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Diablo 3 beta

Here are a couple of thoughts and impressions after having spent a weekend playing Diablo 3 beta. Also, a couple of curios from the point of view of a person, who has spent 5 years too many playing D2.

Many commentated videos and descriptions of the beta that I've come across, covered a variety of issues, however, I haven't seen a single one that depicts the perspective of a zealot to all the previous parts of the game and actually pinpoints differences between those games. Unfortunately, a vast majority of those videos concern old builds of D3, before the revolutionary changes brought in by the new patches. So here we go:

- Gold is finally worth collecting and will probably be a strong currency throughout the game (similarly to how gold is perceived in WoW) Not only can you spend it at vendors, but you can also develop and modify your own blacksmith workshop – giving you the ability to produce a select number of items (this resembles “crafting” used in other games – and is a very nice option). Your storage chest at cities has a very limited amount of space to actually put your items in, but can be enlarged by purchasing additional space with the gold you collect. And about that box – the space is shared account-wide so there is no problem in transferring items between your toons (alts). Stored gold is likewise shared between all the characters on the account. Gold is picked up automatically by your champion whenever they pass by some of it – which is very comfortable.

- Blacksmithing is a very interesting addition and gives you the option to create your own select items – only a blacksmith is available in this beta, but there is bound to be another crafter added later on (blacksmith creates weapons and armor, the other one will probably be helping out with jewelry). Those magic and rare items that you don't need can be “salvaged” at the blacksmith, providing you with raw materials instead – this stuff can later be used as components for new magic equipment made by the same guy, after you pay a small (but obviously necessary) fee.

- You can't expect to be showered with items right away though – 16 hour spent playing resulted in having acquired 4 rare items, and a decent amount of magic items (unique and set items have been intentionally removed for the purposes of the beta)

- Each class uses their respective abilities in combat (barbarian swings and hits at all sort of ways, mage casts spells, demon hunter fires projectiles and so on) and I'll refer to those abilities as “skills”. And now a surprise – damage that your class can dish out depends on an actual weapon you are holding in your hands! Exactly, a mage can pump more damage with a spell while holding a sword instead of a wand :). Namely, if a sword has an average damage of 15 and a wand 12, our spells will hit for more while holding a sword. This is actually sort of a strange change, but thanks to this you can now gear any class as a MF (and not as formerly - only sorceress)

- The magic stats on items have also been reworked. Many new options have been added – ex. increase of the radius at which your character picks up gold. Enhanced damage seems to be gone from items (it's not set in stone – but this is just an observation after having picked up around 100 different kinds of weapons). Greater damage can now be achieved by simply enhancing or enchanting the weapon with a lead/main stat of a given class ex. barbarian + str, demon hunter and monk + dex, which doctor and mage + int.

- At first I was disgusted by the graphics... “the fck is this?”. Everything seemed blurred and pastel with a relatively close set camera – graphics itself aren't a blast, but fortunately, gameplay is amazing. It keeps getting better as the action develops. You can, and should, destroy as much environment as possible (furniture and decorations) and it is possible to kill your enemies by ex. making a huge chandelier fall on their unsuspecting heads or by lumbering up a wall at them. Whole thing is set in full 3D – the background is noticeably separated from the foreground. After a few hours this negative impression disappears never to return.

- Gameplay is very absorbing. In short – this thing is worth waiting for. Unlike D2, the first 20-30 levels of a new character are not a boring gehenna. From he very beginning the character is effective in combat and doesn't have to spend hours waiting for their mana to come back up. After a couple of first levels we are able to attack multiple enemies at once. There is no sitting and waiting for your resource to regenerate. What is more, every class is different – in D2, mana was an universal resource for all classes – it is no longer so in D3.

- Acquiring new skills and attributes: we do not gain and spend any points at a level-up as it was in D2. Depending on a point of view this is both good and bad. Every couple of levels your character will gain a new ability. There are 3 groups of the above: 1. Passive, these are always active (ex. increased critical strike chance for barbarians or 20% chance to avoid any damage for mages). 2. Basic attacks that help accumulate the energy needed to perform your special maneuvers. 3. Finally, these most powerful special attacks. The higher you level – the greater your range of abilities becomes, but at any given moment you are able to use 5-6 selected abilities that you picked beforehand. These can be changed at any given moment but a newly selected ability will be inactive for 15-30 seconds. Additionally, each skill can be further enhanced with runes that get unlocked as you progress, to increase or even totally change that ability's effect. Runes can also be changed freely and doing this will trigger another 15-30 second cooldown.

- Health potions stack at 99 and can be most easily activated by pressing “q” button. Each use of those will start a cooldown of approximately 1-1.5 minutes (no following healing potions can be used during this time).

- “Normal” difficulty level is relatively easy and the game is very exciting. Things will start getting spicy at higher difficulties and these are 4: normal, nightmare, hell and inferno. It is worth planning and picking a character that will be able to survive at those higher levels... This is just theoretical, but a melee fighter will have a harder time staying alive than ranged.

- Barbarians are barbarians, mage resembles sorceress, which doctor is a mix of necromancer and druid, demon hunters combine skills of assassin and amazon. Well, monks are monks :] The latter one was extremely fun to play and I am considering playing monk from the start of the full version of the game.

- Similarly to the previous version, there are mercenaries available. I've noticed their survivability is good (at a relatively “easy” normal difficulty ;]), however, they don't do much damage to monsters, but can occasionally heal you and so on.

Summing up, I have no idea why I've joined this beta – now I truly can't wait till May the 15th!!!!!

Qubade 2012-04-22 12:43