It took around twelve years, a lot of anticipation, and most importantly, buckloads of patience, but finally, the gold standard of the Action RPG genre has finally returned as Diablo gets introduced to old and new generation gamers with its third instalment, Diablo III.
The last time players ventured into the world of Sanctuary, Diablo was defeated in Hell, and Baal’s plan to corrupt the Worldstone ended with Tyrael having to destroy the stone for the greater good, with no proper resolution or aftermath to this. That is, until 20 years later, when Deckard Cain and his niece, Leah, discovered a fearful prophecy inside Tristram Cathedral that would very well affect Sanctuary as they know it. A falling star came crashing into the Cathedral, causing Deckard Cain to disappear in the process, wondering what would happen next in these series of unexpected events. That’s where you come in, the “Nephalem”, who enters the scene and attempts to investigate the fallen star, unknowing of the greater events that are about to take place.
Those who are already familiar with the first two Diablo games should be very comfortable with Diablo III’s gameplay. You have a choice of five different characters, all with their own unique abilities and resources: the melee-frenzied Barbarian, the dexterous and capable Demon Hunter, the tough-as-nails Monk, the explosive casting Wizard, and the spirit-controlling Witch Doctor. And like the previous games, you will be able to use different skills unique to the character as you go through various lands, dungeons, and locations, dealing with a plethora of creatures in the process. This time, however, there is a tremendous revamp in the skill system. This time around, you will be granted skills on a set level basis, meaning you are guaranteed to learn all skills by the time you his the level cap, which is 60. But you will also learn various “runes” to grant your skills additional properties suited to your preferred gameplay style. This opens up new possibilities in terms of how to go about different kinds of enemies and how you want to play the game as a whole, giving the game more depth than ever. Diablo veterans will be happy to know that the Normal, Nightmare, and Hell difficulties have returned for those who want to test their mettle even further, but introduced to Diablo III is a new difficulty, Inferno, designed only for those who have reached the maximum level and skilled enough to go through a new level of pain and suffering on their gameplay experience, along with high level item rewards at that.
As part of Blizzard’s Battle.net integration initiative, you are required to have internet access to play the game, and it comes with quite an amount of benefits. You and three other friends can join in the fun and play alongside each other as you go through different Acts (you may also join a public game with other players around the world if you want). As a payoff, enemies will get stronger depending on the number of players in your game. Despite this, however, the game remains very addictive and engaging under a multi-player environment, allowing for many different class combinations and strategies and guaranteeing the experience to be as fresh as possible. And taking a page out of Blizzard’s own World of Warcraft’s, when you’re having a difficult time to cope with certain acts or difficulties, you may check out the game’s Auction House, where you will be able to purchase useful items and equipment for a price set by other players around the world. And the currency will not be limited to the in-game gold you collect throughout the game, mind you. You can also buy or sell items using real-life currency, meaning you can actually earn your keep while having fun in playing the game! So for those who have always dreamed of earning while playing video games, your wish just came true. And as this is a Blizzard game which requires an internet connection, players can expect a healthy amount of patches coming by, including balance issues and gameplay add-ons.
For a franchise that has lasted for many years now, the world of Sanctuary never looked so good, with today’s graphical advances helping to bring about the vastness and clarity of a land filled with mystery and danger, as much as how the vintage musical score of the previous Diablo games gets retained and remastered for the third installment. And as veterans will know, you will never go through the same map with the same layout due to Diablo’s fondness for the random generation of dungeons, and while remains an ever-so-welcome element of gameplay, they were able to execute this and still make the game look visually stunning in the process, helping with the game’s dark atmosphere. And if there is anything Diablo is known for, it is delivering a tense and dark atmosphere, a testament many players all over the world can attest to.
Was Diablo III worth the wait after all these years? Certainly, it is, and no there is no longer any doubt about it.