I write this to you Saturday night 4/21 and the Diablo 3 free weekend stress test beta is not available because they are rebooting servers. Error 301 abounds. That said, I did get on today with a few other Cheerful Ghost users. My thoughts on the game thus far in no particular order:

Right away I want to say the game and its user interface are extremely polished. Everything I thought to do in regard to chatting with other users in game or asking them to join my game was intuitive. After I started a chat with a person, simply hitting enter continued it. Click on a persons name sent them a private message independently. When something happened for the first time in game, it let me know what was happening and I could learn more information if I wanted. The game is polished to a detail few games are and it really shows.

My first character was a female Barbarian as I don't typically play tank and I figured for the Beta I would go with the classes I won't play when the game launches May 15th. The barb character was so much fun to play. Blizzard nailed the play style of the Barbarian such that you really feel like the biggest badass on the screen. Hitting a enemy often tosses it off the screen only to have it scurry back for you do pummel into oblivion. The Barbarian also had a special attack akin to warstomp in Warcraft III that stunned all enemies around you. I kept wanting to leap into the fray and pummel everything and the game let me do it.

One other element I really enjoyed was the destructible environments. As I neared the end playing in my second session I would smash up everything I could just for fun. Watching a tombstone fly apart is so satisfying. The only other game I have enjoyed causing so much environment destruction was Red Faction Guerrilla.

Pro-tip: If you see an old table in a dungeon with things atop it step right up... Hold shift and left click. Awwww yeah, watch it fly apart.

Pro-tip 2: When you go deeper in the dungeon you will notice elaborate candle holders and statues. Hold shift and left click. They don't make em like they used too apparently.

The class I was the most impressed with was the Witch Doctor the class I plan to play at launch. The zombie dogs and spiders were awesome to watch. The spiders used to explode after you toss them but now they swarm up and attack enemies and die out quickly. Dogs + Spiders and a pretty hefty mob count lend for a really awesome time.

I am excited to get the game and was happy they opened the beta up this weekend. Clearly they needed to allow a stress test because when I first entered the beta the lag was pretty terrible. All day today it was all but impossible to get on for hours at a time. A friend was playing on his MacBook and it crashed on him a few times. Hopefully Blizzard can work out these kinks before launch.

I don't consider the above to be a huge deal as its a stress test. I did have a few sort of quibbles about the game thus far though:

Compared to Diablo 2 the game is more accessible. I don't mean this as a slight as much as a description. No more configurable skill tree means the classes are a smidge more on rails. Whereas I don't mind that too much, its not what old D2 players or frankly I was expecting. Since I only experienced a limited start to the game my hope is the skill tree and runes really showcase some fantastic combinations later on. I wonder if this simplicity will impact replay-ability? The final game will tell in this regard.

The game kind of feels like Warcraft 3 or World of Warcraft. I thought Starcraft 2 felt a little Warcrafty as well. Its not horrible modern Blizzard games feel Warcrafty but it is something I notice. Starcraft 2 had the Ghost Tosh that was basically a Troll Shaman. He even had a similar voodoo man voice. Voodoo in space? I guess. Diablo 3 now has a Witch Doctor as well. I only say this because all modern Blizzard games seems to be tonally similar to each other now. Again, I go back and forth if this is a bad thing because the games themselves are so good. Just a note really.

The art style, whereas very beautiful didn't totally win me over the first time I was presented with it. After existing in the world for a while I found it to be eerie and beautiful. Often times the colors were a bit too dark and I found I really liked it when the game presented a more vibrant color set. For instance the Cathedral around the meteor impact crater. I mused with the people in my party that the impact was Auriel being thrown out of heaven or some such. Be cool to see how the story actually turns out. Maybe the meteor was Superman as a baby and Diablo 3 now joins the ranks of so many cross-over video games?

I like that everyone gets their own instanced drops. Often times with co-op you stop fighting to collect the loot because if you don't you often times don't get anything. Making it so everyone gets their own stuff allows you to collect after the battle. A nice touch. Its also simple to drop what you collect for other people in your group if you get something you don't need.

All in all I am very excited to play the final game. Having the game present more of a challenge and deeper character options will be welcomed. I thank Blizzard for giving everyone a chance to join the beta before launch, it was a cool thing to do.

Oh look, the servers are back. Cool.


Tungsten wrote on 04/22/2012 at 08:05pm

My thought on the skill trees: Blizzard went in talking about how the new system could make the classes much more customizible, and I get the sense that that could be a distinct possibility. They brought up the idea of a tank wizard, that with the right choices and equipment, it would be an option.

In Diablo2, every class was kind of set on rails. Sure, you could be an ice mage, a fire mage, or a storm mage, but that's about as far as it went. My barbarian could use hammers instead of swords. While it seemed to offer more choices, each choice didn't greatly affect the gameplay. (Except, maybe, for a golem necro or the druid. I did get the feeling that those "builds" were a little different) If Blizzard can open up these classes a bit and let us create vastly different builds from the same skills, I'm all for it.

Oh, and I went an pre-purchased it today.

jdodson   Admin   Post Author wrote on 04/23/2012 at 12:30am

Yeah, I hear you! If thats what we can do then I am down. Runes give me hope but I'm not really sure how that will go because the demo wasn't too telling.

Awesome you pre-ordered, looking forward to the 15th.

Tungsten wrote on 04/23/2012 at 01:44am

Ya, I'm downloading it right now. I see no reason not to.

jdodson   Admin   Post Author wrote on 04/23/2012 at 02:02am

Be ready at launch! Radtastic.

jdodson   Admin   Post Author wrote on 04/23/2012 at 04:05am

My copy is being shipped. Hopefully its not too long after the release I get it :(

Travis   Admin wrote on 04/23/2012 at 08:30pm

How is the single vs. multiplayer? I know on D2 you could do both, since not everyone had always-on internet at the time. Can you play a character in single player and take it online like before?

Tungsten wrote on 04/23/2012 at 11:04pm

It's all the same thing now. Everything is online. Sorry, no offline available. Oh, and there's PvP now, so that'll be interesting.

jdodson   Admin   Post Author wrote on 04/24/2012 at 12:22am

PVP seems to be shipping after launch.

Diablo 3 is now, basically, all online on You don't have to play with friends, but the UI is streamlined such that getting people in a game is dead simple.

Some people don't like the online only component of the game. I am fine with it as I go between Windows and Mac often and having my saves travel with me will be great. Alternatively I am not sure why they do certain things like limit your saves on to 10 though.

Tungsten wrote on 04/24/2012 at 01:25am

I stopped playing Diablo2 offline anyways, because I was more interested in building my online character.

Travis   Admin wrote on 04/24/2012 at 03:31am

This certainly isn't a showstopper for me. I still really look forward to it. Maybe they will have another open beta weekend!

jdodson   Admin   Post Author wrote on 04/24/2012 at 04:09am

I hope so but it seems somewhat doubtful as May 1st they are stopping the beta entirely for the May 15th launch. Sucks though, id love to give my female Monk another go.

jdodson   Admin   Post Author wrote on 04/24/2012 at 04:54am

I just tried logging into the beta. No dice.

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