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RPG Codex Review: Diablo 3
Review - posted by Crooked Bee on Mon 11 June 2012, 11:56:19Tags: Blizzard Entertainment; Diablo III
[Written by Mrowak]
A Cracked Soulstone
Diablo 3 was perhaps the largest and most anticipated game release of 2012. It also turned out to be the most controversial. Ever since its announcement in 2008, the game has undergone a number of tweaks and revisions, as well as thorough beta-testing. This was to ensure the amount of polish expected from Blizzard - a developer who enjoyed considerable esteem in the gaming world and reputation for maybe not very innovative, but highly addictive gameplay. It was expected that Diablo 3 would set new standards, higher than its predecessors did. Indeed, to some extent it accomplishes its lofty goals, although sadly most of the changes it enforces, both on the genre and on the game distribution model, do not come across as positive.
It is surprising to see a game with such production values and amount of attention to detail become so uneven and unfocused. It is evident that it does get many things right - a lot of effort was put into the game, after all. But for every spot-on decision there are numerous baffling ones, no matter how small, that become apparent on various occasions and take much of the enjoyment out of the game. There are many things, concealed beneath the thin layer of polish, that reveal unfinished thoughts, as if the game was shipped in the state of an incomplete beta test. Put together, all of them contribute to a persistent feeling of unfulfilled promise which plagues nearly every moment of your time spent in the world of Sanctuary.
Storytelling and Quest Design
Story has always been the most lackluster component of the Diablo series. However, despite its backstage role, the narrative did manage to contribute to the player’s enjoyment. In the first installment, a consistent gothic medieval setting and the well-developed story themes coupled with decent, even if slightly over-the-top voice acting succeeded in delivering an unique horroresque experience. The sequel didn’t quite manage to capture the same feel, now relegated almost exclusively to CGI cutscenes. However, even in Diablo 2 the story remained surprisingly unobtrusive, allowing the player to focus on killing things, getting new gear, leveling up, and killing things again. Diablo 3 makes yet another step in streamlining the series' storytelling, reaching new levels of low in the process.
The first notable change is a new emphasis on the story itself. Now it unfolds in the foreground with the player’s avatar endowed with his own voice and key characters actually taking part in the events that occur during the game. There are also countless journals scattered throughout the world, which net the player extra insight into the setting. From this alone it is obvious that Blizzard aimed to flesh out Diablo’s universe. One could argue that this shift is not necessarily unwelcome, although at least questionable in the game about hacking and slashing things with your mouse pointer. Unfortunately, the storytelling does not only fail to put this freedom to good use, it actually manages to undermine itself with it.
Subtlety, nuance, and taste - these concepts are completely alien to Diablo 3. To a large extent the narrative resembles a drab fanfiction written with a very young audience in mind. The plot is the main culprit here. On the one hand, the events are portrayed in a most predictable fashion. Literally from Act 1 you will know what happens to side characters, who the main antagonists are and what they are going to do - all of which is supposed to be a big reveal later on. On the other hand, the plot is contrived beyond recognition. Characters suffer sudden bouts of selective blindness and conveniently fail to spot obvious traps or, on the contrary, suddenly develop clairvoyance and do something plot-convenient for no apparent reason.
In Diablo 3 villains can’t miss a single opportunity to telegraph to you: ‘So, you foiled my plans? Bah! I still have my XXX, located in YYY! There is nothing you can do to save ZZZ! Muhahaha!!!’.
The writing does its best to compromise the characters even further with ‘witty’ one-liners and juvenile dialogue. Granted, the script in the Diablo series has never been mature, but now it reaches Saturday morning cartoon level, with your antagonists quite literally going: “I will get you next time, Gadget!” The voice acting lands the final blow. There is not a single character to deliver his lines in a natural manner - their voices are taken out of proportions, great pathos overshadowing the actual content.
There is, however, one aspect of the story which shines through the sea of mediocrity, namely quests. It is really surprising to discover that this time around the development team took pains to write a number of sub- and side quests that aren't given to your character by default. Instead, you stumble upon them as you explore caves, crypts, forests and endless plains. Usually they are pretty short and of the fetch or kill variety. Despite that, they can be interesting enough and serve as a welcome and entertaining distraction from the tedium of the main plot. Moreover, they reward you with additional experience and gold - which may be a good incentive to go looking for them, especially on the higher difficulty levels where experience doesn’t come cheap.
