Trying to decide on Grim Dawn vs Diablo 3? Take a look at how both games stack up in 2020 and get a feel for what’s on the table in the near future for either title.
If you’re a long-time fan of the ARPG genre (think Diablo, Torchlight, Path of Exile, Titan Quest, and Lineage), then you’ve likely already explored what Diablo 3 and Grim Dawn both have to offer.
However, unless you’ve put hundreds, if not thousands of hours into each game, it can be hard to line the two up and compare them in order to find the clear winner for yourself.
Thankfully – I’ve done it for you!
Having spent the better part of my high-school years playing through Diablo 2 and Diablo 3, and then pooling a good chunk of my university days towards Grim Dawn – today I’m here to give you a clear-cut comparison of both titles.
We’ll go through each key mechanic, the most important elements that define a great ARPG, and the various ins and outs where either game stands out. In this post, I’ll be doing a deep dive on Grim Dawn vs Diablo 3 in an effort to help you pick the one that best suits your interests.
Let’s dive right in!
The Story & Lore Elements In Grim Dawn vs Diablo 3
It’s no secret that ever since the first Diablo came out on December 31, 1996 – the world of Sanctuary has evolved leaps and bounds. In 2020, if you’ve had a chance to play through the entire Diablo series, you’d find that Diablo 3 features extensive lore and a fairly engaging storyline.
However, if you played through it and found it to be rather…lacking, you wouldn’t be the odd one out. In fact, the storyline featured in Diablo 3 almost doesn’t tie in with the previous games in the series, and in itself, it’s just pretty short, bland, and dry.
Overtop of this, the whole game was far more focused on creating a re-play anchored around the co-op hack and slash factor so much more than creating a rich, dynamic, and story-filled world.
In contrast to this, Grim Dawn offers one of the richest and most engaging stories that you can find in any ARPG!
Sure, you might be missing the angels/demons/different races and whatnot – but that’s quickly replaced by the fact that the quests you get and the NPC interactions you go through are actually interesting, dynamic, and tie-in among themselves to form complex stories that you’ll gradually piece together as you progress further and further in the game.
Which Game Has The Better Story Line?: Grim Dawn
Comparing The Combat System & Classes
Now that we’ve talked about the lore elements and the story elements that you’ll find in either game, let’s have a look at the combat systems and class setup that either title has to offer.
First off, let’s take a look at Diablo 3. Jumping in for the first time, you’ll find a pretty familiar and straightforward locked-class system that offers a pretty simple progression tree with each skill being particular to the class you choose. In itself, this is a pretty ‘run of the mill’ setup and it’s generally relatively cushy for most ARPG players.
However, this is also where we run into the first kink on the road. Diablo 3 started out with a pretty relaxed approach to player-to-player trading, even featuring an Auction House in the earlier days of the game’s existence.
But due to rampant botting, Blizzard soon took down the Auction House and limited player-to-player trading in a major way. This made it very hard to gear up an entire roster of characters without having to physically play the particular character as you couldn’t buy individual pieces or trade with friends who lucked out on a drop that you needed.
So, what does this mean? When it comes to Diablo 3, you’re locked into your class, with zero flexibility (switching builds aside). And if you’re keen to gear up a new character in a different class, your journey starts from scratch, and you’ll have to grind it out until you can finally hit the endgame once again.
This is another area where Grim Dawn wins over Diablo 3. The title’s class system is far more flexible, being very akin to the ‘wheel of confusion’ that you’ll see in Path of Exile or the crossover tree you’d find in Titan Quest.
The upside here is the fact that you’ll be able to create a whole bunch of amazing combinations between the various trees. However, at the same time that comes with the downside of having almost too many options to tinker with – which undeniably leads to some degree of confusion for players newer to the genre.
The skill system is also a tad more diverse. It utilizes a pretty familiar mix of core abilities, supporting skills, passives, and ultimate abilities that you charge up over time. However, the interactions between the abilities themselves are far more diverse and satisfying in Grim Dawn, allowing you to really play the game your way.
All in all, you get 9 ‘classes’ that each offer a pretty extensive tree of skills and abilities. Combine them how you like, and create your own playstyle, that is entirely independent of any sort of META.
In addition to the classes that you can shape and mold to your liking, you also get a ginormous constellation system that’s very reminiscent of the Path of Exile ‘wheel of confusion’ where each node shapes your character in a different manner, adding attributes, skill effects, and allowing you to really delve into a whole new realm of customization.
