Rock, Paper, Shotgun has slapped up a surprisingly negative impressions piece for Diablo III, during which the author laments about the relatively boring single player, the interface, the lack of decent monster AI, the loot balance, the lack of difficulty, and, of course, the always-online DRM. A taste:
But what does Diablo III actually add to the franchise, and even to the genre it created? The skills are made more simple, but in doing so actually end up feeling restrictive. Switching off those limitations only seems to confuse things. The inventory is less of a Tetris-frustration, but in that regard just means you portal to your base, sell all, return, and it plays no meaningful factor. (And the Act II base is hopelessly poorly laid out, meaning running to the one merchant is a bore, and the nearby town a chore.)
Monsters donâ€™t attack in interesting new ways. While what almost everyone wanted was a click-fest, it would have been nice for there to be a reason for having those extra skills. I forget theyâ€™re there until I reach the toughest bosses, and then just hammer randomly. I think Iâ€™ve died four times thus far, playing solo, and try as I might can find no way to increase the difficulty to anything halfway interesting. I mean, Iâ€™ve 87 health potions in my inventory â€“ what are they even for? The game drops so much health in every fight that itâ€™s mostly impossible to get hurt.
The only novel enemy attacks Iâ€™ve noticed are the waspy dragonfly things, who just fly away from you, meaning if youâ€™re not playing a ranged character theyâ€™re just tedious to fight. And thereâ€™s the beasts that cast fear on you, constantly taking away your controls, which has been fun in this many games: none.
The other huge problem is loot and shops. Iâ€™ve bought almost nothing from a merchant, since their goods are always generations poorer than anything Iâ€™ve looted. And worse, weapon drops havenâ€™t meant anything since the merchant I helped out in Act I sold me weapons literally twice as powerful as Iâ€™ve found since. The balancing here is utterly dreadful, and thatâ€™s perhaps the most crucial thing for an aRPG to get right.