A Look at the BradyGames Diablo III Signature Series Guide

If you’ve read darkzero’s review for Diablo III, you’ll understand just how tremendous the game is. It’s a RPG that’s jam packed with number crunching data applied to random loot drops. There’s no way any normal human being would be able to know it all. Because of this, I was curious to see how the official strategy guide for the game would present itself to Diablo III players wanting to identify everything about the game. This is a look at the BradyGames guide for Diablo III to see if it makes a worthwhile companion for your journey to stop the demonic invasion.

At a glance, the strategy guide gives a good first impression. It’s a beefy book that features over 440 pages of Diablo III content. Excluding the introduction pages from the game director of Diablo III, Jay Wilson, there are eight sections covered in this guide. “The Hero’s Basics” is the first topic. After presenting the Diablo timeline, this section then explains the basic fundamentals like controls, experience points, status effects, attributes – you know, all that low level stuff needed to make any newcomer feel ready to start clicking through the monstrous hordes that infect the world of Diablo.

The next section is a huge one that covers all five of the game’s classes. It explains the character growth of the class, its special weaponry, armour styles and what skills and runes are unlocked at each level. It goes into detail on every skill and rune combination and what situations they should be used in. If you’re not sure which class to pick when you start the game, this section does a top job at laying the foundations out for each one and letting you know just what you need to do with them.

You can’t talk about a guide without explaining if the actual walkthrough for the game is any good or not. The writers for the BradyGames guide make everything clear on the pages so that nothing is too overwhelming and crammed. Quests are laid out one at a time, and the guide gives you an overview of the objectives before it starts going into what you have to do. Any new minions covered in the specific quest will be highlighted and small details – such as what the level of the enemy is on what difficulty – are neatly tabled. A nice touch is that there’s a small list of all the sources of loot in the selected quest as well as information on how rare they are to find.

Side quests, bonuses and tips are clearly written in red to make obvious that these are different topics from the main quest line. Something that you may notice is missing is that there’s no maps for any locations aside from towns. This is because Diablo III uses randomly generated layouts, and it’s for the guys at BradyGames to plot all those possibilities in the book. It does make it a little awkward to find some of the secret stashes that are mentioned, but that’s not the writer’s fault as they’re no way to really determine where they’ll be.

Making up the final pages of the guide are the bestiary and loot listings. Loot is also randomly generated in Diablo III, so the equipment artwork is displayed with maximum and minimum base ratings, giving players an idea of the attributes that could be gained from the item they are fixated on finding. Monsters, on the other hand, contain details of when they appear, what level they are, how much experience is gained for killing them, their attacks and damage, and how much HP they could have depending if they are a normal, champion or rare version of the denizen of hell.

BradyGames has done a good job covering most of the things you want to know about Diablo III. The book is presented well with helpful illustrations, a solid enemy compendium, game artwork (love it when guides are jammed with artwork), and a writing style that doesn’t try to convey every detail that would spoil what story there is in the game. However, the guide isn’t perfect. Where is my explanation on how to get to the secret level? Also, finding information quickly is difficult because there’s no index featured. It might not seem much of an issue, but just think of a scenario where you see an enemy and want to know about it – yeah, you’ll have to search through a few pages to find it.

Another drawback is that it doesn’t go into any detail about the achievements. It’s just a list of them ripped from the game and a description of what your award is if you accomplish it. If you’re going to put it in a guide, then at least tell me how to do them all. Sure, some are self-explanatory, but finding all these books sure as hell – no pun intended – isn’t. Obviously, if patches come out, some of the details are going to be wrong, but that’s an issue that’s going to be hard to overcome, especially if Blizzard keeps patching Diablo III as much as their other games.

Apart from those problems, the strategy book overall is solid enough to warrant a purchase. You can find the guide below £10 at Amazon. If you need information on enemies or hero builds, or just simply want help with the game, this is a guide that I recommend to you. I just hope BradyGames take some of the negatives to heart and improve upon the guides for their next dungeon crawler helper.