The Average Gamer

Diablo 3 Beta Impressions

Now you’d have to be living under a rock to have not heard that Blizzard will soon be launching Diablo 3 and currently they have the beta running. With the legacy that is Diablo the question is can Blizzard improve or ruin it? I’ve just completed the first act and, rather than tell you what Diablo is, I’m going to give you my opinion of my brief time in game.

First impressions matter and here Diablo 3 does not disappoint. Everything about this game shows a new, improved Diablo using modern technology without ruining the heritage. If you’ve ever played the originals, you wouldn’t mistake this game for anything else.

While I’m sure most people on the beta are veterans at Diablo, it is clear that Blizzard want to make the game accessible to new people. There are great little tool tips that appear, highlighting what you need to look at to continue with the game. The controls are still very much in traditional Diablo style with mouse clicks destined to rule you.

I’ll be honest, I found it hard to break the MMO habit of a lifetime and found myself continuously hitting S to move backwards, causing the skills tab to appear instead. By the end of my session I wasn’t sure if it was note-taking or clicking that caused my hand to hurt. Then there is the difficulty setting of normal that has caused a little controversy on the forums. At first it seemed too easy, however close to the end of the beta a few of the mini-bosses almost had my guts for garters. I really think the game is well-balanced but without further higher levels, it’s pretty hard to say how it will play out.

The game is clearly designed to be fast-paced, featuring tons of little touches to help keep you moving and to ensure it doesn’t dissolve into a boring dungeon grind. As an example, you get these companion scrolls as drops. These create a tiny little creature that goes around collecting gold for you. Then there are the health drops. These appear in two forms; the normal potion you pick up and use at will but there are also ones that automatically heal you (and your hero). Very handy if you decide to wade into vast waves of mobs without forward planning. Yes, I’ve done this a few times and only made it out alive thanks to these automatic healing drops.

Dungeon crawlers have always been an inventory logistical nightmare, leaving you four floors down with bags full before an über item drops. Originally, you would have to sacrifice something from your inventory. Diablo 3 solves the problem by allowing you to sell or deconstruct items straight out of your inventory screen. It doesn’t let you access the player-supplied Auction House but even so, managing inventory on the fly is a great feature. I used it extensively instead of the returning to the town vendors.

Is it good? In a word, yes. The graphics, interface and quest lines all scream “Diablo!” yet without looking 15 years old. There’s a nice range of classes without causing over complication. Some might bemoan the fact you can’t (currently?) customize your toon. Personally I think it’s better this way. You get straight into the action without having to spend ages picking things. There’s only one little niggle. Does every game have to have achievements?

So how is the beta progressing? It’s early days yet. There’s no choice to change difficulty, no cinematics and no PvP, however the first act features a nice quest line. I actually did pay attention and while it’s not an epic it still ties everything nicely together. I’m hoping there are more acts to come. Until then, I’m off to try the Wizard class.