Below are some gameplay experiences by DFans Staff and users alike from this years BlizzCon . If you have any questions or comments, please leave them in a new thread. We'd all be more than happy to answer your questions. And we all hangout on the DiabloFans IRC, so feel free to drop by.
The stations were setup for PvE single, PvE multi (up to 4 players) and PvP (up to 6 players; 3v3). In the PvE, they started your character out at level 9 with all slots filled and some random gems, id scrolls, and two skill runes. Within the time limit going solo, it was easy to level once, and in multiplayer with aggressive play (or full clear), we managed to ding twice.
Very satisfying experience (obviously). The statement that they want your character to feel powerful was reiterated through out the entire gameplay, in your abilities, attacks, pets, even down to the level of destroying barrels and breakable objects. We ran into monsters that had light blue titles, which I think implied they had a buff (eg: life link or inherited from their unique) and uniques. I did not see anything with the explicit label "champion" but maybe that's what those blue titled mobs were. Some crafting components dropped but were not usable. The health orbs concept was nice, but didn't drop enough that it annoyed me when they got consumed even at full health.
I'll give a description of each mode/class I played, along with the 3 skills they start you with in the demo (already on action bar), and impressions below it.
Witch Doctor solo PvE
Overall this was a very easy and comfortable class to play with. The combination of ranged skills and minion tanking made it play just like a Summoner Druid.
- Poison Dart
When the demo started, this skill was on the mouse-button slots, so implying that it was to be used as a replacement to the default melee attack. Basically just fired darts from a blowgun and an Indigo rune upgraded it to do burst shots (3 darts in rapid succession). Poisoned target; found myself using it mostly against single targets.
- Summon Zombie Dogs
Summoned one Zombie Dog, up to three max (couldn't tell if that cap goes up at higher levels) at the cost of 10% hp per. Minion AI was good, minions leashed back easily on retreat. Dealt decent damage for the level but didn't feel overpowered.
- Zombie Charger
This skill seemed to summon a Zombie at your feet and it immediately lurches forward slowly dissolving into goo until it hits a target. If no impact, it just liquefies into the ground; short range. On impact I think it placed an armor debuff on the target. Couldn't tell if there was splash dmg. Seemed to have a large collision box, so it was hard to aim through doorways and at uniques surrounded by minions. Didn't find myself using this much after learning Locust Swarm.
- learned: Locust Swarm
Picked this up at first ding. Felt like it had a short range. Unlike dropping an AoE with a reticule, it jumps from the first target up to three if I remember correctly. Spammable made it feel a little overpowered.
Monk multi PvE
Maybe output numbers are not quite tweaked yet, but overall the damage felt underwhelming playing next to a Demon Hunter and Wizard as they blew up stuff. The combat flow was fluid - the Monk would enter and follow through several combo moves and a finisher all rolled up into one button depress. Satisfying to see words "dodge" pop up a lot.
- Circle of Wrath
Group heal that also dealt weak AoE dmg to nearby monsters. Felt useless at this level of difficulty.
- Hands of Lightning
Added lightning elemental dmg to attacks. Animation was complex. There was a short delay as the Monk charged up the attack before shocking the target with claws.
- Radiant Visage
The blind ability was very nice crowd control.
- learned: Way of the Hundred Fists
Felt weak, but was nice to finally get some AoE. Said it hits targets in front of the Monk, but was hard to gauge if it made contact with adjacent targets because of the short range and animation.
Barbarian multi PvE
Was a little confused because they started me out with a 1H sword + shield, but rest of the setup was all offense. No tanking skills were provided.
Hits adjacent targets; small number it felt. Often had to switch to normal attack to regain rage.
- Ground Stomp
AoE stun, which I modified with a rune that made the monsters move slower for 2sec after coming out of the stun.
Had some % chance to enable after being hit, but it must activated - it's not a passive retaliation. On use it caused the Barb to whirlwind once hitting all monsters near and returning some hp. Basically found myself diving into packs and spamming this. Runes would modify to grant more hp leech.
- learned: Frenzy
Each successful attack gave me a short attack speed buff. Stacked up to 2 at level 1. Gave me a little buff icon on the lower center-left of my screen, but was hard to notice amidst the action. Other visual cue is the swirls (just like in D2) around the character, but also hard to notice. The buff time felt very short as it kept falling off all the time, and I also wanted to use Cleave more. Later got a rune that allowed my other Barbarian skills to refresh the Revenge buff
Some extra UI stuff that I noticed: Control-click made items drop from inventory. Gem bonuses were summarized in the tooltip as, "Helm: +xyz" / "Weapon: +xyz" / "Other: +xyz". Seemed to have been reduced to only show for slots that you actually have empty sockets in.
