posted by Leah Haydu
If you’re just looking for a review score (because you have somehow missed the rest of the internet for the past month or so), here it is: I give Diablo 3 an 8/10.
I’ll elaborate on that a bit, even though most of my complaints aren’t exactly new: first off, the game looks great. Visually, it’s a vast upgrade from Diablo 2 (as it damn well better be, considering the just-shy-of-twelve-year gap between the two). Character designs and surroundings are beautifully detailed, and even if there’s a certain amount of same-ness between various armor sets and dungeon maps within a given area, the game can be forgiven that given the sheer volume of content packed into it. It is, of course, a game that could go on forever, if you’d only let it.
I do have a few issues with Diablo 3, and they’re what keep me from giving it a higher score. Mostly, these gripes are technical in nature; the problem with having a single-player game that experiences server lag because you CANNOT play it offline has been explored by better, more time-appropriate reviewers than me, so I’ll only note that it exists. The same goes for the dreaded Error 37, which doesn’t seem to be quite as big a problem now as it did at launch, but does speak to Blizzard’s ongoing inability to predict precisely how popular their games will be.
I also don’t care for the checkpoint system; it’s lovely that the servers save my character extremely frequently, and I do appreciate that, but the fact that progress in a dungeon cannot be manually saved – ever – is a little ridiculous. I can’t be the only one who occasionally finds that there is something in real life that needs doing after I have started a randomly generated dungeon that may take an hour or more to complete. Is it really fair to assume that I’ll never want to log in and click on things for twenty minutes without having to stress out about completing an area so that I don’t lose my progress? I thought this game was supposed to be about exploration!
You may be noticing by this point that I haven’t really said anything new about Diablo 3. I won’t deny that’s the case; on a technical level, as I mentioned before, things have been pretty well covered, and I agree with the vast majority of popular opinion.
So why write a review?
Well, that’s where I’ve pulled a bit of trickery. You see, this ISN’T a review. Not entirely, at least.
What I’d really like to talk about isn’t what this game is, but rather how it’s played. You see, I haven’t finished Diablo 3 yet. I’m not even close. I’m somewhere in the middle of Act II, which, for those of you keeping track, is not quite halfway. Yes, I have had the game since launch, and yes, I have been playing it quite frequently. The thing is, the type of game that Diablo 3 is leads me to not consider completing it as the real goal, which is not at all the way I usually approach my gaming.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say (with apologies to the lore-fiends) that I don’t believe most people are playing Diablo 3 for the story. They do it for the loot, and for the dungeon-crawling, and for the clicking. Because it is ALL clicking. Seriously. You might hurt your wrists.
Personally, when I’m playing a video game, I like to feel that I’m making progress through the story. That’s not to say that I feel like exploration is a bad thing, but for me, it’s rarely if ever the main point. There are certainly games (and gamers) that take a vastly different approach, but for me, it’s usually about the story, which is why open-world games all too frequently frustrate and overwhelm me.
Diablo 3 isn’t really an open-world game, but as it provides randomly-generated dungeon maps, it works out to much the same thing in many ways; you’ll always find something different to go back to, no matter how many times you decide to re-explore a place.
As I’ve already stated that this kind of freedom tends to be paradoxically restrictive to me, you’d think I’d want to stay far away from this game. Oddly enough, though, I keep wanting to come back to it. I think this is because, in my mind, I’ve already discounted “storyline” and “completion” as factors in my enjoyment, and thus Diablo 3 becomes less of an action-adventure game and more like… well, almost like a puzzle. How is the best way to get through THIS dungeon? Which tactics and which paths are the best to help me uncover all of THIS map?
Factors like this are why it makes absolutely no sense to me that some people raced through their first playthrough of Diablo 3 just to see how quickly they could get to the end. Now, I’m absolutely not saying that anyone who finished the game (or finished it multiple times) has done this – I fully recognize that my personal slow-and-steady method is a bit out of the norm. Nor am I saying that it’s in any way wrong for anyone to have played this or any other game in any way that he or she sees fit – they are, after all, supposed to be leisure activities, so if it makes you happy, I say go for it.
What I am saying is that I personally don’t see the value in blazing through an exploration-based game in twelve hours after it’s taken twelve years to come out. Somehow, my priorities have just been shifted on this one.
However you play Diablo 3, I do recommend giving it a shot. By now, as I mentioned earlier, most of the technical glitches have smoothed out at least enough to make it not particularly infuriating, and whether you want to push through or, like me, take your time and see all there is to see at a slower pace, it’s worth your while.
And who knows? Maybe after I’ve finally progressed through the last two acts, I’ll have another different perspective to share, too.