Apparently, Blizzard’s intention was to leave its gothic origins and tone of the story behind, and opt for a generic high-fantasy epic setting instead, definitely more welcoming to an average gamer. And while they succeeded in the former, they failed miserably in the latter. As repeatedly reported on Blizzard’s Diablo boards, even players who normally do not care about the story ended up rolling their eyes and turning down Voice Volume in the options, so as not to be assaulted by the constant stream of nonsense pouring out of the speakers. One can only be baffled at Blizzard’s decision to give the story such a prominence when not only was there nothing worthwhile to be told, but what was given was so mind-bogglingly stupid.
Look, Sound and Feel
The drastic departure from the original themes of Diablo series carries over from the story to the graphical and aural presentation of the game, albeit admittedly with much better results. The dark, sublime art direction the series was renowned for is no more. Gone are life-like armour design, meticulously crafted Romanesque-Gothic architecture, suggestive iconography, organic tiles and dark-grayish colour palette. They all have been superseded by colourful cartoonish counterparts which evoke a much more light-hearted tone and support the 'epic' aspect of the adventure. This stands in direct contrast to the somber, sullen atmosphere of the previous titles and may antagonize the ardent fans of the franchise.
Nevertheless, it should be stressed that, even after such a profound change, the graphical presentation leaves a positive impression. The locales are handcrafted with utmost care and many little touches in between. There is a sense of fluidity and coherence, which persists throughout the game. The streets are brimming with various merchandise, the mountain stronghold is huge and, surrounded with siege machinery, seemingly impenetrable, the passageways to the Imperial palace are filled with rich ornamentation, vases and plants that you can turn into rubble with your powerful attacks. Interestingly, randomly generated locations come across as less generic and repetitive, which is an achievement, especially compared to Diablo 2. Even dungeons are less blocky than before, with varied tiles forming seamless surfaces and walls, branching out in a credible way. All of this contributes to the feeling that the world is alive, to the extent possible within a rather limited framework of a hack and slash game.
The depiction of character abilities deserves a paragraph of its own. Generally, Blizzard always did their utmost to convey a sense of empowerment and near-omnipotence. All but the very low-level runeless skills generate explosions of colours and other dramatic effects. It applies even to basic attacks. This technique highlights the epic feel of the game and improves the fluidity of combat. It also carries one considerable disadvantage: in multiplayer, particularly during huge battles with mid-bosses, it is sometimes impossible to tell what exactly is going on, since multiple special effects tend to obscure the vision. Moreover, after some time this kind of graphical overload gets heavy on the eyes.
A day like any other in Diablo 3. If you think this is hectic and flashy, imagine what a 4 people co-op game looks like.
The aural aspect of the game does not impress. Sound effects are serviceable, although they sometimes suffer from latency issues common to online games. Music is average at best. Unsurprisingly, the creepy, unsettling tones have been almost completely removed from the score. Instead, Blizzard went for generic fantasy themes that are always somewhere out there, but fail to hold the player’s attention. If their aim was to make the music as unnoticeable as possible, they certainly succeeded in that.
Skill Progression, Gear, and Character Development
Like its predecessor, Diablo 3 offers five characters to play out of the box. The player can pick either the male or female model of a Barbarian, Demon Hunter, Monk, Wizard or Witch Doctor. Just as before, each of these classes has a unique selection of abilities, which allows for distinctive play styles.
Every class has 6 categories of active skills and 3 slots for general, passive abilities. In each active skill category, there are 3 to 5 skills. The player can assign an active skill to left-click, right-click, or the 1, 2, 3 and 4 keys. Furthermore, each skill has a set of runes attached to it. Like skills, runes become available when your character’s level is high enough. Runes affect the skill they are joined with in various ways. Some reduce its casting cost or duration, increase damage or range. Others alter the way the skill operates - a brief short-range burst of flame becomes a fire wave, a frost ray turns into a globe of frost protecting the caster, a summoned creature gets an extra skill, etc. Passive abilities are there to add certain numerical bonuses to your character, enhancing the power of your build.
This is a huge departure from the character development system found in Diablo 2. One of the most obvious advantages of the new progression scheme is the fact that it allows for a surprisingly large number of options in battle. Stereotypically, Barbarians and Monks fill the roles of front-line fighters, Wizards and Demon Hunters favour pin-cushioning enemies from a safe distance, and Witch Doctors summon undead hordes and inflict pestilence on the foes. Interestingly enough, however, in Diablo 3 these typical roles aren't set in stone. Out of the three classes I extensively tested (Wizard, Witch Doctor and Demon Hunter), all prove deadly and fun to play in close- and mid-range combat, provided they are given an appropriate set of abilities and you can take full advantage of it. Thus, the player can switch between the skills and runes to create a build that would suit his play style perfectly. The new system's flexibility is best visible in multiplayer, where even characters of the same class and level can form lethal tandems, all the more deadly due to the focus on different roles allowed by the game's varied skill selection.
