Blizzard hosted Diablo III open beta last week.
They opened up to do stress testing on their servers; allowing a limited beta for the weekend of April 20-22. I played through two and half times, trying out a few of the different classes. I started my first game as the wizard, which I later regretted. Let me tell you why.
I hardly remember the bad old days of Diablo II, I was in junior high school then. The most recent Diablo style RPG I played was Titan Quest. I actually really liked that game. The levels were well done, the different varieties of armor, the bosses were challenging but not impossible. It was enough like Diablo to lure me in and not so much of a clone that it left a horrible taste in my mouth. I played through it specializing as a barbarian, it was pretty awesome. He could grow to 30 feet tall and charge opponents at full sprint using a shield smash. Some enemies were troublesome, but beating them up face to face was awesome.
Then my girlfiend started playing as a wizard lady, there was no contest at all. The wizard in that game was so overpowered in comparison to the barbarian that I had no way to keep up. As the barbarian, even with tough armor, I had to take health potions like a frat kid downs keystone light. The wizard wench just ice sharted all over the place and the baddies fell like flies. It was hardly even that costly to mana. I tried to branch out my warrior class dude to have some magic but it really didn’t work out too well. It’s hard to spread out skills too broadly, the gameplay becomes incrementally harder and having a bunch of basic skills just doesn’t workout. This is true in any class-less character game; Titan Quest, also the whole Skyrim and Elder Scrolls ilk. The difference with Diablo III is that the class system is very rigid. If you’re a monk you can’t use weapons other than fist enhancers. You unlock enhancements and can use any of them, but just not all at once. The amount of customization seemed week for early characters, but who knows what higher level players would be able to pick.
So I started play as a wizard. I got tired of it really fast. Running away and shooting a beam just seemed downright cowardly, and the damage inflicted was hardly competitive with other classes. It might just be an early game mechanic. Higher level wizards probably rock, but so far the class was just cramping my style. I toyed with the witch doctor, and eventually did a play though with him; which wasn’t terrible, just still not my cup of tea. My girlfriend still dug playing the wizard woman, she even took the game away from me and played it through before I did. I should probably preface you guys, my girlfriend’s dad was a developer at Sierra for Hellfire and my girlfriend’s voice (at age 6) was added into the game as an Easter Egg quest. So she’s really into Diablo and that style of RPG; but as soon as the camera can rotate she gets lost and confused like most non-gamers. It’s simultaneously awesome and hilarious.
So I started a barbarian character, I was sick of this running around hocus pocus crap. I don’t know why the male barbarian looks like he’s a 300 year old silverback gorilla, but its awesome in a Kung-Fu hair type of way. Anyway, the barbarian moves are awesome; it actually incentavizes taking on as many opponents at once as possible. Rather than having mana or endurance, the barbarian has a Fury level. It naturally is empty, but as soon as you start hitting opponents it goes up. Then you spend the energy on special moves (such as a huge hammer blow that stuns opponents.) Combining the stun move with the weapon swing that takes down multiple opponents makes for some really aggressive gameplay. And I like that, I played rugby. I don’t want to run around waiting for my mana to build back; I want to launch head first into battle shouting expletives and getting a kill streak. I didn’t play the monk, but he has a similar style. Yet, the barbarian will always be my first choice, raw power, steel and blood. You know the drill.
Plus, thanks to the whole Conan mythos, the Barbarian class will ALWAYS be the most awesome. I think we all know what’s best in life…