Welcome new Diablo III players! You passed up the game on PC, held out for a more complete console edition, and your patience has paid off. You're ready to plunge headlong into the Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition. Here are some tips to help you get started.
Diablo III, as the Roman numeral indicates, is the third game in an action role-playing franchise that began nearly 16 years ago, so you're not going to want to begin without a basic understanding of the series' lore. Here's everything you need to know about Diablo lore in order to enjoy Diablo III: Evil is happening and you've got to kill it.
In other words, despite the game being preceded by two award-winning games and various expansion packs, not knowing a single thing about the town of Tristram, the war between Heaven and Hell or heroes plunging evil crystals into their foreheads (ouch) will not be a problem. If you really must know, let Wikipedia be your guide.
Now that you've been briefed on the backstory, it's time for a big decision. Which of Diablo III's six character classes should you play? Ultimately you'll want to give each of the six a try, but that's not very helpful advice. Why waste important leveling time on a class you'll be bored with a couple hours down the line?
We could argue all day long over which class is the best/strongest/sexiest (check out the Diablo forums, where that exact thing is happening constantly). Instead, here's a quick and dirty rundown of each class aimed at helping you decide for yourself.
Barbarian: Large agile warriors that thrive in the middle of a massive melee. The Barbarian is powered by Fury, a resource that builds as he or she is damaged by or damages enemies. Perfect for players who want to charge mindlessly from battle to battle, but lacking a certain finesse. You can get a pretty cool jumping attack that feels really good with a console controller.
Crusader: Silver-shelled party animals. The Crusader is another wading-into-battle type, though unlike the Barbarian they're as at home chasing down a solo enemy as they are in large groups. They're a slightly more nuanced melee class. The newest of the six classes, the Crusader is considered by many to be overpowered. Enjoy it while it lasts.
Demon Hunter: Do you consider yourself clever? Do you want to wield a crossbow in each hand and pepper the battlefield with traps and turrets? Do you want to be the sexiest person in any party? Here's your class.
Monk: Monks are melee fighters, but with the ability to heal and protects allies and disorient the enemy, one could consider them the game's support class. Monks are all about mobility and speed, so if you gotta go fast…
Witch Doctor: The choice of crazy people everywhere. The Witch Doctor's bag of tricks is very large, containing a score of pets, jars of spiders, pools of poison — they really are insane. They start off slow, but as their levels rise they grow more frightening and satisfying.
Wizard: Do you want to feel powerful from afar? Shoot death rays out of your hands or lay down a field of freezing cold so powerful your enemies can't even touch you? The Wizard comes out of the gate with the awesome power of the universe at their fingertips, though in later levels its easy to fall into a repetitive routine.
Or just pick the one you think looks the coolest.
Once you've chosen a character class another important decision awaits. Which difficulty level do you choose? Caution and unfamiliarity would suggest you start the game at "normal" difficulty. Do not do that.
The game's first difficulty level is mis-named. It should be called "laughably easy." Even "hard" difficulty is a cinch. Start on Expert, the highest difficulty that is initially available (there are plenty more that you can unlock later). You'll die a fair amount if you're not careful but that will help you learn how to play skillfully. If you're playing easier difficulty levels you might as well be mowing a lawn. Playing on tougher levels automatically gives you extra XP, so you'll likely level up faster for your troubles.
Note that you can change difficulty levels after you've started playing. You can bump the difficulty level up or down one notch while you're mid-game. If you quit to the game's main menu, you can switch to any difficulty level.
The game will be tougher if you play with friends, which can be a blessing since managing to defeat tougher enemies will let you level up faster — the game doesn't always bump the difficulty level back down after your friends leave, but you can ensure a proper reset by quitting out and jumping back in.
Once that decision is made, you're in the game. Congratulations! Welcome to the outskirts of scenic Tristam. Mind the smell of evil. Once you've acclimated yourself to the game's controls and the whole accepting a quest/completing a quest mechanic, the rest is so simple I can put it in a more structured format.
In Diablo III's default mode, you'll have one button locked to one type of attack or ability. But if you'd like to map more than one ability from a group, or re-arrange your abilities so that they feel comfortable to you, you can do that - you'll just have to enable elective mode in the game's options menu. Go to options, then select gameplay, and then check the box next to "elective mode," and you'l be free to assign whatever ability you want to whatever controller button.
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.
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.
Evil creatures in Diablo III are magical life forms which, instead of flesh and blood, are composed of random items and coins. Collecting those things in order to make your character more powerful is what the game is all about. Your inventory is limited and you can only carry so many items, but you'll eventually learn a Town Portal spell that takes you back to your home base no matter how deep you are in a dungeon. Every time you fill up, portal home and sell, break down, or store your items. Don't worry. You can hop back into the portal and get right back to where you were.
It may be tempting to sometimes leave the loot that drops from enemies where it dropped, maybe to avoid filling your inventory and having to head back to town — do not do that. Why would you do that? That's crazy.
Some of the most powerful equipment my characters are 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.
As you increase in level and your challenges increase in difficulty, you'll begin to discover rare green crafting plans that can be used to create amazingly powerful items. You'll forget these are in your inventory until they're useless for your current character, but the next one will be so well dressed.
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? The more you have in your party the tougher the game gets, and the tougher the game gets the better the rewards are.
Playing local co-op works well enough, though you'll have to stay fairly close to each other. If you play online, you can wander apart.
When you can't play with real friends, make sure you've got a fake friend by your side. Over the course of the game you'll unlock three followers: special characters with unique powers who are ready to follow you to the ends of the Earth, because they're programmed to.
There's the Templar, a healer/tank perfect for delicate casting classes. The Enchantress will turn your enemies into chickens, which is pretty handy. Finally there's the Scoundrel, who's a less-sexy Demon Hunter. Choose him if you like hanging out with sleezeball.
Your Followers will always be there for you, and as long as you remember to upgrade their equipment, they'll always make a difference. Got that? They won't have their coolest gear or abilities activated by default. You need to pause the game, go to the Follower tab and set them up, just as you would your own character.
I like to end all of my tips posts with this one, but in the case of the Diablo III Ultimate Evil Edition I really mean it this time. Play this game long enough and hard enough and there may come a time when you care more about numbers and statistics than you do simply enjoying yourself. It's how the game is built — once you start moving into more extreme difficulty levels every point of resistance, every dollop of damage mitigation and every gem you socket will directly affect your ability to progress.
I'm not saying that's not fun. I'm just letting new players know to cherish the games earlier moments. Take in all the sights and sounds in your first couple of plays, because eventually you're going to be too busy surviving to enjoy it.
Now it's your turn. Well, the veteran players who've read this far to see what I've gotten wrong, not the new folks who wouldn't know any better. What advice would you give to our new Diablo III-playing friends?