Runes can significantly alter skills. For better or for worse, their acquisition is completely linear.
In addition, there is no danger that the player can screw up character development, simply because there is no real RPG-like character progression to begin with. Skill acquisition is completely linear - a considerable flaw compared to the earlier Diablo games. In Diablo 3, a character gains certain skills on a predetermined level, and that’s it; no player choice involved. Even the basic stat increases the player used to assign himself are fixed and given automatically on level-up. In effect, save for equipment, every character on the same level is essentially identical, e.g., your 60th level wizard is character development-wise identical to the 60th level wizard of every other player. With this design decision Blizzard divorced the Diablo series from its RPG roots.
Another notable disadvantage of the new system is the rather narrow active skill set. While all 6 active skills prove useful, the fact remains that there are only six of them, out of which one or two are usually semi-passive (a summon or some kind of protective buff) and end up just taking up space most of the time. Compared to Diablo 2, where the player had 8 hotkeys for abilities and could easily swap skills on the fly, this is hardly a satisfactory solution. Plus, having only 6 active skills means that sooner or later the enjoyment from using them is marred by the tedium of repeating them time and time again in exactly the same manner.
There is also a minor gripe I have with the game's skill selection mechanics. At first it might seem that there is no way to assign skills from the same skill chain to different keys, so it appears that, e.g., as a Wizard you won’t be able to use Frost Nova and Teleport, two abilities from the same category, in the same build. However, it turns out there is a well-hidden option in the Gameplay sub-menu that, when enabled, allows exactly that. I am perplexed why the option to swap skills as the player pleases is switched off by default and hidden in an obscure part of the menu.
The real, meaningful character development in Diablo 3 takes the form of loot hunting. Right equipment means the difference between life and death, especially on the higher difficulty levels. While each level-up grants the character an automatic increase in stats, ultimately this increase proves insubstantial. On average, a character can increase his key stat up to 250 points, but the highest gameplay modes require items that boost it by thousands of points in order to deal any significant amount of damage. Needless to say, wrong equipment can drastically reduce the player’s efficiency in battle - a hindrance which is especially noticeable when stepping into a new act.
As a consequence of gear taking precedence over character development, the importance of the player’s skill and ability to plan his character ahead is significantly diminished. Whereas in Diablo 2 a competent and at least somewhat reasonably geared player could outclass a better equipped but less able teammate, both in PvP and core gameplay, this now proves virtually impossible, since the power of your abilities is determined exclusively by the properties of the items you wear. In other words, Diablo 3 is not the kind of game where you build the most effective character, but where you get the best gear for them.
Even on Nightmare difficulty, this design proves to be problematic because of the randomized loot generator: there is no guarantee that the equipment obtained in the course of one act will suffice for smooth, enjoyable gameplay in another. It appears to be a conscious decision on the part of Blizzard who actively encourage grinding for the best items. This effect actually enhances gameplay due to the online nature of the game. In Diablo 3 enemies drop separate sets of items to each of the active players. Thus, it is a common practice to form parties to increase effectiveness of item-scavenging by trading the equipment with teammates during gear-hunts.
Players can also create their own items. Item-crafting serves as a substitute for the gambling mechanic introduced in Diablo 2. This time around, instead of buying unidentified equipment and hoping to stumble upon a useful piece of gear, you study consecutive tiers of blacksmithing or jewelcrafting, paying with gold and tomes of knowledge to learn how to make them yourself. Blacksmithing requires various ingredients, usually obtained by melting down the sub-par gear you scavenge from monsters, whereas jewelcrafting allows you to produce more powerful gemstones from smaller pieces. Blacksmithing allows you to select the items you want to craft, but that’s as far as your control extends - the stats of the new gear are completely randomized. While I understand this decision from the game balance perspective, I can’t help feeling disappointed by the total inability to pick at least one stat you would like to include yourself. Having said that, item-crafting and item-scavenging would have worked well enough if not for Blizzard’s controversial creation - the Auction House.
