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I was an avid fan of the original Diablo games and 10 years is a long time to wait for the return of a close friend, although I have to admit to being a little wary after the let-down of previous re-releases (looking at you, Duke).
I also have to confess I sat on the fence when many of my friends started pre-ordering this game. I thought I'd wait and see when all the hype died down and the true opinions came out.
And then release day came around, so off I trotted to "have a wee look" at one of said friends playing his copy. Thirty minutes later, I was walking out with a visitor's pass and my evening planned.
Diablo III is all I remember and more, with better graphics and storyline along with a selection of companions that add a little more firepower and some background chatter.
Character skills and abilities are interesting additions that allow you to tweak your character towards a particular build that you might like, while it also retains the classic equipment drops and socketed equipment for further customisation of your character.
So far, I have only played two characters, the barbarian and the mage. Both play and feel completely different but the comments and background chatter make the barbarian most endearing.
For a habitual explorer, the maps are expansive and varied.
Of course, I have several friends playing which has led to a number of multiplayer instances. I like that at any point you can drop in to a friend's game or have them drop into yours.
There is one major problem with multiplayer as it stands, and that's that there is no level evening component. On at least one occasion I had three friends suddenly appear to help. They were all much higher level and butchered their way through the opposition, which was great. But the difficulty increases with each friend that joins, which meant by the time I'd finish a fight, most of the dungeon had been cleared by my demigod-like friends, and to be honest any rewards were greatly outweighed by the "junk items" my friends had dropped for me.
Another time I'd joined a game, but because I was such a lower level, any monster that even sneezed my way killed me. This forced my friends to have to spend a considerable amount of time resurrecting me.
Staying out of combat is an option, if you enjoy following in the wake of others, as you only get experience for combats you are involved in, so the only real advantage for low-level characters to join higher levels is padding your bank account with the dropped loot.
Diablo III was all I was expecting, with the nice tweaks that increased its overall playability. However, it was also, for better or worse, exactly how I remember it. If you enjoyed the first games then undoubtedly you'll enjoy this one, because while nothing amazingly different has been added, nothing has been removed.
I have my old friend back.
He's received some cosmetic surgery, for sure, but he's the same old friend that kept me company for many, many hours and he's set to do it all again.
- Peter Sigmund.