Diablo III Beta First Impressions

Well, the Diablo III Open Beta has arrived!!! Oh the long wait of "When is this thing actually going to be here so I can play" is partially over. Yes, partially. At the moment, I'm not sure which game took longer to come out with a part 3. Doom or Diablo? Hmmm... Anyways, I recently played the open beta of Diablo III. Does this game have all of the promise that we have all come to expect from the Blizzard powerhouse? Let's check it out!

So, you first start off by signing into Battlenet, which is now the standard for Blizzard's games since Starcrat II, and you have 5 classes to choose from. There is the Barbarian, Wizard, Witch Doctor, Monk, and Demon Hunter (isn't that what Illidan was in Warcraft? ^_^) I usually go Barbarian or Paladin when I play Diablo II, so I decided to mix it up a bit. I chose the Monk! As you're selecting your character, you are given the option of making them Male or Female. This is a new option that was incorporated very well. The character is fully rendered in 3D and is surprisingly tall for a game that uses a top down view camera. After selecting my character I was tossed into the immense world of Diablo! Upon the first couple minutes of play, I noticed that there is only one movement speed for your character. Apparently, Blizzard decided to get rid of the run option and just have everyone jog at a steady speed. I have to say that I like that much better. No worrying about a stamina bar to run anymore. This makes things, at least for me, a lot more user friendly. I don't have to stop in between fights just because my character is tired. The combat is a bit more fleshed out as well, at least from what I saw of the Monk. It seems to play like a much more advanced version of Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance. The monk has a 3 hit basic combo when you left click the mouse and time your clicks correctly. This makes close range combat seem a lot more exciting than I was expecting. So right off the bat, this game seems like a very good upgrade. Then I started to look with more detail at everything in this world. The world layout isn't so open all of the time like in Diablo II. There are some narrow paths in the normal overworld. This actually helps to make the backgrounds and level design seem more realistic. No more open land for no reason but in a more modest fashion.

Now, there are still the classic menu systems that we all love about the Diablo series still in tact. You still press "I" for your inventory and "S" for skills. There are still slot boxes for your items and weapons, however, they seem to take up less space. I've only seen weapons and armor take up a maximum of 2 vertical boxes. That might be only because I was using the Monk, but regardless, they don't take 4 boxes for a simple armor piece. As you progress further you unlock skills for your character. This is a bit different from the earlier games because you are no longer sorting skill points. After you unlock a skill, you have the option of choosing it to be on the corresponding key, or not at all. Right mouse click has a different set of skills than your left mouse click. This is a great choice on behalf of Blizzard. The first skill that I received for the Monk knocks enemies back off of you. So, you can actually interrupt an enemy's attack of done correctly and leave them too far away to immediately attack. I was able to perform part of the 3 hit combo and then use the knock back move to avoid being hit by an enemy. Just be mindful that using the knock back move uses Spirit Energy. Spirit Energy, for the Monk, is slowly generated by using his normal left click attacks. His Attacks do take up a certain amount of Spirit Energy, but he still receives a bit to use for other attacks. So what happens when you run out of Spirit Energy? Well, for the Monk, he starts to use his weapon like a Barbarian would until he gains enough Spirit Energy. Normally, the Monk is using Shaolin style attacks that are more punches and kicks than anything else.

One thing that I greatly appreciated was the fact that you no longer need to use Scolls of Town Portal anymore. You just perform a portal spell and poof, you're back in town. No more unnecessary scrolls taking up space in the ol' inventory! So, it seems like Blizzard has really taken the whole "Convenience" factor into a lot of consideration. With all of these new features and convenience, does the audio work well with it? You're damn right! The music highly resembles that of Diablo II but in a more newer, up to date, way. There is definitely more ambiance in the soundtrack as well which adds a lot more to the atmosphere of the world. Like, Diablo II, Diablo III has a lot of voice acting for your NPC interactions. This enables you to get more absorbed into the story and world more than the previous titles. So, looking at this game and all that it has added to this beloved series, I'd say that it's definitely bringing sexy back! (Yea!) This game is looking like it's going to be the definitive addiction for the Diablo fans of the old and new fans everywhere. I wouldn't even be surprised if we saw another World of Warcraft account drop once this game Launches in May. I can definitely see myself playing this installment much more than I ever played the previous titles. Now, being that this is a beta, we don't know if this was a beta that was put together a month ago or 6 months ago. There can be a lot of changes, or just minor tweaks. Either way, I highly recommend downloading this beta and checking it out for yourself and experiencing this awesome Beta Chapter! Get ready for Diablo III!!!

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