Friday, September 23, 2011

You beta believe it: Diablo III

And then the Witchdoctor, he told me what to do, he said "Summon arcane death!"

I took some time today to watch footage of the beta test for Blizzard's highly anticipated sequel, Diablo III. The most interesting part of the video, unless you happen to be mad-keen on watching lots of running and gold collecting, was examining how each of the five different character classes play, and of course, as an aside to that, how quickly you can find yourself drawn to one in particular.

For me, that looks to be the Witch Doctor class. The Demon Hunter might look all Hollywood sassy with its double-wield crossbows, but the appeal of the necromancy aspect is tangible from the Witch Doctor. Ye Olde Magick is all well and good on its own, but it looks as if your summoned pets are more than happy to stick around after the fact, and that goes a long way to establishing a good sense of security while playing as a character that starts out wearing not much more than rags.

This is just how cool the Demon Hunter looks.
The classes are demonstrated at the selection screen with late-game armour, and that is perhaps why the Demon Hunter happens to be so initially pleasing, not to forget the glaring fact that your character is called Demon Hunter. Personally, I'm always attracted to ranged play. I believe that, were I to exist in a magical or medieval realm, I wouldn't be so keen to get up close and personal with zombies, wyverns, bandits or whichever unholy specimen came calling for trouble.

Fundamentally, Diablo III's gameplay involves a lot of clicking. Click to attack, click to move, click for a different attack, click to collect loot, click to equip items, click to use items. It's not entirely clear from watching the video how much of the game uses your keyboard, but this playstyle, monotonous though it may sound, has delighted fans and kept them coming back for more for years.

In my limited experience of both franchises, Diablo III reminds me of a more focused, singleplayer World of Warcraft. In both games, you take quests, you collect items, and you explore, but while WoW is focused on a multiplayer experience and as such loses a certain magic to the world, Diablo's intent on leaving you mostly alone appeals far more to me than its MMO sister. If you are interested in watching a clip of the game in action, click here for Giant Bomb's Quick Look of the beta. The game is currently slated for release in Early 2012. Taking into account the use of fiscal years in the games industry, you can expect it to arrive by March at the latest.

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