Sunday, April 22, 2012

[Diablo 3] Open Beta Impressions

Diablo 3 is, well, pretty much Diablo.

Gameplay is pretty much the exact same as the previous version. About the only new element is monsters sometimes drop health globes. It's an interesting mechanic because it sort of shifts your relationship with health potions a little bit.

There's also no real mana potions anymore. Resources either regenerate with time, or specific attacks build resources and other attacks spend them.

A lot of stuff got streamlined. Town Portal is now an ability (with a long cast time) instead of scrolls. Items are automatically identified. You pick up gold automatically. All your characters share gold, the stash, and crafting professions.

The major area of change is how abilities are given out. I think Diablo 3 is the final nail in the coffin for talent trees, at least as far as Blizzard is concerned.

Instead you get a series of exclusive choices. I.e. you choose one of 5 primary attacks (left-mouse button), 1 of 5 secondary attacks (right-mouse button), 1 of 5 defensive abilities, etc. You can also modify each attack with different runes that alter the attack. Like the monk has a spinning kick secondary attack. The first rune adds some fire and a knockback, and the animation changes a bit.

All of these choices are unlocked as you level, and changing your spec up is painless. I'm generally a fan of the series of exclusive choices idiom. I think the total possible number of combinations is just as large as with talent trees, and the total number of viable combinations is much larger.

There's also some interesting innovations in multiplayer. For example, loot is generated separately for each player, so there's no ninja'ing.

It's interesting to look at D3 in light of future MMOs, and think about what will get carried forward. I think the individual player loot is one element that will show up in future MMOs. Indeed, Looking For Raid is going to work that way in Pandaria. As well, many elements are shared across your characters, including gold, your bank/stash, and somewhat surprisingly, your crafting progression.

As for classes, they're pretty straightforward. The witch doctor is a bit weird though. I'm not sure what class I will play. Normally I just go with the knight/paladin archetype, but D3 doesn't have one. Mechanically, the armored melee fighter is the barbarian, but it just doesn't feel the same. I was thinking about the Demon Hunter, but like Spinks, I'm not thrilled with the high heels. Boots would have been just as sexy, and far less stupid. But otherwise, the Demon Hunter looks good, so I'll probably end up going with that.

In the end, this is Diablo. It looks, feels, sounds, and plays like Diablo. It has the classic Blizzard polish, attention to detail, and excellent performance on even somewhat older systems.


  1. > There's also some interesting innovations in multiplayer.
    > For example, loot is generated separately for each player,
    > so there's no ninja'ing.

    At least Guild Wars already works like that.

  2. "Instead you get a series of exclusive choices. I.e. you choose one of 5 primary attacks (left-mouse button), 1 of 5 secondary attacks (right-mouse button), 1 of 5 defensive abilities, etc."

    Just wanted to correct one small thing; the choices aren't currently exclusive.

    While by default the game forces you to choose a primary (Left-mouse), secondary (Right-mouse), etc., there is an option in preferences to allow you to freely slot any ability from any type into any slot.

    I can't recall the exact name of the option, but it's there.

  3. Pretty sure City of Heroes/Villains also generates loot separately for each player.

  4. Based on one weekend and running every class (except the Witch Doctor, I'm not big on pets normally) through the boss I'd say look at the Monk. As you said, none of the classes are the plate-armored prototype but the play style of the Monk is fairly close to the WoW Paladin / Blood DK, the Rift -icar Cleric, or other self-healing melee. And neither Monk gender goes into combat wearing stilettos.

  5. I have really enjoyed the Beta, but am ready for the release.

    My favorite classes were the ones that I played a significant amount on. Barbarian, Monk, and Demonhunter.

    I thought the Wizard was decent, and I never even tried the Witch Doctor.

    Like you said, it is Diablo. Smash and loot.

  6. Multiplayer is what excites me the most and I'm getting bits and pieces of it from friends who've been playing beta.

    I'm all for LFG and LFR because I don't really raid with a guild anymore and they're awesome for my dungeon/raid fix but I think it changed the social dynamics of the game. Lots more jerks :/ There were probably jerks before but they didn't have to be up in your face.

  7. I was wondering what would you think about switching from an MMO to a game such as Diablo. You have said that D3 plays similarly to D2, yet the latter came out many years ago, when the community had not reached the stage of persistent world population, and the social ties that you could form were not as strong as in MMOs. Many people are migrating from WoW and other MMOs into D3 - would they like this step backwards into lobby-like gaming?

    Could you play without a persistent world, without a community?

    In my case, I think I will be playing for one or two months and then shelve it. My only reason to want better items is to be able to play with my friends and progress along the content. In D3, loot is the means and the goal.

  8. Part of my reason for playing D3 is because I can then easily interact with my WoW friends. I'm not interested in playing WoW, but in a sense this gives access to that community without having to sub for a game I don't want to play.

  9. There is a big difference. When D2 Expansion first came out, some of the monsters were difficult to kill and some of the bosses were immensely challenging (eg, Diablo and Hephastos). But after a while, Blizzard watered them all down. D3 Beta seems even more watered down because not even one of my chars died. The Skeleton King was not a real challenge; he could even be stunned for seconds!

  10. Are you honestly comparing the expansion end bosses to the very first boss of normal?

    Does that not strike you as kind of silly?

    To me, the Skeleton King seemed the appropriate difficulty for the first boss. I'm sure later bosses will be harder.

  11. Gameplay is more varied, even at <=13 I use 3-4 skills routinely.

    Elective mode has been mentioned. Advanced tooltips are useful and reveal that all skills are based on weapon damage (EG 110%) not flat. This is huge because all skills are viable (within certain error parameters).

    As I read your post, runes are a bigger deal than you think. They can drastically affect your playstyle. EG you can add corpse explosion to cleave, or turn a freezing ray into PBAoE.

    Witch doctor has substantial lag on many abilities - spiders are worst. I played with Soul Harvest (doubles my damage, or more); darts, death+decay (not actual name) + dogs. Will lose the dogs asap :)

    Monk is definitely the paladin type. They're quite tanky. Melee classes get an innate 20-30% damage reduction over casters btw.

    This was linked on DiabloFans but maybe you don't read that:

    Very much looking forward to Titan! Especially since I should be retired by the time it releases, so I'll have all the time in the world! ;)

  12. Demon Hunter is very far from warrior/paladin archetype (BTW, you can play male version w/o stillettos).
    Basically when playing DH you must never come in direct contact with enemy. DH is built around this. At first 10 levels of play s/he gets 2 slows (shot and trap), blink- and vanish-like abilities. I suspect it gets even worse at hight levels.

    If you don't like Barb maybe Monk is closer to paladin archetype?

    As for me, I find melee classes a bit annoying because you have to go after every enemy which is too much running back and forth.