Found PvP the most enjoyable to be honest. The rounds were intense, quick, and victory was very satisfying, especially coming back from a 1v2 which surprisingly happened more often than I thought possible. I ended up playing mostly as the Barbarian in 2v2. They provided full set of armor and a 2H axe, along with 7 skills:
- Ancient Spear
- Ground Stomp (rune modded to leave a slow on target when it comes out of stun)
- Leap Attack (rune modded to add %stun on hit)
- Sprint (rune modded to leave trailing whirlwinds that dealt 30% of wpn dmg)
- Ignore Pain (rune modded to give group dmg reduction)
- Rampage (rune modded for life leech)
I noticed when I moused over my rage orb, it said "adds knockback to attacks when at full rage". Not sure, maybe a trait was providing this.
Since the barbarian's attacks are rage based, starting the match with zero rage felt like a huge handicap. The only skill that I could open with was the basic melee attack and Ground Stomp. Combos were obvious after a few rounds, ie: leap -> stomp -> WW. The addition of "counters" in PvP made the matches play out very well. For example: the Witch Doctor had a Desecrate-like skill that would apply a huge snare, but popping Sprint would break me out of it; using Ignore Pain before Meteor landed; using Ancient Spear after Wizard burns teleport. Initially the Barbarian felt very vulnerable and especially frustrating against Wizards that just kited me around. But with a little caution and well timed gap-closers like Leap Attack, Ancient Spear, and Sprint it was surprising how quickly you could go in a finish someone off. I definitely think with the right set of skills, PvP will bring a totally different level of fun to the D3 player, and hopefully achieve that without leaving a gimped leveling experience.
Seeing as how I've been to BlizzCon every year thus far, I tried to spend more time playing PvP than I did PvE... However, I think Apoc covered a lot of PvE, so he's got my back, ;). Though, I do feel the need to mention... In one of my PvE run-throughs, found a Chipped Skull that was lacking an icon. Since Blizzard's presentation clearly did not show any Skulls, I am curious as to why will happen with it. Anyway, on with PvP... With the new PvP feature this year, I was very excited to get some play time there. When the Arena was first announced, I was not very surprised. Happy? Of course. Surprised? Not quite. With the amount of end-game PvP (dueling) that went on during D1 and D2, Blizzard had to make some kind of official content in that regard. This completely takes dueling to another level. In D2 we'd have to have completely different characters for PvE than we did for PvP, because it required a different variety of skills and equipment. Thanks to some changes in D3, we'll have two different sets of spell data, one for PvP and one for PvE. What this means is, our skills in PvE will not be completely useless in PvP, as they can potentially have different affects. Now with that simple introduction out of the way, onto the actual PvP experience.
I played a bunch of 2v2 Arena matches and tried all of the different classes. With that in mind, I have to say my most favorite class was the Wizard. I felt the Witch Doctor to be too much of a "sit back and rely on pets" kinda class. The Barbarian was very hard to play, but once you got the hang of him, you were nearly unstoppable. But again, I'm not the kinda guy to just run up and stab you in the face with an axe. I'd much rather run around and kite you with some awesome lasers, so the Wizard fits me perfectly. (I'll probably end up playing the Wizard in PvE as well, come Beta. Though, the Demon Hunter is very tempting...) Aside from those three classes, the Demon Hunter and the Monk were not playable in PvP, so there's nothing to say in those regards. My partner played the Witch Doctor the entire time, and the team we played against were the Barbarian and the Wizard for probably 90% of the time.
First off, i'd like to comment on the arena level/stage itself. I felt the map was very well designed. There are pillars you can hide behind to dodge ranged attacks and use as walls and such. I found myself running behind the pillar, casting Meteor on one end, and Hydra on the other to keep myself safe. In the middle of the map was a crossroads type thing where four health orbs would spawn on occasion, keeping the battle pretty intense. These health orbs could completely change the sway of the battle, and that happened several times throughout my experience. The maps are only one level, so you don't have to worry about chasing people up and down stairs, but do not fret, Jay Wilson mentioned that there will be a variety of possible arena maps. On to the class match-ups...
As I said before, my team (the Red Team! Go Red!) consisted of a Wizard (myself) and a Witch Doctor (partner) and we were up against a Barbarian and a Wizard (the Blue Team). The final scored ended up being ~27-23 (Red won) with ~50 games total being played. Some of these games were very clear cut and ended rather quickly. Other games went in the Blue teams favor. Our strategy was basically run around and kite everything. As long as the Barbarian wasn't on our tail, we were fine. Once the Barb got a stun off, he just had his way with you, and it was especially bad when the Wizard was sitting back throwing spells at you as well. Though I have to say, for the most part, these games were extremely close. I like the variation of spells and data they gave us, it seemed there were a lot of ways to counter opponents moves/spells with my own. In the same manner, they could easily counter mine. However, speaking from a Wizard's standpoint, it was amazing when stringing together my spells actually worked out... Dropping a Slow Time, then a meteor, and a Hydra to do stun (well, it was a slow, but a very strong one) and do the initial damage and then finishing them off with Disintegrate worked wonders. Especially when my partner Witch Doctor's Zombie Dogs were eating away at the opponent, and he was throwing Firebomb's at them... If we could get everything off with perfect precision and timing, the enemies were as good as dead. Once we had one of them dead, it was just a matter of microing off the other one without dieing ourselves.
