Diablo 3: A Critical Review
Diablo 3 has been out for about a week. There is good and bad with every game - but lets be honest. This game took 10-12 years to make and has been hyped by Blizzard for quite a while, so I believe all the bad should be looked at and weighed a little heavier than it would be with most games. Now, this doesn't mean I won't cover the good things and totally bash the game, it just means I will look a little harder on the things that should be great and were lackluster.
I will cover everything from Gameplay Mechanics and Gear to Story Telling and Settings.
The Score: Short Version
This turned out longer than I thought, so if it is too long for you just scroll down and I have the totaled scores at the bottom, but I gave this game an 87 overall. Metacritic gives this game an 89, but says its users give it a 41... It seems a lot of people are very unhappy with this game on the basis of gameplay, graphics, content, and storyline from the series.
Let us start at the beginning: The Release.
Oh Blizzard, who can count the innumerable tears shed by players on this day?
A 12 year wish left ungranted. A 12 year thirst left unsatiated.
I was one of the thousands (millions?) who decided to forgo sleep (or work, it was world wide) and play Diablo all night. At 12:00 they said it would be 12:01.
12:01 - Official Launch
12:01 - 4:00 Unable to log into servers. Got about 10 error codes from 37, 300008, 30005, etc.
- Am I the only one who wonders why they have up to 300008 error codes +?
In these 4+ hours the world waited for Diablo 3, error 37 turned into every meme imaginable, as the images next to this shows.
At 4am I was able to get on, after reading thousands of pages of complaints in forums ranging from "I cannot install", "I cannot download", "My graphics card is too low for the game, so it wont even install", to the numerous complaints about the denial of paid services. Download rates for anyone trying to download a digital copy were at 1mb per minute or less, some reporting no movement for hours.
I fell asleep at about 6 until 11:15 when I found out that everything was going down again.
11:30-3:30 Down. 3:30-4:30. Up until 6, and then down 6:00 - 11:15.
So the first day, there were a total of 14+ hours of downtime for most people playing Diablo 3.
The first week wasn't much better, with a number of outages randomly disabling Diablo 3.
Why Does Release Downtime Matter?
It is really easy to say "well, there were millions of people who were playing of course there would be bugs." I disagree. Blizzard is a very old company, that has released MANY games. It KNOWS the strain that logins have on servers, it knows what they have to deal with.
Furthermore, it KNEW how many people bought the game: Digital Copies were popular, it knew 1.2 million or so people got an annual pass, and it would have known pre-order amounts. It would easily be able to figure out how many servers they needed for launch. The Release fiasco is really unforgivable because there is no excuse for why everything was so mangled.
On a sidenote, the downtime was not the only thing plaguing Diablo 3 fans. Australia's provider screwed up and people almost had to double pay so Blizzard gave them the game for 'free' - meaning they didn't have to double pay. Many people couldn't install because Diablo felt their computer wasn't good enough. Download speeds for the first day were 0-1MB per minute for an 8GB game. Most distributors didn't get enough games from Blizzard even though Blizzard knew the preorder numbers.
Not counted, but I would have to give it the amount of time that it allowed people to play, 58.3% of the day if you didn't sleep through play time, so a 58.
Click To Move
I was unsure about this on the beta, and I am still unsure about it now. Blizzard has said that the WASD movement will not go into the game because in some circumstances it would give an advantage. My question is, OVER WHAT? The game? Other players?
Wanting to escape people mashing my face off, and clicking on someone farther away to attack instead is both lethal and annoying. Wanting to go somewhere and having clicked wrong can be irritating.
80. I have died several times because I could not move properly due to clicking to move not working, and have been quite annoyed at not being able to walk somewhere because pathing is messed up.
Diablo 3 is certainly entertaining. One of the unique things about Diablo 3 is how random it is.
There can be multiple versions of the same map, even on the same difficulty level, story part, etc. The changes in the maps can be anything from events, to dungeons, to people you need to free and chests.
There can be many, many different kinds of monsters when you enter a map. These monsters are always changing depending on difficulty and story area, and abilities are always changing. There are a high amount of abilities that can make life hard on you, but when combined into the same monster, or even groups of monsters, life can become hellish.
Some kinds of abilities monsters have: Waller, Mortar, Knockback, Fast, Extra Health, Shielding, Damage Reflection, Illusionary, Frozen, Teleport, Arcane, Prisoner, Desecration, Molten, Toxic, etc.
There are many, but just imagine some of these working together in the same creature. Prisoner/Waller with any area of effect spell that you would need to run from. I just ran into an Illusionary Molten group. There were about 10+ of them running everywhere, streaks of fire everywhere, and chaos everywhere. After I died I came back and found I had not scratched the real creatures - what a challenge.
Everything is random on gear. Literally. You could have a bunch of stats that go well together, or completely the opposite. This is actually something I dislike about the game. I could spend an hour trying to craft gear - at great expense - and not get anything that is useable for my character and sometimes not useable at all because of the random stuff in there. I think I had a rare that was strength, intellect, arcane resistance, and +1 experience per kill. Not exactly the best.
