There's a story, but it isn't crucial to the experience. If you've never played a Diablo game before, the mythology can be quite confusing, but it's a fairly simple fantasy tale at its heart. Voice acting is a mixed bag, but overall the presentation of the game is of an extremely high quality. The music is atmospheric, and the visuals - which have the same stylised textures as World of Warcraft - are richly detailed. There are loads of neat little visual touches, and environments are varied: from sun-bleached deserts and snowy mountains, to rain-soaked fields, and the bowels of Hell itself.
The integration with battle.net is both brilliant, and utterly terrible. The server problems that plagued the launch have cleared up, but it's still unforgivable that crowded servers should hamper the single-player experience. We've been thrown out of the solo campaign twice, both times losing progress. It's one of the most irritating examples of DRM in recent memory.
But it's not enough to stop us enjoying the game, and the way battle.net makes drop-in, drop-out co-op possible almost makes up for it. Providing they've made the game open, and there are slots free in their party, you can jump into a friend's game at any time.
There's next to no loading. Co-op adds further depth to the combat, as the classes have been designed to work in tandem with each other. Because there's so much loot in the game, your character will always look unique, even though there are only five classes to choose from. It doesn't have the same level of customisation as, say, World of Warcraft, but you can bring an element of personality to your hero.
One thing we love is that whenever you replay a quest, it's always different. Levels in the game are randomly generated, which means you never feel like it's a burden having to go through a level you've already done in co-op. The layout of the map, the placement of the enemies, and the locations of treasure, are all random. You can also mix things up by changing the difficulty setting. Going form normal to hard doesn't just give enemies more HP; it actually gives them a whole new range of abilities, forcing you to think up new tactics to beat them.
The game has been designed with replayability in mind, which gives it a pleasing longevity. Even if you think you've finished the game and seen all there is to see with one class, there are still four more to master. We can see ourselves still playing it for months to come.
Battle.net is also used to host an auction house, where loot you find can be sold for vast amounts of gold. You can also buy gear here, but we advise against it. Often you'll buy a weapon that's so powerful, it renders all the loot you find obsolete. This might make you obscenely powerful, but you'll be missing out on the thrill of discovering a rare new weapon in a dungeon.
Items and gold can be shared between all of your characters (who are stored online, so you can access them from any computer), which doesn't make sense from a story perspective, but is hugely convenient. If you've amassed a fortune and loads of useful crafting materials (more on that on the next page) as one character, your brand new alt will have full access to them.