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Diablo 3 Closed Beta Hands-On: Part 3

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 21 comments

In this in installment, we take a look at two classes, the Barbarian and the Monk.

Diablo 3's Barbarian classDiablo 3's Barbarian classIn this segment, I’m going to cover two very different classes: the Barbarian and the Monk. As with the prior two (Magician, Demon Hunter), this duo doesn’t really shine until after they’ve unlocked their third ability slot at level 6. And like the previous two, one is a bit easier to play than the other. In this case, it should be fairly obvious which one is the true hack-n-slash champ: the Barbarian.

To be honest, I wish Blizzard would let players customize their character. I’m not talking about attributes like strength and dexterity (I’ve already whined about that), but in their general appearance. Many RPGs let us choose faces, hairdos, tattoos and whatnot to give our characters their own individuality. That kind of customization isn’t here in Diablo 3, and in the case of the Barbarian, gamers are left playing one insanely large but ugly dude.

The Barbarian


Diablo 3's Barbarian classDiablo 3's Barbarian classThat said, I would have slapped a hockey mask on my Barbarian and called him Voorhees had I known his destructive capabilities beforehand, as this meaty beast can decimate enemies into bloody piles of red pulp and bone without too much effort... much like the famous Camp Crystal Lake slasher. This guy unlocks the sinner in all of us, the one who secretly gets a thrill out of chopping up zombies, or relish bathing in an explosion of snakes that erupt from the bellies of Grotesques after just a few hacks.

But to keep the Barbarian from being too easy, Blizzard has created a unique system for this class that limits the use of certain skills. Instead of regenerating mana, the Barbarian generates fury by using one set of eight skills, or Fury Generators. A second set of skills will use that fury, aka the Fury Spenders, but there’s a catch: the Fury gage will diminish as he grows calmer. For instance, he could plow through group after group of zombies and fill the fury globe to the max, but that level will begin to “drain” if he’s not actively causing chaos.

Diablo 3's Barbarian classDiablo 3's Barbarian classAs of this writing, my level 8 Barbarian has unlocked the Bash, Cleave, Leap Attack and Ground Stomp “Fury Generator” abilities. Currently he’s wielding the Broad Axe of the Raven and the Cleave spell is bound to that weapon. Because he has 0 out of 100 Fury, his Hammer of the Ancients is greyed out and can’t be used -- this costs 20 Fury. The Barbarian’s third ability is Ignore Pain and assigned to the "1" key. This seemingly acts like a temporary shield for five seconds.

On the Fury Spender side, my Barbarian has unlocked the aforementioned Hammer of the Ancients, Threatening Shout, Battle Rage and Weapon Throw. His Ignore Pain ability resides within the Situational group of abilities which may or may not rely on Fury as a source. So far I’m really liking this setup, as he can swing that axe and take out a lot of enemies in one explosive, body-mutilating, limb-shredding swoop. The more experienced he gets, the more destructive he gets.

Simply awesome.

The Monk


Diablo 3's Monk classDiablo 3's Monk classTo some degree, the Monk is similar to the Barbarian in that he has a set of abilities that generate “spirit” (or mana), and a set of skills that burns spirit energy.  And like the Barbarian, the Monk is proficient in both hand-to-hand and weapon based attacks. But the Monk is more agile, assassin-like, using kicks along with fist-based hits. He reminds me of a character ripped out of Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat or Soul Calibur: a quick, sleek fighting machine with energy-based skills and a superior knowledge of light weapons like Bo’s and katanas.

When I first started to play the Monk, he was different than the previous three in that his method of attack was up-close-and-personal. It felt a little weird at first -- like playing an arcade fighter in an isometric view -- but once he grew in experience, be became a lot easier to play. Compared to the serial killer-like Barbarian, he doesn’t have brute strength backing his blows and kicks, making him a bit more challenging.

Diablo 3's Monk classDiablo 3's Monk classNow at level eight, my Monk is kicking ass, and it’s actually exciting to see where he’ll be leveled up even more. In one hand he holds the Javelin of the Raven, a magic spear that adds a few points of arcane damage. Bound to this weapon is his Deadly Reach skill which projects lines of pure force. In his other hand, he holds the Club of Winter which inflicts several points of cold damage. His second skill, Dashing Strike, isn’t bound to the club and can be used by right-clicking the mouse. This ability allows the Monk to dash at a target, deal some damage, and then reappear behind the target. In appearance alone, he seemingly disappears and reappears like a ninja, although not quite as instant.

