Diablo 3 – Review

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

If the devil doesn't get you the lag just might.

I am extremely irritated with Diablo 3. In my last four sessions, I’ve died as a result of being bad at playing the game precisely zero times. From lag, however, I have died at least two dozen times – and that’s in single player mode. I haven’t dared attempt multiplayer.

I’m almost at the point where I’ve stopped caring about whether the game’s any good or not. I’ve stopped asking myself whether its click-slash-click-slash template is an elegant system tapping directly into the pleasure centres of my central nervous system, or an atrophied experience unfit for the modern world. I’ve stopped worrying about where my next shiny crossbow is coming from… well, almost.

Instead I’m furious. I’m furious about all those times the game has frozen mid-biff, while I’ve been neck-deep in a huge cluster of suddenly stationary baddies, only to unfreeze in an infuriating burst of all-at-once aggro, leaving me dead, again, from network instability. It’s name is lag. And it’s ruining my entirely legitimate desire to play the single player mode of a game designed for online play.

The lag doesn’t always kill me. Often it just lets me run around a deserted map like I’m in limbo, unable to find any enemies, destruct any scenery or talk to NPCs. Sometimes I can be ghosting around for minutes at a time before I’m dragged back in time and forced to repeat myself, this time (hopefully) in the company of monsters I can bash. Other times I become a heavily armed rubber band, flickering back and forward as the game jams up and refuses to let me progress more than two steps without having to do it hundreds of times over. Once or twice, I’ve had to do a dungeon more than once. But mostly, lag kills me, all of a sudden and all at once.

Now my connection isn’t the strongest. My download speeds are not enormous. But my Internet has supported at least one hardcore MMO addiction. That’s had a little lag too, but I can allow that. MMOs are big games which have to constantly map the locations of hundreds and thousands of players all at once, as well as all their abilities, and their constant need to dye their clothes. MMOs, moreover, do not have a single player mode. And single player modes do not have lag.

And yet, Blizzard in their infinite wisdom have decided that what Diablo 3’s single player mode needs is an always-on internet connection, with all the maths that happens when you smack demons happening server-side. And it is bloody well unacceptable. They claim it will stop hackers, item dupers and pirates – two constituencies which have historically plagued previous Diablo games, but it’s a hammer to crack nuts; my nuts, and I’m seething about it.

Look, the daft thing about all this is that it is fundamentally a very addictive game. I am – or I would be were LAG in SINGLE-PLAYER absent – enjoying it a huge amount. It’s heartily addictive, well set and beautifully presented. The mechanics might be shallow and the gameplay somewhat slight, but despite all the reservations I have, I’m playing it and playing it and playing it.

There are problems with skill balance, difficulty curves at the highest levels and fair itemisation across different players’ games, but those will be patched to perfection in subsequent months. Despite all its current faults, Diablo 3 has a rock-solid base on which to build, and there’ll be vibrant community for years to come. They’ll probably even sort out the lag, but I may well not be there to witness that.

In case you want to hear some critical analysis aside from rants about lag, here’s what you need to know. Everything about Diablo 3 has been streamlined and refined in comparison to its peers and predecessors: health management, gems, itemisation, skill progression, you name it.

Some of these efficiencies are clever – you don’t have to manually pick up gold, which now flows satisfyingly up at you from the ground, a past niggle corrected. Some of them, though, really detract from the classic action RPG experience.

You don’t have a skill tree any more. Instead, skill progression is static; no longer is each character unique – now every level 37 monk will have the same access to skills as every other level 37 monk. You can ascribe different skills to different slots, and modify these skills to a limited extent, but that is the only thing that separates one character for another, and it feels hollow.

Health changes are a real slap in the face. There are still health potions, but they’re on a substantial cool-down, so you can only neck one every 30 seconds or so. Instead, enemies drop health globes, which you can grab like gold. I’m sure it’s meant to be a sleek new way of going about things, but in practice, it leads to desperate chases with you hammering the potion button while your stupid character coolly informs you that they don’t think having another drink would really suit them at that time, even though they’re nearly dead.

The story is hackneyed to the point of pastiche, and the less said the better.

These problems are minor, in the main. Like I say, the game is compelling in all the right ways, a veritable loot treadmill that would be all but impossible to get off were it not for the lag. The same lag which I’ll suffer through for hours more tonight, and for many more over the next few months.

Score: 3/5

Format: PC
Price: £49.99
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Publisher: Activision Blizzard

Arts and Entertainment
TVShow's twee, safe facade smashed by ice cream melting scandal
newsVideo for No campaign was meant to get women voting
Wayne Rooney talks to the media during a press conference
Arts and Entertainment
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
sportChilean's first goal for the club secures place in draw for Champions League group stages
Down time: an employee of Google uses the slide to get to the canteen
scienceBosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder
Arts and Entertainment
Amis: 'The racial situation in the US is as bad as it’s been since the Civil War'
booksAuthor says he might come back across Atlantic after all
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Project Manager (infrastructure, upgrades, rollouts)

    £38000 - £45000 Per Annum + excellent benefits package: Clearwater People Solu...

    MI Analyst and SQL Developer (SQL, SSAS, SSRS)

    £28000 - £32500 Per Annum + 28 days holiday, pension, discounts and more: Clea...

    Systems & Data Lead – Oxfordshire – Permanent – Up to £24k

    £20000 - £24000 Per Annum 28 days holiday, free parking, pension: Clearwater P...

    Digital Media Manager

    £38000 - £40000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based i...

    Day In a Page

    Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

    Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

    Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
    Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

    Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

    The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
    America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

    America’s new apartheid

    Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
    Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

    What is the appeal of Twitch?

    Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
    Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

    How bosses are making us work harder

    As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
    Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

    Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

    As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
    Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

    A tale of two writers

    Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
    Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

    Should pupils get a lie in?

    Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
    Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

    Prepare for Jewish jokes...

    ... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
    SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

    A dream come true for SJ Watson

    Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
    10 best cycling bags for commuters

    10 best cycling bags for commuters

    Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
    Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

    Paul Scholes column

    Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
    Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

    Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

    A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
    Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

    The science of herding is cracked

    Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
    Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

    This tyrant doesn’t rule

    It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?