Monday, April 23, 2012

A Brief Stint in Sanctuary

I know I have had a long hiatus, but I have something new to write about.

I just finished the Diablo 3 Open Beta.  I originally planned to play the classes I knew I was going to like.  After I finished the Barbarian run, I decided to try and finish the Beta with each Class if I had the time.  Thankfully I was able to accomplish this feat.  Here's my writeup of each of the classes from my point of view.  Each class played exactly as I expected. 

The Classes:
1.  Barbarian:  I spent the most time on this class.  I explored every part of the Beta, even going back to fill in the Fog of War after I found the way to progress.  I had the most fun playing this class.  He's very simple.  If there's an enemy, run up and kill it.  Good weapons=good times.

2.  Witch Doctor:  I originally intended to ignore this class.  I never liked the Necromancer in Diablo2.  I couldn't exactly master the indirect and abstract play style.  The mongrels you summon sometimes go down hallways you don't mean for them to go to.  The pets of the WitchDoctor are great until you get to a Boss.  The Skeleton King just AOE'd the Mongrels down each of the 3 times I summoned them.  Thankfully I had Poison Darts and Firebats to finish the fight.  The same thing happened to my Necro in D2.  Skels and Golems did great until I got to a real boss, then they got popped nearly instantly.  I would definitely recommend this class play with others.

3.  Monk:  This is the second class I was going to ignore.  It is another melee fighter.  His attacks seemed very powerful when fighting all the NPC's.  The sound effects were really good.  I didn't get a chance to see a powerful AOE ability.  He had a directed cone attack in his Roundhouse kick.  He had an ability called Tempest Charge which was cool, but did little damage.  The best use I found for Tempest Charge was during a MiniBoss fight, activate Tempest Charge and run circles around the MiniBoss.  Unfortunately, this did not work so well against the Skeleton King.  His punches and kicks weren't exactly powerful.  I had to take a few health potions and run away a lot.  It took so long to kill the Skeleton King, I got the Instant Karma achievement.  The Skeleton King summoned Skeletons, then did his AOE attack and killed them.  This class might need others to play with.

4.  Wizard:  Boom.  This class does tremendous single target and AOE damage.  I didn't use Shock Pulse that much.  I tried it and unless something was standing in front of you, don't expect to hit anything right away.  Shock Pulse is D1 and D2's charged bolt.  Random electricity shooting around maybe hitting something you need.  This class played like you think it does.  Can kill a lot of stuff, can't take hits too much.  Run from boss, blast it, repeat.

5.  Demon Hunter: Line of sight, what's that?  Seriously, this class was the easiest to play.  I used the default Hungering Arrow through the entire Beta.  This thing will actually seek out nearby NPC's to hit.  So you can shoot it down hallways and around corners.  With the Rune to increase it's piercing chance to 30% I could clear out small groups pretty easily.  I didn't find the Caltrops trap to be useful until I got Vault.  The Skeleton King was most easily killed by the Demon Hunter.  I placed the crown on his head and while the animation played I backed up and laid down some Caltrops.  While the Skeleton King slowly walked towards me, I held down the Right Mouse button and let RapidFire do it's magic.  I knocked down a little over a third of the Skeleton Kings health.  I used Hungering Arrow to allow Hatred to build up then repeated the Caltrops+Rapid Fire combo.  This class was super easy and powerful to play.  I did the beta in the shortest amount of time with this one.  1 hour 41 minutes. 

Other Features:
The only regret I had was I wish I played an Open Game.  You can create an Open Public game and anyone can join you.  It seems there were over 250k such games Sunday night. 

The Auction House wasn't enabled, so I didn't get a chance to look at that.

The shared stash and gold pools was nice.  If this feature didn't exist, I don't think the next feature could be utilized fully.

The Artisan.  It takes quite a lot of gold to level this guy up.  But once he is leveled up, it is done for all the characters.  So alternate characters will get a good head start on their run through.  The Artisan makes good gear, equal to Blue Drops.  I didn't see him make any named items.

Final Thoughts:
I like many of the changes this game has made.  I didn't like picking Stat choices or Skills in D2.  Probably because I wasn't very good at it.  If I didn't put enough points into Vitality early, in later levels I couldn't progress as easily.  Having D3 assign stat points is no different than WoW assigning them.  In Beta, WoW required users to assign stat points too.  Thankfully they changed that system to one that does it automatically. 

Linking Skills to weapon damage is a bit iffy.  While this allows for scaling, I can clearly see the Real Money Auction House overshadowing this change.

While I find the "Online Only" feature of Diablo3 to be a bit off-puting, I can see the advantages of it.  If none of my friends are on, I can take a Witch Doctor or Monk into an open game and make some progress.

The graphics are great and so is the sound. 

The only question remaining is, is this game worth $60?  Should I buy a game based on the name and the company?

The only friends that I know that might play it, have paid for the WoW Annual Pass and are thus getting the game for "free".  My wife and I cancelled our WoW accounts to get ready for another baby so I have to think about that $60.  I had a favorible time in the Beta, but is it $60 favorable?

Things to Ponder.

PS: I do have to point out that any "Sales" numbers for Diablo3 will be skewed since it is bundled with a purchase of the WoW Annual Pass.

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