At this point, the Monk has unlocked ten abilities, three that are Spirit Generators, five that are Spirit Spenders, and two listed under “Mantras.” Fists of Thunder, Deadly Reach, and Crippling Wave are his current generators whereas Blinding Flash, Breath of Heaven, Lashing Tail Kick, Dashing Strike and Lethal Decoy are his current Spenders. Mantra of Evasion and Mantra of Retribution are his two out of four Mantra abilities.

Diablo 3's Monk classDiablo 3's Monk classLooking over his skill set, the Monk could be considered as the party healer/stat booster. Several abilities affect both the Monk and nearby comrades such as Breath of Heaven which is a blast of holy energy that heals the player and all allies within 12 yards (this ability is also my Monk’s third spell, assigned to the “12” key). Mantra of Evasion adds a 30-percent chance to dodge for everyone in a 120-second timeframe, and Mantra of Retribution will cause the Monk and all allies within 40 years to reflect damage.

Reflecting back on all four characters that I’ve played thus far, it looks like level 30 is the sweet spot, as all abilities and skill slots will be unlocked at this point. My Monk currently still has eleven skills and six slots left to uncover, but given that the beta (demo) only consists of four main quest lines, I doubt any one of my characters will max out until the actual game ships early next year (Q1 2012).

If I didn’t mention this before, the closed beta takes place in Act 1 which is broken up into four main quests: The Fallen Star, The Legacy of Cain, A Shattered Crown, and Reign of the Black King. I have no idea if Act 1 continues beyond the four quests, but the beta does have a nice epic ending that feels like we’re playing a prologue to Diablo 3 rather than the real thing.

One of the great things about playing the beta thus far is that each class brings something new to the table. Even though Act 1 is relatively short in the overall picture, it doesn’t get boring playing the same scenarios over and over again because you’re getting acquainted with someone new: learning their strengths, their weaknesses.

And despite the annoying fact that Diablo 3 MUST have a constant Internet connection, the experience gets even better when friends and strangers alike jump in from out of nowhere at any time. Granted you can play the campaign on your own, the game seems to really shine where co-op is concerned. You can see what other players are doing with their characters which in turn entices you to try out other combinations of weapons and skills.

Next up I’ll be covering the final class and going over other Diablo 3 features like crafting and a few goodies that are new to the Diablo franchise.

If you missed them:

Diablo 3 Closed Beta Hands-On: Part 1

Diablo 3 Closed Beta Hands-On: Part 2

Display 21 Comments.
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  • -2 Hide
    Harby , October 1, 2011 10:28 PM
    In before "not buying it" for blabla reasons.
  • -5 Hide
    maxinexus , October 1, 2011 10:47 PM
    I'm so buying it for d1d2 reasons
  • -4 Hide
    stm1185 , October 2, 2011 12:09 AM
    After playing the Beta ive come to the conclusion its the Diablo sequel I very much wanted in 2003, but in 2012 the game fails. The graphics, the control scheme, the story setup, all would have been awesome in 2003, but in 2012 it does not cut it. Mouse clicking and isometric view should have been left to die last decade. Playing Diablo 3 after playing World of Warcraft feels like a giant step back for Blizzard. I want camera control, I want to really be able to see that new armor drop I get, I want to really be able to see those mobs im killing. I want character models that are lifelike and animated so well it sells the story as well as any actor. These are things other RPGs have been doing for years now, and it is a shame that Blizzard didn't bring Diablo into the modern age of RPGs. As it is they should port Diablo 3 to tablets, where it seems with its graphics level and control scheme would be great, but on a PC or a console it is an epic fail.
  • 8 Hide
    Anonymous , October 2, 2011 1:44 AM
    then you don't want diablo
  • 8 Hide
    kyuuketsuki , October 2, 2011 2:29 AM
    @stm1185: Mouse-clicking and isometric camera are not some kind of technological thing that has become obsolete. They are gameplay choices. People who like Diablo do not want to play a WoW-clone or third-person shooter or FPS in the Diablo universe. They want to play a Diablo game, which is an isometric, mouse-clicking game.

    That being said, that's about the only thing they did right. Otherwise, Diablo 3 is looking more and more like a failure of a Diablo sequel.

