipment repaired. By just about every measure you could think of, it was a pretty mediocre game.
Except it wasn’t. It was brilliant. It’s hard to say precisely what Diablo got so right. Atmosphere? Music? I think it was just the right balance between point-and-click mindlessness and the nerdier aspects of RPG games. Whatever it was, Diablo was a hit.
A couple of years later Diablo II erupted onto the scene. What a fantastic game. It had everything that was great about the original, only more of it. And it had engaging online play where you could team up with your friends to battle hell’s minions.
But that was more than a decade ago. Fans have waited a long time for Diablo III and now, as of May 15, it’s finally here.
Despite frustrating service interruptions the first couple of days and grave performance issues on some Macs (including mine) which only recently got fixed, it’s a winner.
The gameplay is addictive. The interface is accessible: punishing evil is as simple as point and click. And it’s still endlessly fun to obsess over your character’s gear. There’s items you find while out thrashing demons, items that town vendors will sell or make for you–and there’s also an online auction house where you can bid on items found by other players. Coming soon, there’ll even be an auction house for real money, not just in-game gold pieces.
The character choices are fun. There’s the ever-present Barbarian, expert at smashing things; the Wizard, premier magic caster; the Demon Hunter, skilled at bows and crossbows; the Monk, master martial artist; and, most intriguingly, the Witch Doctor, who uses blowguns and voodoo. Each class can be played as either male or female.
The art and visuals are lovely, if not technically cutting edge. Some monsters are so huge that you immediately get that “we’re gonna need a bigger boat” feeling when they appear.
Such games are not primarily built on story–it’s more of a hack-and-slash type thing–but I am not finding the Diablo III story as engaging as the one I remember from Diablo II. As I’m only halfway through the game, I guess there’s time for it to pick up. We’ll see.
Got the game or thinking of getting it? Let me know! I often play solo, but there’s nothing better than teaming up with friends to tackle that especially challenging boss. I even have a trial license I could give you if you wan to try before you buy, but if you go that route your test drive will be solo play only.