I wrote some stuff about the Diablo 3 beta on my blog, so I'll copy it and paste it here (with some slight alterations) for your convenience.
Over the weekend, I, like many people got a chance to check out the Diablo 3 beta. It’s the first time I’ve had any hands-on time with the game, and I came away from it pretty impressed. I’d like to take a few minutes to discuss a few things I thought were cool, and then follow that up with a quick and dirty analysis of the character classes.
The little things
12 years, and many games later, Diablo is finally making it’s return. Hard to believe it’s been so long, but next month we’ll finally get to play Diablo 3. With that in mind, what are some of the neat little additions Blizzard has made to the game? For starters, and perhaps the most important thing to me is that you no longer have to hold down the “Alt” key to see where loot is. This might not sound like much, but it’s a pretty big deal. Related to that, the fact that you can just run over gold to collect it is nice too.
As far as the UI goes, it’s a nice blend of Diablo 2, and World of Wacraft. Quest givers are marked with a gold “!” mark, the map shows you where to go for quests, it’s easy to compare loot, and the skill system looks nice and tidy. Again, small things, and nothing particularly revolutionary either, but they are all welcome.
As for crafting, it seems interesting. But, I’m not entirely sure that this is even the system that’s going to be in the final game, so I guess I won’t say much about it. It goes well with mixing and match loot that you find, with stuff that you craft, but it felt a bit off for some reason. I’m not sure.
Finally, the game looks good, and runs well on low end machines. Kind of a staple for Blizzard games at this point. Another tiny thing is the nice visual effect on elemental items. For instance, a fire sword will have a neat fire graphic swirling around the item description. I thought it was cool at least.
Since the open beta only lasted for three days, I only had time to get most of the characters to level 8. My Wizard got to 10, and my Demon Hunter was only level 5. So keep all of that in mind.
Currently, The Barbarian is far and away the best class in the game. Right from the get go he’s plowing through stuff like a truck, and can take a beating. Also, right off the bat you’re getting some amazing skills that help you lay waste to everything. From my experience with the Beta, it seems like AoE was the way to go, and with skills like Cleave, Hammer of the Ancients, and Rend you’ve got that covered. I was basically facerolling my way through the beta with the Barb, as he’d just run up to large groups of enemies and annihilate them. Depending on how he shapes up in the full game, The Barbarian might very well be the easiest class to play, and one you might want to consider for those harder difficulties.
The Wizard is a personal favorite of mine, despite the fact that I’ve seen a few people who are disappointed in her. Perhaps she relies heavily on the equipment she has, but since I was granted with an early boost from my friend I was really dominating with her. Again, AoE playing a big part here, her Arcane Orb ability was wrecking stuff. It almost rivaled the stopping power of the Barbarian, and I could do it from range. On top of that she has good defensive abilities in Diamond Skin and Wave of Force which was allowing me to control the battlefield. Magic Missile isn’t too shabby either after it’s first rune. Of course, it’s very possible your milage may vary with the class, I found that it lived up to my expectations.
The Monk was interesting, because when I first played her, my opinion of her was pretty low. When I tried playing her again, I gave her some better equipment and I was surprised to see she was tearing it up. The Monk is similar to The Barbarian, in that she is also a melee fighter with stupidly powerful moves, and some good AoE abilities. The only problem I could find was the she’s kind of paper thin in terms of defense. If you’re not careful, you can get easily overwhelmed by damage the Barb would easily shrug off. Luckily, she gets a healing ability in Breath of Heaven early on, so I bet this weighs out a bit better. The Monk definitely has some cool abilities, like a runed Fist of Thunder which allows her to teleport around the battlefield. And like I said, the heal is something unique to this class, so that probably adds an interesting spin on this classes’ strategies.
Man, I’m so ready to love the Witch Doctor, and declare it one of my favorite classes, but I hit a big snag with it. Firstly, I’ll say that the WD is probably the coolest class in the game. The moves he gets are just so awesome. Aside from Poison Dart, which you start out with, he starts getting some amazing stuff real quick. First up is Grasp of The Dead, which is an AoE snare that played heavily into my initial strategy. Following that, you get one of the coolest abilities ever, Corpse Spiders, which allows the WD to throw a fricking bottle of man eating spiders at enemies! It’s so badass. So for a while there I was just throwing down GoTD and the spiders and totally destroying everything. Shortly after that you get Summon Zombie Dogs which provides a useful pet, or rather, three of them. And after that you get the equally awesome Flaming Bats, which allows the WD to shoot flaming fricking bats out of his hands! Sadly, the bats seem to take up way too much mana, at least at the point where I was.
So, what’s the problem then? Well, shortly after saving Deckard Cain, I found that my initial winning strategy of Goop&Spiders wasn’t working very well, at all. Thus, I found myself struggling to kill stuff. Eventually I was forced to replace those amazing spiders with the rather dull, single target Poison Dart ability, and even then it still kind of sucked. So, I don’t know. I’m hoping that with better gear, and runes, abilities like the spiders and bats become better. And also hope the WD continues to get more sweet abilities as he progresses. As it stands those, I felt a little disappointed when all was said and done.
Now, as I mentioned above, I have very little experience with the Demon Hunter, and the main reason for that is… they’re fricking terrible. Right off the bat, the DH was doing way less damage than any of the other classes. And all of the abilities I got in those five levels were awful. The most powerful one, which is Impale, consumes a lot of Hatred, and it’s only a single target, single hit ability. And even then it still doesn’t do that much damage. Above I mentioned the part where you rescue Deckard Cain, well that part which proved disappointing for my Witch Doctor, proved impossible for my DH. She was overwhelmed by mobs of the weakest enemies. I had to constantly use Caltrops and Entangling Shot to keep them at bay, all the while running around and doing no damage. After spending 15 minutes trying to get to the next part of the beta, which is easily 3 times as long as it took on any other character (6 times as long as the Barb) I gave up.
The one thing DH have going for them is that they’re probably the coolest looking class in the game, but if Blizzard doesn’t seriously buff them before release, I can’t even imagine playing through the whole game as this pitiful class.
Well, there’s my thoughts on the Beta. Again, your mileage may vary on whether you agree with me or not. Also, none of this may be relevant by the time the actual game comes out, so who knows. But, there you go!