Without fail, you're rewarded for mowing down monsters with gold and gear. This is typical of the series and the genre, but it's handled here as well as it's ever been. You never feel like you're being showered with riches and items you haven't earned, nor that you're having to slog through too many foes to earn anything significant. Loot is doled out at a pace that makes your victories fulfilling and makes fighting the next group of foes lurking in the shadows ahead nigh irresistible.
The way your rewards emerge into the world is rewarding in itself; slay an elite monster, and coins and items pour onto the ground, making you feel like you've just won a jackpot in Vegas. Sometimes, the gear is junk so low in value that it's not even worth picking up. But you never know when you're going to stumble on a weapon or piece of armor that's superior to your current equipment, making you more capable of facing the coming hordes. Even if something isn't worth using, it's often worth grabbing, either to sell or to have it salvaged by the blacksmith in town for materials that can be used to craft other items.
Weapons function in Diablo III a bit oddly, though, and that may take some getting used to. Often, you may elect to have your primary skill be something that isn't weapon-based. You may choose the demon hunter's grenade attack, for instance, or the wizard's magic missile spell. Although these skills don't involve your characters actually using whatever weapons they're holding in their hands, the damage of your equipped weapon still comes into play. In other words, all other things being equal, a wizard's magic missile spell does more damage if she's holding a club that does 12 damage than if she's holding a dagger that does 10 damage. It's a system that makes more gear useful to more classes, but that usefulness comes at the expense of typical fantasy RPG logic.
Scrolls of Town Portal are gone, replaced by a spell you can cast at any time.
If you haven't yet found the perfect helm, boots, or crossbow for your character, you may opt to have the blacksmith craft you items. As with the stuff you find in the wild, the magic properties on gear he crafts are random, so there's often no guarantee that something he creates for you will suit you better than your current equipment, but odds are that sometimes he'll craft something that's ideal for you.
Unfortunately, you need to spend a good deal of gold on training him to level him up so that he can craft higher-level gear for you, and early on, it can feel as if you're sinking all your gold into this and reaping little reward. The rewards do come eventually, though, and all your characters in a given mode share the same craftsmen (the blacksmith and, later, a jeweler), so once the money is spent on training, you don't need to worry about spending it again.
The cycle of combat and loot and more combat is addictive, but without peril, it would eventually become unfulfilling. Thankfully, the hosts of hell become increasingly dangerous over time. Boss fights are numerous and frequent, and those that bring each act to a close can be challenging. They also offer more traditional action-game mechanics than the series has seen before. An early boss charges into walls, for example, leaving him stunned and giving you a chance to attack safely.
6378235Having some trusty friends by your side can make nightmare difficulty a little less scary.None
After you complete the game on the normal difficulty setting, you can continue on to nightmare, which is much more than just playing the same game again against more resilient foes. Nightmare changes things up by giving enemies powerful new abilities and placing challenging enemies in places where they didn't previously appear. Conquer nightmare and yet another, even more challenging difficulty becomes available. Whether you want a relatively easy, rewarding experience that you can pleasantly click your way through or an incredibly stiff challenge, Diablo III has what you're looking for. And for that added element of risk, you can play in Hardcore mode, where death is permanent.
Each class has the offensive capabilities to take on the forces of darkness alone, and the three AI companions you can choose from offer a helping hand and a sense of camaraderie to solo adventurers. But joining with up to three other players makes for a far more interesting dynamic. Freezing enemies in place when you're playing solo as a wizard is useful, but when doing so aids a team of players who are working together, it's much more fulfilling. Similarly, activating a mantra of healing as a monk just when your party is in dire need of a health boost is far more rewarding than just using this ability to save yourself.
Witch doctors can summon packs of zombie dogs. This is useful in battle and for scaring friends at parties.
It's extremely easy to invite friends to your game or to jump into their games, or to text chat with friends who are going about their own adventures in their own realms. But be warned: as players join your game, the forces of evil become more powerful, and if you don't stay close to each other and work together, you might find that enemies who were previously pushovers are suddenly quite dangerous. This added challenge encourages teamwork; a friend who joins your game and then runs ahead to take on monsters alone is no friend at all. For all its focus on teaming up with friends, though, it's odd that Diablo III doesn't have built-in support for voice chat. Speaking to your friends to coordinate tactics on the fly is helpful, but you'll need to resort to third-party software in order to do it.
Unfortunately, though Diablo III often feels like a well-oiled machine of adventure and reward, it does occasionally sputter. You're required to be online at all times, even if you're playing solo, so if you don't have a reliable internet connection, you simply cannot play Diablo III. The servers go down periodically for maintenance, so you might find the game unavailable to play at times that you want to play it. Additionally, even when the game is up and running, you may experience the rare bout of knockback lag. When enemies and attacks fill the screen (as they often do), you may encounter some severe slowdown. And for all its refinement, there's the occasional rough edge to the action. The monk can teleport to enemies and attack them, for instance, but this effect is abrupt and jarring.
There is unrest in the forest. There is trouble with the trees.
But these problems and frustrations are dwarfed by the pleasures Diablo III offers. There's a good chance you've played games a lot like Diablo III before, and at no point does it dare to surprise you by tinkering with its tried-and-true formula. But it creates such an enticing world and offers up such enjoyable abilities that it makes that formula feel fresh again. You may ultimately be victorious at vanquishing the forces of hell, but if their true mission is to give you a compelling reason to sacrifice sleep as you keep clicking your mouse into the wee hours of the night, then they have won a decisive victory.