Unless you were born 23 minutes ago, you’re no doubt sick of hearing about Diablo III already. Maybe, like me, you’re one of the many who have forked out nearly 45 of your finest pounds for it. It’s the first Diablo game released by Blizzard for 13 years, and as such has attracted a hefty sackful of hype.
So is it worthy of the hype?
It’s a good, solid point & click dungeon crawler. The art and graphics are very pretty, and the audio is superb. I haven’t get far enough into the game to comment on the story, but it seems adequate. I haven’t wanted to stab the authors yet.
The controls are of the “click on the thing you want to make unhappy” variety, which is expected, but I’m finding them just a little bit imprecise. Many times I’ve tried to click on a bad guy and found myself missing and telling my hero to go for a stroll instead. That could be down to my own ham-handedness though. Nevertheless, the controls are generally fine and they get the job done.
The environments are very atmospheric and beautifully rendered, with many destructible features and plenty of containers to scavenge for loot. The NPCs dotted around the place are perhaps a bit robotic, but they serve their purpose. All fine then.
So why the “sort of”? Two words. Always Online.
Yes, everyone’s making a big fuss about the always online requirement, but it really is something worth making a big fuss about. The game requires a constant, always on, connection to the internet for you to be able to play the single player game. In fact, it’s not really a single player game. It’s an online “multiplayer” instance of the game that’s locked for your player only.
So what’s the problem? We all have permanent internet connections these days, don’t we?
The problem is that is that it doesn’t fucking work properly.
The game went live at 23:01 on the 14th of May. I didn’t manage to connect and create a character until around 21:00 the following day. That is clearly bollocks. I knew about the always online aspect of the game beforehand, but I had assumed that Blizzard of all people would know how to handle huge volumes of online gamers without the servers turning into a pile of molten slag.
Another problem is the fact that my internet access isn’t fantastic. I really don’t expect to experience lag in a single player game, but that’s what I’ve been looking at. Totally fucking unacceptable.
The game has been out for a few days now, and the servers, to be fair, seem to be settling down. I managed to squeeze in a couple of hours of gaming this evening and the quality seems to have improved a little. I’m hoping it continues along this path.
“So,” you’re thinking, “you knew about the always online stuff? It’s not a big deal. It sort of works. Why make a big fuss about it?”
Well, let me put it like this.
Imagine you’ve paid a lot of money to go on a lovely holiday. The hotel is excellent and the sun shines every day. The staff are friendly and there is a wonderful selection of bars and restaurants to choose from. Absolute perfection. But! Every morning in your hotel room as you wake up, a fat, sweaty, naked man shits all over your face. Yes, 99% of the holiday may be fantastic, but your lasting memory of the occasion would be having to scoop faeces out of your eyes and nostrils every morning before breakfast.
Diablo III is a delicious birthday cake, but it’s not until you bite into a slice that you realise the icing is made out of elephant jizz. The rest of the cake might be perfect but, you know, it’s got jizz on it.
My biggest fear is that the bean counters will see the huge sales figures for an always online single player game and think it’s an acceptable way forward. It’s our duty to moan like hell about this and make The Man know we’re not happy about it.
No one wants their face shat on every morning. Apart from the people in that video I saw.