Every year, there are one or two games which you just know are going to be a big deal. Diablo III is one of those games.
The developer is the legendary Blizzard and the game has been in development for eight years. Like the two titles before it, Diablo III is an isometric perspective action role-playing game. While the structure follows a narrative, the core drive of your average player is less about ploughing through the story and more about obliterating enemies in search of better "loot" with which to equip your character.
Diablo III doesn't stray from this formula. While some of the technical details have changed, the core experience is pure Diablo.
So what's changed? One significant difference is how you build your character. Instead of apportioning stat points, you'll progressively unlock skills and modifiers that you can use at will. This change gives you more decisions to make - and they are decisions you can make on a fight-by-fight basis.
Combat is well-realised, with the brutal melee combat a real highlight. Ranged classes aren't left out, either, with some spectacular spells to rain destruction down on entire groups of enemies at once.
There are some slight balancing issues in the game. The Wizard can get away with almost anything, thanks to a combination of ranged damage spells and crowd control. The Barbarian, on the other hand, needs to have great gear to survive the second of the four Acts, where the difficulty suddenly spikes and melee classes will always be taking damage.
That said, the game is clearly structured around multiplayer. Every game is played online and even if you switch off the "open session" that lets your friends join you at will, it will default to being open again next time you play. It's easy to get a multiplayer game and the random nature of the loot ensures that trading items gives everyone an advantage. It is impossible to play offline, even if you have no interest in playing with others. You simply cannot opt out.
Another thing you'll need is a server; something that was (reportedly) unreliable for many during the launch week. I played some 30 hours, but forums around the world were ablaze with complaints. I have zero doubt that any issues that remain will be resolved.
Blizzard haven't set out to reinvent the wheel with Diablo III, but to release the ultimate wheel. If you expect something different, there's a real chance it might disappoint. I plan to play this for years.
-TimeOut, NZGAMER.COMBy Alan Bell