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Well I went a bit AWOL on the weekend.  Mum has the flu and the winter weather has hit, we have the fire on most days and not much is happening while we wait for the specialist visit in June.  “Good stitching weekend”I thought and then Friday night as I was going to bed I received an email:


You’re Invited: Diablo III Beta Test
Congratulations! You’ve been selected to participate in the Diablo III beta test.As a beta test participant, you’ll have the chance to check out all five hero classes — barbarian, witch doctor, wizard, monk, and demon hunter. You’ll fight your way through part of Act I and go head-to-skull against the Skeleton King, taking him on alone or cooperatively with other adventurers. You’ll also get to meet up with some of the artisans, followers, and other key characters from Sanctuary, and try out the game’s skill and crafting systems.

Brilliant! I’ve never played Diablo before but somehow signed up for this as part of a World of Warcraft Annual Pass. Yes the real Diablo players can hate my guts now.

So I downloaded the beta site (took all night because I am rural and we pay through the nose for 128k downloads) and had a play with it over the weekend. As Warcraft is my only other MMORG experience, a lot my comments will be comparing the two.

Now on the forums, the hardcore Diablo players say that you can run through the Beta content in 45 minutes.  As a brand new player to the whole Diablo concept I spent a very enjoyable 5-6 hours playing the game.

Game Mechanisms

It has one view, you can’t pan the camera around. I didn’t realise how much I changed my viewpoint in Warcraft, until I couldn’t in Diablo. It felt strange, not being able to turn the room around to see what was behind the wall.  Made me feel like I was back in a 1980s computer game like Ultima or Bard’s Tale.

When fighting, you hold down left or right mouse button for primary or secondary attack skills.  Rather than a whole panoply of shots or punches you have in Warcraft, your character has only the two options here, left or right. In fact the whole game is very mouse-driven. To move, you select a spot on the road and click the left mouse button for your character to run to that spot.  So run, left click. Shoot, left hold click. So for a long while I was shooting instead of moving and vice versa.  I personally dislike this kind of interface; especially when I’m using a laptop with a trackpad.

Game Play

You start in the middle of a road.  Having no idea who you are or where you are, you follow the road. It takes you to a small encampment. You speak to a person. He gives you a task. The entire game is now scripted. You complete the task. The next task presents on the side of your screen. As you complete your task the next one pops up until you complete your quest. The game does not advance until you complete that task. While completing these tasks, you learn how to fight and loot (money, weapons and books).

In Warcraft if you are given a task, you have so many helpful hints, pointers and addons, that location quests are quite boring.  In Diablo III, if your task is to find the graveyard, you must pick your own direction, travel out of town and explore, try to stay alive, and find the bloody graveyard yourself. Again, if you know the system I presume you know the locations and this would help a serious player get through the content faster, but I liked this combination of puzzle, exploration, and danger all on your own.

Social Interaction

And it is all on your own. I have yet to meet another player in Diablo III. The game starts in Private mode. Everything I mentioned above is just you against the game. After the totally immersive and social Warcraft, this single player mode in Diablo felt very strange. It didn’t feel like an MMORG. it felt just like an old adventure game I used to buy and put on the PC to play.

So I worked through all of the Beta content on my own. Took around 4 or 5 hours and my character was at Level 9 and I had left was to kill the final Boss. I can’t do it.  So I either spend a lot of time at the lower levels looting and crafting gear to increase my level  (I spent another couple of hours on this) or I can open the game to public and get a group of strangers who are at the same level and we can kill the boss together.

The only problem, is that if you open your game to be a public game, anyone can join, and then you cannot close it again. I don’t really understand how the public versus private games work, so I’m hoping a more experienced player can comment.

Payment Scheme

Diablo III is a single pay game. You just buy the game and you get all the online content free for as long as you want to use it. There are no monthly on-going subscription costs. I presume this is due to two reasons: 1. It is a simple game, 2. the real currency auction house.

1. It is a simple game. World of Warcraft is an immersive world. It has so much content that an experienced player can run the same content a myriad of times with a myriad of different characters and never get bored, or could even spend an evening fishing or digging for archaeology or choosing to group with friends or solo do one of thousands of quest lines or spend a weekend in the PVP arenas etc.  Diablo III simply does not appear to have this richness of environment. Granted the Beta in only the beginning levels, but it is so scripted and so directed, that when you finally get to the end game, many will leave and find something else to play until an expansion or Diablo 4 comes out.

