Got invited via the latest beta wave yesterday. Spent a few hours playing D3 last night.
Here's my initial thoughts:
- Despite what you might have heard, the graphics are good. Atmosphere is good; feels dark and menacing, the mobs are much more grimdark than WoW (e.g. i wouldn't let my kids watch me play).
- Environment effects are good; you touch things and they fall apart, chandeliers drop from ceilings, you find hidden caches in non-obvious places, and stuff explodes/breaks when you're in combat
- Spell animations are fantastic.
- character models are standard blizzard quality -- very good
- point/click/move is intuitive, you easily jump into combat right away.
- Your inventory will declare when you found a better item (or an item for an unequipped slot).
- Brief cutscenes like Warcraft 3 in game are impressive and one of the few story telling technique improvements that work well.
- Game is very stable.
- Finding books or lore elements unlock voice over descriptions (similar to Bioshock).
- Lots of little hidden nods to retired elements from Diablo 2 -- knocking over bookshelves that drop red and blue scrolls onto the ground; cracked mana wells in the cathedral.
- Achievements are a nice addition, including things like chain kills and combat oriented events.
- Forced perspective means you should always explore moving north; huge difference in LoS and visibility of mobs. this will have huge implications for pvp down the road..
- Skill system seems disjointed. You unlock abilities while you level, but the customisation is what you equip-to-use -- you don't pick abilities to unlock until runes. There's primary and secondary skills, then defensive/passive abilties, then runes. The only real choice until runes is what ability to equip. There's a lengthy cooldown if you change your primary and secondary attack. Not sure what this will look like at the level cap (or in subsequent difficulties), but having a hard time appreciating this system instead of talents.
- Skills make no sense. My default attack as a demon hunter does more damage than my rage-enabled rapid fireattack. There are numerous complaints at incgamers around these sorts of things.. don't expect logical/balanced builds out the door. Balance is a mess, everyone in trade and instances I joined were pointing to Barbarians are DPS machines, Demon Hunters were weak.
- Far too easy. Perhaps this is tuned for beta? (e.g. perhaps maps are smaller to get you through the questing faster; mob difficult reduced?). I haven't died, or come close yet. I was up to the 6th quest and waypoint within 2 hours and I was moving slowly to read every quest.
- I think they made a mistake with too much voice dialogue -- including for you as the protagonist. Diablo 2 had a better flow...the NPCs talked to you, but your own voice was mute. Dialogue was quick, just enough to get you back questing. They've tried to add a ton of banter while picking up quests and it a) just slows you down, and b) has pretty shitty voice acting at parts. The questing feels forced and soulless. Even Deckard Cain seems like an idiot. Torchlight town quests work and feel much better than the storyline in Diablo 3.
- In Diablo 2 -- you join the multiplayer game, start in the chat room and see open games. In Diablo 3, chat is buried several menus deep and is separated from the quest select menu. You also find instances based on which quest level you want to choose...so Act 1 for example has ~ 12 different Quests. By the level cap you'll be faced with chosing 1 'quest' instance out of 50 or 60 per difficulty level.
- The auction house was throwing tons of errors. "NULL VALUE" in sort columns, zero results found then 20 screens worth for the exact same querry.
- Tons of tooptip errors regularly popping up. Keeps telling me to equip an item in an empty slot when i had infact I had equipped an item.
- No AOE looting? Really?
- Health orbs feel gimicky. I understand they're trying to avoid the potion-chugging dynamic of Diablo 2, but now you just kill large packs of mobs hoping for an orb to spawn, then run into them. They also unfairly favor melee DPS vs ranged -- if in a group, the barb will suck up all the health orbs (intentionally or not!) and ranged have to peel off and find their own mobs to kill separately. (EDIT: Corrected based on comments. Thanks for clarifying!) I don't like this mechanic.
I haven't tried:
- Haven't really played with the rune system yet; maybe there's more depth here than at first glance
- Have not done any crafting yet.
- Have not finished the first act.
- I haven't played anything other than a Demon Hunter.
Final Initial Impressions:
So i'm finally in a beta, played for 2-3 hours and stopped playing as I got bored. I haven't finished act 1 yet, but the game isn't grabbing me the way Diablo 2 did back in the day, or WoW after an expansion. I'm hoping the game gets more interesting, more challenging, and the complexity is more apparent at higher levels. I'll finish Act 1 today and then start again with another class (probably Barbarian, which I played heavily in Diablo 2).
I miss the tricks of town portal, identify scrolls, and potion chugging from Diablo 2. The more nuanced questing (with voice overs) feels forced; the dialgoue is horrible. I miss 8 player maps, and the battle.net chat room. The subdivided quests are intended to make the game more casual-friendly and easier to jump in and out, but it also breaks the game down too finely... you could literally jump in, play for 10 minutes to finish the quest, then leave. There is no sense of community. I almost suspect that the group play elements have been watered down to de-emphasize Diablo 3 as an alternative to WoW.
My current take is that I prefer Torchlight gameplay to Diablo 3, but I want to play Diablo 3 more (and get involved in more multiplayer) before I make a final judgement. First impression is not disappointment, but it definitely feels mediocre.
45 days left to launch. Wondering how much will change between now and then?