Diablo 3 Beta Review: Your Mouse is F*cked

Level design has always been one notable exception to Diablo’s repeatable rule. If there’s a corollary to the fact that the right short tasks performed over and over again lead to fun, it’s the fact that long tasks performed more than once are nothing short of excruciating. From the beginning, therefore, Diablo’s levels have been procedurally generated, and fully randomized.

This randomization appears again in Diablo 3, though the level design has been extensively augmented. 3D graphics give a better sense of the subterranean depths your hero is exploring. Enemies make unexpected, terrifying entrances, climbing over balconies and bursting through doors or out of dusty tombs. For all the early hand-wringing about the game’s color palette, the atmosphere is as gothic and oppressive as ever, established by lush textures, imaginative design, and eerie lighting. The latter does furnish the game’s levels with one repeatable thrill: dropping a physics-powered chandelier on a group of enemies never really gets old.

The series’ randomization also applies to its items. Repetition, though diverting, is not its own reward, and Blizzard realized early that they could keep people playing by providing a limitless supply of procedurally generated loot. In the latter stages of the first two games, this loot was collected via endless, repeated farming runs of the bosses most likely to drop valuable items, proving once again that gamers will repeat pretty much any action infinitely as long as it is sufficiently fun.

Laden down with equipment that gave a bonus to their “magic find,” advanced Diablo II players eventually began to evoke industrial equipment, harvesting items out the game’s dungeons with the machine-like efficiency of a combine. Instead of attempting to hinder this process, Blizzard have embraced it.

First and foremost, the developers provide each character with separate loot. Even when you’re in a party with other people, be they friends or enemies, all the items you see belong to you. That means no more frantic, competitive clicking to reap your just reward from a treasure-laden boss.

This change — simple and seismic though it is — is only the beginning. Early on in the game, players are given two items, the Cauldron of Jordan and the Nephalem Cube. The former allows you to sell any item instantaneously, straight out of your inventory. No more trips back to town. No cute pets running errands, a la Torchlight. Just simple, hyper-efficient extraction.

The power of the Nephalem Cube is even more profound. The device enables players to reverse engineer magical items, turning unwanted gear into raw materials. These materials can be combined to form new items with randomized properties, according to recipes that can also be found out in the gameworld. In Diablo 3, every bad item has the potential to form part of some unknown good item. The concept of “vendor trash” is wiped away in one fell swoop.

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11 Comments on Diablo 3 Beta Review: Your Mouse is F*cked

Z

On October 4, 2011 at 12:13 pm

Thank you for the great read!!

sean

On October 14, 2011 at 4:17 pm

This is by far the best review I”ve seen on a game. Feels like graduate paper! kudos!

Ronit

On October 30, 2011 at 6:02 am

Very nice review. Do you mind if I use it on my website and give this website full credits as well as full credits to the author?

Ron Whitaker

On October 31, 2011 at 5:26 am

Ronit, if you would like to link to this or post a short portion of the review with a link back here, that is fine. However, we do not allow other sites to post the full text of our articles. Thanks for the kind words!

Naylar

On November 5, 2011 at 2:10 pm

Indeed a great read. Enjoyed it a lot. Now PLEASE… release the game.

Rahul

On November 11, 2011 at 11:05 pm

A truly refreshing read. I’m looking forward to more reviews from you.

Matthew

On November 20, 2011 at 10:02 am

Yes great read, now I have something to look forward to.

Heather

On December 19, 2011 at 6:06 pm

Fantastic review! I have been anxiously awaiting the release of 3 for a few years now, and this review has me totally amped all over again! Looks like all the new changes are going to make it better than ever. Can’t wait!

Alex

On December 28, 2011 at 11:47 am

“Diablo 3 received an “M” rating for “slashing and flesh-impact sounds, screams of pain, and frequent blood-splatter effects; creatures often explode into bloody fragments as multiple enemies are dispatched at once.” In attempting to warn parents about the illicit thrills of Diablo 3, the ESRB accidentally penned an eloquent description of the things that make the game so much fun.”

Perfectly said.

Zomax

On February 7, 2012 at 6:15 am

Unfortunately the game is far from epic. The game feels simple as if it were design for xbox. Perfectly boring, no number no feeling of progression. Limited abilities, basically 3 moves, upto 7. Diablo 3 caters to 7-9 years a great game to bundle with a new xbox or ps3.
Diablo 3 like B.net 2.0 fails epicly. Thanks Booby!

Mighty

On February 7, 2012 at 8:14 am

I have to agree with Zomax on this. I’ve been playing the BETA for the last week and the least I can say is DISAPPOINTED. No leveling system no character customization. Honestly, I’m not even sure I’m gonna buy the game. Sorry but if you’re under 15 and you didn’t play the first two games. Maybe you’re gonna like this one with the old dated graphics. Would have been a good game if it was released in 2006 like it was supposed to be.

Oh and by the way… I hope Blizz will have de decency to rate it as an action game and not an RPG cause there’s not RPG elements in this game.