Overall, I really enjoyed the PvP experience, I know it's something that will completely reshape how the Diablo endgame works, and therefore I am very excited to participate in that come release. And of course, Hardcore characters that die in the Arena are dead for good, so Gladiator Battles will be very intense...
The Diablo III demo was packed for most of the convention. I had the opportunity to play through every class at least once, each very polished, just like the graphics and game play. The new UI is very user friendly, and should be perfected within the next several months.
The Demon Hunter handles like a combination of Assassin and Amazon. A very active combination. While using dual crossbows is appealing, you do far more damage with a two handed weapon.
The Monk played just like he did last year, fun combo building (we weren't able to use Exploding Palm this time around though, and that made me sad).
The Barbarian was relatively slower than I remember, but has a lot more to offer in the brute force department. Leap Attack, and Whirlwind made a return.
The Witch Doctor was so much fun to play this time around. Fire bats has got to be my favorite skills for that class.
The Wizard was ridiculously overpowered in both pvp and rpg. This time around, we had a blast from the past in terms of skills. An explosion skill, frost nova, and hydra. In pvp, meteor and teleport were among the skills available.
When the game is released, this will be my personal class order: Monk, Wizard, Demon Hunter, Witch Doctor, Barbarian.
The new skill system is a step in the right direction. Every level, you can add a point to a previously owned skill, or get a new one. Every other level, you get a trait (point towards a passive skill).
Arena is the best thing that could have happened for dueling fans within the Diablo community. Teams of three, three classes available (Barbarian, Witch Doctor, Wizard). Stun and meteor spamming got a tad ridiculous though. So, there is still a lot of balancing to be done.
Gems: There are about 5 grades of gem you can find, the rest you can only acquire through one of your artisans.
Runes: There are five rune types, each having a different effect on different skills.
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"Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."-Friedrich Nietzsche
Upon arriving the sea of Diablo demo ready computers, there are two lines for gameplay. One line is for PvE and the other is for PvP. When I first arrived around 10:45am, PvE was only available as PvP opened up as soon as PvP was announced. Generally, there was a 10 minute wait for PvE for the first hour or so but around the afternoon time, more people showed up and the wait time would turn into twenty minutes or more which I had no time for so I cut the line every time.
In the middle of the line, there was a big sign that said that you can win an exclusive signed Blizzcon poster and I’ve asked one of the staff members about the drop rate and he doesn’t know the exact chance.
Further down the line, there was another big sign that displayed the current demo information.
We, I and three other strangers, were broken off in groups of four and were escorted to our computers which did not sport any kind of name brand stickers or logos and were all black so guessing computer specifications was out of the question. Each computer had a head phone and a mic. I did not use the mic and I wasn’t concerned about multi-play because I was there strictly there to get detailed information about skills, item attributes and anything out of the norm that we did not know about already.
Upon arriving at the computer monitor, the character screen selection had four classes, minus the Demon Hunter which would be playable later, and I choose Witch Doctor immediately. I began to browse all skills and I spotted the traits portion which was something I haven’t seen before. I took two snaps of WD’s traits and a video record of it as well so the majority of the details are there.
I had three skills available at the start which were Mongrols, Zombie Charger, and Blow Dart. In my equipment, two runestones were available to play with our skills. One rune changed the blow dart from one projectile to two or three, depending on the strength of the rune you started with. I also remember there was a rune that added 40% life steal to the Mongrols and half of that damage would be given back to my WD. Another rune changed Zombie Chargers from one charger to three of them which would fire on charger after another. When I leveled up, I decided to play with Firebats. In my youtube video, I socketed Firebats with a rune which applied Poision damage to my Firebats which is awesome. Another runestone I found changed my Firebats into auto-targeting and following Firebats. One Firebat would fire in a half second interval and move in circular random direction until it landed on a wall, a destructible, or an enemy. As I was playing the demo with auto-fire and following Firebats, for some reason the skill auto fired continually and costed no mana! So you can imagine that I was running around with this skill killing everything with ease. I believed this was a bug but I happily played it out.
Enemies in small groups were easy to kill while big groups that had a mini-boss were challenging at times. I remember these mini-bosses had a skill that pulled you directly to them! This added a slight fear factor when facing these mobs so I had to play strategically and with patience. There were also enemies that would knock you back about fifteen feet. I didn’t get to far into Act 1, as I did not reach King Leoric from the five times I’ve played.
This was the first hands on experience with the Diablo 3 demo and it was absolutely fun and simple. It felt like Diablo from start to finish because all the of the simplistic flow of this game. All I did was kill, pick up loot, and then killed some more. I can’t wait til Diablo 3 comes out!
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"Ahem. There's SAND on my boots." Kefka, Final Fantasy VI