Diablo 3: Proxzor Impressions
By Remko Molenaar (Proxzor), OnRPG Journalist
This past weekend many fans of Blizzard were given something that they have been suffering many sleepless nights waiting for. No it isn’t Half Life 3 I’m speaking of. Players from across the world received a last minute invite Thursday night to come together for a weekend stress test of the long awaited Diablo III! From the moment that the servers went up there was a huge storm of people trying to get online and test the game, likely far exceeding even Blizzard’s expectations as many of the servers were down for long periods of time, and when they were up, servers were flooded with people everywhere. And up until the last day of the beta there were still a few busy hours that forced Blizzard to test the limits of their server capacity.
Unfortunately I didn’t get an invite for the closed beta despite having spent close to half a year writing about this game in anticipation. But my time had finally come as I was one among the many staring with blood shot eyes at my monitor refreshing madly to see when the servers would begin to function again. When I finally got in nerd chills ran down my spine. This long awaited title has set itself apart as the top dog of the isometric dungeon crawling genre so it was no surprise to me that the servers were bottle-necking trying to allow access to such a long queue of people even for such a short beta test. Unfortunately the beta could be finished in a mere 90 minutes but there was still a ton of things the player is able to do beyond the main dungeon runs. Like many others I have been playing all the available classes and up until now I still have no idea what class I want to play at launch. One thing the beta did convince me of is I am 100% sure that I want to be playing this game on May 15.
The first class that I tried out was the Demon Hunter; this class is the archer type class in Diablo 3. With the use of hand bows, crossbows and one handed crossbows, this class is one of the few range classes that Diablo 3 has to offer. Unfortunately I did found this class the most boring during my play while I was expecting it to be the most fun; however this was not at all a design flaw in the class. Instead the other classes simply exceeding my expectations in a big way!
When I was finally in the game on my Demon Hunter the graphics immediately gave me a good first impression. We have seen many a Diablo clone in the past try to capitalize on Diablo’s success with sugary graphics, but they all pale in comparison to Diablo 3’s sweet sweet animations, environments, and character models. Wow, this game is really beautiful and even the little hamster in my computer had to run as fast as he could to keep up with the amazing graphics of this game. Everywhere you look you can see the painstaking details and delicate textures added in to prove that no one knows production value like Blizzard. Everywhere you will walk you will find a lot of structures and other environmental interactions that you interact with for profit. In the first place you will visit you will see a lot of dead corpses laying around that you can kick against in order to find some coins or items. There are also a lot of other stuff that you can interact with in the environment that will help you deal damage to the monsters that are crawling around in the area. For example you can kick away planks to collapse the roof on a group of monsters or you can bring down a wall so the bricks will fall on the evil beings. And if you finally get into the dungeons there are even more structures that you can bring down to fall onto your enemies.
Diablo has always been a game where you will have to bring down hordes of zombies or other monsters with an awesome set of skills while drinking enough potions to keep your health and mana up. In Diablo 3 however the game feels a lot easier because I personally didn’t really drink that many potions except for during challenging fights like boss battles. And on top of that all the monsters are able to drop health orbs that you can pick up to quickly regen HP and keep the action flowing. It’s debatable by some but I find the new design philosophy an improvement over past Diablo titles.
And the absolutely best thing that Diablo had to offer was the equipment drops. Luckily they didn’t change this at all, and it is still a lot of fun trying to collect the best possible equipment ever. They did however change the way equipment identification happens for the better. Blizzard decided to completely get rid of the ID scrolls system, and your character is now able to identify your precious loot with just a single ‘spell’.
I definitely had a lot of fun in this event. I really did try to get the most out of it and I have fiddled around a lot with the crafting system. Unfortunately there wasn’t that much to discover and make yet, since you would actually finish the beta around the level of 9 and all the really good looking equipment with the really good stats I could make were above level 15. The Auction House was also open and I had a good look at how it worked. The UI closely resembles the Auction House in World of Warcraft so it will be very familiar to a majority of players sticking to the Blizzard brand. First Impressions can make or break a title and Diablo III has one of the heftiest franchises in the gaming world to live up to. Thankfully if the first 9 levels are this much fun, than the game should easily surpass even the success of Diablo II and I will still feel the tingle of nerd chills down my spine when the game launches on May 15th!