The Auction House gives players an easy way to bypass excessive grind and purchase equipment as needed, either with in-game gold or real money. This proved to be a particularly efficient solution on Inferno difficulty, where the barrier of entry to the next act is, equipment-wise, ridiculously high.
There are two problems, however. First, at the moment of writing this review the Auction House is partially disabled and does not allow RMT, so that its usefulness has been drastically reduced. More importantly, the Auction House renders the normal kind of item acquisition completely pointless. Whereas in Diablo 2 a large part of enjoyment derived from organizing raiding parties to obtain the best equipment, completing sets of armour and tinkering with runewords, in Diablo 3 the Auction House causes the whole gameplay segment - collecting and crafting items - to be meaningless. There is no point in making better gems yourself when you can buy all but the rarest gems for 2000 gold per unit - which is not that much. Why would you form a party to get the best gear if you can purchase it for a mere pittance? It is obvious that the Auction House is just a pay-to-win mechanics, and its prominence can significantly spoil one of the most crucial components of gameplay. Its very existence in a game designed around loot puts Blizzard’s honesty into question, particularly when RMT are enabled.
The infamous Auction House. Here you can obtain any equipment cheaply.
There is also another problem that old time Diablo fans will have a hard time coming to terms with: Diablo 3's loot is nowhere near as varied and interesting as its predecessor's. Unique items - now called legendaries - have become impossibly rare, to the point that players have reported not to encounter any of them during their entire playthrough, no matter the difficulty level. The importance shifted significantly to rare items which often outclass legendaries of the same level by a large margin. The removal of such prominent items as talismans and rune-words is another disappointing step.
The core tenet of Diablo 3 remains the same: ‘Go and kill the big bad demon in the dungeon’. For all its simplicity, it has proven to be a very solid foundation for the Diablo series and it does its job in the third installment as well.
In the previous games, slaughtering hellish minions lost its charm a bit too quickly due to the rather repetitive nature of encounter design. This time around Blizzard decided to change the focus somewhat. In the course of your adventure you will encounter numerous enemies with varied special abilities and quirks to spice up the combat. Since you're going to spend most of your time vanquishing the hordes of hell in half a dozen ways at once, Blizzard has gone at great lengths to ensure a satisfactory experience to go along with that. The minions of hell in Diablo 3 are varied and numerous, coming in multitudes of shapes, sizes and abilities. The old bestiary makes a great comeback with zombies, skeletons, fallen shamans, goat people, vultures, succubi and many others. There are plenty of newcomers as well. A huge fraction of creatures have been given special abilities. Enemies come from all directions - underground, sky, ceiling, etc. - or teleport out of nowhere, frequently all at once. They use auras and buffs to aid their comrades in battle, knock the characters back so that their companions can surround them. They summon demons and undead or turn themselves into raging hulks. They generally appear to act a little bit smarter than before. Granted, traces of such design were present in Diablo 2, but the third game adds a new dynamic to it.
Enemies move faster, appear to cooperate more closely and form more effective death corps, which makes a significant difference. Thus, even facing mere mooks is very entertaining now. It must be admitted that some of the charm stems from the more interactive dungeon design. Huge monsters break through walls, destroy pillars, collapsing the ceiling on the character’s head and dealing considerable damage in the process. This works the other way around as well - you too can take advantage of your surroundings and, for example, lure enemies close to neutral snares and traps or kick down walls on their skulls.
A duel of life and death. Enemy champions are not stingy with their special abilities and will try to corner you at every turn. Fighting elites ranks among the best and most heart-pounding moments of the game.
There are also champion and elite class creatures, endowed with particularly nasty abilities that are more varied than they were in the series' previous installments. Some of the more interesting enemy skills include Vortex (teleports the player close to the foe), Waller (raises a wall of stone around the player preventing him from escape and locking him face to face with), Frost (creates ice bombs that freeze the player in place). Even on the Normal difficulty level, fighting elites is challenging and satisfying. I would even argue that, on the higher difficulty levels, the meat and bones of gameplay lies entirely in short but intense encounters, and you have to act really fast to find a counter to the monster’s skill combos, unless you want to end up beaten to a pulp. On the surface, the encounter design is the same as before, yet in reality it is much better.
