Platform: PC and MAC (Physical and Digital Download)

Let me take you back to 12 years ago:

I was a young lad, just cutting his teeth on modern PC gaming. I'd just graduated from a long line of console gaming, which roughly consisted of the SNES, N64 and Dreamcast.

My only experience of "home computer gaming" was my old 2nd hand Atari-ST which I played before I got into console gaming. When I eventually got around to PC gaming, I didn't really know what to expect, but I was very lucky to start off my experience with two fantastic titles, one of which consisted of a well-known, and much loved man in dark shades, murdering a girl's father in a hotel and remarking "What a Shame"(Deus Ex) and the other which was the Diablo Battlechest, which consisted of Diablo 1, Diablo 2 and Diablo 2's Expansion Pack: Lord of Destruction.

For a kid who was only 11 years old, it blew my mind on so many levels: the amount of customization, the simplicity and addictiveness, and (of course) the violence, which was packed into these 3 games. I lost myself in the gameplay and its epic story of mortals vs. demons in a battle to save the Earth.

Throughout the years, there were always rumors of a Diablo 3 in production, however I wouldn't have imagined that it would take 12 years until they'd finally release the 3rd part in this game's series. As you can imagine, I was very excited. The idea of reliving memories from 12 years ago was just too much for me to comprehend.

Diablo 3 takes place 20 years after the last game. Without giving too much away, there are two prime evils that still roam the Earth and it's up to you, and a familiar old cast of characters from the previous games, to vanquish the demons invading Earth through frantic left clicks and right clicks.

So…how did they do?

To say the least I am surprised at how badly they've messed this game series up. The problem that sums everything up is the shoe-horned Online DRM that forces the player to be online at ALL times, even for the Single Play experience.

I have never played a Single Player game were my character and the enemies he is attacking suddenly stop moving only seconds later to reveal my character had either died or had massacred the whole group of enemies once the lag has subsided.

Character customization has been significantly dumbed down, with all skills being available at any point during the character's development. This means you only have to level up to access the skills, and at any time can "swap out" the skill for another one available at that level.

To add insult to injury, you're not allowed take part in the Diablo tradition of allocating points to your character's individual stats. Instead, the game automatically does this for you when you level up.

Ultimately it's obvious the developers, Blizzard, are trying to cater for a more casual market of gamers by simplifying everything. However, some concepts just don't make sense.


For example, you no longer need potions to heal yourself; instead, monsters randomly drop "health globes" which automatically heal your character. However, when they don't drop these health globes, you need to use a health potion - but you can only use it once every 30 seconds. So, if no monsters drop a health globe and you can't use your health potion, you're pretty much dead.

This flawed game mechanic forces your character's to focus on health regen, weaponry and armors. Lo-and-behold, the developers knew this was a problem by offering a health leeching property on almost 90% of the weapons.

I'm extremely confused as to how they're trying to market this game. This is a game that came out exclusively on the PC 12 years ago (16 if you count the 1st game). The prominent fan base grew up on mechanics that required a certain amount of understanding of RPG mechanics, skill and strategy. Yet Diablo 3 reflects an extremely casual experience with its RPG elements.

As for the Online DRM, the official reason for this was to curb piracy and hacking, which was rife in Diablo 2. Players would hack the game to get the best weapons and armor and play with them online. The other reason for this Online DRM is to have players use an "Online Auction House", which requires players to buy in-game items with in-game gold and real life money.

You can draw a rough conclusion from the developer's thinking with the latter choice. With the lack of customization and the lack of variation on character development, the only way to excel on online multiplayer player vs. player combat (PvP) is to buy the best gear, and if you're lacking in-game gold, your only other choice would be to purchase gear with your own real cash.

I can't help but see this as corporate greed on a wide scale. The "Pay-to-win" business model is one of the worst implementations in gaming to date. Maybe (and this is a strained "maybe") if this was a Massive Multiplayer Online (MMO) game to which you already paid a subscription, it would be somewhat understandable, however this game isn't an MMO.

Another possible reason for the Online DRM is for "Online Achievements". However, yet again, there is hardly any point to this, as there is no real social networking interaction involved in sharing these achievements. The PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Network and STEAM have solid systems, where you can share achievements online with friends, even via Facebook and Twitter. Diablo 3 does not have this feature, making the excuse of Online DRM for achievements null and void.

So, what are Diablo 3's good points?

Graphically it's very similar to World of Warcraft in style, cartoonish albeit a touch grittier. I wouldn't say that is a good point in and of itself, but I would say the animation fluidity is lovely to watch. The skill effects and the general level environments (specifically the interior levels) are well crafted.

The CGI rendered cutscenes are magnificent as usual, a trademark craftsmanship from Blizzard. The audio and voice acting is also produced very well, specifically the soundtrack that has a familiar nostalgia for the early games in the series. It blends bringing a dark atmosphere to quite a cartoonish looking game.

I guess another good merit of the game would be that, ultimately, Blizzard has tried to remove all "annoying" game mechanics (such as the punishment for dying by losing all your gear and money, and the constant need for identifying items, buying potions, shifting all the items in your inventory about, and buying town teleportation scrolls). However, it's arguable that these elements added a bit of strategy and tension to the gameplay if and when you ran out of these items. The thought of dying in previous Diablo games was a pretty big deal. Now it's just reduced to a casual annoyance.

When you understand the game's mechanics (which is primarily focused on health regenerating items), it becomes an easy game. However, I don't agree the overall difficulty could be described in the same way. There are different difficulty modes to complete, and a Hardcore mode from the previous games -where if you die once you die forever, so there is replay value.

Diablo 3 is still, in theory, an "Action RPG," so it does feel fast paced and fluid. Blizzard has also made boss battles more cinematic and all about survival and strategy as opposed to the previous game's abuse of "run out of the room, heal, run back in and hit the monster and repeat" strategy.

Overall it's very hard to recommend this game. It is, by no means, a bad game, but it is very hard to weigh it up on its own merits when compared to the previous games that came before it.

If you are anything like me, and are familiar with the previous games in the series, this one will disappoint. If you're new to the series, you'll feel you are missing out on a lot from the game's main story and lore, which defeats the purpose of marketing this game to a "new generation of casual gamers."

Dumbing down any mechanic, be it videogame gameplay or any art form in general, is not an evolution or something that should be tolerated or accepted. A line has to be drawn at some point as to whether people accept such poor quality. The way they can show this is by simply not opening their wallet.