By DAVID LIAN
UNLESS you’ve been living under a rock, you would probably have heard of Diablo 3, and your Facebook wall spammed with your friends’ escapades from Tristram to heaven and back.
Well, if you have been living under a rock, you’re in a spot of luck because this article will get you up to speed on what the Diablo craze is all about.
Diablo 3 is the long awaited sequel to the smash-hit PC game Diablo 2. Yes, it really was a long-awaited sequel, as Diablo 2 was released in 2000.
Right after the new game was launched last month, its servers went down almost instantly as millions of fans rushed online to play the game they’ve waited for more than a decade. Yes, it’s that good.
And its return also proved the one thing we’ve suspected all along – PC gaming isn’t dead.
When I was growing up, nothing on the PlayStation could beat the “hot games” of the day on the PC.
However, in the last decade, more and more gaming analysts have been proclaimed that PC gaming was dead, and the increasing disappearance of cyber cafes around the country only affirmed the notion.
I remember the time when a group of friends would hang out in cyber cafes – much to our parents’ indignation – to play video games. For us, it was our version of sports.
As time went by, newer consoles started appearing – the XBOX 360, the PlayStation 3 and the Nintendo Wii. People started staying at home more often to play games on those consoles instead.
Now Diablo 3 is back, it feels like the heyday of PC gaming all over again.
The game is actually pretty easy to play.
There are five classes to choose from (these are the characters that help define your powers), and you pick a class and head out for adventure.
Adventures in Diablo 3 includes following a linear (but fun) storyline, fighting monsters, gaining levels (to improve your character’s powers) and collecting treasure.
The story in Diablo 3 revolves around a hero arriving at Tristram, a town that’s overrun by zombies, skeletons and other ghouls. In typical fantasy fashion, the lone hero is the only one who can uncover the mysterious source of the undead, and send them back to their graves.
Told in four acts, the story then takes the hero from the lonely town all the way to heaven, where the ending builds up into a battle of cataclysmic proportions.
There are four difficulty levels in Diablo 3 – normal, nightmare, hell and inferno. Each difficulty level tells the same story but with tougher enemies.
In this way, Diablo 3 allows you to use all the ‘powers’ you accumulated from different difficulty stages.
However, die-hard Diablo players would tell you that the real game only starts when you hit Level 60.
Diablo 3 is a social game. The idea is to form a party of four heroes and set out for an adventure. Prominently displayed on the screen throughout the game is a ‘contact list’ you can use to chat with friends or invite them to join your game.
When you hit Level 60, the game takes on an entirely different turn.
Getting here means that you had played through the storyline three times; and accumulating the best equipment and unlocking the game’s achievement levels becomes a challenge now.
What’s new though is that Diablo 3 publishers Blizzard Entertainment are experimenting with a system that allows players to buy and sell items for real money.
Yes, that’s right, that nice Sword you picked up yesterday? It can go for US$20 (RM60) online. Not only is the currency virtual, you can also withdraw the cash via PayPal (and debit it into your own bank account).
Before I leave you and return to delving the dark dungeons of Diablo 3, I thought I’d throw in some advice to its players; remember it’s just a game. Get up sometimes, take a walk and eat something. And most importantly, sleep. Now, back to gaming.
David Lian is a Level 43 Monk because he believes in playing in moderation. That, and because he’s got to write this column. Tweet him at twitter.com/davidlian if you want to “Diablo” together.