2. Blizzard are introducing a Real Currency Auction House in Diablo III, this means that if you are lucky to loot a very rare item, or you work hard to gather materials and gold to craft a very rare item, you can put it up for auction in the RCAH and players will offer real money for that item.  Each player will be allowed a small number of free auctions per week, but if you want to place more, than Blizzard charges a fee.  This I think is how they plan to fund the ongoing costs of the game.

I will use the in-game Auction House which uses in-game gold – gold created or looted in-game but not the Real Currency Auction House.  These are games, not places for me to spend real money – I have enough hobbies that do that already!

 So in summary:

Movement and attack via the same mouse button sucks!  I don’t understand the private vs public games so I can’t comment.  I thoroughly enjoyed the quests, the ambiance and atmosphere. I loved the conversations my companion initiated. I will keep playing this on a casual level, especially when the crowds on Warcraft drive me nuts.

So if anyone else is in the beta, or if anyone gets the game when it is released live on 15 May 2012 (or anytime thereafter) and wants to group to quest or kill bosses, feel free to friend me. Email, twitter, Facebook or whatever me for my Battletag.

If anyone more experienced want to correct any misunderstandings, assumptions or just plain educate me on any aspect of Diablo, please do so in the comments! I do not claim to be anything but an enthusiastic beginner having a first look at this game.

 

6 Comments

  1. Hi Mel, I find your comments really interesting. As both a WoW and Diablo player, even though I’ve yet to play D2 (I’m impatiently waiting for 15 May LOL), that’s how the developers intended D2 to be… a very “clicky” game like the first Diablo. I’ve watched D2 playthroughs on YouTube and I must say I love some of the features not available on WoW, for example, gold and bank is shared across the whole account, not just on one character. Same goes for the crafting NPCs. Upgrades to them can be seen across all your characters. As for public and private games, in WoW terms, basically public games mean anyone can join and private games are only for people you’ve invited to it (think instance). I’m obviously not an expert but that’s my observations so far between WoW and D2. Hope that helps.

    Hugs,
    Veronica.

      • Mel
      • Posted 18 April 2012 at 07:49
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      I think you are right Veronica! I gave my mum access on my machine yesterday to have a play with the Beta too and her toon had a lot of gold and Blacksmithing recipes that mine didn’t start with. {smacks forehead} That’s my toon’s gold she spent!

      Considering how expensive the blacksmith is to train up I’m actually quite thankful that you only have to do it once, regardless of the number of alts you have.

    • Sisu
    • Posted 17 April 2012 at 20:37
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    I’ll stick with my Grand Fantasia and Wizard101. I don’t need another addiction, LOL.

      • Mel
      • Posted 18 April 2012 at 07:50
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      Okay I just joined Wizard101 – friend me when you’re next in 🙂

    • Julie
    • Posted 17 April 2012 at 21:45
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    I’ll be very interested to try D3 when it launches. Hubby and I were HUGE fans of D1 and played it to the end, a VERY rare occurrence for us. D2 didn’t grab us so much. We LOVED the private co-op so I’m interested to see if hubby and I will be able to play as a couple via LAN or whether our choice is just to open the doors to the world.
    I think the thing I’ll be most interested to see if how my expectations of a game have changed over the years. LOVED D1, LOVED Dungeon Seige 1, but by the time D2 and DS2 came around, we’d been exposed to WOW and as you’ve mentioned the limited views, limited vistas and clicky interface somehow didn’t stack-up.

    We’ll likely buy through EB games where you can return for a full refund in under 7 days. That is unless it’s only avail on PC (where that option isn’t available).

      • Mel
      • Posted 18 April 2012 at 07:54
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      Jules,
      Reading the forums and especially the trade threads, it appears that yes you can invite friends to private games. I can’t test this yet 🙂 Happy to friend and test as soon as you get the game though?

      Game is definitely available through retail stores as many on the forums are buying the “Collector’s Editition”. I haven’t looked to see what perks that entails as I’ve been given it for free with my Wow membership.

      Beta is closing on the 1 May so then we all start playing for real on or after the 15th May. Or 16th May for us most likely.


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