'Diablo 3' PS4 review in progress - a newcomer's perspective

Monday, 18 August 2014 03:18 PM Written by 

DBcoverI grew up with a household PC that was limitedly effective, but overall inadequate. It carried out the few tasks that were expected of it like an early web service called Prodigy, and Encarta digital encyclopedia. Throw in a word processor and you have the three main tasks of my childhood PC. Gaming was not on its short list of can-do tasks. The only game character it was familiar with was Mavis Beacon.


It was because of this PC that I missed out on the “Diablo” series. The popular game from Blizzard was not in my computer’s prevue. In fact, this PC wouldn’t even know what to do with it due to its lack of CD ROM drive. Throughout the years, I instead experienced the many “Diablo” console clones like “Hunter: The Reckoning” and “Marvel: Ultimate Alliance.” I now admit that I enjoyed these games through a naïve lens having never played the game that inspired their cooperative progression.


“Diablo 2” eventually released for consoles, but by that time the series had passed me by. I had little interest. That was until “Diablo 3” was released for next-gen consoles and I was tasked with giving it the review treatment. It only took a couple hours of playtime to show me what I had been missing.


Most reviews of “Diablo 3” that you’ll find online are from the viewpoint of seasoned “Diablo” veterans who have been to hell and back multiple times. This will be quite the opposite. I’m a noob. This “Diablo 3” experience for PS4 is my first with the series and my impressions will reflect that. This review (currently in progress, but not complete) is for those considering picking up “Diablo 3,” but are new to the series. This was my first visit to hell, and I can’t wait to go back.




Your own personal World of Warcraft


“Diablo 3” is like “World of Warcraft,” but without all the other people standing around. In this world of angels and demons, you matter. The world changes depending on your actions, whereas the World of Warcraft will continue to churn without you if you choose to never sign on again. “Diablo 3’s” world is one of loot, abilities and countless enemies, and it’s all yours.


That structure speaks to me in a way “WoW” always failed to. I enjoy a sense of purpose that comes with a game like “Diablo.” I prefer that opposed to a game world where I’m just one of many.



Hell in 60 frames per second


For a top-down action RPG, “Diablo 3” is a detailed and glossy, yet bleak, vision of the underworld. Each act is set in a different locale, plus each individual dungeon is able to stand alone as its own domain. There are no duplicates.


The action runs at a smooth 60 frames per second on the PS4 version. I haven’t noticed any frame drops even with dozens of enemies on the screen simultaneously, all with their own lighting and particle effects. The game handles it smoothly.



Better with friends


There are six classes. Currently, I’m putting all my mileage into one character: the Demon Hunter. My Demon Hunter is Maxwell Fire; an uninspired name that I regretted almost immediately after creating. The Demon Hunter class is suited for ranged attacks. He or she can equip a bow and arrow or crossbow. This isn’t the best class to use if you plan on touring the world of “Diablo 3” strictly solo. Enemies will close the gap rather quickly, and ranged arrows are a silly defense. Ranged attacks thrive when other team members are able to agro enemies’ attention while the Demon Hunter strikes at a distance.


Throughout my numerous hours logged into this game I’ve tried to think of another multiplayer game that facilitates multiplayer as gracefully as “Diablo 3.” I can’t come up with an equal. This game’s accessibility is something to behold whether you’re a newcomer, an old fan, a newcomer who has a friend that’s an old fan, or any further combination of variables. Multiple players can drop in or drop out freely both locally and online.


Lower level players that team up with higher level players will receive a strength boost so they won’t just be dead weight on the team. They won’t have high-level abilities unlocked, but the abilities that are unlocked will do extra damage while in the party. The game then automatically adjusts once a player leaves the party, which can be done at any time.


“Diablo 3” also handles the confusion of campaign progression artfully. Players can still party up regardless of campaign progression. For instance, a friend can join my game on act five even if he or she is still in act two of their own game. The quests that are completed while my friend is in my party will be saved in his or her game. In other words, my friend won’t have to replay act five when that act is reached in their own campaign. The level of flexibility here is unparalleled.



Get off my loot


I’ve read that the loot system of has been completely overhauled since “Diablo 3’s” humble beginnings. While I don’t know exactly what the previous system used to be like, I can tell you that that Loot 2.0 is spectacular.


Every person sees only their loot. That loot is not visible to the other players in the party. That includes gold, armor, weapons and every other type of loot in the game. There no reason to discuss who needs what while standing over a pile of plentiful bounty. Players can feel free to pick up what they want because everything on the screen is their own.


Loot can still be shared amongst players in case someone in the party gets a piece of loot that is best suited for another player. That item can be dropped or gifted to the player who wants it.



Progress is power


There are few games that nail a sense of progression quite like “Diablo 3.” Every demon that the Prince of Darkness throws your way is a stepping stone, or stepping pebble, to a stronger character. The leveling system is brilliantly planned to unlock something to be excited about at each new level. Your character starts with a dismally bare-boned arsenal, but it only takes a few levels to feel like a bona fide slayer of evil.


The first primary attack quickly evolves into several. Each attack type is given a button on the controller. The control scheme for the console version of “Diablo 3” is so intuitive that I can’t imagine playing this game with a mouse and keyboard. The controller feels like a perfect fit. It’s a nearly perfect setup for an action RPG.


There are two resources to manage: hatred and discipline. Attacks use hatred, while defensive abilities use discipline. Both recharge over time. It’s up to the player to find a balance of attacks and abilities that efficiently eradicate the enemy horde. It’s likely that each player will approach this differently, latching onto different abilities that work best for his or her play style. “Diablo 3” is very much like an open book in that regard. It supports many different strategies depending on how the player wishes to play.



What lies ahead?


I’ve reached level 55 with my Demon Hunter and I’ve only scratched the surface of this game. I look forward to reaching the endgame content with this character, as well as beginning a new journey with the other classes.


If “Diablo 3” is any indication, there’s a reason that this is an influential series in the annals of video games. This has the makings of being a serious timesink for me, but I’m looking forward to wreaking further havoc in the underworld.






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