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Diablo 3 Closed Beta Hands-On: Part 4

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 19 comments

In this hands-on preview, we cover the last class, the Witch Doctor.

In this installment, I’m going to cover the last class, the Witch Doctor. I must admit: I was a little skeptical about playing this class at first, but once I started on the path down to mingle with the Skeleton King, I soon realized that this is the easiest class to play out of the entire group. In fact, it’s safe to compare the Witch Doctor to a Summoner: a being that can summon monsters to do its bidding while casting ranged spells from a safe distance. The Witch Doctor is set up to do that from the beginning, equipped with a Poison Dart "Physical Realm" ability that’s launched by blowing through a straw, and a Summon Zombie Dogs ability, which should explain itself: a Support ability that conjures up three zombie dogs that attack at will.

That said, the Witch Doctor is a nasty opponent from the very moment he/she steps onto Overlook Road. There’s no real learning curve, and unlike the other four, it doesn’t take a load of leveling up in order for the character to begin to show its true potential. Still, as the Witch Doctor grows in experience, its arsenal of abilities grows ever so much more interesting. So far it’s gotten to the point that I can’t decide which abilities to stick with as a default, as they’re all so interesting and fun to use.

As it stands now, my Witch Doctor wields the Brutal Two-Handed Club of Flame. I chose a melee weapon because I wanted to use abilities other than the default Poison Dart. I may eventually revert back to the Poison Dart, but to be honest, it feels somewhat cowardly to stand from a distance and fire off ranged weapons. I suppose I’m more of an up-close-and-personal kind of guy who also likes to conjure up allies in order to take down the enemy.

On the abilities front, I’ve kept the Summon Zombie Dogs because they’re just too useful to set aside. As the secondary active skill, I’m using Corpse Spiders, which is essentially a jar of spiders I throw at the enemy: it breaks, spiders come out and bite the opponents, and then die. Plague of Toads is relatively the same, except these deadly reptiles deal 12 to 17 points of poison damage and then die. There’s also Grasp of the Dead, which will summon hands from the ground, slowing enemy movement and dealing 4 points of physical damage per second for 8 seconds. Between these three, I’m having a hard time settling on just one as my secondary ability.

Given that my Witch Doctor is now at level 8, I also have an unlocked third ability slot. For now, I’ve chosen Hex, a Support ability that summons a Fetish Shaman for eight seconds.  This Shaman will hex enemies into chickens who in turn cannot perform offensive actions. Like I said before, the Witch Doctor has interesting abilities that many Diablo fans will really enjoy.

Like the Magician, the Witch Doctor relies on mana to use the special abilities. And like the other characters, the Witch Doctor’s ability set is broken down into three categories: Physical Realm, Spirit Realm and Support. My character’s Poison Dart, Plague of Toads, Zombie Charger (I’ll have to try that one out) and Corpse Spiders are all Physical Realm abilities -- I have five more still to unlock. The Spirit Realm abilities include Haunt and Horrify, with four still remaining locked. Finally, my Witch Doctor’s current Support spells include Summon Zombie Dogs, Grasp of the Dead and Hex, with four additional abilities remaining to be unlocked.

As previously stated, the Witch Doctor is probably the easiest to master out of all five, followed by the Barbarian and the Wizard. The Monk is probably more difficult to use than these three because he/she is somewhat hands-on when it comes to tackling enemies, but doesn’t have the stamina of the Barbarian class. The Demon Hunter can be difficult simply because he/she uses two separate sets of skills that rely on two separate energies. Instead of one whole globe of mana, the Demon Hunter’s reservoir is split in half, thus each side is depleted quicker than if they consumed the entire container.

So there you go: we’ve covered the basics of all five classes. With that out of the way, we can take a look at some of the game’s basic features, beginning with forging. However, due to the original size of this installment, I decided to make the forging and auction house portion a separate, fifth installment of our Diablo 3 Closed Beta hands-on coverage. Stay tuned... it should be published shortly.

If you missed them:

