Wandering around gloomy dungeons attacking endless waves of enemies should be the most tedious thing in the world, but in Diablo 3, it's quite the opposite. Blizzard, with their years of MMO experience, know exactly how to appeal to the obsessive compulsive gamer. By constantly rewarding you with loot and sparkly gold pieces, and giving you a feeling of power over your enemies, the game digs its talons in and never let go.
It's an action RPG, so don't expect reams of complicated stats. The raised camera angle gives it an old school feel, reminiscent of the isometric look of the original games, and the controls are simple, using only the mouse and a few keys. In many ways, it feels like a game from another age. A modern game with retro sensibilities.
It's a slow start, though. We didn't die once for the entirety of the first act on the normal difficulty setting, which lasts about six hours, and unused health potions were piling up in our inventory. Based on the first few hours of play, it seems as if the game is about as deep as a particularly shallow puddle.
But it's when your character levels up, and enemies get smarter, that the combat comes into its own. At first you only have a pool of basic offensive attacks to choose from, but as you gain XP, you get access to a wealth of unique abilities.
You attack enemies by clicking. Lots and lots of clicking. Hold the mouse button down while hovering over an enemy and your character will repeatedly attack it until it dies. Powers are assigned to the number keys, and have an MMO-style cooldown. Mixing the two forms the basis of the combat, and it rewards experimentation.
There are five classes. The barbarian is self-explanatory. They use brute force, wading into battle with heavy weapons and strong offensive powers. Witch doctors summon undead minions to do their dirty work, and weaken enemies by cursing them. Wizards, predictably, are experts with magic, and have a variety of ranged and defensive spells at their disposal. Monks engage enemies in hand to hand combat, and are incredibly fast. Finally, demon hunters are a pure ranged class, and use dual crossbows and launch explosives.
It's an eclectic selection of characters, and they all feel distinct, and work well together. For example, a wizard might freeze a group of enemies in place, allowing a monk to charge in and punch them to death. The combat feels great. Even though you're only clicking a mouse, there's a great feeling of weight behind your attacks. Enemies pop like balloons and tumble down stairs (thanks to the new physics engine), and there's a fair amount of gore.
In later levels, your foes become more intelligent. Some wall your party in, rapidly teleport around the level to confuse you, or knock you back when you approach. Bosses are tough, but only because they have insane amounts of HP. Most can be bested by simply dashing around, avoiding their attacks, and spamming them with ranged magic. Mostly, though, enemies are just fodder - but entertaining fodder. You never get sick of killing them.