Stopping and waiting for 15 seconds every now and then for skills to come out of cooldown would probably make the game absurdly boring. I know I wouldn't stand waiting (and I'm sure you can't kill monsters in Hell/Inferno without them, so).
I believe people will make very "versatile" builds, with ways of dealing with multiple situations, instead of "optimal" ones, that you have to swap out every now and then. Specially when monster encounters are random.
These are some excellent responses. Thank you all for your time and your thoughts.
A clarification: In the OP, I don't expect people to swap 1) more than one skill or rune at a time, really, or 2) in the middle of a fight. I'm more looking at a character dusting themselves off, thinking about how it might be easier to fight a dominant, common enemy on the floor that they just got to, and changing a skill or two to help them out.
Still, I'm pretty convinced by several posts. Let me interact with them, below:
@Rozmata: Kiting a bit does work. Those who claim that 15 seconds is an "eternity" in D3 aren't quite right. I actually find the game is slower than Diablo 2, but more fun and intense. However, 15 seconds is about two fights. You don't want to be sitting or kiting for 15 seconds as Zero(pS) pointed out above. You would not want to swap powers in a fight unless it was a life and death situation that could only be survived via a swap. At which point either your build or the game at large is broken.
The biggest thing I think is wrong with my views in the OP was pointed out by many people in this thread, including:
@Terminaber: The beta is indeed a lot easier and less complex than Inferno will inevitably be. At the same time, I'm not sure huge combo play will exist; Blizzard has said they are trying to squash the kind of play where you need 6 specific abilities to get a viable character. At the same time, I think you're right: with 6 abilities, you probably can stock enough variety to make it through anything if it meets your playstyle. Switching up one ability on the fly probably isn't going to make or break your gameplay; you're probably going to want to stick with what you're skilled at rather than a clumsy ability swap that you "need."
@Mew: thanks for bringing up the gear. I had totally forgotten that you're probably going to have gear that complements your build, so swapping might nerf you a lot by causing you to have a build that isn't supported by your gear.
However, I totally agree with @NPSlow. Late-game play will probably be about kits; a handful of smaller (3 or so skills) builds that are likely modular so that they work of the same gear and playstyle. You'll probably swap between these based on challenging parts of the game and, probably more often, based on the builds and strengths of any "frequent flyer" party members (e.g., I know this Wizard, she loves her slowing build, I'm going to drop Cyclone Strike for Lashing Tail Kick and some supporting powers.)
That all being said, I think it's likely that people will not adhere to a build very much while they are leveling and unlocking content. I figure it's going to be closer to Inferno when they start building builds or kits.
I'll be a frost sorcerer, but then you get some crazy +75% to lighting damage orb. Obviously you're going to switch to lighting for most of your spells.
Something which as far as we know doesn't exist.
I can easily see adapting to your enemy becoming the most effective playstyle in inferno though.
how can you adapt to your enemy when you have to wait 15 seconds for one skill to swap? kite around and hope you dont die for 15 full seconds while the strongest monsters in the game dash/teleport/sprint strait towards you? ya thats not going to happen bud
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"once the pretty hardcore gamers we had testing inferno found it fairly difficult, we then we doubled it" -trolololol jay wilson
Well that's up to you and what character your playing or style you like to play. Some people want to start out with the best possible path to go and not feel they did something wrong later on when they can't meet the challenges as much. Myself I never looked up builds for the 1st and 2nd I just played and still managed to make it; sure I probably didn't have the optimal build but i at least had one to get me through.
But that's normal playing, if you're on hardcore you need to find what spells go with each other that best take on the challenge in front of you. Like having a slow spell that lets you gather the enemy in a tight group and allowing you to do an Area of Effect spell on them. But trial and error is what all have done, I guess probably pre-reading on spells before hand helps you set up later on.
I did not care in Diablo 2 what I "should" do with skills, attributes, which of course in the end made my game unplayable. My characters were always much less stronger than how they should be, and I hated it. Its like saying "Hey, you can do a lot of things, but if you don't do this particular thing you won't go far".
Thats why I love the skill system in Diablo 3. Now I will be able to play the game the way I want not the way I should
I've not played beta yet, but from playing with the skill calcs it seems that there's a good range of choice between single target attacks and AoE. Depending on what boss fights are like (i.e. how many minions they call in during the fight) I can imagine it would be good to switch between AoE and single target based builds before boss fights to make them go down faster.
Eventually I'm sure people will settle with skills they like most for whatever reason and stick with a particular build for a while. Maybe just swapping out one skill for a change/variation now and again. Everyone will play it differently and have their own style and preferred method though, that's for sure. That's the beauty of the new fully customisable system - it's hard for there to be a wrong way!
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"It takes a man with real heart...to make beauty out of the stuff that makes us weep." - Clive Barker