I gave Diablo III a whirl during the Open Beta Weekend. I wasn’t able to play as much as I would have wanted–I was feeling somewhat ill for the most part during the weekend–but I was able to “beat” the beta and fight Leoric/The Skeleton King. I played mostly solo, but did try co-op play as well, and beat Leoric with Pia.
I haven’t played Diablo II in a looo~ong while, and World of Warcraft is my most recent RPG experience. As such, I did take a few minutes to reorient myself and stop hitting WASD keys. I played a bit with all of the classes, although I finished the beta with my class of preference, the Wizard. I really am more of a range sort of player; bashing things with the Barbarian is fun, but I get annoyed with all the running around because of knockbacks and the like.
I don’t know if they tuned the game easier for the beta, but it was fairly straightforward (and not as stressful as I remember Diablo II to be–but then I’d like to think I’m “better” at these games now than I was in college). Resource constraints are mostly forgettable except for the more intensive fights, when I’d need to use more of the skills and manage my resources (arcane power, mana, fury, etc) a bit better, and maybe down a potion or two. For the most part I don’t need to bring along so many potions–the random health globe drops is usually more than enough to keep me going between (and sometimes in the middle of) fights, although it can sometimes be a challenge getting to a health globe when you’re up against a crowd (accidental clicking on monsters instead of the ground, for example).
Graphics is smooth, and the storyline is solid: it feels fairly immersive, with interesting lore points along the way. I’m very impressed with how enduring Deckard Cain is ;) all those years plus a couple days in the crypts being hunted by Leoric’s guards, he’s got amazing luck ;) I like that the stash and gold is shared across your characters. I haven’t been able to test out the forging, but it looks very promising.
Co-op play is fun, although I was confused at first as to who was going to be doing the questing. There are prompts for started “events”, i.e. boss or mini-boss fights, but for the most part the quests can be done by either regardless of where they are in the storyline alone (I had a level 2 friend join me for level 5-ish quests–and he actually started the quest himself). I don’t fully understand how aggro works yet, exactly, although I’m guessing I’m complicating things too much and forcing the game into a more WoW perspective–but I can’t help but be worried when the boss is on me rather than the tanky monk, or if my demon hunter friend is getting beat on when I’m on my stocky barbarian.
I did miss WoW’s emotes ;) I missed jumping up and down with the spacebar, waving to the NPCs I meet, that sort of thing. Of course, I feel like this is one of those times where hardcore Diablo fans will turn their noses up at me for even thinking of /flirting with the NPCs ;)
On the classes
I played mostly with the wizard, which was sufficiently “blow-uppy” with pretty arcane spells of purple and blue and pink. I also like the arcane power gauge–such a pretty pink/purple globe with stars in it! I’m not entirely sure if the DPS stats on my one handers affect my spells, since I don’t swing the weapons myself, so I don’t exactly know if I should treat them as stat sticks like in WoW or actually care about the DPS numbers on them. I’ve yet to really discover how to use the skills: the Ray of Frost felt like a HUGE resource drain, I kept shooting my Arcane Orb where the mob wasn’t anymore, and the Shock Pulse felt a bit too random for me. Frost Nova and Wave of Force were useful to get away from enemies, unless I accidentally clicked on one of them.
The monk, to me, is like a “shiny” melee character. Quick hits and flashy effects can do that to you ;) She felt rather squishy though, and I’m not sure if I should be dual-wielding one-handers for more damage, or get a shield to get more block.
The opposite of that is the barbarian–pure force! I don’t mean to say there are no pretty badass effects with her hits, but she definitely felt quintessentially barbaric, which is good when you’re of that bent. Destruction, single hit kills, and the like are very satisfying when all you want to do is smash things.
I was a bit hesitant about playing the demon hunter, because back in D2, I rather sucked as the assassin. I suck at traps and kiting. But nevertheless, it was fun giving the demon hunter a whirl, although honestly, running around in heels that high? I think she felt a little overdone, but I’m sure lots of folks will want to play with someone looking very “badass”.
Last but not the least, the witch doctor was…interesting, and possibly the most amusing. I think she’s the squishiest at the start, but it felt quite hilarious throwing huge jugs of spiders around (though it felt a bit random, damage-wise).
I’m pretty excited with my quick peek into D3–it’s definitely whetted my appetite and I’m looking forward to the May 15 launch. I will probably stick with my wizard main class, but anything after that is fair game. I’ll admit feeling a bit nervous with my squishy class when going up against the main bosses (I suppose going through it the first time in a co-op is not exactly the best way to gain confidence!) but…bring it on!