    Oh, and @ author of article: there's no reason for there to be character customization. The viewpoint, and the fact that you cover yourself head-to-toe with armor, would make that pointless. Also, this is an action hack'n'slash with light RPG elements, not an RPG, so don't compare it to one... although, character customization is not some mandatory feature of an RPG anyway.
  • 4 Hide
    anacandor , October 2, 2011 2:56 AM
    @stm1185, have you seen how popular Path of Exile is? It's still in beta too and thousands of people are crying over not getting a closed beta invite. These isometric dungeon crawler games are not dead yet. In fact, i prefer them. I still enjoy playing d2, i got bored of Dungeon Siege 3 after about 5 minutes.

    stm1185I want character models that are lifelike and animated so well it sells the story as well as any actor.

    Have you ever heard the voice acting in d2? It is amazing, just like every other Blizzard game.

    I cbf typing anymore but yeah... i think Blizzard knows what they're doing, and they're on the right path with the game.
  • 4 Hide
    dragonsqrrl , October 2, 2011 3:22 AM
    stm1185As it is they should port Diablo 3 to tablets, where it seems with its graphics level and control scheme would be great, but on a PC or a console it is an epic fail.

    Were you also one of the people complaining that the graphics in SC2 were indistinguishable from the original? And you think D3 type graphics could run on mobile hardware? Sorry dude, but you have a lot to learn about real-time rendering.
  • -4 Hide
    stm1185 , October 2, 2011 5:16 AM
    dragonsqrrlWere you also one of the people complaining that the graphics in SC2 were indistinguishable from the original? And you think D3 type graphics could run on mobile hardware? Sorry dude, but you have a lot to learn about real-time rendering.


    Internet smart guy right here. They could take the D3 assets and reduce poly count or texture size where necessary to make it work on next gen tablet hardware. They size of the models are so small on the screen it does not really matter if they did. It's not like you have camera control and are going to be able to zoom in and see it. They could port Id Tech 5, they could port Unreal, they could port this.

    SC2 was an RTS, Diablo was an RPG. RTS is dependent on that view point, on that setup. RPG is not, mouse clicking and isometric made since in 2000 because they could not really do much else. Now they can do so much more and they should have for Diablo 3. It should have been as revolutionary as Grand Theft Auto 3, and moved the series into full 3D, full camera, open world. Heavily detailed normal mapped characters with HDR lighting and shadows that you could watch from any angle. Instead they just kept the archaic control and view setup and did the same old thing. Which is going to look very shitty in comparison to Skyrim or The Witcher 2, or many other RPGs coming out. Let alone MMOs like Guild Wars 2, which really is what Diablo 3 is, its a half assed MMO.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , October 2, 2011 7:31 AM
    Every game Blizzard releases is played daily by most who own them for YEARS. Thats the objective of blizzard, and that should be the objective of making games, making people want to play them, time and time again. I am really tired of these so called games which are really just tech demos. Give me 60fps, solid gameplay mechanics and a captivating story line (optional) and I'm happy.

    "Tech demo games" => "computer graphics card geeks". Otherwise angry birds wouldn't have had any success :p 

    Now there isn't anything wrong with great graphics, but every new game shouldn't forcefully have to be a technical breakthrough, give game developers time to develop games.
  • 5 Hide
    dragonsqrrl , October 2, 2011 7:37 AM
    stm1185Internet smart guy right here. They could take the D3 assets and reduce poly count or texture size where necessary to make it work on next gen tablet hardware. They size of the models are so small on the screen it does not really matter if they did. It's not like you have camera control and are going to be able to zoom in and see it. They could port Id Tech 5, they could port Unreal, they could port this.

    lol... nice save, or attempt at one. So in your original comment you weren't trying to say the graphics quality in D3 is antiquated, so much so that a port with similar graphics fidelity could run on mobile hardware. No, that wasn't the point you were trying to make.

    What you were actually trying to say is a reworked, mobile-optimized port of D3 could run without a problem on mobile hardware... wow, that's profound. Thanks for the clarification.
  • 5 Hide
    Anonymous , October 2, 2011 9:50 AM
    You either like point and click action RPGs or you don't so I really don't see the point of the argument here. So stm1184 is saying he used to like point and click RPGs but now he doesn't and all of those game should turn to something else?

    For your information point and click action RPGs are still at a very good place and if you don't believe me you can check out games like Torchlight, Bastion and others that have been out the past years.

