Apr 29, 2012
Hello my friend; stay awhile, and listen!
I see you’ve been enticed by the picture above, yes? Is your mouse finger itching for some much-needed clicking? Is your heart racing in intense anticipation from what lurks from the darkness? Alas, I cannot sate your burning desire, but I can only give you a glimpse of what’s to come.
Ah, how foolish of me for not introducing myself earlier; my name is Kai, and I am here as a guest writer for Otakultura. The Mistress was kind enough to ask me to share my intimate knowledge of the Diablo game series, particularly the upcoming and highly anticipated 3rd part of the series.
So now, join me after a break, as I talk about the Diablo 3 Open Beta Weekend.
The 3rd installment of the Diablo series is set 20 years after the the three Prime Evils, Mephisto, Baal and Diablo wandered the world of Sanctuary in a vicious campaign to subdue the world into unholy slavery. With the Worldstone corrupted by Baal, and immediately destroyed by Tyrael, the archangel warned the denizens of Sanctuary to prepare for the incoming invasion of Hell’s forces. Yet, for some reason, it never came. All save one of the previous heroes of Diablo 2 have gone mad from their horrifying experience from battling the Prime Evils directly, and now the torch has been passed on to the younger generation to fight the hordes of demons and undead.
So where do I start my review of the beta? Let’s run down the little details, shall we?
Sound – the sound effects of the game is incredible. Everything has weight to it, from falling chandeliers to the cracking of old, splintering wood. A good example for this is exploring tombs and crypts. The sounds of blowing tombstones apart and hear chunks of granite thudding onto the ground is exceptional. Ice sounded and felt like ice, electric attacks had that distinct static crispness, and the sound of fire burning through enemies was as almost as the real deal.
And yes, the ‘flipping’ noise of items being tossed on the ground is the same as ever.
Music – if you’re a Diablo fan since the first game was released (like me), it’s nice to hear the familiar background music of Tristram, be it the new town or the old. The music effects reminded me of the synthesized screams of the dungeons way back in Diablo 1.
Graphics – this is a very huge improvement from the first 2 Diablo games. Art direction is great, and it has that solid gothic, dark and dank, nightmarish feel. Even with a not-so-powerhouse video card that I use (a Radeon HD4650 1GB DDR3 model), the game runs smooth. This maybe because I simply used the default graphics setting that the game defaulted to me (at 720p and medium settings with anti-aliasing), but particle and spell effects are sharp and gorgeous just the same.
Game System – ah, this one detail I will go deep into discussion. Or rather, list down the real highlights of the game. From here I will make another mini-list:
There are five character classes to choose from. And a first for the series, you can choose either gender for each character class. They are:
Returning from Diablo 2 is the Barbarian. Check out her, uh….axe.
The Demon Hunter. A fast and agile character that specializes on ranged attacks.
The Monk, which their holy warrior counterpart for this series.
The Witch Doctor. This voodoo spellcaster summons zombies of their own and hexes their enemies.
Finally the Wizard – not related to the wizard of the first Diablo game, yet deals ice, fire, and arcane magic.
Stat and skill point system has been replaced with a simpler, more-manageable skill system. Gone are the days of point distribution for strength, vitality, and such. For each level up, your character of choice gets a bonus improvement that is automatically determined and distributed by the game. This type of system is also used by World of Warcraft, thus for stat customization, Diablo 3 is now gear-oriented when it comes to improving your hero’s stats.
In light of this system, skills are now unlocked and available at certain level caps. Skills are now categorized into 2 main types: the mouse skills, which are called primary and secondary attack skills, and the action bar skills, which are numbered 1 to 4, corresponding to the keyboard layout.
Potions are not that much of importance in the game anymore, though you can still get potions from either shops or as monster/chest loots. Using a potion now has a cooldown time of 30 seconds or so, but during gameplay, you will be able to pick up health orbs from slain enemies.
New resource – the mana orb, which we usually see opposite of the health orb, is now replaced with character-specific resource orb. for the barbarian it is the rage orb, spirit orb for monk, mana for witch doctor, arcane power for the wizard. For the Demon Hunter, as shown below, it is halved into two, namely the hatred and discipline resources. this new resource orb can either replenish itself in time, or generated when attacking enemies or taking damage.
