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Blue's Diablo III Beta Preview

As promised, here's my Diablo III Beta Preview, based on some hands-on time with the closed beta of Blizzard's upcoming action/RPG sequel. I had fun playing the beta and writing the piece, and again marvel at how people can write comprehensive reviews of full games when it took me so long to get this out based on a beta that can be completed in three hours. Thanks to my friends MrKawfy and Overthecledge for playing with me and to MrsBlue for her invaluable proofreading. Here's a sample:

There is less fear of making mistakes that will go on your permanent record and follow you around for the rest of your life, as my elementary school principal used to say. There are no choices for characteristics—this is all automatic. As you level up, you earn active and passive skills but you can change them any time you want. Skills are no longer tree-based, so you don't have to pick a crappy one to get the better one that follows. The death penalty is now almost non-existent: You respawn at the last checkpoint with a ten-percent loss of durability to your equipment, which seems fairly trivial and removes the fear of venturing too far past your current abilities. I find this regrettable: One of the most memorable experiences of my gaming life was a late night when my party got killed in the depths of a Diablo dungeon: We literally spent hours working out how to retrieve our items from where they dropped. I prefer it much more where you dread dying, but I don't know how realistic it is to expect this to be changed.

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21. Re: Blue's Diablo III Beta Preview Oct 4, 2011, 17:54  Blue 
 
Theo wrote on Oct 4, 2011, 17:51:
dont agree on a bunch of points...

Particularly since I don't do this kind of thing regularly, I'd be very interested in hearing your areas of disagreement if you care to elaborate.
 
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Stephen "Blue" Heaslip
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20. Re: Blue's Diablo III Beta Preview Oct 4, 2011, 17:51 Theo
 
dont agree on a bunch of points, but its a great write up Stephen ;-) (maybe we will see more of it?). Personally i am loving beta. but for that diablo2 feeling i am looking forward to Torchlight2 - if you fancy getting some party style play on feel free to look me up, i am uk time zone though so might be hard work...

same mail address as i am registered with here.

 
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Everyone on Bluesnews is synical, get over it.
edit: i cant spell, this is my disclaimer.
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19. Re: Blue's Diablo III Beta Preview Oct 4, 2011, 17:21  Blue 
 
Bhruic wrote on Oct 4, 2011, 16:50:
One of the most memorable experiences of my gaming life was a late night when my party got killed in the depths of a Diablo II dungeon: We literally spent hours working out how to retrieve our items from where they dropped.

Are you sure you're not thinking of Diablo I? In II, when you died, your items would stay on your body, sure, but if you didn't think you could get to where your body was, you could just leave, make a new game, and your body would be in town. The only thing you'd lose was any gold/potions that might have dropped, and some XP.

Hmm, if that's the case, then I am thinking of Diablo 1.
 
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18. Re: Blue's Diablo III Beta Preview Oct 4, 2011, 17:08 Keilun
 
Alamar wrote on Oct 4, 2011, 16:42:
Keilun wrote on Oct 4, 2011, 16:40:
Still, I do wish they provided an option to not automate stat allocation...

I feel the opposite, at least to some degree... For these games, I generally don't use my stat/attribute points until I get a drop that requires them... And we're talking ~40 points lying around in some of these games... Now, conversely, it means I can't do this anymore, but instead that each piece of gear is made for each class at a specific lvl... So shouldn't have stat requirements at all (do they?).

-Alamar

No there aren't any stat reqs on gear. Yeah allocating stat points was a chore when that was the case, but now that it isn't, I feel like having control over it would be nice. It'd make it that much harder for them to balance, but when you see the power of the stats, you'll realize how it might have been fun to control that too. Of course that's not for everyone which is why I was mostly wishing for the *option* to do so. But right now, you don't have that choice. I highly doubt they'll change it given the extra balancing it'd require.
 
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17. Re: Blue's Diablo III Beta Preview Oct 4, 2011, 16:50 Bhruic
 
One of the most memorable experiences of my gaming life was a late night when my party got killed in the depths of a Diablo II dungeon: We literally spent hours working out how to retrieve our items from where they dropped.