This actually makes Blacksmithing feel useless and frustrating at times. I got a legendary pattern and created a bow that was horrible. This was a huge problem because it took around 196 essences and 69 teeth. That is a huge number of items to waste on something that doesn't turn out. Some would say that it adds to the difficulty to the game - but I argue that tedium is not difficulty but a time sink.
I give the randomness for Maps and Creatures a 100, because the abilities and mysteries of maps interplay awesomely with the repeat gameplay.
How Gear Fails
Perhaps I am just unlucky, but on one of my level 40 characters I have a bunch of 20 level items that are better than a lot of what I am finding and aren't being replaced until I craft one. Randomness is probably not the best approach. I have had to craft for hours to get upgrades that actually work for my character, wasting countless materials that I have to farm again for. I have to do this, or I get one shot by enemies, which I had been dealing with before knuckling down and crafting for a few hours.
Tedium is not difficulty, its just boring. Working for hours for good gear, rather than playing the game and killing monsters is not exactly what I find enjoyable and I hope they fix it.
For Gear and Blacksmithing, I have to give it a 70. Perhaps I am just really really unlucky, but it is too much of a struggle for me.
Personally, I like the difficulty. It is a challenge, and sometimes makes you think about how you are going to fight something rather than just hack and slash your way through everything for free gear. I have seen a few people complain about the difficulty. Sure, I've died a lot. I wouldn't want to die a huge amount because that wouldn't be fun - but also I wouldn't want a cake walk. Are casual players too casual these days? Someone said 4 deaths was too much for them and they were half way through the first difficulty... I don't understand - its a short (sometimes longer) run back to where you were before, and a small cost for repair after a while. Its not like you loose a bunch of time and money.
Therefore, I give the difficulty level and ability to change it at will a 95. Great, but sometimes too hard because of the randomness of encounters and interplay of abilities. Also, that no one (even Blizzard) can beat the highest difficulty because if you die once your character is gone forever.
I have to say, I am happy with the Gems overall. The system is clean and clear, you can create really nice gems that do what your class wants, or fulfill your other needs like experience, gold, etc. The higher level gems are amazing, though it is a huge gold sink and the Paper and Tome currency system is a little annoying: Depending on your level of crafting you turn to needing to turn in papers or tomes with what you are wanting to learn and craft to do so.
Collecting Papers and Tomes is a bit tedious. The gems are awesome though. 90.
Though at times I felt it was a little gimmicky, I really did enjoy the story. There were a lot of things I did not see coming, though there were a few that I did. Sometimes it fell a little flat, but in others it was really good. I know this is a little vague, but I do not want to spoil anything for people who have not finished the game.
The storyline was strong and had a good ending. Cinematic enhanced it greatly - only wish there were more. 90. A few predictable plot devices and characters, but still good overall.
The setting and set pieces were amazing. The ability to destroy 60% or so of the set pieces made it feel a lot more real and interactive than a lot of games. The setting itself could be stunning at times, especially the scenes of Heaven, which could be breathtaking. The game was overall a dark setting, but enough light places were put in - like fields and such - that eye strain or boredom didn't set in.
90. This would be 100, but a lot of set pieces were used too much... How many barrels are there in this world? There were thousands. Even 'torture barrels' that were spiky. How does that work?
I have to say there are not a bunch of errors. A few did catch my eye though, mostly a few pathing errors. Sometimes I would click to go somewhere and it didn't work, or I would catch on something small and not be able to move properly - which could be lethal if I am running from something that wants to eat me...
If there was a game lag is bad for you, it is this one. If you have any lag at all, you will probably die. The lag on the first day sometimes spiked up and led to hilarious Benny Hill moments where I would be trying to run for my life from a large amount of enemies that I hadn't seen or hadn't moved.
There were a few of these. The conversations seem to have been set as per overall area. One time I went into a really pretty area of Heaven and the Templar said "I haven't seen a place so disgusting in all my life" or something like that. Which I realized was meant for a different area in the same story areas, but it was still a little off-putting.
You can click above to see the full contents of the collector's edition. I was really happy with what it had. Most places have it for 100 USD.
I really liked the 4GB USB soulstone and Diablo skull base. The USB also includes full versions of Diablo II and Diablo II: Lord of Destruction. The art book is great if you are into that sort of thing, it is a 208-page art book, which catalogs everything from early concepts to final 3D renderings.
Books, soundtracks, extra games, and cool toys. Whats to not love? 100.
Aspects if the Game
Click To Move
Total % Earned:
So the total comes to an 87. I counted Storyline, Setting, and Jewelrycrafting as a little lower importance because they don't really effect the gameplay as much, but they are still good to have. The point is that one can live with a bad story if it has good gameplay so it was set at a little lower ranking.
I believe that the game deserves this, it is a great game but has a few problems with it that could be made better. They may be made better in a different patch. Also, I reiterate that this is being quite harsh because of the large amount of time taken on this game and how much it has been hyped.