Note: When it comes to a META, it’s not uncommon to find that Diablo 3 consistently revolves around a particular build or two being viable, and everything else barely putting a dent in your enemies towards the endgame.
Which Game Has A More Refined & Diverse Combat / Class System?: Grim Dawn
What About Endgame Content & Replayability?
Once you’ve steamrolled your way through the main story and campaign modes, it’s pretty much expected that the game should have something to offer in terms of an endgame in order to keep you engaged and playing.
When it comes to Diablo 3, you’ve got rifts, ubers, and special event areas to peruse. And while the Rift system takes up the majority of your endgame content options, it’s hard to find it all that entertaining.
Even if you’re a competitive player and focus on climbing your way up in greater rifts and hitting the top 3 spots for your class on the leaderboards for your server – you’re essentially recycling content with next to no diversity.
Now, sure, you can take a break and do ubers – but those honestly become more of a joke towards the endgame, and in some way more of a chore, just like your dailies, as you’ll need it for enhancing your gear and crafting certain pieces/reagents.
But, if that wasn’t enough – here’s the worst part: the loot you get is all the same, each and every time.
But, what about Grim Dawn?
Given how much more content there is to start with, Grim Dawn is definitely a step ahead from the get-go. However, with this wealth of content, the game also offers a ginormous and highly dynamic crafting system, a plethora of mastery combos, and tonnes of side-content that will keep you busy for thousands of hours, without it feeling dry, boring, or particularly regurgitated at any given point in time.
Which Game Has The Best End Game?: Grim Dawn
Sizing Up The Graphics & Eye Candy
While Grim Dawn has been pretty much far ahead of its older brother, Diablo 3, in every category so far – it’s really as they say, all good things have some sort of downside to them.
Despite the fact that Grim Dawn was released in 2016, almost 4 years after Diablo 3 hit the shelves – its graphics and eye candy are pretty darn old-school.
Seemingly, the developers have put so much of their time towards crafting a rich and dynamic world, filled with near-endless content and replayability, that they forgot to make the game actually look up-to-par with modern ARPGs.
And while many old-school ARPG players can definitely look past the lacking quality of the visuals you’d get with this title – many players new to the genre, along with the younger audience of gamers, just won’t find the game as appealing in this department.
Which Game Has Better Graphics & Eye Candy?: Grim Dawn (With HD Mods).
A Quick Look At Expansions & Updates
Heralded by many as the “Diablo 3 we’ve been waiting for,” Diablo 3’s first (and only) expansion, Reaper of Souls, has largely done pretty well for itself in providing a smidge of new content and some much-needed updates to the quickly dying game.
However, ever since its release in 2014, it has still largely failed to address the same breadth of replayability issues to do with dryness and lack of content.
And while most people were expecting some form of a single-player mode coming with the expansion, six years down the line, the secret’s out – there still isn’t one.
But, on the other side of the comparison table, the team behind Grim Dawn has been continuously hard at work, with the last major expansion landing in 2019, and a whole storm of constant updates throughout that keep breathing life into the game.
And unlike Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls, Grim Dawn’s Forgotten Gods expansion actually offered an entirely new way to play the game (I’m talking about the Shattered Realms, a.k.a. Diabloesque rifts).
However, aside from the standard lineup of a new class, game mode, and some major tweaks – Forgotten Gods actually brought a new crafting system, additional flexibility in class combinations, a whole batch of new skills/abilities, new world-factions, constellations, and in-game mechanics to the table.
Which Game Has Better & More Consistent Updates & Expansions?: Grim Dawn
Closing Thoughts – My Verdict
All in all, Diablo 3 is undeniably a staple in the ARPG genre – and by all means, I seriously recommend anyone getting into this category of games to give it a shot, at least once.
However, when you compare Grim Dawn vs Diablo 3 – it’s pretty clear that Grim Dawn just has so much more to offer. But, it does come with the downside of having slightly stale graphics when compared against other ‘modern’ titles like Path of Exile, Lost Ark, and so forth.
And here’s one more selling point – Diablo 3 (including the Reaper of Souls expansion and the Crusader class) costs a whopping $29.99 USD on the Battle.net store. At the same time, Grim Dawn can be found on Steam for as little as $2.00 USD when it’s on sale (which is a regular occurrence).
So, there you have it – a comprehensive, yet in-depth comparison of Diablo 3 and Grim Dawn.
Now that I’ve shared my insights, I’d love to hear your take on both titles. Let me know which game is your favorite and why in the comments down below!