Of course, when the story permits, you will face the evil big bad guy - and gameplay-wise it’s somewhat of a mixed bag. Depending on whether you opt for single player or multiplayer, your impressions may vary. To be honest, in single player the main boss battles are boring and simplistic, with your enemy going through the same attacks over and over again and you chipping away at his bloated health bar by - no surprise here - going through the same attacks over and over again yourself. This may have been the case with many boss encounters in Diablo 1 and 2 as well, but Diablo 3 takes it to excess. There is even a boss battle where your opponent stays in one place for the entire duration of the fight and uses his set of three attacks while you whack at him with all you’ve got for half an hour, watching impatiently as his health-bar slowly diminishes. This is your typical MMO design that simply doesn’t cut it in a single player game. Many shoot’em ups have more varied boss-battles than this.
Bossfights are a mixed bag with the stress put on arcade-style gameplay and the enemy’s bloated health-bar. This fight wasn’t much fun. It would have been better in multiplayer, though.
To be fair, this kind of simplistic approach does prove to be entertaining in multiplayer where multiple characters with different load-outs can achieve very high DPS (Damage Per Second) counts, shortening the battle significantly despite the boss health bar becoming even more bloated. There is also a completely different sense of dynamics, with the boss attacks more lethal than in single-player. Much of the tension is due to a new gameplay mechanics that does not allow the players to use town portal spell at leisure any more to escape from the heat of combat. They also cannot chug down potions, since there is a cooldown attached to them. On the flip side, death doesn’t mean that the encounter is over. After a character dies, he can wait for another player to resurrect him, which takes up precious seconds and requires concentration (taking damage interrupts the resurrection). All these little changes enforce closer cooperation between players and create a sense of fulfillment.
Unfortunately, not everything is fine here either - there is a number of issues present, stemming from counterintuitive design. A key problem with combat is that animations are out of sync with their effects. It is not uncommon to receive damage in a melee or ranged attack, even though the animations indicate you should be well outside the attack's area of effect. As a result, most of the deaths my characters suffered came seemingly out of nowhere. Initially, I thought this mismatch was due to latency issues but it appears it was actually a deliberate decision which was to promote the ‘RPG feel’ in Diablo 3. One can’t help but question the wisdom of hindering player’s ability to effectively dodge the enemy’s attacks in an arcade-y, twitch-based game.
I also could not fathom a single justification for some maddening design decisions in the single player mode. Single player is basically the same as multiplayer, except it is considerably less fun. Diablo 1 offered different sets of quests, bosses, spells, items and locations in its campaign. Diablo 3, in contrast, doesn’t give a damn - you will see none of that. The only thing you get in single player is the ability to team up with one of a whopping three followers who serve as a poor man’s substitute for real players. Moreover, what gives multiplayer a delightful sense of balance - the ability and potion cooldowns, resurrections, inability to use the town portal at leisure, huge bosses with insane health-bars - are the same things that drag down the single player experience. It is clear that Blizzard didn’t at all bother to tailor the gameplay in single player. In the final coup-de-grace, the “online only” requirement coupled with a pathetic story render it completely pointless to play Diablo 3 as a single player game.
Last, but not least, comes the lack of a PvP mode. In the eyes of many players PvP was the gameplay mode of Diablo. People grinding experience for hours, collecting the best pieces of gear there were, coming up with countless builds - all this existed so you could test your prowess against another, presumably as clever and well-prepared human opponent. And it’s not there now. It’s pretty perplexing to see such an important part of the series' gameplay completely ignored. Granted, Blizzard promised to introduce PvP at a later point, but this still leads to doubts. First, as beta-tests have long passed by, who is going to ensure the balance between various load-outs? Secondly, some of the skill and rune effects already strike me as completely unsuitable for a PvP game. How are they going to be tailored to this mode without sacrificing the already established balance? Next, with the gameplay focused on the character’s gear and nothing else, it’s hard to imagine PvP being anything different than a fashion display in which whoever has better equipment wins. Finally, why should the player put up with a developer who releases an unfinished product?
The Always Online requirement is one of the most important areas where Diablo 3 has met with severe criticism. Nevertheless, in the face of the downright “battlenetisation” of the game, the validity of complaints is diminished. It’s almost as if the developer deliberately spread the news about online only feature of single player mode to generate buzz around the title and then didn’t even bother to actually create any meaning to it whatsoever. Whereas Diablo 1 was a very entertaining single player game with complex multiplayer mode, Diablo 2 and now to an even greater extent Diablo 3 are multiplayer games only.
Having said that, there are some major issues with the online structure of the game that warrant serious scrutiny. On the positive side, Blizzard must be commended for creating an efficient social networking platform which promotes close collaboration between the players. Communicating with friends, joining public and private games, interaction with other players - it all flows intuitively. The fact that the gameplay encourages teamwork between the players can also be considered a plus. Additionally, except for the issue with animations described above, the gameplay in multiplayer is very fluid.
