After playing the open beta this past weekend, here’s a few things you can expect from the long-awaited addition to Blizzard’s Diablo series.
1. Your characters are powerful… like real powerful.
…at least, in Act 1. Having put about 45 minutes into each character during the beta, I noticed a refreshing trait in the RPG. Any character you choose has some devastating attacks in the beginning of the game, and it doesn’t tarnish the appeal of the end-game abilities either. In the previous installment as well as other RPG’s, it seems that the low level skills lack their original flair after your character is playing with the big boys/girls. But in Diablo III, each attack seems to be a justice-fueled blow to the forces of hell, and that’s pretty cool.
2. Runes make you evaluate and re-evaluate your build.
“Sure, Bash is pretty sweet. But I really wanna dominate more than one enemy at a time”, you might say. Well, a few levels into your fledgling fighter, you’ll acquire moves that can attack multiple enemies at once. Barbarians cleave, Wizards use Arcane Orb, Witch Doctors use Plague of Toads, etc. However, after a half an hour of spamming the same move, some players might start to drum their fingers on their desk wanting more. It’s times like this where Runes really shine. Runes alter your skills in various ways, often granting your attacks more damage, lowering mana/energy cost, or spreading them out into an AOE. Before you reach level 10, your character unlocks a Rune for their first primary ability. This forces heroes to re-evaluate what moves are best for their survival, taking down a burly boss, or chopping through feeble swarms as quickly as possible. Just when you unlock your next ability, you get a rune for your previous one! It keeps even the primary abilities interesting and viable.
3. Diablo III seems to keep lore a top priority.
Throughout the journey through Sanctuary, you’ll encounter various quests, both static and random. Of course, if you’ve spent some time in the first two games of the series, you’re bound to see Deckard Cain, once again serving as the game’s loremaster. Often, Deckard Cain has a significant role in the plot, and this time is no different, as players are tasked to rescue him in the beta. Despite the re-hashing of Cain in distress, it seems that Blizzard has made a conscious effort to make the new randomized quests more than just the hunt and gather type. While finishing randomized quests, players will often acquire journals or scriptures that offer a deep and dark background to a deep and dark game.
4. It emphasizes what made Diablo II successful.
I meandered through the beta at times, simply because I was enjoying myself. I’d venture out, kill a few dozen hellspawns in a gothic crypt or hack and slash through a dank forest, and then delve into the lore and social aspects of the game. The atmosphere is familiar and fresh at the same time. One can only infer so much from a beta, but the game seems like it has all the elements of another timeless entry.