Are you sure you're not thinking of Diablo I? In II, when you died, your items would stay on your body, sure, but if you didn't think you could get to where your body was, you could just leave, make a new game, and your body would be in town. The only thing you'd lose was any gold/potions that might have dropped, and some XP.
 
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16. Re: Blue's Diablo III Beta Preview Oct 4, 2011, 16:42 Alamar
 
LaxerFL wrote on Oct 4, 2011, 15:47:
Without Skill points/trees I fail to see how this game will have ANY replayability... I am so disappointed with this change I hardly consider it a Diablo game. I can not believe Blizzard thought this was a good idea. I am still playing Diablo 2, 10 or 11 years later because every time I reroll I can do a different build. What's the point if everyone has all the skills every time?
Blizzard, you have a great track record and I have never doubted you before, but you really screwed the pooch on this one

Just about every time I install, and fire up the good ol Diablo 2, I just can't do it... And fire up Titan Quest instead....

I'm expecting to play/enjoy D3, but I'm also expecting to fire up TQ again in a few years when D3 just doesn't hold enough...

Course, on the other hand, one of the main strengths of TQ is one of it's main weaknesses (for me)... It's freaking huge... With so much artistic variety (locales, mobs, etc)... Anyhow... back to TQ... half way through Act II : )

Oh and nice review Blue : ) Likely better than I would have done : )

Keilun wrote on Oct 4, 2011, 16:40:
Still, I do wish they provided an option to not automate stat allocation...

I feel the opposite, at least to some degree... For these games, I generally don't use my stat/attribute points until I get a drop that requires them... And we're talking ~40 points lying around in some of these games... Now, conversely, it means I can't do this anymore, but instead that each piece of gear is made for each class at a specific lvl... So shouldn't have stat requirements at all (do they?).

-Alamar
 
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15. Re: Blue's Diablo III Beta Preview Oct 4, 2011, 16:40 Keilun
 
LaxerFL wrote on Oct 4, 2011, 15:47:
Without Skill points/trees I fail to see how this game will have ANY replayability...

Having played it, I originally thought that to be the case too. Then I saw the rune system which is essentially their "skill points" system. Unfortunately the rune system is inaccessible in the current beta so I can only go from what's on the site: (for example here: http://us.battle.net/d3/en/class/barbarian/active/)

There's 5 different rune types. Each one augments your skill differently. Then each rune has levels (higher level drops in higher difficulty). Given that you have a limited number of skills you can select on any outing, the variety exists in your skill choice and rune combinations.

So if you take a look at the Barbarian's Ground Stomp, you have the following variety:

1. Add slow effect.
2. Increase dmg done.
3. Increase fury gained.
4. Increase radius.
5. Add knockback effect.

On seeing that, I felt that there was plenty of customization at that point. The real question is, not having been able to see the runes for myself is whether or not there is true choice in runes, or if there's always a defacto rune that you must always have for that skill.

Still, I do wish they provided an option to not automate stat allocation...

As far as replayability goes, I'd say each of the classes are pretty unique. Especially that Witch Doctor (although at the low levels he feels rather useless). I played all 5 classes through to lvl 10. They were all quite fun. I did start to tire of the opening area, but it was still fresh playing with the new skills and such. But let's face it, most of the draw of Diablo is from the inner loot-whores in all of us.
 
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14. Re: Blue's Diablo III Beta Preview Oct 4, 2011, 16:16 Paketep
 
Thanks, Blue, excellent preview.

Sound good, but sadly the restrictions Blizzard has imposed (beginning with the online only and closed regions) are a total deal breaker for me. And they're not going to change.

Hope to see some impressions from you when Torchlight 2 is released, assuming you'll also get it.
 
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13. Re: Blue's Diablo III Beta Preview Oct 4, 2011, 16:00 Cutter
 
though sadly he no longer sounds like Sean Connery, and at no point after being reunited does he beckon, "Stay awhile, and listen."

Aww that sucks more than my Hoover! "Stay ahile, and listen." is as familiar as "War, war never changes."

