Stay a while, and listen.
It’s been at least 8 years since I’ve played a dungeon crawler. Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance II was my first and only for the longest time. Mainly it’s because there haven’t been any good dungeon crawlers for console. But if there’s any game capable of bringing back that nostalgia from Baldur’s Gate, and keeping me up ’till 4 in the morning on a school night, it’s Blizzard’s Diablo III. While I’ve never played the first two Diablo games, this amazing thing called the Internet brought me up to speed fairly quickly. But as I was watching recap videos that included in-game footage, I was much more interested in the cutscene graphics than the story. Even in 1996, Blizzard had fantastic animation. With the obvious history of great graphics, I could even further appreciate the beauty of Diablo III.
The cutscene animations are by far the best I’ve ever seen. I know Diablo doesn’t revolve around spectacular graphics, but I think that’s why I was so taken back by the fact that Blizzard took the time to perfect the cutscenes — something that could have easily been half done since the game is more loot-driven rather than story-driven. The story is good though; there are enough clever twists to surprise you now and then, and the point of the story is rather enlightening. It’s a refreshing message of humility and the weak rising above those thought to be infinitely stronger. But after the first play-through, you’ll most likely find yourself skipping every single line of dialogue.
Because there’s so much amazing loot to be found! Diablo III is by far the most addictive game I’ve ever played. It’s the only game that’s ever kept me interested in doing the same thing over and over again. If you’re like me, you’ll be uncovering every inch of the map, crawling through every dungeon you encounter, and destroying every single barrel and vase in search for that next legendary item. I love the frustration of completing an entire Act in the game with the same helmet, finally finding a legendary one in hopes of replacing your old one, only to find that you’re much better off with the antique you’ve been stuck with. Things like that make me want to keep playing, and they raise my determination to find something better. The game does a fantastic job of keeping the player sucked in, no matter how frustrating or repetitive the game can get sometimes. It’s the build-up of frustration with the group of Unique monsters (that’s killed you multiple times) that makes the player want to completely annihilate them and take any amount of gold or loot their corpses might spew. The satisfaction of overcoming tough enemies and the potential of finding better loot is what keeps me going.
Grabbing a friend or joining a party online makes the game much more fun. Monsters get harder as your party grows larger, but loot drops are better than you could hope for while playing by yourself. You also gain bonus XP, which you’re going to want in order to level up quickly and use that next weapon you crafted from the Artisan. The crafting system, by the way, is very fun and addictive.
One of the best feelings I’ve gotten while playing the game is when the piece of armor I craft is better than my old one in every single way. That, on top of finally being able to use that Perfect gem I crafted a long time ago, always feels amazing. It’s a gamble, though. The randomly generated stats on the item you craft could be worse than what you already have equipped, thus making you feel like you wasted those Crafting Materials. But that’s the fun of Diablo III, it’s a gamble and either a spectacular or disappointing surprise waiting to happen with every item you craft and every monster you slay.
Diablo III also just feels like it was made for console. The button mapping is next to perfect, easy to remember, and simple to play with. There’s no stretching your finger across a keyboard or trying to figure out where to comfortably map your next skill. And dodging is as easy as flicking an analog stick. The character movement is very precise as opposed to playing the game on a PC. This very well-polished control scheme makes the game much more fun. Even if you already own the game on PC, getting your hands on a copy for your console is a worthy investment. I completed my first play-through in a little over a week, and there’s no doubt that I’ll forget what the sun looks like as I play it through over and over again with all of the different classes. I’ll be a little bold here and say that Diablo III has my pick for game of the year. Now go, champion. You have much gold to find, loot to sack, and leveling to do! Oh, and humankind sort of needs you as well. As always, thanks for reading, everyone. Play hard. PS, there’s no cow level.