The Diablo series is probably responsible for nearly as many RSI problems as word processing and Excel spreadsheets. The furious point and click action game debuted back in 1997, with Diablo II following in 2000. The series went radio silent for over a decade, while Blizzard addicted most of the gaming population to WoW. Now the series returns with Diablo III, which came out on May 15th. Thankfully, Blizzard continues to support Mac gamers, giving us a native version on day one.
Here’s a little aside on gaming gear for a minute. If you have gone all in on Apple’s trackpad, or on the Magic Mouse, you’re going to want to dig out a standard two button mouse. It’s going to make your life easier with this game. You can get wired mice fairly cheap. You’re also going to need a Mac with a discrete graphics card, so be sure to check the system requirements before plunking down your sixty bucks. Also no Steam or Mac App Store purchases; you can buy this boxed or right from Blizzard’s online site. You’ll also need to be online all the time, a controversial fact for some people. And don’t be surprised if you run into some high profile outages during the games’ launch.
Many people have wondered if the long wait for the latest Diablo game was worth it, and the game’s opening cut scenes are so beautifully rendered that the answer is an enthusiastic “yes.” After choosing a class you begin the adventure in Tristam, where the original game took place. This is a nice touch, giving you a twinge of nostalgia right at the outset. Deckard Cain is still trying to fight the good fight, despite his age. When a falling star strands him in the old Cathedral, your first mission is to save him. You’ll find yourself clicking furiously on hordes of undead zombies, and you’ll know that Diablo has returned in fine form.
There is a good mixture of story and action here. Just following the main quest will only get you so far, be sure to explore all of the maps as you go. There are plenty of detours and side stories you will find that flesh out the world. You can go through the achievement list to find that there are tons of locations in each of the game’s acts. Not to mention a bevy of audio clips to find that expand the world even further. You need to replay the game, as some of the events do not appear in every game. The random generation only gives you certain events when you’re playing.
Then there’s the loot. It can’t be Diablo without the loot — well, that and the furious clicking, which begets more loot. There are a lot of diverse items that you find. They have added some depth for crafting addicts, as you can salvage items you find to craft into unique items. It’s a skill tree of its own. You have to invest gold to unlock new items to craft. That leads to the auction house. You can trade your items with other players for in game currency, or in a more controversial move, for real money. It’s a nod to replay ability, one likely to lure fans of MMOs to stay with Diablo III longer than they normally would. It has brought with it a similar seedy element, as there have been some reports of accounts being hacked and looted.
What’s an RPG without classes? Diablo III has five: Witch Doctor, Barbarian, Wizard, Monk, and Demon Hunter. If you’ve ever played a fantasy game, the Wizard and Barbarian classes should be self-explanatory. The Witch Doctor is a summoner, attacking with hordes of monsters. The Demon Hunter is a ranged attacker, using crossbows and bombs. The Monk is essentially a cross between a paladin and a martial artist. Each of the characters has their own unique take on the game’s story, as well as unique interactions with the game’s NPCs. Among those NPCs are three followers that allow you to have a party even if you aren’t playing co-op.
You can set your game to public to allow anyone to join your game, or you can keep it invite only. However, the invite is only by actually adding someone as your friend. Once they’re on your list, they can join your games at any time. The co-op is a nice feature because you can really stretch out and explore concurrently. You can go back to town and sell off some loot, while your partner can continue with the quest. At some point a competitive multiplayer patch is supposed to be released, and once released it will be free for all players.
This game is going to be on almost every critic’s top ten list at the end of the year. For Mac gamers this might be the biggest game all year. The game deserves every one of these accolades. It delivers on almost every level. There’s a deep story, extended and meaningful replay value, and it’s terribly addictive. If you like video games, you should own this game.