Tedious aspects of Diablos past are eliminated in a number of ways. Perhaps most notable is an artifact called the Cauldron of Jordan, which allows you to sell items for gold directly from your inventory without returning to town. While not plausible (even in the context of a game such as this), this welcome addition allows you to spend more time playing with less schlepping.

Bah! I'm a man who enjoys a good schlep. I think schlepping is important.

 
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12. Re: Blue's Diablo III Beta Preview Oct 4, 2011, 15:59 Slashman
 
Indeed it was nice writing, Blue may have a future in game reviews!

Also...this is a dumbed down game. I hate to use that term for a PC exclusive title from Blizzard...but that's what it is.

What was said earlier about replayability seems to be the case. The only thing to differentiate between you and another player with the same character are Runes and your equipment. That's rather sad. Extremely sad.

I still think it won't be a much better game than Titan Quest...which is truly a sad thing considering how long its taken!
 
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11. Re: Blue's Diablo III Beta Preview Oct 4, 2011, 15:50 nin
 
Without Skill points/trees I fail to see how this game will have ANY replayability...

Blizzard's answer for that appears to be higher difficulty levels, which in turn unlock better items/weapons/armor, etc.

But yeah, I kinda agree with you.

 
http://www.nin.com/pub/tension/
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10. Re: Blue's Diablo III Beta Preview Oct 4, 2011, 15:49 mch
 
so no more worries that someone is going to go all Daffy Duck and greedily pick up all the loot

Lol_dies

Nice writeup Blue!
 
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9. Re: Blue's Diablo III Beta Preview Oct 4, 2011, 15:47 LaxerFL
 
Without Skill points/trees I fail to see how this game will have ANY replayability... I am so disappointed with this change I hardly consider it a Diablo game. I can not believe Blizzard thought this was a good idea. I am still playing Diablo 2, 10 or 11 years later because every time I reroll I can do a different build. What's the point if everyone has all the skills every time?
Blizzard, you have a great track record and I have never doubted you before, but you really screwed the pooch on this one
 
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8. Re: Blue's Diablo III Beta Preview Oct 4, 2011, 15:37 SpectralMeat
 
I just like the way Blue writes. His wording entertains me for some reason. Definitely a nice feature on Blue's News. Even if it was something like "This is what I think of XY game" or "I've played XY game and here is what I think" or something along those lines.  
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7. Re: Blue's Diablo III Beta Preview Oct 4, 2011, 15:36 Verno
 
Good write up Blue.  
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6. Re: Blue's Diablo III Beta Preview Oct 4, 2011, 15:34 Tumbler
 
Good work, Blue. This gets my vote as a returning feature.

Creston

Agreed, I like the simple straight forward layout. No screenshots spammed all over the page, one font, one size, just good easy reading.
 
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5. Re: Blue's Diablo III Beta Preview Oct 4, 2011, 15:31 Creston
 
Good work, Blue. This gets my vote as a returning feature.

Creston
 
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4. Re: Blue's Diablo III Beta Preview Oct 4, 2011, 15:30 SpectralMeat
 
nin wrote on Oct 4, 2011, 15:27:
Thanks, Blue! Love to see more editorial stuff in the future!

+1
 
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3. Re: Blue's Diablo III Beta Preview Oct 4, 2011, 15:30 Beamer
 
Yeah, responding just to the quoted part, blech.

I complained about MineCraft getting frustrating because I'd mine an entire area, try to get out, die on the way, and lose all my stuff. The stuff would be nearly impossible to find, it disappears in 5 minutes anyway, and since I mined fairly thoroughly a great amount of readily available ore was gone.

But in Diablo? You can account for this. Your stuff doesn't disappear and you could use home portals. Yes, from time to time I'd die too far and lose my best stuff with nearly no hope of recovering it. But more often I could fight for it back, or I could plan well to get to it quickly (the old dash-and-grab could work wonders.)

The game already had mechanics in place to make this challenging but not punishing.
 
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2. Re: Blue's Diablo III Beta Preview Oct 4, 2011, 15:27 nin
 

Thanks, Blue! Love to see more editorial stuff in the future!
 
http://www.nin.com/pub/tension/
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