Diablo III is upon us, and while the more dedicated fans of Blizzard's action role-playing franchise are well on their way to total demon domination, players new to the series might need a little help getting started.
One does not simply walk into the depths of hell. Here are some helpful tips for getting the most out of your experience with the demonic sequel twelve years in the making.
Read Up on the First Two Games
Don't I mean play through the first two games? Well, no, not really. Diablo and Diablo II are excellent titles, but they aren't strictly necessary for the enjoyment of this title. If you really want to see where Diablo III came from then by all means, dig them up and dust them off, but I've a feeling you might be better off not doing that. The various changes made to the third title won't be a factor for you, you lucky bastard.
Instead of playing, head over to the Diablo Wiki or Blizzard's Diablo III page and read up on the lore that leads up to a star falling in our heroes' backyard.
Invest in a Nice Pair of Headphones
Sound design has always been one of Diablo's strong suits. The guttural gurgles of grotesque creatures falling in the face of your power is almost as powerful as the amazing music created to accompany your struggle against evil. Even the installation music is top notch; I was almost disappointed when the game was ready to play.
A nice speaker setup is fine and dandy, but there's always the looming threat of outside noises seeping in to ruin your experience. So get a good pair of ear cuppies and completely lose yourself. It doesn't need to be as fancy as SteelSeries' Diablo-specific headset; just something that will muffle the outside world for a while. And should someone have to tap you on the shoulder to get your attention in mid-game, well that's just another thing to make you jump, isn't it?
Try Every Character Class
Diablo III features five different character classes — Barbarian, Witch Doctor, Demon Hunter, Wizard and Monk — each with their own unique play-style and idiosyncrasies. Instead of just picking the one you think looks the coolest, create one of each and put them through their paces. Gain a few levels, get a feel for how they handle. Test drive them.
You might discover the character that seemed the least appealing is actually your favorite. Or you could just confirm that you have excellent instincts.
See the Map? See ALL of the Map
As you wander through the lands of Sanctuary the map is slowly revealed, marking the trail of your travels. Or it would mark the trail, but that's not how you want it to work. Use the map as a tool to ensure that you've visited every square inch of every area. Leave no stone unturned. Leave no log unshattered.
Diablo III is full of secrets, treasures, and special events that are incredibly easy to miss if you just make a beeline for your current quest objective. From a role-playing standpoint it might seem silly to walk right past the entrance to the dungeon housing the magical artifact you need to advance the story in order to see if any special monsters with rare items and equipment are lurking nearby. If you really must role-play, try role-playing a character with OCD. You'll be better for it.
If You See a Door, Go Through It
Along the same lines as the map tip, the random dungeons scattered about the Sanctuary countryside are packed with unique creatures that have somehow ingested powerful magical weapons, armor, and gold. We've been doing this sort of thing so long we've stopped asking how this happens.
Even better than treasure, these random dungeons can also house special events outside of the main storyline. You might have to survive against hordes of enemies for a certain amount of time, or help lay a restless spirit to rest by killing whatever it is that's keeping it restless. These are rewarding encounters in more ways than one, and they're waiting for you behind those lovely optional doors.
Pick Up Everything
Evil creatures in Diablo III are magical life forms that, instead of flesh and blood, are composed of random items and coin. They're like piñatas filled with the building blocks of a potentially massive player-run economy. those are the best kind.
Unfortunately your inventory is limited, and you can only carry so many items. However, you eventually learn a Town Portal spell that takes you back to your home base no matter how deep you are in a dungeon. Use it extensively. Every time you fill up, portal home and sell, break down, or store your items. It may be tempting to press on and leave loot behind, but do not do that. When a rare random item shows up in a shopkeeper's inventory and your pockets are overflowing with gold, the extra 30 seconds it takes to warp home and back doesn't seem quite as inconvenient anymore.
As Soon as You Can, Start Crafting
Some of the most powerful equipment my Demon Hunter is currently wearing did not come from monster guts, but rather from my own personal blacksmith. I bring him the items I don't want, he breaks them down into components, and uses them to fashion truly wondrous magical items. Right now I can wear them. Once I've invested enough cash into training him up I might start selling them. Or maybe I'll just sell the components so other people can use them to craft.
Either way, the crafting option is your friend. Use it early, invest in training, and get the most out of the game.
Make Friends and Play With Them
While single-player is nice, Diablo III is a game meant to be played with other people. And who are our favorite other people? Our friends. Well, your friends. My friends are generally dicks.
But your friends? They are pretty great. And the wonderful thing about friends? There are more of them just sitting around in front of their computers, clicking away at demons and waiting to meet you. Be kind, be cordial, be courteous, and you might expand that circle of yours.
Take a Break (At Least When the Servers are Down)
As with any form of interactive entertainment, you don't want to simply sit in a chair all day long, clicking away at your mouse. Stand up, job in place, take a bathroom break, watch an episode of Game of Thrones or look at some porn (same thing>).
Luckily Blizzard has built server downtime into the launch window, which is why I am writing this article right now instead of playing Diablo III. Thanks, Blizzard!