Loot. Everything in Diablo 3 is about loot. Quests, give me that loot. Dungeons, show me where the chests are so I can see what loot they hold.
At first it rarely matters whether the spoils are rare or common, there’s just a thrill to see so many options littering the floor at the feet of your character.
Of course, when something very shiny is grabbed, there’s a small shock of electric thrill that runs through you. And it doesn’t get old, either.
It doesn’t matter if it’s the first hour, or the sixtieth, once you’ve cleared a dungeon and you get to sort through the goodies – changing up your armour or weapons to something new – there’s a sense of progression.
The story progresses with a parallel slant, creeping onwards as you explore the sprawling world around you or interact with NPCs who are richly written.
Whether you’re here for story or just dungeon crawling, Diablo 3 has you covered. Before I go any further, there is one tip I’d like to give from the off – bump up the difficulty from the default.
Even if you’re going in for the story and lore, the combat is incredibly easy on the starting difficulty and it removes a good deal of enjoyment from the game. This goes for the majority of classes, too.
I played a Necromancer, because who doesn’t love bringing the dead back to life? It takes little time before I was commanding a small army of practically indestructible skeletons who seemed to decimate everything in their path.
I was using essence gained from killing enemies to conjure spectral mages, literally running circles around foes to set up a perimeter of them, who would lay waste to everything that even looked in my direction.
I kept an eye on my health bar and noticed it would rarely deplete, even by a small amount.
So off I go into the very in-depth options menus to increase the difficulty which would not only pose more of a challenge to me, but also increase the amount of gold and XP I would receive from fights.
“Is it the definitive version of Diablo 3? No, it isn’t, but it’s a wondrous game to have on a console that can be taken on your morning commute”
The game opens with a quite beautiful cinematic of a cathedral being obliterated by an object falling from the sky. With an old scholar trapped inside, your first task is to head into the wrecked building and save him from the evil that has been unleashed.
This is putting the plot very simply, because the team behind Diablo 3 have penned quite literally thousands and thousands of words of dialogue which slowly piece together a traditional story of good versus evil.
With so many RPGs I often get a little bored of the lore – skipping some dialogue choices in favour of progressing the action.
Not so here, because the details are written in a wonderfully sparse way.
While there is a lot to take in, it’s all delivered in bite-size chunks, meaning that you’re never standing around for too long before getting back out and bashing in some demonic skulls.
There are lots of skulls to bash in too.
From tiny minions to lumbering creatures who could smash you to smithereens.
So much of Diablo 3 is about the combat and while some of the results take place in the background of the game, from invisible dice rolls, most of the action is dictated by you and the people you recruit through the story.
For some fights you’ll get by just holding the ‘A’ button to attack whatever is in front of you. But the remaining buttons cover your skills and abilities, too.
Each unique skill has a home button, which makes the combat quite simple to work through.
And if a skill doesn’t suit your playstyle or you feel like you want to change things up, there are a crazy number of combinations and tactics you can employ from the status screen.
For those bigger foes, you’ll need the right balance of skills and equipment.
Entering the character status screen can feel a little overwhelming at first, especially to those new to the series. The equipment screen is broken down into a radial menu allowing you to equip everything from weapons to wrist gauntlets.
The skills screen which is a shoulder button away is similar, but each section of the menu corresponds to a button where you can assign the skill. Some skills can be further expanded with runes and of course more and more skills unlock as you rise through the levels.
For a deep game like this, you really need a good tutorial system and Blizzard have achieved this. The last time I played Diablo was the original game on PC, so jumping ahead to the third iteration on a handheld console, I felt I needed that slight handholding at first.
The menu systems are a little cluttered but taking some time to learn everything makes it all feel like second nature.
It wasn’t long before I was switching through screens to equip new abilities and weapons, before heading to shops to either sell old gear or break it down into materials for the blacksmith.
An RPG would be nothing without shops and a huge range of NPCs who offer personalisation or options. These unlock slowly, over time, so as not to bombard you with too much content.
It was rare that I needed to check in with the vendors except to sell old armour or weapons though. The game is very generous with loot, so it seems as if you’re always better equipped than what the traders can offer.
Of course, this is why so many people flock to the Diablo series, because practically everyone will have a different experience.
You might play a mage, while your friends choose a warrior or a monk. All of which play very differently and can take advantage of different gear.
You can all team up in a party of four and play the whole game in co-op and this teamwork adds a layer of depth and excitement to the game. Especially when you find mysterious loot that needs to be identified before you know what it might be.
It can be hit and miss but identifying an axe or helmet which is full of perks and buffs is a highlight.
Most of these items will be found in dungeons across the vast world and all of them feel rich in history and atmosphere even when they seem a little repetitive.
Multi-floor dungeons sometimes feel too similar as you move through, but this is a minor quibble considering the scale of the content. Whether dashing through crypts or basements of houses, Diablo 3 always feels dense with things to see and do.
And it’s quite easy to find yourself wandering off from the main story path because you’ve spotted a new dungeon to be pillaged or discovered an NPC in the bowels of a building who will reward you with loot in exchange for some monster killing.
Thank you to Blizzard for the quick travel points which can get you back on track!
I’m stating the obvious but there is so much to do here. From the main story to the seasonal content which is constantly updated, if you wanted you could spend months dedicated to Diablo 3.
Even playing through the game a few times with different classes will absorb hundreds of hours while you explore dungeons and slay beasties.
I feel like I barely scratched the surface after around forty hours of play knowing that I’ll keep coming back to run a dungeon or progress the story on the odd bus ride.
Is it the definitive version of Diablo 3? No, it isn’t, but it’s a wondrous game to have on a console that can be taken on your morning commute.
It matters not whether you’re coming to the Nintendo Switch version of Diablo 3 from an experienced perspective or as a new player, everyone will marvel at the sheer amount of content here.
While this could be confused as quantity over quality, that’s not the case here.
I’ve touched on so much while I could easily write another thousand words discussing the Amiibo support, the personalisation options, the visual fidelity, voice work and sound design. All of which raise the bar for other companies bringing RPGs to the Switch.
It doesn’t matter if you want dungeons and loot or story and lore, you’ll find it here, all lovingly crafted with details, emotion and a little humour.
The Verdict: 5/5
Diablo 3 is a vast, sprawling RPG bursting with things to do and stuff to collect along the way. With so many ways to play through the different classes and the option to play with friends over local connection or online.
Blizzard will keep adding things to do through the seasonal content, so if you’re buying this, strap in for months of content, all of which is crafted to a high quality of sheen.
- Loot, loot, loooooooot!
- Hours and hours of content
- 4 player co-op play
- Rich storytelling and great atmosphere
- Great personalisation and detailed skills
- The opening hours can feel overwhelming to new players
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