Diablo 3 Closed Beta Hands-On: Part 1

Diablo 3 Closed Beta Hands-On: Part 2

Diablo 3 Closed Beta Hands-On: Part 3
Display 19 Comments.
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Top Comments
  • 10 Hide
    reggieray , October 6, 2011 1:11 PM
    Constant internet connection required to play, no LAN support, FU Blizzard.
Other Comments
  • 1 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , October 6, 2011 9:25 AM
    nice hands on reviews. keep them coming.
    can we have more articles of this type?
  • -3 Hide
    ghnader hsmithot , October 6, 2011 11:32 AM
    Old graphics..Booring...
  • 6 Hide
    Zeh , October 6, 2011 11:39 AM
    Is a graphics/hardware review possible, or you're avoiding it due to its Beta status?
  • 6 Hide
    tlg , October 6, 2011 12:42 PM
    The graphics engine in from 2006, how can it look modern? However, this game doesnt aim to look modern, but to look different with a very special artstyle and atmosphere. As long as the graphics are watchable and also they are smooth for your eye and you can stay 5 hours playing without making ur eyes bleed, its fine!
  • 4 Hide
    sirmorluk , October 6, 2011 1:08 PM
    Gameplay>Graphics.
  • 10 Hide
    reggieray , October 6, 2011 1:11 PM
    Constant internet connection required to play, no LAN support, FU Blizzard.
  • 4 Hide
    ap3x , October 6, 2011 1:26 PM
    Typically Characters that are strong early falter at the higher difficulties. That is at least how it was in D2.
  • 5 Hide
    michalmierzwa , October 6, 2011 1:42 PM
    Auto leveling and no way to tweak your character or your spells is in my opinion the biggest downfall for Diablo fans including me.
  • -4 Hide
    theonlydz , October 6, 2011 2:53 PM
    why is this a problem?? i'm never without internet anymore.

    reggierayConstant internet connection required to play, no LAN support, FU Blizzard.

  • 1 Hide
    jamesmoore4 , October 6, 2011 3:21 PM
    "Like the Magician, the Witch Doctor relies on mana to use the special abilities." Actually, the Magician uses Arcane Power, not Mana. All the classes have a unique resource.
  • -1 Hide
    dark_lord69 , October 6, 2011 3:34 PM
    ghnader hsmithotOld graphics..Booring...

    He is using a crappy video card on a laptop.
  • -4 Hide
    airborne11b , October 6, 2011 6:56 PM
    sirmorlukGameplay>Graphics.

    I agree to an extent. Graphics and Gameplay are about equal in importance, but should lean a little more on the gameplay side. No one wants to buy a 580 GTX to play a PC game that looks like it was made in 1999.

    But as for gameplay, that's the problem with blizzard games. Their gameplay is unimaginative. They never come out with anything truly original or breathtaking. Blizzard just boxes up a game with mundane gameplay, with terrible graphics so everyone and their mom with an emachine built in 2001 can play(Read buy) their game.

    Take for example RTS's. CoH came out years ago and still has better graphics AND more advanced / complex gameplay mechanics.

    Diablo3 The gameplay is almost exactly the same as D2, and really brings nothing to the table that other newer RPGs do.

    Then you look at their MMO WoW, and it's complete garbage compared to other MMOs that came out around the same time. They Just stole the 3D MMORPG gameplay from EQ, made it easier, wash down the graphics and boom -> WoW.

    Sorry, but blizzard is all about quantity in sales, not quality in game or innovation.
  • 0 Hide
    Raidur , October 6, 2011 9:15 PM
    2006 isn't bad.

    CryEngine 2 (Crysis) is 2007, and that engine is still rarely rivaled today. IMO you can thank consoles for that.

    Luckily there's still some innovation out there, like the 4A engine, RED engine, Creation engine, Frostbite 2, and some others.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , October 6, 2011 10:09 PM
    LOL @ airborne11b re: WoW. Garbage compared to other MMO's that came out at that time. Wow 12 million subscribers can't be wrong LOL. The numbers speak for themselves, it is so good all other MMO's have had to go free-to-play to stay alive. Then people end up paying more for F2P and complain about the cost of WoW. Jeez people need to grow a brain.
  • -1 Hide
    curiousgeorgieo , October 7, 2011 6:33 AM
    Dupedupedupetydupe
  • 0 Hide
    diablo3warrior , October 7, 2011 1:50 PM
    Great article. I'm surprised to hear that the Witch Doctor is strong right at level 1. I would have thought the opposite.

    Sadly, I don't have a beta key. Like most, I have to wait until Diablo 3's official release. But, I did find some pretty solid Diablo substitutes to play while I wait. Here's 3 of the best:

    http://www.diablo3warrior.com/3-diablo-style-games-to-prepare-you-for-diablo-3-release-date/
  • -1 Hide
    diablo3warrior , October 7, 2011 1:50 PM
    Great article. I'm surprised to hear that the Witch Doctor is strong right at level 1. I would have thought the opposite.

    Sadly, I don't have a beta key. Like most, I have to wait until Diablo 3's official release. But, I did find some pretty solid Diablo substitutes to play while I wait. Here's 3 of the best:

    http://www.diablo3warrior.com/3-diablo-style-games-to-prepare-you-for-diablo-3-release-date/
  • 0 Hide
    twist3d1080 , October 10, 2011 5:41 PM
    Call me a knit picky but did any one else notice that he called the beings from the Plague of Toads spell reptiles?
  • -1 Hide
    twist3d1080 , October 10, 2011 5:41 PM
    Call me a knit picky but did any one else notice that he called the beings from the Plague of Toads spell reptiles?