Back in December 1996, Blizzard released a dungeon crawler called Diablo. It centered on a lone hero who set out to rid the world of a powerful demon called Diablo. It was an instant hit with fans and spawned expansion packs followed by a sequel in 2000. I played the first game to death but after a while the game seemed to get bogged down with a lot of hacks and cheats so I eventually moved onto other games. Fast forward 12-years later and Diablo 3 is on the verge of being finally released.
Recently, Blizzard opened up a series of closed Beta tests to people but alas I was not able to get in on it until last weekend. Thanks to the kindness of Blizzard who wanted to do a stress test, they made the Beta open to everyone this past weekend. You could download the full client and play all the characters who will be released with the game but there was a level cap of thirteen. After downloading the 4 gig program, the install went smoothly but actually trying to log into the game was tough because of the number of people trying to get in to play. This did not surprise me at all as I expected some issues given my experience with Beta testing in the past.
After I finally managed to log in, I headed to the character creation screens. I was met with a good selection of characters to choose from (Barbarian, Witch Doctor, Wizard, Monk and Demon Hunter). I decided to start with the Barbarian class and headed off on my journey. I was not sure if it was just me being spoiled but I wished I could have customized my character a little more with different hair, facial features, and color. The character does display the new armour and weapons but I just expected a little more in the customization department.
Shortly after starting playing, I came across my first set of enemies that stood in my path. My Barbarian took care of them pretty easily; however, I found when I was swarmed by a large group I lost where my character was located every now and then. After you defeat the enemy, there is a generally a lot of loot to pick-up and for me that is an aspect of the game I really enjoyed. You really never know what you are going to find. At times, I had problems picking up items which may have been due to lag but overall these issues were not all that common. I experienced no problems picking up gold or health because all you need to do is walk over them.
As I played, I started gaining levels at a good pace which gave me new skills to play with. You can assign new skills to the left or right clicks of your mouse and eventually to the one to four number keys. It was nice to have health potions already linked to the “q” button. Believe it or not I was finding myself trying to use the “a, w, s, and d” keys to move my character instead of just clicking where I wanted to go. There was however a few times where I missed clicked on an enemy which sent my character walking by what I wanted to attack.
One of the aspects I really enjoyed in the Beta was being able to destroy parts of the world around you. For example, I walked into a study of sorts and was jumped by zombies. I then started smashing at them taking out tables, chairs and a bookcase in the process. I have to say this is indeed one of the more entertaining aspects of the game.
In terms of other features in the game, you can store items in a chest for your use later on in game and can use them for the crafting system. I briefly worked with the crafting system where you are able to break down magic items down to raw materials and use them to construct new magic items of your liking. I wanted to work with it a bit more but the servers came down for what will likely be the last time before the release of the game in May. I would have loved to try some PVP action but it was nowhere to be found. I did play co-op for a bit but there seemed to be a bit of lag when chatting. Hopefully Blizzard will have all these issues worked out before launch.
Visually, the Beta version of Diablo 3 looked crisp and detailed. That said, it was a little on the dark side. The music is very well done from what I have heard so far. The music even featured that familiar Diablo village tune. I have to say, that tune certainly brought back many great memories of late night gaming slogging through dungeons. The sound effects that resulted from slamming my mighty axe through the enemies and destructible objects were awesome. Most of the sound effects I have come across in the game have been well done but there were a few areas where I was met with dead silence and thought the game was going to crash. The voice-overs in the game are well done and seemed to fit the game well.
Overall, I was impressed with the Diable 3 Beta and it has certainly lived up to my expectations thus far. Granted, I experienced some issues here and there but overall I was impressed and there is plenty of reason for optimism at this point. Needless to say, if you are a fan of the series or just enjoy dungeon crawlers that feature plenty of depth then Diablo 3 is a game you will want to pre-order.