Some critics have been rough about the graphics in Diablo III. They’re nice but hardly cutting edge, and not even a vast step on from the more cartoony Torchlight or the five-year-old Titan Quest. But there’s an artistry at work in Diablo III that’s not quite there in either of those games, and whether you’re roaming through the desert, a creepy forest or another of the game’s sprawling dungeons, there’s always some incidental detail or chunk of background scenery that makes the place feel more atmospheric, more alive. Textural detail isn’t everything, and Diablo III does a lot with lighting, architecture, strong creature design and atmospherics.
What’s more, you don’t need a cutting-edge PC to make Diablo III look good and run smoothly. We’ve been playing it on both a mid-range gaming PC and a more modest laptop, and as long as you have something with a decent dual-core processor and a dedicated GPU you’ll be able to play Diablo III without dialling down all the detail settings to their minimum.
In fact, the biggest issue with Diablo III is its insistence on Internet connectivity. Even in a single player campaign the game client is constantly swapping info with the servers, and while there are considerable upsides – it makes it more difficult to cheat, you don’t need to save, and your game is accessible from any PC with the client installed – there are also considerable downsides. The infamous ‘error 37’ of the opening night was one, preventing players from even sampling the game they’d just rushed out to buy. Losing the connection and being tossed out of the game is another, and hugely annoying when you then restart at the beginning of the level with the whole map to clear again.
It’s an irritation, but not one that seriously affects the Diablo III experience, at least for now - if in the unlikely event that online support for the game dries up in the future, it could become unplayable. The same goes for our gripes about the lack of any real innovation, and any slight disappointment you might feel about the visuals not pushing the latest GPUs. The fact is that Diablo III delivers what fans expect from a 2012 Diablo, and what fans want. While we’ll doubtless see many games that will garner more respect and critical adulation in the next six months, we won’t see many that will inspire more love.
You want more Diablo? You’ve got more Diablo. Diablo III doesn’t push any boundaries in graphics or gameplay, but it’s an incredibly slick and addictive action-RPG that practically perfects the classic slaying-looting-slaying cycle. A weekend-long binge might leave you wanting something more substantial, but Blizzard’s latest has a diabolic way of making you come back for more.