This is definitely a “Diablo” game at its very core. Blizzard has done what it does best: churn out an updated, smoother-running, more simplistic yet equally difficult to master version of the genre-defining “Diablo II.” It’s fair to mention this year has been full of action role-playing games (“Path of Exiles,” “Torchlight II”) all vying for gamers’ attention, but “Diablo III” already sits at the top. Throughout the past few months, gamers have had the pleasure of helping test the game’s beta, and this is just a small preview of what one can expect when the gates of hell open on May 15.
Upon opening the game, the new battle.net login screen meets gamers. This is a feature much derided by some, but one that is nonetheless common among modern Blizzard games. Once logged in and online, users have access to the character creation screen. Entering the world of Sanctuary as a Barbarian will feel like home for those experienced with previous “Diablo” iterations, but with a fresh, new paint job. Almost immediately gamers will run into their first enemy, but the moment players left click with that “bash” ability, the enemy goes flying out of sight.
This encounter might cause the Barbarian to lose a bit of health; a drink from a health potion elicits the same health-potion sound that ended up ringing in gamers’ ears for days after playing “Diablo II” for too long. The same thing happens again with the drop of coins. This is definitely the “Diablo” gamers remember and loved as kids.
However, there are some differences. As with any addition in a series, things must change somewhere in order to justify an entirely new game. The graphics have been boosted — admittedly not to the standards some people may want — but they are decent and still draw users into the world, which is sometimes darker in these initial areas than “Diablo II.” No rainbows here, folks.
The gore is definitely intact. As gamers fight their way through enemies, they will see them explode, be decapitated and suffer any number of other gruesome deaths.
A new skill system has been implemented that no longer requires long, arduous amounts of time plotting out where to place every skill point gained with each level. Instead, users simply gain a predetermined amount of stats, get a new ability or rune and can be on their way.
The interaction between skills and runes is fun enough in the beta, giving users a few choices regarding how they want to face their enemies. For example, the Barbarian has a “cleave” ability, which normally includes attacking multiple enemies. Once gamers get their first rune, it does its normal attack, along with the bonus of causing enemies who die via cleaving to explode. And there are four other runes still to unlock as progression is made toward level 60. There’s a massive amount of unique abilities to harness as gamers level higher up. Crafting is part of the game, and it feels like it will serve well at lower levels, but past that it is questionable how well it’ll hold up.
This game has definitely been designed for the long haul, with many things leading to the eventual end-game to create what will likely be one of the best gaming experiences of the year. Fans of the series should be confident that when they jump into the game on May 15, it’ll be like the summer of 2000 all over again.