Diablo III: Game Preview

This year, Blizzards signature RPG dungeon crawler series is to have a new addition, Diablo III. Diablo II is one of the best-selling RPG’s of all time, but is the latest addition likely to take it’s place or are they trying to mess with perfection.

Gameplay
Like the rest of the Diablo series, Diablo III remains true to the dungeon crawler genre. After choosing from one of 5 possible classes, you set forth in a land of monsters and magic and start handing out the ‘smack-down’ to the large variety of nasties and general ne’er-do-wells that inhabit the dungeons and landscapes of the land of ‘Sanctuary’.

However, moving away from that rather simplified opener. Blizzard have made some nice changes and tweaks and taken what was a simple 2-buttoned-combat based crawler and made it into something that promises to be nicely polished and addictive.

For example, both the levels and the encounters themselves are randomly generated, meaning that each game will look different from it’s predecessor. For me, that’s a big boost to it’s re-playability. Plus, each class has their own personal quests although I suspect these won’t take up a majority of the game. The dungeons are also more dynamic, not only will the environment show signs of wear and battle-damage as you fight, but monsters will also climb out of pits, or jump down upon you adding a dimension of surprise.

Thankfully, in Diablo III you will no longer have to play the entire game with your fingers resting on your ‘Quick Potion’ keys, because they have got rid of them. Monsters will, instead, drop health orbs which you can pick up as you fight. Leaving your other hand free to do something altogether more interesting…. pushing action/skill keys, of course.

Finally, another new addition to Diablo III are runes. Now, to all intents and purposes runes work in a similar way to how glyphs work in World of Warcraft. So, by attaching runes to skills, the rune will augment that skills power; fireballs can be made stronger, lightning can jump to more enemies, summoned zombies become stronger etc. Runes are dropped from monsters, and I suspect that there will be a limit to the amount of runes you can use, but fundamentally runes have the power to make every character you create, differentiate itself from any others.

Classes
There are five playable character classes in Diablo III; Witch Doctor, Barbarian, Wizard, Monk, and Demon Hunter.

The Witch Doctor is basically the Necromancer from Diablo II, except with voodoo thrown in. So expect lots of summoned zombies, hexes, curses and probably the odd poison to sling about.

The Barbarian is your giant mound of muscle throwing themselves into hordes of enemies to disembowel and dismember large groups at a time. Expect strong physical attacks, pushes, whirlwind cleaves and all manner of strong weapon based attacks.

The Wizard is your stereotypical magic user. Marshalling strong fire, ice and lightning magical attacks to devastate foes. Though not able to withstand large amounts of damage, so don’t rush in to mêlée or they’ll be posting your rear-end back to you, special delivery.

The Monk is another mêlée fighter, but rather than using brute force, muscle and large weapons he uses martial arts. The monk has honed his fists into a powerful weapon and has trained so that he can avoid or negate damage with his lightning fast reflexes.

The Demon Hunter is, as its name would suggest, a hunter of demons. The demon hunter is a long ranged fighter that relies on powerful ranged bow shots, similar to that of a hunter, as well as an array of traps or gadgets.

Gender is also now selectable so rather than in the previous games when gender was pre-determined with class, you now have a free rein.


Crafting

The Crafting system has been completely revised for Diablo III. Your artisan is an NPC that will do all of your item creation and enhancing for you. There are three distinct areas of crafting that you can unlock for your artisan; Blacksmithing, Jewelcrafting, and  Mysticism, though each of these can only be done once you have performed a quest for that area of crafting.To craft an item you break down items you have found into their parts. These components are then used by your Artisan to craft items for you. Plus, the more your artisan crafts for you, the better he becomes and the better items he can make. Not to mention by scrapping all the items you don’t need, you won’t have to return back to the town to empty your inventory as often.

Conclusion
It’s clear that for Diablo III, Blizzard have been heavily influenced by World of Warcraft. The skill bar is similar, runes are like glyphs, breaking down items is similar to Enchanting. This is not necessarily in itself a bad thing. Though, I have this nagging feeling that changes like these were initiated primarily to tap into the World of Warcraft fan base, and not to just give existing Diablo players a new and improved experience.

Regardless of why they have made it as it is, it is still winding up to be an attractive game. It looks very well presented, and does include some nice features. Although, the one thing that I look for in nearly all games is the storyline and quite honestly I can’t actually imagine myself caring at all about why I am killing things. It can’t exactly be very integral to the game.

Like most other new games it will likely be released with the price tag of around £35 and quite honestly, I don’t see myself paying that amount of cash on the basis of what I’ve read and seen. Though maybe a free demo where I can actually play it, would help to change my mind, but unfortunately nothing’s been released yet.

So, if what you are looking for is the very simple concept of killing large amounts of very nicely drawn enemies in dynamic backgrounds with a good multi-player option strapped to it, then  this will likely be your cup of tea (or I can get you some water, if you want).  If you are looking for an intense character driven story, featuring deeply thought out character development and a multi-faceted storyline, you’d probably best leave this one alone.

  • Diablo III Beta Coming This Summer? (pinkbananaworld.com)
Jim Franklin

Jim Franklin

Jim Franklin is a freelance writer, living in Derby UK with his wife. When time allows he likes nothing more than losing himself in a multi-hour gaming session. He likes most games and will play anything but prefers MMO's, and sandbox RPG's.

So what do you think?

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