Thursday, May 17, 2012

Diablo 3: First Impressions

So last night I got my hands on Diablo 3.

I told myself that there was no rush - that I can wait till I have some money to spare, or at the very least I could wait till my next pay. But then like the damn Hell spawn that plagues the game, Diablo 3 crept in and possessed every corner of the internet that I frequent.

So I gave in. I couldn't resist it - Damn you Blizzard and your awesome games!

I was lucky though. By the time I had installed and started on Diablo 3, the host of issues and bugs that littered the news feeds regarding the game were pretty much sorted. In fact I installed the game with no problems and managed to log on on the first try, so my first moments of Diablo 3 were not tainted like so many other eager players.

To be honest I never followed much of Diablo 3s development process. Aside from a few gameplay vids I watched closer to release, and a few class introduction videos from earlier this year, my knowledge of Diablo 3 going in was very limited. Everything I knew about Diablo dated back to Diablo 2 and its expansion. So as I watched the intro video at 11pm last night - I thought to myself "Blizzard you bastards - you've done it again."

First off this game oozes quality. Everything from the amazing FMVs that Blizz is known for, to the interface and presentation of the game is something else. But what struck a cord with me the most is that Diablo 3 felt so familiar.

And that would pretty much sum up my entire first impression - you like Diablo? Here's more Diablo.

Yes I'm sure there are lots of tweaks and differences from Diablo 3s predecessors, but in the sorry 3 hours I spent on it last night I didn't notice too much of it.

In fact I went into gameplay feeling a little under whelmed at first. If there were any innovations to the formula, I didn't feel it last night. But then I noticed that it was 2am, so whatever it was that I was doing was certainly additive. I guess why fix something that isn't broken right?

Before I get into the good stuff I'll tell you a few things that I didn't care for.

First up (and I'm sure I'm a minority in this) is the story. I really didn't give a shit about the story. It all just picks up and starts and there's a rescue mission, but i didn't care. I just clicked on stuff and stuff died.

Another thing was the skill division - or lack there of. Gone are the trees of skills you go through to sort out your toon. Instead as you level up, one skill at a time opens up in a few different areas of your characters stats. It's not like you can focus all your skill points into making your toon offensive, the game sort of tells you "ok here's a new offensive spell" and then "ok now here's a new defensive spell" So it sort of just chooses which spell it wants to give you as you level up - a little like in World of Warcraft. But minus the talent trees.

 It is up to you which spells you actually use. So you might have like 2 primary spells - and then you pick the one you want to equip. Plus you have these runes that spice up your attacks by adding buffs and such. So there is a little cusomization - but as with most RPGs, once you find a winning combo for a particular class, I'm sure the majority of players will be using the same cookie cutter build. So it's no Dark Souls in terms of customizations (but then very few games take the risks that Dark Souls takes)

Combat gets a little messy at times when you have to click on a dozen or so enemies standing at on spot, and lets face it, there is only so much you can do with a game where you click to do EVERYTHING. You can pretty much just sit there and play the game with one hand if you wanted. Aside from the left and right click, you have 4 other assigned buttons, so maybe it gets more complicated as to how you use these buttons later, but at the moment it's very simple.

The loot whore in me didn't kick in last night either - but it is still early. I did do the normal upgrades and such, but that thirst for the next best weapon hasn't set on yet. 

With the streamed line stats system and easy to pick up gameplay, Diablo 3 feels like something perfect for the casual gamer and I think that's a good thing, because at the heart of it, Diablo 3 offers something that a lot of games seem to be scared of these days. It offers a lot of fun. It's not striving to be super cool or hardcore (though it does have a hardcore mode) Diablo 3 is just a really fun game in the most primal sense of the word.

I did loose 3 hours in what felt like 20mins last night, so despite all of the above personal short comings Diablo 3 had, it is doing something right.

What drove me most in the game was the sense of exploration. Diablo 3s world is rich and very detailed and though I'm very early into the game, what little I've seen is truly awesome. From decaying forests, to creepy crypts, Diablo 3 is a pleasure to explore. So I just wanted to see where I would end up next.

I went into Diablo 3 fully expecting to be either a Barbarian or Monk, but these characters got pretty boring pretty fast for me. Maybe you have to be in the mood for that certain play style. When I tried the Demon Hunter though, everything felt awesome.

Pretty much the Demon hunter is the assassin from Diablo 2 but with a more range focus, and for some reason pointing and clicking his moves out are a lot of fun. It just felt like a little more effort was involved compared to the "fist to face" strategy of the Barbarian and Monk that I had tried earlier. And plus he has the whole Salem Witch hunter vibe going, which is farkin cool...

The Baddies in Diablo 3 are pretty cool too. But even though the place is littered with things like "Ravenous Corpses" or giant bloated ghouls, I haven't met a baddie yet that felt creepy.

That doesn't mean I didn't have fun clicking the shit out of the.

In the end I guess the biggest question would be: was all this worth the wait? Well I wasn't really waiting for Diablo 3, and yes a lot of what I was doing last night didn't seem new to me at all. Some might even argue that the Diablo 3 formula that Blizz delivered has been improved on by other games in recent times, but too me it was more a question of "Was Diablo 3 worth the hefty sum of cash that I dropped on it" and to be honest - it was.

There's no denying the quality that oozes out of this game. The issues that were faced by many upon lunch  was a sad thing, but it should not take away from something that just feels like it was put together with a lot of care. I still have a lot to play and it is early stages, but so far it's been engaging.

I even logged on this morning to play, and had to wait in a que >_< But I can't remember the last time I tried to squeeze a bit of game time out of something before rushing off to work.

And right now I'm really looking forward to going home and playing some more.

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