Diablo III Beta: Wizard

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I was able to pick up a Beta code at PAXEast for Diablo III after playing for a bit in the NVIDIA Free Play Area on Saturday.  The line for the free play area was enormous with nearly every single person wanting to play Diablo III.  I have not played the predecessors nor am I much for the godview type games and click to move interface.  I don’t have criticisms of them I just don’t particularly gravitate toward those games much.

So given the line was made up of mostly groups of 2-6 people wanting to play Diablo together when a single seat opened up they asked me if I wanted to jump into the game since no one was waiting for one seat.  I was mostly finished with the game I was on so I went over.

The amount of time we got to play was…..minimal and I cannot imagine being sold on the game in that amount of time but we got beta codes.

So knowing nothing about the game in general I jumped into the beta for the last two nights as a Wizard. So as you read this remember I am not a long time player of the Diablo franchise and I did not read the website before jumping into play.

The Interface

The intro to the game is done very well for the average gamer.  I did not find it too slow nor too rushed. I learned the basics of movement, looting, attacking and talking to NPCs in about 1min perhaps less.  I find once you get past these basics most gamers are more patient with other interfaces because they can move and explore.  It basically opens up all of your content even if your skills and advancement interface is super complicated.

At this point I felt fairly powerful (one of my big concerns in a game) even thought I was just level 1 with spells just above making the candles flicker.  You have your first interaction with an NPC, get a quest and are introduced to the map even though its been sitting there the whole time.  Now you have your wits about you and your ready to explore and basically there is little more you need to know about except skill advancement and runes.

To sum up the interfaces I feel like in 1-3  minutes of playing I knew the basic interface.  I never really understood runes but I think that is because the content of the beta ends around level 10 and you just don’t have many runes by then.  What are runes?  They seem to increase your abilities in some way.  Perhaps if I play though again as another class I will understand how they work better but it wasn’t needed to perform basic play.

One of the things I really liked about the interface is that at the bottom of most windows there was a picture of a mouse with a right or left click highlighted showing you exactly which button would do the thing you were most looking to do.  In every game there is some standard and although lots of players are familiar with the game I was not and this was a welcomed thing to see before I sold something I meant to equip or whatever. Thanks for that.

 

 

Onto battle!

Clicking on the low level bad guys is quite satisfying.  Most of the time a single attack kills the creature and when you just start playing I feel like there is a significant need for a player to feel like the run of the mill bad guys are nothing to them.  I definitely got that feeling and groups of 2-3 of the normal mobs seemed to be easy to take out and made me feel like I could take on more and so of course I rushed off to do just that.   As the skills progressed I certainly felt as though I was forced to choose a method of fight style.  I was limited to only so many abilities active at once and although that might change as you progress (or leave beta) it made me feel just a tiny bit forced to fight a certain way.

What do I mean?

Early on I had two skills and both hit a single enemy at a distance (Primary: Magic Missile Secondary: Ray of Frost).  It was nice but a few times I got mobbed and I thought that I really could use an area of effect (AoE) skill of some kind.  Bam! Next level there was an area of effect spell (Primary: Shock Pulse) and I was quite happy.  However it took the place of one of my ranged spells, my primary damage Magic Missile.  I felt conflicted but went along with the upgrade.  It was OK but non-optimal. Because Shock Pulse was AoE but centered on myself I could own things piling on me but I couldn’t really get things before they hit me a few times even if I hit them with Ray of Frost to slow them down.  There were huge bloated guys that always got right up on top of me and because I suck at the click to move interface I often ended up getting roughed up by their intestinal worms or whatever they were.   Anyway I mention all that just to say that Battle is cool, it makes you feel powerful but be sure when you are choosing powers you understand the choices you are making.  The totally cool thing? You can change your setup anytime you want provided the skill is not in cooldown.  Thanks for that!

Loot

I always have comments about treasure drops and loot so don’t take this too hard and keep in mind as a DM I nearly never used loot tables.  I really hated when something dropped that was of absolutely no use to anyone in the party.

The loot overall was fantastic. Lots of magic stuff at low level with small bonuses that I could agonize over for no reason at all.  Lots of goodies.  I did on several trips out to massacre the undead run out of space and had to drop the really crappy gear as I simply didn’t want to make trips back to town to sell junk but you certainly could do that.  In hindsight when I run through the Beta again I wont sell any of my magic gear as only magic gear can be deconstructed to craft which is why this particular review wont cover crafting much at all.  You will get plenty of loot but that loot doesn’t seem to sell for much and some of the items in beta are pretty pricey given your income.  I am not sure why but there it is you simply cannot buy everything you want even if you wipe out the whole beta.  Obviously you do not need all the goodies but everyone wants them.

Oh…one last thing.  I never saw a tool-tip or anything about the Stash in town.  The stash seems to be a chest that you can use for personal storage or so I assume.  I don’t think that was made very clear in the beta.   I just guessed I could use it I am sure right now someone is taking that weird scythe looking thing I found that was demon hunter only.  Oh well…one last thing there is a little mob that runs away from you.  No idea what he is but if you beat the snot out of him he keeps dropping gold and goodies.  If you let him he will teleport away…..so do yourself a favor and shake him down for all he is worth.

Travel

I cannot say enough about the ease of travel.  Having easy teleport locations and ways of quickly getting out of the end of a dungeon was a great relief once i realized how long it was going to take to get back to town I was a bit daunted and then I found a rune that would take me to the entrance of the dungeon I was in and from there it was easy to find a teleport point.  Thank you so much for this.

 

Crafting

I cannot really say much about the crafting.  There is really the shortest of introductions to crafting and you probably will only be able to craft a small handful of items in your first run in the beta.  So I am not going to really critique crafting in this article.  What I saw of crafting in the beta seemed easy to understand but I cannot speak to progress or difficulty.

Conclusion:

Even not being a Diablo enthusiast I enjoyed the beta enough to want to play through as another class.  I wrote this wanting to give you a sense of the game without giving away any storyline at all and I hope I gave you the sense that the game is fun and really makes you feel like a powerful adventurer.  The interface is solid and the combat is fun even if you are an idiot  like me and cannot negotiate click to move interfaces. The beta is not hard and shouldn’t take you long at all.  I recommend checking it out if you find yourself with a beta access and certainly worth it when it comes out to give it a try.

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