Console RPG fans have certainly had to wait a long time between good RPGs. Since the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, there has been a trickle of RPGs released on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, ranging from terrible to mundane, but all that has changed. Diablo has returned to consoles with a port of Diablo III.
The PC version of Diablo III launched back in May of 2012, and had more than its fair share of problems. There were bugs, glitches, and even complaints from fans that the game had become too easy and that the art direction had deviated too much from Diablo 1 and 2 (the game is much brighter and more cartoon-like than Diablo 1 and 2). While there is no denying Diablo III (on both PC and console) has a very different look to previous games, the gameplay itself is thoroughly enjoyable. How does the game rate overall? Well, “stay a while, and listen”.
Set twenty years after the events of Diablo 2, Diablo 3 opens with Deckard Cain and his niece Leah reading ancient texts that foretell the “end days” and the events leading to it. The cathedral is hit by a falling star, which tears open the ground, swallowing Deckard into it.
The protagonist (a character created by the player), ventures into New Tristram to investigate the fallen star. Hordes of the undead rise from the ground, attacking the village and the soldiers protecting it. The player intervenes, and meets Leah, who asks for his help in rescuing Deckard from the crater in the cathedral. The player agrees, and thus the bloody adventure begins.
If you’re unfamiliar with dungeon-crawling RPGs, that’s perfectly fine. There hasn’t been one on a home console in years (apart from the fantastic port of Torchlight). The original Diablo wasn’t the original dungeon crawler, but it certainly is one of the best. Combining a dark, bloody and mature atmosphere elevated Blizzard’s original RPG above the competition. Ambitiously, Blizzard even managed to port Diablo 1 to the Sony Playstation, and even added local co-op.
Dungeon crawler RPGs are usually played from an isometric viewpoint, and usually from a zoomed out view. This allows game designers to hide enemies and treasures in fog or darkness, but also allows for many enemies to appear on screen at once. Diablo III seems to have hundreds of enemies on screen at times, and players must carefully decide whether to engage in combat with hordes of monsters or flee, depending on a number of things such as the number of healing potions, or their current equipment, etc.
Also in dungeon crawlers, combat is in real-time, like in action games. This added much excitement when Diablo 1 was released, as many console owners were used to RPGs having turn-based battles, a design technique of many Japanese RPGs, which were booming at the release of Diablo 1 (1996).
Diablo III’s combat and controls are extremely simple, almost too simple. In my opinion, it has perfectly found the delicate balance between simplistic arcade controls and that of a more complex RPG. Combined with Diablo III’s graphics, which are also simple, players could be forgiven for thinking that Diablo III is a shallow game with not much depth to it at all. There is, however, a very well-written story with some highly-enjoyable gameplay.
As with most RPGs, each kill and completed quest rewards the player with experience. Upon levelling up, players unlock additional skills and their stats improve. What’s great about Diablo III though, is how Blizzard have embraced the arcade-style combat of the game. There are challenges which reward buffs (temporary status improvements) and/or bonus experience for completing them. It adds an extra challenge to the game, and also makes levelling up fun, and not a chore.
Visually, Diablo III is quite a departure from previous games. That’s not a bad thing, as the game certainly has its own unique look, but there isn’t anything that particularly “wows” me about it’s graphics. That being said, we are three months away from the next-generation of consoles and PC games, which means it is extremely hard for anything to come out and be graphically superior compared to other recent games.
- Highly accessible
- Multiplayer is loads of fun
- Dark, well-written story
- Way too many skills compared to buttons
- Somewhat dated gameplay compared to other games.
Diablo III is certainly a lot of fun (I can’t stop playing it), and it serves as both a great RPG for experienced adventurers and also a fantastic introductory title to inexperienced Role-playing gamers. If you’re after a great co-op game or an entertaining RPG to ride out the rest of this console cycle, Diablo III won’t disappoint.