Town portal scrolls are now replaced with an innate town portal skill, and it has a casting time of 5 to 10 seconds or so.
Magical items (written in blue) are very common now in Diablo 3. also, a big plus is that all magical items that are looted in-game are identified. But sadly, rare items (lettered yellow and other color) are marked with a ? in the beta, and Cain does not offer to identify items yet.
The hireling system is now replaced with a simpler follower system. These followers are connected to the storyline (as the Templar was saved in the cathedral before he joins you), but unfortunately in a multiplayer game, they will leave you when you are in a party. as shown in the example below, weapons are the only equipment improvements needed (in the case of the Templar, a spear and shield), and there are available skills at certain levels. Do note, however, that you can only choose one skill for your follower to learn per level requirement.
Also new to Diablo 3 are the artisans. In the beta game, the blacksmith crafts magical equipment for you and your follower to use. In order to craft, you will need special ingredients that can only come from disassembling magical and rare items. the salvage function in the artisan window lets you disassemble an item of your choice. Artisans can increase levels as well by investing gold for their training. As you train the artisan, more craftable items are unlocked.
Some side-quest dungeons (especially with lower levels) now have a teleporter that you can activate in order to exit the dungeon. This saves a lot of time from backtracking and such.
When you die in a multiplayer game, you can either resurrect from a checkpoint, or let your partymates resurrect you. For the latter option, It takes about 10 to 15 seconds to revive a player, so it’s a big consideration especially in a big fight. Also, if you choose to resurrect from a checkpoint, remember that some areas in a multiplayer game are considered instanced dungeons, and you cannot rejoin your partymate(s).
Diablo 3 now has a journal where in-game lore is stored. Entries such as from NPCs’ journals, from the dungeons, and even monster bestiary can be read here. this feature is for those who like to read in-depth knowledge of the game itself.
So what was my personal experience with the open beta weekend? Let me tell you a story about it then. I chose the Demon Hunter class for the beta, because I wanted to know if the hype about that character class lives up to the rumors. Not to mention I’m a big fan of ranged attacks. And no, I’m not a particular magic-user-person. Yes, I suck at using mages and such.
And so I begin my journey into New Tristram. Honestly, why the had the balls to build a village near a demon-infested cathedral, I’ll never understand.
Basically the objective of the open beta was to kill the Skeleton King. But that doesn’t mean I can’t explore a bit around town and a few familiar places.
So enough dilly-dallying in town. Now it was crunch time in the Cathedral. And lo and behold. Skel-King’s ghost haunts the place once again. Not like he learned anything, that crazy b-tard.
And so while going deeper into the Cathedral, I got sidetracked into one of the dungeons, and there was this side-quest called the “Soul Jar”. I activated it, and suddenly it becomes like a scene from The Walking Dead, instead of zombies, hordes of skeletons are coming out towards you. You just have to survive for a certain amount of time to complete this mini-quest.
And after that, I finally reached the crypt of the
Lich Skeleton King. Not before he taunts us with his laughter.
And when we finally reach his throne room, we were greeted by this sight.
Hardly the Skeleton King I
killed so many times once fought during Diablo 1. His mace is so oversized, the macehead is as big as a human head’s noggin’. And the whole thing is like, as tall as he is. Or was. Oh forget it.
Well, Cain did say that in order to have a mano-a-mano with
Arthas Leoric, the crown should be placed onto his head. Which we did. And Skel-King wasn’t all too happy about it, either.
The battle was rough, fierce and I had to run circles because the big guy’s teleporting all over the place. Not to mention summoning his skeleton pansies.
Sweet success! I’ve managed to defeat the Skeleton King, grab his
balls loots, and get a hefty sum of experience points. And also this:
All in all, the beta was enjoyable. Short, yes…but that’s how Blizzard rolls. With much anticipation for the real deal, my mouse-clicking finger is twitching in delight as I type this.
So to anyone who’s reading this, and planning to join in the battle against Hell’s forces, I’ll be seeing you online around the end of May or so.
Diablo 3 comes out on the 15th of May, either as retail copy or thru digital download.
This is Kai, and have a good day!
PostScript: Kai is one of our newest writers for Otakultura! Watch out for more of his Playkultur articles soon! strong/p