Diablo III Review Round-up

I was hoping to post some Diablo III impressions today. Instead, my entire experience with the game can be summed up with a simple meme. Actually, scratch that, I can log in, but my character (a monk) is booted from the server and unable to log back in. The 30 minutes I’ve spent with the game have come over 12-15 different sessions. Frustrating, and I’m not alone (but, unlike some trolls on the Internet, I have many other ways to occupy my time instead of stewing over a videogame.) So, in lieu of my own impressions, here’s a round-up of some of the review of Diablo III from around the web.

Diablo 3 screenshotMike Anderiesz, The Guardian:

Once in the game, it’s clear that the new 3D engine has been put to work on rendering a level of detail we haven’t seen in the series before. Superb lighting effects make even Act 1’s formulaic dungeons seem more atmospheric, but once you reach Act 2’s Caldeum and beyond, more spectacular locations and draw distances emerge. Enemies may have a tendency to swarm mindlessly towards you, but they come in large numbers and reasonable variety.

Not every improvement pays off, however; there’s far too little destructible scenery and context-sensitive traps – such as falling chandeliers or rolling logs – sound like a great idea on paper but require such careful lining up of enemies you won’t be troubling with them after the first few attempts.

There’s improvement as well as innovation, particularly with the UI. With a permanent Portal spell to take you back to nearby towns and a much smarter way of choosing and comparing items, you can now focus on the important task of killing things.


So the key question remains, was Diablo 3 worth the 12-year wait? That depends on how you play it – for single players, it’s an entertaining and gorgeous-looking dungeon hack but it’s a bit short, extremely linear and hardly pushing any boundaries. Playing online (and Blizzard isn’t really giving us a choice) makes it a better balanced and more compelling challenge, with all the potential to be the kind of lifestyle substitute that Diablo’s legion of hunter-gatherer fans should relish.

Diablo 3 screenshotTom Chick, Quarter to Three:

You will wallow in it gleefully after about twenty levels. You might roll up your sleeves and started poring over wikis after thirty levels. I expect we’ll be arguing about it online after forty levels, discovering new options after fifty levels, and unable to let go even after hitting level 60. The simple fact of the matter is that Blizzard was right to unfurl class skills in a set order and to instead give us the option of equipping any six at a time (hello, Guild Wars!). And to furthermore let us modify each of those skills with runes to tweak how they work, and then passive skills to further tweak how they work. Diablo III is built for people who want to tinker rather than people who want to just cop out and decide. Tinkering can be every bit as effective a hook as deciding.

Diablo III looks great. Also, water is wet. But it runs really well on what I’d call lower end computers (i.e., my crappy gaming laptop and my desktop with an old GeForce card). The multiplayer is really slick. Also, the sky is blue. Just as I expected, the effective battle.net front end for Starcraft II is in full effect here, even if it is just achievements and a silly customizeable banner. I’m already eyeing those hardcore challenges. And I care far more about my banner than I should. What an anemic meta-game reward system. But you can bet I’ll occasionally tap the G key to drop my banner because, dammit, I unlocked that pattern and I’m going to use it.


Then there’s the fact that Diablo III is an online only game, even if you’re just in it for the single-player. I understand this decision from a business perspective. But I don’t play Diablo III from a business perspective, so it’s a real thumb in the eye to have to suffer through a launch that was exactly like any MMO launch. It’s a sad reality that too many of us have accepted DRM with gritted teeth and open wallets, so this is likely the price of AAA gaming for the foreseeable future. Us sheep get what we deserve, which is a Diablo III, a fine game for playing solo, with all the pitfalls of an online game. So I reserve the right to replace this review with an angry screed if I ever lose my hardcore character to lag.

Andy Kelly, CVG:

As with any good dungeon crawler, it’s the random loot drops that make the game so compelling. What we’ve noticed about playing with other people is that, despite there being only four classes to choose from, everyone looks different. There’s such a wealth of weapons and armour, that you can make your character stand out.

