One of the most anticipated titles of 2012, Diablo 3 makes some controversial changes to the mechanics of its smash and loot clickfest.There’s no skill tree to speak of, and no points to assign. Instead, these get unlocked automatically as you level up. It does encourage you to experiment with different skills though, and the skills themselves seem to have a great deal of variety (especially between the different classes). One odd quirk of the game is that every class uses weapons to determine skill power. For example, the sword a Wizard carries will determine the damage dealt by a magic missile spell. There’s also the inclusion of a “Real Money Auction House” whereby you can buy or sell in-game items (using real money), which seems a little cynical on Blizzard’s part, but it’s completely unintrusive at least.
The gameplay is very simplistic: click to move, click to attack, click to collect stuff, with skills mapped to the number keys. That said, it’s very satisfying. The visual effects are spectacular, and there’s a lot of detail in the animation. Smash a barrel for example, and pieces of it scatter across the landscape, even creating a gust of wind that shakes nearby cobwebs.
Note: Diablo III requires always-on internet connection to play.
Performance & Quality
It runs like a dream. I honestly can’t tell the difference between running it in Windows or Mac (other Mac developers take note!). The always online requirement doesn’t seem to do the game any favours, already there are reports of hundreds of people being unable to log in and play, or getting booted after a few minutes (at the time of writing, the European server seems to be pretty stable though). It also means that if your connection is not rock-steady, you’ll often see a delay between say looting a corpse and the items actually spilling out. In more severe cases, you can even find yourself suddenly surrounded by enemies.
Possibly the only benefits of the always online requirement are the multiplayer features. Anyone can jump into your game (either from your friends list or if you designate your gameplay as public) and the enemies (and corresponding rewards) will scale upwards (scaling back down as soon as they drop out). Right now, it’s co-op only, but PvP is planned for some point in the future.