Besides being a musician, I'm also an avid gamer. Here's some info on the latest games I'm currently playing.
Diablo 3 Review
Written: May 26th, 2012.
Third Time Isn't A Charm
Blizzard certainly is going through hell with their Diablo 3 release. May 15th's launch was plagued by server issues that rendered the always online game unplayable for the majority of the first two days it was out.
Not only that, but frequent disconnects from Battle.net still plague the game and now the auction house has been taken offline indefinitely. For many, the ability to buy/sell in-game items with/for cash was a very interesting feature only to be ruined before many players could try it out.
Lack of high resolution graphics is a bit frustrating as well. Don't bother zooming in.
But Not All Is Lost
Despite all the issues, the game is still good. The story is entertaining and takes about 30 hours on normal mode if you take time to explore the randomly generated levels.
Help can be found by using npcs when questing. The templar can heal or tank. The scoundrel can range dps. The enchantress can buff/debuff...and can even turn your enemies into chickens!
Crafting on one character unlocks those recipes for all your characters and replaying on higher difficulties allows you to continue to unlock more recipes. Money is also shared between your characters so it's easier to gear up new characters for additional play throughs.
No lan play is a bummer, but Battle.net makes it easy to keep track of your friends for multi-player co-op.
No Skill Required
RPG fans are going to feel a little left out due to the loss of skill trees for the new skill unlocking system. Runes allow you to further customize your character but leave the game feeling more like God of War than previous Diablo games.
Combat is pretty fluid for all classes and the new skill menu works well for the new style of play.
Simply put...it kind of "Diablows". While the story is still good and the random level generation enhances replay, the switch from a solid RPG to a modern hack and slash game just won't cut it with many fans of previous titles. Plus all the connection issues with an always online game and the broken auction house will prevent many people from enjoying it.
I would say buy it on sale but we all know that won't happen for years. Save your money and pass on this one unless you can overlook the issues and enjoy hack and slash games.
June 1st, 2012 - Post Patch Updates
To help clear up some confusion of the original review and offer additional information, here are some updates on Diablo 3 based on my personal playing experience.
Overall the single player experience is great and makes it worth buying if you can overlook the issues in the rest of the game. Each successful playthrough on a given diffulty unlocks the next difficulty level which also unlocks new rewards and crafting options. Hardcore mode gives you an additional challenge with no respawns upon death. Rewards between standard and hardcore mode cannot be shared between game types so don't get too attached to the gear on your hardcore characters.
Things that might keep you from buying or enjoying Diablo 3 include the following issues I've noticed frequently since the game launched and was actually playable. Lag and rubberbanding are typically something we expect to see occasionally in multiplayer games but this is not something you expect to see playing a single player game. Auctions are currently limited to in-game gold since the real money auctions have been disabled indefinitely. The downside of this includes gold spammers in general chat...which is turned on by default after recent patches. At least you can leave channels but it just goes to show how Blizzard fails to think ahead.
Before summarizing this update, I would like to recommend to any company making MMOs or multiplayer games where items and gold can be traded: if you want to stop gold spammers from ruining your game experience...stop making gold tradable/droppable. If you bind items in your wallet to an account without the ability to trade, gold spammers will have no reason to farm money by hacking accounts. It's a simple fix and keeps your players happy.
With all the issues, Blizzard is certainly making it tough to recommend buying Diablo 3 at this time. If you can tolerate those issues, it definitely is a fun game since the random drops and crafting make playing it so much more rewarding than your typical MMO gear and crafting grind. After playing WoW and LOTRO for several years, dungeon crawlers are a welcome change of pace. If you don't want to deal with the price or hassle of these issues, just wait for Torchlight 2 to be released this summer.