Diablo 3 screenshotJoe Martin, BitGamer:

Diablo 3 compensates for the relative plainness of the backdrop through the physical interactions, it must be said. Chandeliers and walls can be collapsed onto enemies in some areas and scenery is regularly obliterated as you spam out special attacks against foes; but we still wish there was more variety and detail in the model set.

Really, we just wish there was something in Diablo 3 that justified the enormous wait and hype that’s been built around it over the years. There isn’t, though that doesn’t make it a bad game – it is, in fact, quite a good game. It’s playable and fun and exciting and interesting; it’s taxing on hardcore mode, easy when played solo and designed to be played by groups of friends together. It’s fun, even if it’s not ground-breakingly so.


Charles Onyett, IGN:

[T]he pacing is quick, the gameplay quicker, and it’s tough to pull away from what appears to be a truly great action-RPG…unless Blizzard’s servers go down.

And then there’s this beauty, from Reddit:

Reddit Diablo 3 review

UPDATE 05/18/12:

Diablo 3 ScreenshotRowan Kaiser, Ars Technica:

There is greatness in Diablo III. I have no doubt that huge numbers of people will play it, nor that many of them will love it. Yet it’s also “one more installment” of a famous franchise and changes from its predecessors are primarily superficial. While still terrific, Diablo doesn’t feel vital like it once did.

The Good

  • Classic Diablo gameplay remains as simple and delightful as ever
  • Animation and sound support the on-screen action perfectly
  • Each different class plays differently, as do the combinations of skills within those classes
  • New crafting system is both simple and useful
  • Comprehensive achievements are surprisingly motivating
  • Allows play styles which don’t lead immediately to elbow pain

The Bad

  • Plot structure is predictable; writing is cliché
  • Doesn’t separate itself from Diablo II
  • Lack of choice in character development limits depth

The Ugly

  • Terrible launch caused by commitment to real-money auctions over single-player gamers

Verdict: Buy it…at some point

John Walker, Rock, Paper, Shotgun:

And as I face repeating the same damned map for a third time, watching my characters stagger about trapped in lag despite my strong, steady internet connection, I just start thinking about Grim Dawn and Torchlight II, and how much I can’t wait to see what they add to the genre. Because as far as I can tell Diablo III, as fun as it is when the spell lasts, has added little more than wantonly stupid DRM.

Reviews of the game are slim, given the nature of the retail product and its reliance on a connection to Blizzard’s servers, most reviewers are just now playing the game alongside the rest of fans, but I’ll continue to update this post as I find more reviews. And, of course, I’ll be back with my own impressions once I can login to the game for more than two minutes at a time.

Are you playing Diablo III? If so, what are your thoughts?

  • KevinBacon May 18, 2012 at 5:15 am

    Other than the big outtage the first night, I’ve not had any problems. I’ve enjoyed the 3-4 hours I’ve played so far. I just wish the cinematics were more like the ones from Diablo 2. I don’t feel as drawn into the story.

  • Erik May 18, 2012 at 8:43 am

    I bought it Wednesday, played that night for a while (after logging in without issue) and notched a few more hours during “peak times” last night without only about 5 minutes of lag. My main problem was a corrupt file in the downloaded launcher during installation that required a round of Googling before I could get the last 70MB update. But then [imagine me dusting my hands] it was gold, Jerry. Gold.

  • Michelle May 20, 2012 at 6:16 am

    The launch was frustrating, and I think some of the frustration carried over into my first few hours of play. The beginning is also a bit circumscribed and slow — just a few skills, and therefore a bit monotonous. But somewhere around level 12, it all opens up and suddenly you end up in one after another massive brawl fighting for your life. The items start getting interesting too.

    There are some very clever bits of game design too. The Treasure Goblins are a big temptation — you have to be willing to follow them at great peril into vast unexplored areas if you want the loot. Both of my character deaths were from being mobbed while pursuing them.

    Overall, I feel now that it’s a better game than D2, though I have yet to finish Act 1.