    If you don't like the genre don't play it, I see no reason why you would ask for it to go away though. There are still people that like it and I bet when D3 comes out you will count them in the millions.
  • 0 Hide
    ghnader hsmithot , October 2, 2011 12:15 PM
    Quote:
    gamers are left playing one insanely large but ugly dude.

    The second paragraph last line should be changed to "butt ugly dude".
  • 1 Hide
    fakie , October 2, 2011 12:27 PM
    Mantra of Retribution will cause the Monk and all allies within 40 years to reflect damage.


    overpowered..
  • -1 Hide
    reggieray , October 2, 2011 2:50 PM
    Constant connection required to play (Draconian DRM) no thank you Activision/Blizzard.
    To many better games out and soon to be released that I will spend my gaming budget on.
    Dues Ex, RAGE, Battlefield 3 and SkyRim, all without your draconian DRM.
    Just picked up Call of Duty GOTY for under $20 (PC of course), money well spent.
  • 0 Hide
    SuckRaven , October 2, 2011 4:17 PM
    I can't help it. When I look at the polygonal crap graphics, all I can see is World of Warcraft, which was the first Blizzard game I never played. I think the bitmapped graphics of Diablo II, and hell....for its day, the graphics of Diablo looked much better. Add in the lack of customization, and the big brother always connected requirement, (which by the way I think will eventually lead to a paid subscription model), and you have a perfect recipe for me to not get the 3rd installment of one of my favorite games of all time. Way to go Activision. (Notice I say Activision, because their influence is all over this. Before they muddied the waters, Blizzard and Blizzard North were very fine franchises.) Just my two cents.
  • 3 Hide
    dragonsqrrl , October 2, 2011 8:49 PM
    reggierayConstant connection required to play (Draconian DRM) no thank you Activision/Blizzard.To many better games out and soon to be released that I will spend my gaming budget on.Dues Ex, RAGE, Battlefield 3 and SkyRim, all without your draconian DRM.Just picked up Call of Duty GOTY for under $20 (PC of course), money well spent.

    BF3? lol, from what I've seen so far BF3's DRM is far more convoluted and cumbersome for the user then D3. Have you actually tried BF3 or D3 yet, or are you just speaking on principle? Well, you're a self-proclaimed man of principle reggie, I'll give you that much.
  • 0 Hide
    jn77 , October 3, 2011 4:54 AM
    I think there was a real gap between the tech in the engine used for Diablo II and Diablo III, Diablo 3 should have come out about the time that Guild Wars did with a similar type engine. Now Guild Wars 2 will be out and still have a better engine in the back end then Diablo 3
  • 0 Hide
    michalmierzwa , October 3, 2011 6:51 AM
    Auto-leveling and lack of character customization and skill focus is my determining reason for not purchasing the game when it arrived, unless they make changes.
  • 2 Hide
    envymert , October 3, 2011 11:40 AM
    I agree 100% with dragonsqrl ..... Many things about this game will be great and the excuses people come up with are AWFUL.

    People bitching about graphics .... I see this for every game including D3 and BF3. People who bitch about graphics are morons...look at the screens above. They look pretty solid...and if blizz did what they did for SC2 they will improve quite a bit before launch. Also as stated people who bitch about graphics then play/game on a laptop or have an outdated video card .....330M or 260 shutup. You care about graphics but cant even crank up the goodies on a trivial resolution.

    People complaining about this constant internet connection...two conclusions these were people whom duped,hacked or used trainers to level up and are pissed their whole Bnet account including WoW accounts can get banned for one of these makes people agree. If you want to use DRM as an example of why you are buying this game DO NOT use BF3 as an example I will be buying both games but origin as stated in the ToS will go through files which are NOT needed for gameplay....essentially invading privacy in areas they shouldnt have access. O well heres to the whiners who dont have ground to stand on.
  • 1 Hide
    of the way , October 3, 2011 1:19 PM
    envymertPeople complaining about this constant internet connection...two conclusions these were people whom duped,hacked or used trainers to level up and are pissed their whole Bnet account including WoW accounts can get banned for one of these makes people agree.


    I will most likely buy D3, at some point anyway. But I don't get a lot of time to play, so I'll usually just be playing single player. Now, I probably will almost always be connected to the internet, but if I'm playing single player, why should I have to be online? It won't bug me too much (although I'd be extremely mad if I was a travelling without internet sort), but I can fully understand why people wouldn't want to always be connected.
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