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Return to Tristram

The Diablo III Open Beta / Stress Test Weekend

It’s been 12 years since we last roamed the dungeons under the town of Tristram, and after a very long wait, we finally got a taste of the much awaited sequel to Diablo II.  Last April 20-22, Blizzard opened up its servers to give us a sneak peek at arguably the most anticipated game of this past decade.

Just like the previous games, you start by picking one of five character classes, namely the Barbarian, the Demon Hunter, the Monk, the Witch Doctor and the  Wizard. It boasts of a new skill and spell system that allows you to change and tweak the behavior of your attacks with the use of runes. The use of “mana” in performing skills and spells also got an upgrade from the previous Diablo games. This time, it’s different for each character class. for example the Barbarian has a rage meter instead of mana, which goes up every time you hit an enemy and goes down gradually if you stop hitting, while the Wizard seems to have an insane amount of energy to use with his spells which allows you to cast one after another without having to drink a “mana potion” at all.

The Good:

  1. It’s nice that you can now choose the gender of each character class and not be limited to a female Sorceress or a male Barbarian.
  2. The new skill and spell system is a breath of fresh air as it actually breaks the monotony of most hack ‘n slash games, and allows you to be a little more creative in your character’s use of abilities.
  3. The new ‘mana’ system lets you focus on the use of your skills without the fear of running out of juice.
  4. You now get companions all throughout the game which adds a team dynamic to the usual ‘”lone wolf’” feel that all the previous Diablo games had.
  5. The multiplayer cooperative game mode lets you play with friends (or random players) and gives you the ability to teleport directly in the middle of the action where your party mates are.
  6. Although we didn’t get to see this in the beta, the PvP system looks very exciting.

The Bad:

  1. You have to be always online to play, even the single player campaigns.
  2. The lack of customization options for your character. As with previous Diablo games, your character will look exactly like everyone else’s.
  3. The character classes are mostly rehashes of characters from the first two games. The Barbarian and the Monk are almost exactly the same, the Wizard is reminiscent of the Sorceress, the Witch Doctor seems like a cross between the Necromancer and the Druid, and the Demon Hunter is an Amazon and Assassin combined.
  4. No camera rotation. You still get one view ( and a zoom) of the map all throughout the game.
  5. Aside from the various new things like the skill system and the PvP, Diablo III is pretty much Diablo II with better graphics.

The Verdict:

Overall, the game delivered what we all expected it to. There were a lot of improvements made from the previous games, but I wish they could have done more. As mentioned above, Diablo III kept close to what made the original games work. People may argue that this is actually a good thing, because changing the look of the game, adding the different camera angles, and letting you customize how your character looks will turn this into a different game entirely. But in the 12 years since Diablo II, there have been a ton of other RPGs that were a whole lot better.

I haven’t tried all of the new features of the game and hopefully the full release will be a whole lot better than what we saw in the sneak preview. But either way, it doesn’t really matter. Will I still buy the game? Yes! Will I still play for hours? Hell yes! The biggest attraction this game has is the great sense of nostalgia you’ll feel as soon as you create your character and kill your first monster. The feeling you’ll get as you walk through the ruins of Old Tristram and the goose bumps that come out when you hear Deckard Cain’s voice all over again. For most of us adult gamers, the Diablo series were the first games that kept us up for days.

Diablo started the addiction, and even though there have been a lot of others that tasted a lot better, the first one will always always draw you back.