Evil is in its prime
Twenty years on from the hellish events of Diablo II, evil has once again returned to the world of Sanctuary. Deep within the cathedral in the town of New Tristram, scholar Deckard Cain and his niece Leah busily study ancient tomes that prophesise the End of Days will begin with a sign from the heavens. As the ancient texts predict, a mysterious light appears in the sky; with no time to escape, the falling star smashes through the cathedral, burying Cain in a glowing crater. Only Leah survives to deliver a terrifying warning to the townspeople...
Just as Cain had prophesised, the fallen star brought with it a dark, sinister power. As the dead begin to rise from the grave and hideous monsters roam the land, a mysterious traveller comes to New Tristram. Faced with the forces of evil attacking the town, you must become the traveller and, together with Leah, set about trying to rescue Deckard Cain and fight to understand where these dark powers have come from – and how they can be stopped.
Serenity needs a hero
How you tackle the chilling forces of evil depends on your choice of character class. There are six classes to choose from, each with their own skills and attributes, attacking and defensive powers and mastery of magic.
- The Witch Doctor draws power from mystical voodoo rituals, summoning undead creatures to rise up and assist with attack and defence – as well as being a master of destructive potions, poisons and fire attacks.
- Barbarians are heavily armed warriors, using two-handed weapons and shields to devastating effect, building up fury to unleash on their enemies.
- Demon Hunters rely on ranged weapons like bows and grenades and can snare enemies in carefully placed traps.
- The Monk has honed his body into a deadly weapon, raining down lightning-fast punches and melee attacks on enemies, using his spirit to call on the power of the Gods.
- Finally, Wizards are masters of arcane magic, manipulating space, time and nature to destroy enemies with fiery attacks or freezing restraints.
Whichever class you choose, success depends on learning attacking and defensive skills, levelling up your character by defeating enemies and applying different upgrades to your abilities. Skill in battle means knowing your role in the fight; should you enter the fray and attack from close quarters, deal damage from afar with a bow or assist your comrades by healing them? The choice is yours.
Hell is unleashed
As a new adventurer, you'll begin your quest in Normal mode; as you progress through the game and level up your character by gaining XP, three additional difficulty levels will become available: Nightmare, Hell and Inferno.
Around the town of New Tristram is where you'll investigate the fallen star, talking to villagers and other characters to activate quests that send you to undiscovered regions of the vast map. Completing these quests – by defeating enemies, retrieving artefacts and gathering information – rewards you with gold to spend and new items to equip, or XP to level up your character. As you level up, new abilities and powers become available; you'll start the game with a basic attack, and soon each button will have a new power attached to it, which in turn can be upgraded. Playing to your attacking strength is only half the battle – blocking and healing are essential to staying alive, while tapping the right analog stick to dodge your foes can be key to a successful fight.
Collecting loot is essential to progressing in your quest. Defeat enemies, discover chests or trade with merchants to pick up new weapons and artefacts that bestow new powers and attributes to your character. Some will be more useful to your character class than others, so be sure to check the stats of each new piece of loot and equip the most effective – pressing the UP button will let you quickly equip any new item you've collected.
Face the darkness together
Carving your way through the undead hordes alone can be a real challenge – and extremely rewarding as you collect more and more gold and loot for yourself. If you do go it alone, you can recruit computer-controlled followers with different skills and abilities to assist you. Better still is to invite up to three friends to join your band of travellers, either in a local co-op adventure, or online from your PSN friends list.
Combining different character classes, each wielding different weapons can prove extremely effective against large groups of enemies or quest bosses; Wizards and Demon Hunters can deal damage from afar with ranged weapons, while Barbarians and Monks enter the fray and take on monsters in close quarters.
If an additional player decides to join your game, you're able to return to any completed quests – useful if your partner needs to take on lower powered monsters in order to level up to the same standard as your character. If you want to quickly jump into an online co-op game, you can take on a quest alongside other players via PSN, either to slay monsters and collect loot, or in a Brawling match – a player vs player mode where other travellers will be not only hunting for loot, they'll be hunting you as well.