Joining a friend's game is a snap.
Provided you already had some folks on your Battle.net friends list, starting a co-op session of Diablo 3 might be the next easiest thing to pressing start on a second controller. Once you create a character, a “Quick Join” section will be populated if you have friends in-game, and a single click is all it takes to connect you to them. Other than not being able to access higher difficulties if you haven’t unlocked them, there are no restrictions to hopping into a game with friends, even if you’re a fresh character and they’re in the final act and level 30 (we confirmed this by sending my level 4 Monk to fight the final boss!).
If you’re new to Battle.net, or otherwise don’t have any friends playing, you can join a public game, which will show you how many players have open games and what quests you have available to you. Unlike the quick join option, these will be level restricted, usually plus or minus five levels of your current character. Players you meet in public games will show up as “recently met” in your social tab, so you can easily send friend requests. If the whole “searching for a game to join” thing is too much for you, you can always open your own session up for public players to join as well.
Once you’re in a game, you can click on any other player’s Banner to instantly teleport you to their location (negating the old Diablo 2 town portal trick), and you’re free to clickspam your way to victory.
Adventuring in co-op continues the Diablo tradition of increasing the difficulty of the enemies you fight, and usually, increases the quality/quantity of gold and loot that drops from enemies. Unlike prior games, all the drops are unique per player, so there’s no reason to make a mad dash for the rare item that just dropped while your friends get worked by elites. It takes a little bit of the friendly competition out of the co-op, but I didn’t mind.
Now these guys are just asking to be smashed.
While questing proceeds as usual, the boss fights require a little more attention when there is more than one player in a game. Usually, simple positioning tricks will suffice, but on harder difficulties (at least on your first time through, anyway), you might need to consult your partners with regards of what skills to take. If a player gets killed, their partners can resurrect them, though in the heat of battle it’s often very risky to attempt, especially on higher difficulties.
As always, one of the most rewarding things about Diablo 3 is the ability to show off all your rare and powerful gear to your buddies, and whenever something great drops, you’ll be able to show it off easily and without having to drop it on the floor and risk theft! Additionally, the ability to trade items directly is welcome (and expected, honestly).
While Diablo 2 allowed up to eight players in a single co-op session, Diablo 3 only supports four, and it’s a bit of a shame. The large number of supported players used to make it a favorite at my LAN parties, but now it’s a little frustrating to have to choose between games when your friends all want to play with you. Of course, this time around, I don’t foresee the game being a LAN staple.
You see, in addition to having to live up to over a decade’s worth of fan expectations, Diablo 3 comes saddled with even more baggage - the presence of a required internet connection, even if you’re playing solo. In short, the game has always-on DRM (in the guise of Battle.net), and as soon as you experience any kind of internet hiccup or other connection issue, you’ll be unceremoniously dumped to the main menu and given an error.
For those of us who played Diablo and Diablo 2 on Battle.net 100% of the time, this isn’t necessarily a new thing, but the classic games in the series always offered an offline mode for the folks who wished to play in peace. Fortunately, I never had any of the disconnection issues that plagued the game’s first 24 hours, but the first time you experience lag in a *single-player* game is definitely jarring. Since everything is online, you run the risk of getting your account hacked, so I’d recommend locking down your account with Blizzard’s Battle.net authenticator, especially in light of some recent reports of players getting their items and gold stolen.
Diablo 3 is not a perfect game, but it is a fantastic one, and if you can stomach the persistent DRM, it is well worth your co-op dollar. The thirty or so hours I’ve spent with it prior to writing this review are but the first of hundreds I will be spending with the game, whether it’s playing co-op with friends, relentlessly pursuing some of the more esoteric achievements, or simply seeing how many weird Hell/Inferno-viable builds I can crank out of my characters.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a *lot* more clicking to do.
The Co-Op Experience: Choose between five classes (Monk, Witch Doctor, Wizard, Barbarian, and Demon Hunter) and play online with four friends. Players can trade items and complete quests. Difficulty scales based on number of players.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.