Diablo III Beta

Although the Diablo III Beta was made available on Friday, we weren’t able to get in right away.  Unsurprisingly, there was rather a lot of interest in the game, and Blizzard had to limit the number of concurrent logins while dealing with various server and login issues.

The beta contained the first four chapters of Act 1: after defending the town against the rising dead, players go to the Cathedral to find out what happened to Deckard Cain, go in search of the mad King Leoric’s crown, and then put an end to the Skeleton King and free the land from his army of the dead!

All five classes were available to choose from, though you could only level each up to level 13 during the beta.

I tried the Demon Hunter class first, and as I couldn’t create my own game due to timeouts, I joined a public game.  The other players were rushing through the game, which would have been fine if I’d already seen the content.. but I like to explore, and after completing the first two chapters of Act 1, I bailed and joined a friend instead.

For the Demon Hunter, Primary attacks generate Hatred, which you need to build up in order to use the Secondary attacks.  The additional moves here are Defensive, Hunting, Devices and Archery (bound to keys 1-4); and these use Discipline, which regenerates slowly over time.

Entangling Shot was an early favourite, chaining two enemies together, then four once I’d got the Chain Gang rune.  I also quite liked Vault, a Hunting move.. combined with Smoke Screen this was very good for getting out of trouble 🙂

We were surprised to find the game even better than we’d expected.. and we had expected a lot!  Combat is great fun, the graphics look better than I thought they had in the last screenshots I’d seen, the locations are full of details, and the spell effects are fantastic!  Even Tim is now sold on the game, having previously not been all that interested.

For a second playthrough, I tried the Wizard.  The Wizard’s primary attacks are all Signature spells, and free to cast.. secondary attacks cost Arcane Power, which is also used for the Defensive, Force, Conjuration and Mastery abilities.  Arcane Power regenerates quickly.. but the more powerful spells have cooldowns, so there’ll be no hammering of the same spell here!

The spells didn’t feel very powerful to begin with and I kept misjudging Shock Pulse’s range.. this spell is a medium range rather than the longer range I kept expecting.  Frost Nova was very good for close combat, and I loved Arcane Orb.. for the visual impact as much as the damage to the target and all around it.

I was very impressed with the detail again here.. and we noticed when I equipped an Orb that it was visible in my character’s hand!

During our second playthrough we also noticed that some of the small instances were randomised so they were never in the same place on the map.. I think this is great, as it’ll mean each playthrough will feel just a little bit different.

We were also suspicious about the number of larger enemies appearing towards the end of our run.. it seems that the higher your level, the more enemies you’ll face!  A friend checked this out with a levelled up Barbarian in the first chapter, and was able to get a 98 monster massacre!  Want to stomp through the game once you’ve finished?  No problem.. and it won’t be boring either, as you’ll be swamped with enemies! 😀

I managed a quick try of the Barbarian on Monday morning.. he felt and sounded powerful, with enemies’ bodies going flying in all directions!

The Barbarian’s Resource is Fury.  Fury increases during combat, being generated by primary attacks as well as when they take damage.  Additional moves here are Defensive, Might, Tactics and Rage: I didn’t get as far as using any of these but saw my friend using Leap to get into the middle of a pack, and Ancient Spear to haul enemies back towards him.

I only wished I’d had more time to play this class.. as well as trying out the Witch Doctor and Monk.  Roll on the 15th May 😉

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