First Impressions / Gaming

First Impressions: Diablo 3 (As a Demon Hunter)

– By Ben L.

Having finally killed the boss of Act 2 with the help of a friend (after dying countless times on my solo attempts), I can take a break from the latest global phenomenon that is Diablo 3 and talk about how this game, like the evil you are supposed to defeat, is consuming the life of every gamer on this planet.

Before I start, allow me to confess that I did not own Diablo 2, thus my experience with the franchise is severely limited. In fact, you could consider this post from the perspective of a newcomer. Which is good if you’re clueless as to why 90% of the world’s male population has succumbed to one video game.

I believe the buzz is even more massive than the following behind Carly Rae Jepsen’s ‘Call Me Maybe’ music video.

Diablo 3 sees the player preventing the world of Sanctuary from falling (once again) into the hands of evil, and unsurprisingly the game culminates in the final battle with Diablo himself (which the Koreans have already claimed victory within seven hours after the game’s release). Not the most mind-blowing plot, so why the craze you ask?

It’s because the world has waited 12 years for the next instalment to a game that has pretty much defined the childhood / teenage life of almost every single gamer. And not to forget the numerous sensational delays over the past few years which only served to ramp up the hype.

If The Avengers was the most anticipated movie of this summer, then its gaming equivalent is Diablo 3.

Hey this is the queue outside Funan Mall on the launch day of Diablo 3, and I know it’s crazy.

There are five classes available – Barbarian, Demon Hunter (which I chose), Witch Doctor, Wizard and Monk, which are all completely new classes from Diablo 2. Hopefully the other contributors on this blog would give their insights into their own characters to give you a more holistic observation of the game.

If you would prefer to attack from a safer distance rather than meeting the enemy headlong with a sword, then the Demon Hunter is the perfect class for you cowards warriors with a good aim. Primarily an archer, the Demon Hunter works best by supporting the team from behind, raining hell on the enemy with barrages of arrows. Like all classes, level progression unlocks new weapons, upgrades to existing ones as well as new abilities. For instance, my current character is armed with, in addition to arrows fused with lightning bolts, caltrops and spike traps. The ability to create different weapons and skill combinations allows for varied gameplay, and each requires some strategic thought before execution.

The game itself has been streamlined – stat points are now distributed automatically unlike Diablo 2 where players had to allocate the points themselves. Instead characters’ stat customisation is offered through runestones, which are additional sub-unlocks to weapons and abilities and can entirely change their function. For example, my caltrop trap could be designed to halt enemies’ movement momentarily or deal a certain amount of damage. Customisation also features heavily in the inventory as different items perform differently. Do you equip yourself with a pair of gloves with higher armour, or compensate the defence for the ability to gather gold more easily?

The Runestone menu for the Demon Hunter class’s secondary weapon. There are five each, so you have a total of 25 options for every weapon.

Hardcore players may see this as ‘dumbing down’ the game, but I do find it to be very convenient – I can actually fully concentrate on my inventory and equipping my character with the most effective gear, which evidently is Blizzard’s aim for the players.

Co-operative play is a huge emphasis in Diablo 3. Besides the omission of PvP matches in public games, several new features have been included to enhance the teamwork experience. One major highlight is the separate gold and loot drops, which means players now do not have to rush to click and then engage in ensuing quarrels over stealing a drop since everyone gets their own share. Players can also teleport to any other friendly player’s location, and boss fights now require all players in the same arena to accept the quest, so no one gets to sneak off to fight on their own. Unfortunately, in a bid to enhance the co-op experience, Blizzard has decided to reduce the maximum group size from eight to just four, basing their decision on their observation that the best co-op game occurs in small groups. While it is a shame that epic big-group quests can no longer be played, it is certainly a bit odd to not limit the number to five, given that there are actually five different classes in the game.

And since the Demon Hunter’s health is one of the lowest among the five classes, I’ve definitely enjoyed playing with friends much more than embarking on solo quests since they frequently result in death. And that gets very annoying after a while.

Watch the Demon Hunter in action below:

I have never been a huge fan of RPGs, mainly because the fantasy genre is not my cup of tea and I just cannot commit that many hours of playing time. So as the first RPG game that I’ve ever owned, Diablo 3 is actually a surprising package. The storyline is interesting (I do have a soft spot for heaven versus hell battles), but what is compelling me, and most other players as well, to continue playing is not so much about the goal to defeat Diablo but rather the leveling system itself. It’s similar to how players continue to play Battlefield 3 to unlock the next weapon or gadget, but due to the lengthy duration of just a single quest, I seem to get fatigued more easily, especially when I’m playing on my own.

The need to ‘level up’ is ingrained in every gamer. It is one of the few things that Man actually fights for – hitting the next level breeds self-satisfaction and achievement, and attaining a higher level than your friends is a case for bragging rights.

If your friend, boyfriend or husband has caught the Diablo disease and is neglecting you, or flooding conversations with only one topic, I’m terribly sorry for your loss. But do try to understand and empathise – they have waited 12 years for an old friend to return.

And some things just don’t change.

Unfortunately it would be impossible to give a full review on Diablo 3, because god knows how long we would take to hit Level 60 on all 5 classes. We still have a life, or so we think.

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