Review by Free_san
"Not "fun", as a game should be."
Having put roughly 500 hours in to Diablo 3 (abbreviated D3 from here on), I can only conclude the word "fun" wasn't a part of the development this game, which is what games should be.
Graphics: 7/10. Things don't look bad for the most part. Character models aren't the best, but look okay. Armors look a bit silly in general, akin to World of Warcraft. Attack animations look pretty neat, but lack the gameplay "oomph" they show off. Somewhat destructible environments and enemy corpses flying look pretty neat.
Story: 4/10. I had played Diablo 2 before, but I was quite young. Therefore, I didn't really pay any attention to the story. Despite that, I still guessed several of the "twists" and "surprises" in the plot long before they happened. It seemed quite cheesy.
I did enjoy learning about the various followers' history though. But only because they helped me kill things a bit faster.
Gameplay: 2/10. Admittedly, for the first 40 hours, the game truly can be "fun"... I had loads of fun at that point. It's fun to acquire new abilities & new runes, then see how you can utilize your new "toys". It's just a shame that only holds your attention for so long, since you will reach the max "normal" level in about 20-30 hours. At that point, there will be several abilities you just wouldn't think of using in the highest "difficulty" setting.
When I say "difficulty", the game doesn't really get any harder. Monsters are still the same as ever, just with much higher stats the higher the "difficulty". Elite mobs also get more special abilities at once (or pretty much, more things that have a chance at killing you).
Anyway, once you reach the max "normal" level, there's a recently added "feature" to D3 called "Paragon levels"... or what I call "levels 61-160". There are no more abilities or runes to unlock, but with each level you get more stats. You also get a small, permanent boost to your in-game ability to find better loot and receive more gold.
The items themselves are barely "decent" 99% of the time. While the game is certainly playable and beatable playing on your own, "balance" has been set so that you can and will go for several hours without finding any good or useful items. Let alone for your own character. And that is a guarantee, else the gold and real money auction house wouldn't exist.
There are several details I am skipping out on, such as the always online requirement and how it's mostly pointless to play through as any other character other than your first/main one due to items in lower difficulties generally being useless. However, all this adds up to a "game" that is just repetitive and not rewarding.
To explain, the Diablo series for me as always been to make me feel like the most powerful, unstoppable being going against some awesome, powerful demons. And D3 simply does not give off that feeling.
Even with friends who joined on and off in my 500 hours of playing, at no point did I ever say or think anything along the lines of "hol-leee s**t look at this ____ (awesome piece of gear, ability, boss, etc)". Nor did they actually. It was just anti-climatic and dull play sessions with us bashing on what's wrong with the game over Skype.
I had been playing since release, and all the changes made to D3 simply force you to get (and in the case of the most recent patch, want) better gear. Every single thing in, and done to, D3 feels like it's to make players use the auction houses more. And thus, more of the real money auction house since gold can be bought using real money. Which in turn gets Blizzard money, since they take a sizable chunk of each transaction (15%+ from each transaction).
Equipment and skills had been nerfed several times in the first couple of months to simply force players to get better gear. Monsters that you clearly are out of visual attacking range still manage to hit you from halfway across the screen.
The game is certainly far more playable in its current state now than it was at launch and a couple months after. Since the most recent patch roughly 2 weeks ago, I had put in a few hours playing every day or two. I even found a couple pieces of equipment better than what I had before. This kicked me up to the 500 hour mark, up from the 450 hour mark since the latter half of July.
...But it does not get rid of the atrocious taste in my mouth of making characters and equipment constantly weaker. Receiving strong vibes that Blizzard's changes to D3 had been to force players to their real-money auction house, it's hard to think of any change as anything other than that.
Also, even the extra 50 hours I had put in to the game since the most recent patch weren't what I call "fun". It was simply done to pass some time and maybe make a few dollars from repetitive, brainless clicking that leads to little reward.
Conclusion: I would recommend not playing the game outright, since I personally feel it is made with the intention of taking more of your money in the long run unless you (quite literally) put your life into it. It's worth no more than $20 for that reason, if you intend to buy it.
For that price though, I would recommend buying Diablo 2 and its expansion if you want a similar, better experience compared to D3. While the predecessor is hard pressed to qualify as a great game by today's increasing standards, it lets players experience everything it has to offer on its own without forcing you to "go shopping" for better gear. Nor does it potentially make your skills and equipment useless after a "gameplay balance" patch. Since you can find everything you need (and stuff you didn't need, but is amazing for other classes) on your own without being forced to play online. (Yes, Diablo 2 can be called repetitive, brainless clicking too, but it will remain "fun" for much longer than D3).
Overall: 3.2/10, not an average.
Reviewer's Score: 3/10 | Originally Posted: 09/04/12
Game Release: Diablo III (US, 05/15/12)
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