Entertaining Platt: Diablo III

May 23, 2012 § Leave a comment

Set wizard phasers to fun!

Up front, I’ll admit that I’ve never wanted a multiplayer version of Diablo. I’m perfectly happy conquering evil on my own, thank you very much.

So, it’s safe to say that I was pretty cranky when I found out that Diablo III would feature an always-online setup, requiring a connection via Internet to Blizzard’s game servers to play.

I don’t have to rely on someone else’s hardware to work if I want to crank up Civilization V. I’m at my own computer’s mercy if I want to play Torchlight.

Back when I was an avid World of Warcraft player, I was accustomed to putting up with maintenance Tuesdays. Color me unamused that I’m forced to endure them with Diablo III.

All that said: When the game runs, it’s mostly fun and it’s tremendously addictive. It is quite obvious as I play that the deep pockets at Blizzard spared no expense when it came to graphics, sound, and overall atmosphere/art design.

The monster design is amusing, from the horrors that explode and spew demon worms at you to the killer trees that spawn toxic pods to the annoying little treasure goblin guy who is, seriously, a mobile piñata that you’ve got to chase down and bash open to get goodies before he escapes via portal.

Combat’s simple: Clicking and mashing a couple of buttons. You won’t hear me complain about simple combat. I’m an uncoordinated goob. I’m old (just ask my fiancée! She says so!). Simple combat works for me.

What also works for me are the details in Diablo’s combat. Explosive spells make the screen appear to shake and they tear the environment apart. Beam spells seem like they actually strike substance when they hit a target. And there are some nifty area effect spells for mages, like electroshock, that let you zap groups of bad guys in a chain, even around corners. Little touches like that make me feel like even my starting character is a lot more epic than some new warrior getting started whacking peons in an MMO starter zone.

So far, the boss fights haven’t been all that great, and many seem like knockoffs of what Blizzard has done before. Fighting a skeleton king? Where have I seen THAT before? Beat up on the bloated horror boss, but get out of the way of the bursts of fire from Onyxia’s lair…er, I mean the grates in the floor.

Crafting isn’t much to write home about so far. It’s a money sink: You throw money at crafting skills to improve them. You throw money plus salvaged components at recipes to make items. I haven’t done anything with the Diablo III auction house yet, but my expectation is that I’ll use it like I did WoW’s – I’ll farm gold with my main and channel awesome items to my lower level alts from the auction house.

Where Diablo III ultimately wins me over is story – another area where Blizzard put in extra effort. I really enjoy playing through the narrative, seeing the high-quality cinematic cutscenes, and shifting from one important world locale to the next.

I’ll definitely play through it again with a different class and on a more difficult challenge mode.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t offer any modding opportunities, but it’s not like I have an abundance of spare time to tinker with toolkits these days!

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