However, the online aspect is far from perfect. The first key problem is the division between server regions. All the character data is associated with a certain server group, which by default directs the player to his local area. It turns out, however, that the mechanism is faulty and sometimes redirects players to an inappropriate server node. It’s been reported, for instance, that many British players ended up playing on American servers. The manual server switch is easy, but at the time that I'm writing this there is no option to transfer your character from one server to another. This effectively prevents players from playing in other server regions than the one where they started their games. It also puts into doubt Blizzard’s promise of flawless, unrestricted gameplay, regardless of regions, which was to compensate for the absence of LAN features. Suppose you are a German who wants to play with your friends from Brazil, India and US. Your only option is to create your characters in one and the same locale - a hardly entertaining prospect considering another problem Battle.net struggles with.
By that, I mean server breakdowns. Over the week following Diablo 3's premiere, Battle.net experienced a number of server failures caused by a sudden surge in the network traffic. This resulted in a torrent of complaints about the quality of Blizzard’s service. To be fair, Blizzard managed to address this issue in a relatively short time. In the third week after release there are virtually no problems with the gameplay itself. Nonetheless, the fact that Blizzard satisfactorily carried out the rescue operation does not excuse the initial disaster. It's hard to imagine why a company with Blizzard's resources and experience didn’t anticipate such an outcome of the ‘always online’ feature they implemented.
Server breakdowns plagued the game after its release, and notices like this one were very common. Fortunately, currently there are no major connection issues anymore.
Finally, there is the hacked account controversy. Some players reported that the items their characters had in their possession were stolen. Among the affected individuals there were gaming journalists, which ensured wide media coverage of the incident. Blizzard has been avoiding the issue by placing the entire blame for the security breaches on the players’ own carelessness. Still, it should be stressed that, from the looks of it, the ‘always online’ policy did not benefit the player as Blizzard claimed it would.
In the end, Blizzard did manage to create another blockbuster title which is guaranteed to played and talked about - for better or for worse - for months to come. Looking solely at Diablo 3’s core gameplay, I must say it is a solid game. It offers great character classes, interesting skills and abilities, challenging enemies and many memorable moments, especially in mutiplayer. It’s action-packed, dynamic, and filled with interesting ideas. It easily holds your attention and doesn’t lose steam until much later. Nevertheless, Diablo 3 will remain as a sore disappointment for many. The problems of Diablo 3 are twofold.
First are the continuity issues. Diablo 3 is a Diablo game in name only. Save for a few core tenets and keywords it doesn’t share anything substantial with its predecessors. Meaningful character progression is no more: you don’t get to choose your attributes, and planning your character is close to pointless. It was substituted by MMO-like item farming, with gear lacking the balance and variety of Diablo 2. In fact, there are whole groups of items missing, removed from the game for no apparent reason. There is no PvP and no LAN option - the mainstays of the two first games. Instead, we have been presented with a forced ‘always online’ mode and sometimes faulty Battle.net servers. There is no gothic atmosphere and sublime charm - they were superseded by sensationalism and colourful explosions supported by a mawkish and annoying story. It is telling that all of the features worked perfectly fine in the previous game, and that they were removed in order to appeal to a mass audience. It is disheartening to see such levels of condescension and intellectual bankruptcy, even in something as simple as Diablo series.
Second, there are the structural considerations. Diablo 3 resembles an enormous construction site. There are plenty of features, but most of them are overblown and end up spoiling the experience with their obtrusiveness. They are created with everyone’s interest in mind except your own. Those features make the game look important and impressive, but under the cover of hype they hide a very basic structure, a simplistic hack and slash with entertaining and addictive but ultimately shallow gameplay. One can't but wonder if all those years of development went into options that not only do not benefit the player, but spoil his enjoyment instead. Indeed, at the end, I am left thinking: how much exactly of the 60€ I spent on Diablo 3 translated into the actual game?
All in all, Diablo 3 is not a bad game. It is a very entertaining, fun experience. However, it is also a bad product with numerous faults, baffling design decisions and inconsistencies. The fact that is strays so far from its roots for the purpose of mass appeal doesn’t help it either. Diablo 3 is definitely worth looking into when it hits the bargain bin - provided Blizzard doesn't pull the plug on their servers by then.
Many thanks to Crooked Bee, Grunker, GarfunkeL and Zed for their help with the review.