Diablo 3 Review Part 2: Individual Class Breakdown

By Adam Ma on May 30, 2012, 6:26PM EDT

So, you've read through the first part of our extensive Diablo 3 review, but you still aren't sure if the game is for you. Well, that's where the second part of our review comes into play. This time around, we'll be taking a look at the different elements that bring the game together, like the class types.

One of the larger criticisms revolving around Diablo 3 at this time is the class breakdown, and the variety that exists within each individual class build. Unlike Diablo 2 players now have access to general attacks/abilities instead of overall talent trees. This means that depending on the kind of gamer you are, you might see this representing a shift from more flexibility to fewer meaningful builds. Likely the reason behind this shift was to be more inclusive to gamers who enjoy more than simply punishing themselves across a selection of dark dungeons, but does the change have any real success aside from bringing in more casual players? The answer changes depending on if you happen to enjoy multiplayer or single player more.

In single player there are more clearly defined builds that simply work.
It's partly due to the fact that the enemy scaling is a bit more balanced, but more because each class has a very key set of strengths and weaknesses. Kiting as a Demon Hunter is the recommended strategy as their advantage lies in doing a lot of damage at a distance, while the Barbarian or Wizard is more adept at doing area effect damage. These class differences mean that in single player there's not much variety to work with, and often times players are funnelled into using a specific play style in order to succeed. Because there are no talent trees to work with players are left with only abilities to juggle in order to get the job done, and that's where the loss of depth is felt. While there's definitely an argument for Blizzards ability setup for multiplayer, this kind of restriction only adds to the feeling that single player is a little shallow, particularly over multiple playthroughs.

Individually each class provides a very unique experience, with very little crossover between them. The Wizard, Witch Doctor and Demon Hunter provide unique ranged experiences with each focusing heavily on ranged/AoE damage. And while all three classes are similar in the respect that they dish out the damage from a distance, they're also unique in the tools they have to keep opponents at bay. Of the three, the Witch Doctor is the most different, creating pets like undead dogs and giant zombies to stave off opponents, often relying on being able to apply multiple status effects at once. The Wizard and Demon Hunter are a little more precise, able to deal large splash damage to clusters of enemies or singular beams that do incredible focused amount of dps from a safe distance. All three classes have their own unique slowing/ensnarement effects that allow them to get the job done, and get it done with minimal demon contact.

Barbarians and Monks on the other hand prefer to get in face of evil as often as possible and spit on it with as much force as can be brought together. The former focuses deeply in damage and survivability, using stuns and knockbacks to keep themselves from taking hits while still being able to stay headfirst in the fray. Monk on the other hand relies more on dexterity, dodging the moves of opponents while occasionally tossing down a heal when times are looking particularly desperate. It's a more 'tank' related fighting style than any of the other classes by a long shot, but the one advantage of having a heal as a security blanket means that Monk players are more interested than doing damage slowly rather than overwhelming the opponent.

Outside of the class types, Diablo 3's last major feature is the in-game auction house, which serves as a means of generating extra gold in game and in the real world for those who like selling the loot they find. It doesn't really affect in-game at this time, nor are the real world sales transactions open, which means that as a whole the auction house works like any other auction house out there. That being said it does help crafting when people are willing to buy those pesky rares that you have absolutely no use for, and as extra cash, the blacksmith and jewelcrafter are shared across all alts anything you find (that you don't scrap) could be a potential jackpot for item progression.

So Diablo 3 doesn't really reinvent the genre, nor does it challenge anything that it's done in the past. Surprising considering that Diablo 3 isn't really the only competition out there. But for anyone looking for a competent multiplayer dungeon crawling experience, Diablo 3 certainly delivers. It can be a little easy on its starting level but don't let that discourage you; throw a few friends together on Nightmare difficulty and there should be more than enough surprising moments to make the game worthwhile. Those looking for a single player experience may find themselves a little short changed, particularly at the inconsistent difficulty levels. If you have friends however, or need a decent time sink that involves a lot of exploding bodies, then Diablo 3 should satisfy you just fine.

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