It is becoming clear that 2012 will be a Diablo III year. It has come to our attention that there is a new Diablo III novel (besides the Diablo III: Book of Cain) in the works, scheduled for a March 27 2012 release. This has been revealed to us by the listing of the item on Amazon.com for preorder.
The book's title has not been revealed, which makes me think that it might have been too big of a spoiler. Another hint at the book's contents is that since Diablo III is now scheduled for an early 2012 release, it would make sense that this book builds up on the story of Diablo III. I doubt the release date in March has anything to do with Diablo III's release date, since it is probable that the game itself will be released earlier than that.
The book will be written by Nate Kenyon, who wrote the recent Starcraft II book StarCraft: Ghost--Spectres, which was released this week. He has written a lot of horror literature, so would it be a far stretch that we can expect a horror-themed Diablo III book?
This week, we want to know how you feel about Diablo III's randomization. We all know by now that there are certain parts of the game with no randomization. Things like the outlaying environment as well as certain areas in dungeons. However, this does not mean that there is no randomization in Diablo III. In fact, there is quite a bit of randomization in the game and there is even randomization with the randomized areas. With all of that said and from what you have seen and heard, how do you feel about the randomization in Diablo III.
In our previous poll we asked how you guys felt about Blizzard delaying the game until 2012. Half of the voters were upset by the delay but over 25% were okay waiting if it meant that the game was going to be fully polished.
With Closed Beta in full swing and Blizzcon coming within a month, we will be discussing further experiences of playing Diablo III as well as thoughts and ideas of the upcoming Blizzcon.
That's right! The Foo Fighters have just been announced as the band that will be playing at this years' BlizzCon and TAFKAL80ETC will be returning and opening for them! For quite some time, it was speculated that deadmau5 would be doing the concert due to his recent trip to BlizzHQ. Whether or not either of them could top Tenacious D will be something we'll have to wait and see, though... How can you top Jack Black? Then again, the same was said about Ozzy; we all wondered how exactly Blizzard would top him...
Official Blizzard Quote:
Over the course of their 16-year career, the Foo Fighters have sold tens of millions of records, won half a dozen Grammy awards, and raised countless voices in singalongs of iconic anthems like "Everlong," "My Hero," "Learn to Fly", "All My Life," “Best of You,” and “The Pretender.” Foo Fighters' BlizzCon debut marks founder Dave Grohl's triumphant return to the convention after playing drums for Tenacious D in last year's show, and comes during an international arena, stadium, and festival tour promoting their seventh album, the international #1 record Wasting Light.
Opening up the concert will be The Artist Formerly Known as Level 80 Elite Tauren Chieftain, who are returning to BlizzCon following a two-year interstellar tour through the Koprulu sector. Blizzard's in-house metal band will amp up the crowd with an earth-shaking set of both familiar and brand-new songs drawn from the Warcraft, StarCraft, and Diablo universes before turning the stage over to Foo Fighters for the main event.
In addition, the Sons of the Storm will be returning for their very own signing panel as usual.
Official Blizzard Quote:
We're shy of a month away from the sixth BlizzCon in history. And once again, the Sons of the Storm will be there in full force! We will have a one-hour signing session on the second day of BlizzCon:
Saturday, October 22, 10AM to 11AM at the developer signing area
So if you would like to meet and greet...or get your sign on and your whine on (be warned Red Shirts!), then mark the date and be there on the dot. Lines tend to get crazy! Remember to double-check the signing schedule for any changes.
Also worth mentioning, the BlizzCon Media section has just recently been updated to include a ton of media from every BlizzCon thus far, as well as the few World Wide Invitationals. Anyone who wants to get a feel of what the environment is like should go check it out!
Originally, we had planned on releasing full coverage over many different topics with the beta but with the limited amount of game play, this would have exhausted all of our material very quickly. Instead, we have decided to go more in-depth in each area to give better coverage. I will be starting off with detailed play throughs with each class to give you guys a glimpse into how each class feels and plays. I have already done this with the Demon Hunter if you would like to read up on that one here. This time, we will be focusing on the Witch Doctor.
The Witch Doctor is a mixture between a summoning class with a bit of mid-ranged magic abilities. Being able to do both equally as well, players will not be forced to choose either focus. With that said, I did focus on the summoning aspect of the Witch Doctor. However, whether you choose to kill your foes with zombies, fire, or poison, the Witch Doctor is a fun class to play.
Mana is the Witch Doctor's resource. Mana functions similarly to the way Mana acted in Diablo II. It is a large pool that will increase as your character's level increases. Higher level skills and more powerful skills will cost more Mana than lower damaging spells. After exhausting your Mana, the globe will slowly refill back to full; different from arcane which fills much quicker. The Witch Doctor also has many skill and passive options that will help him keep his Mana replenished and not have to wait for it to slowly refill itself. From my play through with the Witch Doctor, all but one skill had cost so little Mana that I was actually able to spam any skill indefinitely. I am sure at higher levels this will not be true but for the beginning, it is practically unlimited. However, once the resource was emptied, it was very damaging to wait for the globe to refill itself, especially when fighting the Skeleton King. Managing this resource and finding ways to rebuild it quicker will definitely be a key strategy to playing this class.
