Diablo 3: Starter Edition Review

Introduction

Diablo 3: Starter Edition is Diablo 3's trial version, available for free to people who have acquired a Guest Pass Code. On an undetermined future date, the Guest Pass requirement will be removed. The trial version of Diablo 3 allows you to play up to the battle with the Skeleton King, and allows you to level up your character up to level 13. During the course of this hub, I will be giving my review of Diablo 3's Starter Edition. So, read on!

Story

Diablo 3 starts you off near the border of the town of New Tristram, a settlement created not too far away from the ruins of Old Tristram (players of the first two Diablos will recognize the name almost immediately). As you approach the settlement, it is besieged by a small wave of undead, which you will repel with the aid of the town guards. Afterward, you will get a quest to kill the Wretched Mothers in the immediate vicinity, as they are reviving the corpses of dead townsfolk and turning them into the living dead.

Given that this is a trial version (modeled off of the open beta of Diablo 3, no less) the story here is scant. It is either just enough to get you intrigued and want to play more, or it will completely blow you off. To be blunt, the story progresses at an atrociously slow pace since the start of Act I doubles as an in-game tutorial. As you are seemingly railroaded from point A to point B, you will do relatively minor things, so it may bore you.

Gameplay

Here is the aspect of Diablo 3 that shines in the full version, but is sadly underrepresented in the trial. See, you can only level up to 13 in the Starter Edition, and thus you will only see a fraction of your total skill set. Opinions on Diablo 3's new skill system have been mixed, to say the least. However, what I can personally say is that the new system takes a while to take off. I can honestly say that the skill system starts getting interesting around level 15 or so. So, you won't get to see what all of the hubbub is about in the Starter Edition.

Besides that, the gameplay is solid Diablo fare. You aim at a target with your mouse, and attack with your left mouse button. You will quickly unlock a skill to your right mouse button that is also used for attack, but costs your character's resource to use, which brings us to the next point.

For those of you in the crowd, Mana has been largely replaced with different, class-appropriate resources. Mana Potions no longer exist, and the criteria for resource regeneration differ. For example, Monks use Spirit for their skills. Spirit is generated via certain item bonuses, and skills assigned to the left mouse button. Demon Hunters are the one class that use two resources: Hatred and Discipline. Hatred is used for offensive abilities and regenerates when using left mouse button skills. Discipline is used for defensive abilities and regenerates over time. Witch Doctors are the only class to retain Mana, but they don't use potions to recuperate it; Mana regenerates much faster than it did in Diablo 2 to compensate for the lack of Mana Potions.

While you won't see this in the Starter Edition, by the time you reach level cap with a class, you will have access to a variety of skills for that character. Out of that list, you can equip up to 6 skills at the same time. You can switch certain skills for certain situations, but there is a small cooldown penalty for doing so, which will prevent you from just switching on the fly, with no regard to strategy. In addition to those active skills, you will unlock three passive skill slots (at Levels 10, 20 and 30), which can be used to equip passive skills to boost your character in different ways.

One of the things I like in Diablo 3, which you may appreciate from the trial version, is that battles are a lot more involving. Diablo 2 was a hack-and-slash (a glorious one, but a hack-and-slash all the same). Diablo 3 tries to add a little more strategy to the mix by varying the enemy types. You have your common enemies that are a dime and dozen and exist to swarm and get slain. However, you now also have certain, beefier, monsters that can take more punishment and dish it out as well. Some of them have broadcasted attacks such as a slow club swing which is easily dodged if you're paying attention, but deal a lot of damage if ignored.

Itemization and attributes have both changed greatly. For those of you who have played previous Diablo games, you no longer allocate stat points on level up. Instead, your stats are auto-allocated based on your class. Your primary attribute gets the most points and your other stats get a reduced amount. As such, items are now more valuable IF they have a substantial boost to your primary attribute, as that's the one that affects your weapon and skill damage. Otherwise, they lose a lot of value, as secondary attributes only give one relatively negligible bonus (extra armor for Strength, extra dodge for Dexterity, extra resistance for Intelligence). Vitality is the odd duck of the quartet of Diablo 3 stats, as it only has a secondary bonus (no classes have Vitality as their primary attribute), but it is probably the most important bonus of the entire game. Each point of Vitality gives you 10 Life. You will need Life to survive in the later acts. Pure glass cannon builds are hilariously unviable in Diablo 3, unless you have twitch reflexes. Even then, one good hit will be enough to kill you, so it's not recommended to forsake Vitality completely.

Summary: While some aspects feel decidely un-Diablo-like (for older fans of the franchise), it is quite an enjoyable action RPG.

Conclusion

I hope that this review has peaked your interest in Diablo 3. While (as of the time of this article) Starter Edition is not available to the masses, each boxed copy of Diablo 3 includes 3 Guest Passes, so if you know a friend who got the game, bug him/her for a Guest Pass and see for yourself whether the game is worth it or not!

Do keep in mind that the Starter Edition is a poor representation of the rest of Diablo 3, so do take your experience with a grain of salt. With that said, if you detested the Starter Edition, then Diablo 3 may not be for you.

Whatever your decision in the end, I thank you for reading!

Until the next time, take care and have fun! ;)

-Winterfate

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