By Chris Catanzarite
Diablo 3 Beta weekend has come to a close and left me quite satisfied with what I have seen so far. There were many questions about one of the most anticipated PC titles in a few years. Had Blizzard waited too long? What was the game play going to be like? Please don’t let them turn this into World of Warcraft. Well in my humble opinion Blizzard got it right. The decade plus wait was worth it and I think when I get to enjoy the full game it will be even better.
Gameplay is obviously the most important thing about any game, but especially with a game that has had a legacy like Diablo. The original Diablo was released over 16 years ago in 1996, and Diablo 2 in 2001. The delay undoubtedly had to do with Blizzards intense focus on the WoW franchise and subsequent expansions, as well as Starcraft 2. But the game play and formula that blizzard came up with in the original has maintained its simplicity and functionality and received a bit of a face lift.
People were saying in the time leading up to it that they hoped they didn’t make the game a World of Diablo. Well many forget that WoW received many of its game play cues from the Diablo series. From the skill development all the way down to inventory management and hotkeys. I can say with certainty that Blizzard held true to the formula and all the elements even smoother and easier to use. I was extremely pleased that blizzard kept the game in the same viewpoint as the others instead of with the top down view.
This is what I was most pleased with in the game, at least what I was able to experience in such a limited beta. The environments in the Diablo series have been key to the games replay value. They vary; they change each time you play so no dungeon is exactly the same twice. Sadly in the beta we only get to experience New Tristram and the ruins of Old Tristram, both of which are done beautifully. The graphics really shine in this game and create a rich environment that I imagine is going to be incredibly fun to explore in full.
The key to what made previous Diablo games so gripping was the mood. The overall aura created with the environments, atmosphere, and sense of dread, doom and urgency. It’s something that is so difficult to create and balance. Many games get this element completely wrong or just not good enough. What blizzard has managed to do again is suck you into the world of Tristram and make you feel that their struggle is your struggle.
From the perpetual darkness you’re in to the ambient music and sound effects. The music in particular I found pleasing just like the old ones. It’s not a constant score playing on loop. It can be as simple as a few guitar cords played just as the right time or a real theme going on. It just adds to the game it doesn’t take it over.
My biggest concern I noticed so far was the new skill development. I found it a bit confusing. It seems as though they may have simplified it adding fewer skills and easier ways to manage their upgrades with skill runes. I’m sure I just don’t completely understand it yet as I am used to the more complex system offered in previous versions.
Seeing how you can only play until level 13, you don’t get much of a chance to experience upgrading. Also the game more or less guides you in the skills you can choose. I’m not sure if this is just an element in the beta or if it will also be done in the full game to aid you in learning the new system.
Things I’m excited to see in the full game are the cinematic scenes. None of the cinematics were included in the beta and from the clips I’ve seen from blizzard they appear to be truly epic. It will only help to further enrich the story of Tristram. The auction house is the most exciting thing for me, if anyone remembers trying to play and trade fairly with others in Diablo 2 was a nightmare. You couldn’t trust anyone and it was easy to fool somebody or rip them off.
Well this problem has been solved. With the auction house you’ll be able to buy, sell or trade your precious items for real cash or in game currency as well. And it’s all monitored by Blizzard. Ah, a sigh of relief that my rare magic items will be safe from assholes trying to screw me over.
Overall this beta has just made me even more excited for the hours of my life that I will spend playing this game and getting sucked into the world of New Tristram. From the beta alone I can strongly recommend this game. It appears to me that it will be worth every penny and will create years of enjoyment and loyal fans all over again.