More specifically are the skills that use Mana to be cast. Starting off, players are given two spells to use. The first is Zombie Dog which is the first of two permanent summons that the Witch Doctor has. Changing significantly since its first version, the Witch Doctor will always cast three zombie dogs that will follow you around for your bidding. The AI has been greatly improved since Diablo II and you no longer get angry when you see your summons walking blindly into the corner of a room. They see, fight, and kill anything in the vicinity of them. Personally focusing on the summons, I used this skill for most of the beta to help me plow through the larger mobs. The second skill you get to start off with his Poison Dart. It is a nice ranged spell that I used for awhile as a basic attack from afar. The next skill obtained is Plague of Toads which releases a group of toads with poison damage. However, the skill is difficult to use because their pathing is unpredictable and very short range. Given that I was trying to keep my distance, I found this skill of little use. Grasp of the Dead was the next skill you obtain. The skill slows movement down of enemies. Given the third slot by this point, I used it on the monsters to help slow them down so that my zombie dogs could attack them easier. However, at such a low level, the movement speed reduction did not make a very big difference. Haunt was the next skill which is a ranged single-target DoT. Haunt was useful to cast on a few monsters while the zombies dogs went after the group. The nice thing about the skill is if the monsters die while still having the DoT, the haunt will transfer to the next monster. This allowed you to cast it only a few times but it was still effective with some monsters dying really quickly. I ended up using this as my right click for most of the beta.
Zombie Charger is the next skill you get which is a short range zombie that rushes in front of you for a short distance attacking anything in its path. However, given is very short range and myself staying away, I rarely used the skill. Hex followed which summoned a Fetish Shaman that would run around turning monsters into chickens. As far as using it for CC, it was pretty ineffective because it was only one monster at a time when there was usually five to ten. However, the nice part about the skill is that the chicken'd monster does not break out when damaged and actually takes more damage when changed. When used on champion and harder monsters, it helped to drop them quickly while they were unable to do anything. Corpse Spider is a temporary summon that released multiple spiders that attacked nearby monsters. Although I wanted to focus on any summoning, their temporary state made it insignificant for the few skill slots I had available. Horrify became your "Oh Shit" button when surrounded by large groups. A quick way of avoiding a quick death. Once more skill slots are available, I could imagine it being very useful. However, the beta has only three to four slots making skill choice very important and I didn't end up using it that much. The last skill I got was Firebats, a short ranged AoE that attacked anything in front of the Witch Doctor. The range was actually surprising large and the damage by level was impressive and became my main attack. It mowed down most monsters within seconds. However, because it is a channeling spell, it was the first time I actually saw my Mana drain. There are a few more skills that are available for the beta but I did not get to a higher level... yet.
I also unlocked one passive slot by level ten. I chose to use Vermin which made my Firebats even stronger and skipped Circle of Life which would have given me Mana for each Health Globe picked up. While I look forward to seeing what other passives I will pick for future builds, this was all that is available in the beta.
The look and feel of the Witch Doctor was amazing in my opinion. Starting off, I really enjoyed the voice acting for the male Witch Doctor. Not too overdone, it definitely gives you the feel of this tribalisitic character. His gear equally matches this feel. With the same gear looking different on each class, the Witch Doctor's gear was great at looking strong while keeping the minimalistic look of the Witch Doctor. I also enjoyed at one point where the character falls down when entering Tristram Catherdral. While most classes do so with agile or strength, the older Witch Doctor actually looks like he is falling giving him this cohesive feeling.
Overall, I loved playing as the Witch Doctor. I planned on playing this class first and he was the character I selected when I first logged in. Starting off with my Zombie Dogs, I enjoyed the summoning aspect of the class, saving me from having to click on every single monster to kill it. I was also able to find a good mixture of skills that allowed me to keep my distance. The odd part about the class is that you can choose to stay away with many skill choices or getting into the fray with the multiple close-ranged skills. The Witch Doctor really allows you to have a wide range of viable builds to match your play style. I found myself able to stay away while still being in the action while my zombie dogs chowed their way through the mobs. As mentioned earlier, once I had Firebats and my Mana actually drained, I found running out very debilitating. King Leoric was especially tough when he took out my minions and I found myself without Mana and just having to stay away until it refilled. I planned on this class being my favorite and so far it has not disappointed.
You can watch Force play through as a Witch Doctor as well.
Patch 4 of the Beta just went live a couple of hours ago. Nothin' really to see here, though for the sake of completeness we're reporting it, :). It doesn't appear as if the new class changes have made it in just yet either.
Official Blizzard Quote:
Diablo III Beta Patch 4 – v.0.3.0.7447
Fixed a number of game and service crashes.
To read up on previous full patch notes from the entirety of the Beta, check out our Diablo III Patches archive.