Diablo III: First Look April 16, 2012Posted by Stormy in Uncategorized.
Aaaaaaaaamg you guys! I’ve been checking my email and my battle.net account for weeks, and it FINALLY came! I finally got my beta invite!
…to Diablo III. A game I know *absolutely nothing about* whatsoever. You might as well have handed me a nuclear reactor and told me to figure it out, because that was pretty much my level of understanding of Diablo when I got my beta invite. It’s…about killing things, right? I’m actually pretty noobish when it comes to computer gaming–I’ve played The Sims and Sim City and the like, and after spending a couple years in WoW I briefly branched out to LOTRO and RIFT, but I’m otherwise completely new to this gaming thing. I owned a classic NES that my friends played more than I did, and I’ve never owned an XBox or anything like that. I was actually a little excited to get my first taste of “real” gaming.
Then I read the text on the Diablo Launcher, the gist of which was “We invited 300,000 more people so we can stress test the servers before launch.” In other words, it doesn’t matter that I don’t know anything about Diablo, because I’m basically just a warm body they’re using to fill space to make sure the servers don’t buckle. Nice. But I’m a good sport, so I did some creative mangling of my computer’s graphics settings so I could get in, then set out to learn what I could.
I only played for about an hour, so my observations at this point are pretty much limited to the user interface and to comparing Diablo to WoW. The upshot to my Diablo experience so far is thus: the WoW development team and the Diablo team might work in the same building, but they have a lot to learn from each other.
I read an awful lot of WoW blogs and commentary, and one of the major things WoW people have asked for is more and better options for customizing the look of a character. From transmogrification to the rumored new character models, people have clamored for more and more ways to avoid looking like Tauren Resto Druid #6. Not so in Diablo. You can pick your class and you can pick your gender, but you can’t pick your nose. You get pre-designed Monk #6 and that’s it. I stuck with my usual MO of playing a female character, selected Monk because I thought it sounded like the most well-rounded and interesting, and I was off.
In Diablo, to move your character forward you hold down the left mouse button. To attack a target, you click on it with the left mouse button. Other skills can be bound to your right mouse button or to a handful of keys, but the majority of the action happens through your left mouse button. In WoW I mostly play healers and I do almost all my moving with WASD (yes, yes, I know) and all my spell selection with mouse binds, so this was a huge adjustment to see that the only way to move around was to click around with the left mouse button. This took some getting used to, but eventually the awkwardness faded and I picked it up.
The toolbar is reminiscent of WoW’s, with the notable exception that your health is displayed as a large red blob on the left side, and in the case of my monk her spirit is displayed as the large white blob on the right. One thing I’ve always given WoW credit for that I found lacking in RIFT and LOTRO is the design of ability icons. Sure, Shadow Word: Pain and Shadow Word: Death are both represented by yellow skulls, but they’re different enough that it’s quick and easy to distinguish which is which. Blizzard does seem to be continuing the trend with Diablo, so there’s that.
If you notice the little red vial icon on the toolbar, that’s your best friend: health potions. If you’re a noob like me and easily overwhelmed by groups of mobs, be sure to keep a stock of health potions handy at all times. I’m told that monks get heals eventually, but I have yet to see them. The other cool innovation is the little red health “pods” that appear when you’re fighting groups of mobs. Simply walk through one and you
The niftiest part of the interface, though, is the looting. All you have to do to collect the gold on the ground is to walk over it. You can click on it, too, but just walking on it will pick it up. Perhaps the funniest (and most useful) feature I’ve encountered so far is the occasional loot pygmy–what we would know in WoW parlance as a loot pinata. The little critters walk around dungeons laughing and throwing bits of money on the floor as you chase them, and all you have to do is follow them around in order to make money.
After a while I definitely got engrossed in the story. I have no idea what Diablo is really about or where this is going, but there is definitely an element of “What happens next!?” More importantly, Diablo does an amazing job of making you feel like you’re getting stronger and progressing as a character while you level up. You get better gear with better stats and you get to take on uglier monsters. Your gear gets shinier and more impressive as you move on, and before you know it you’re brandishing a sword that looks like a lightsaber and you’re raiding a cathedral.
Anyway, this post is long and rambly and probably not very informative, but I’m looking forward to cracking open more of the beta soon…since Blizzard doesn’t seem particularly inclined to give me a Mists of Pandaria beta invite anytime soon.