Well, I just got into the Beta on this last wave of invites, and I figured I'd give it a go and see what it was like. I have played through as the Barbarian first and the Demon Hunter second.
THE OPENING SCREENS:
Very generic feeling. I disliked the "tabbed" character choosing, with the video of what the character can do to the side. I also don't like the little writeup below the video. It feels "wrong" somehow. I would like to see something more akin to D2's character selection screen, with all of the characters on screen at once and you simply click and choose, with a little animation or some-such to differentiate them, rather than a sterile skills video and write-up. Hopefully this is a place-holder for the Beta and simply to explain to newbies the differences off the hop, rather than being representative of the finished product.
The Profile Screen is very nice, with the stats page and all your character and what they are wearing easily accessible, although there are a couple of little things I'd like to see changed, like the background color of the small character icons being reversed, so that Blue is the character selected and Red is the unselected characters.
The Banner Page is very simplistic, with not a lot of choice. This may be a Beta thing, but I do hope there are a lot more choices in designs and unlocks for the future (multiple unlocks per achievement) in the finished product. I would like them to fold the Banner page into the Profile screen however, as you don't need to be able to click on many things to bring up those different pages.
The Tool-tips on the screen should not be shown until you hover over something for a few seconds (the "Left Click to Open Profile" thingy). It just makes the screen look cluttered, plus the light-up halo around the object kind of indicates that it is "clickable" without being told to click.
Clicking your character should take you to the Character tab of the Profile rather than your overall career, otherwise it is redundant with the clicking of your name to get the profile page.
I found not being able to "spin" the character or "zoom in" on the character somewhat disconcerting, as it was the first thing I tried to do in that Character select menu, to get a better look at the models. I would like to see that implemented into the game. Yes, I know you can spin the model in the Character Profile page, but it just feels "wrong" to not be able to do it in the main menu area.
Overall, the Opening Menus need a bit of work as they feel very clunky and cluttered. They definitely don't draw me in to the "world" of Diablo as they are.
The UI is...off putting. There is too much on the screen at once, in a very in-your-face way. The Skill Icons need to be toned down/muted. I would rather they be more like the D1 and D2 kind of "Stone Rune" look, or at least a silhouette kind of thing, rather than the colored icons they have currently. That whole bottom bar needs to be toned down in brightness to keep it from being as distracting.
The Icons for Skills/Inventory/etc need to be able to be hidden, much like the toggle-able ones with D2. I do not use the icons, I use hotkeys, so they are needlessly cluttering up the visible space. The mini-map is too "zoomed out". Zoom it in a bit to make the areas seem larger. As well, take away the border and tone down the brightness so it can be ignored (or even better, make it toggle-able, so I can lose it when I wish to). Take away the quest locators please! Considering the nature of the game, exploration and monster killing should take the forefront, not quest rushing.
Remove the "Quest Complete" pop-up that cannot be removed without hitting Continue. It interrupts the flow, and also takes up a large amount of screen real-estate and is unnecessary. As well, tone down the Level Up effects. A little too bright and considering you can't really do anything during them anyway, it makes no sense to "show it off" that much.
Buying items is a chore, as I cannot drag and drop the item into the new slot and swap the old one back to the merchant for gold. The item is put into your inventory, then you have to click it into the new spot. Then you have to click the old one to sell it. Here's a spot to make it more intuitive. Drag and drop is the way to go.
The red glow around monsters needs to be toned down/use a thinner line. Right now it is too bright and distracts you away from what you are killing. The same goes with the blue line around interact-able things like the bookshelves, but the lighter blue color is not as invasive as the red.
The "You have empty inventory slots" Tool-tip needs to be altered. It shows up all the time. I haven't found an amulet yet, dammit! You don't have to remind me every time I pick up a club!
Overall they feel very...generic. Yes, they are useful, but being able to swap them at any time feels wrong, as well as gaining them feels wrong. It feels like I have such a lack of choice with them. Yes, I understand that Runes will be able to customize them to a degree, but that is not enough. I don't want items to be my only form of customization. I would like to see items "accentuate" the choices I've made, not be the only ones that I've made!
Level-ups are very...boring. I level-up, I might gain access to a new skill, and that's it. I gained a few stat points that I couldn't control and it did nothing to me. I didn't feel any different killing monsters, ultimately making the level-up feeling an empty action. What will happen once I've reached 30 and I have all of my skills, and the next 30 level-ups are essentially gaining nothing?
Customization is very lacking in the Beta, partly because of the limited item affixes and partly because of the lack of runes, but also because beyond those two things, there is no real customization! Yes, you can choose your skills, but it feels like a very empty choice. Mainly because there are not enough skills to choose from. Guild Wars was similar in that you can swap your skills in town, but they still had stats you can alter, and there were so many skills to choose from that finding the synergies between them was half the fun! In Dungeon Siege III you could customize your skills as well so that each one could have different effects. I can see the Runes doing some of it, but not enough. I just didn't feel like I had any control over any growth of the character.
So far, I am not a fan of the different resources for characters. They just feel too...arbitrary. I would have rather seen the same resources used in different ways, or allowing characters to use other resources for their skills to allow different effects. This would open up the amount of items any given class could find useful. I would have liked to see Stamina return, just changed to make it more important, and useful in regards to skill use (maybe having skills draining stamina to varying degrees, giving an excuse to use the basic attack you will never see again after level 2...).
Too many items are class specific, and there is a giant red "X" in the centre of those. How about a small X in the corner, or even better, simply a red background and a "You cannot use this" voice? There are still far too many specific items however; I'm pretty sure that people can figure out which items will work for their character given the inherent bonuses. We aren't that dumb...And why can't I have a Barb wielding crossbows? It could be fun!
Stackable potions are very nice. Hopefully gems and runes will be as well.
Please change the "DPS" stat. I would like to see it removed, but at least make the number smaller than the name of the item!
I really wish that identifying meant something again. Right now, you only ID yellow items. It just feels odd to have it completely arbitrary like this.
Salvaging is nice, although I can't see it being as in-depth as Guild Wars was, and hopefully crafting the items will actually mean something later.
I like the way lore is integrated into the game as a recording, but I would like it called something else, rather than generic "Lore", like "Excerpt from the Book of Cain" or some such thing. Having it pause when someone else speaks would be nice as well.
The Skill names and titles need work. "Hatred Generator" and "Hatred Spender" and "Passive Skill" is far too generic and out-of-game seeming. Make them fit into the world of Diablo please!
The same goes for shrine descriptions, so they seem more "mysterious" hearkening back to D1 and D2.
I really hate the removal of the Pentagrams/christian references, as they were a big part of the earlier Diablos, and I think their removal was very hackneyed and given a poor excuse. This is a war between Heaven and Hell after all, albeit on a fictional plane...
The dialogue seems a bit "flat" in delivery, more like actors and not like the characters they are acting, if that makes any sense.
The quests are okay, although everything seems to be a bit too linear right now. Hopefully they will have that fleshed out in the actual game. The world itself needs a bit of work. It is very linear. I would like to see far more randomization in the game. I know that the dungeons are supposed to be randomized rather than the overworld, but even the dungeons seem very...samey right now.
The music is great, although the title screen music feels off. Too "Epic" sounding, I think. During the game however, the ambient style music sounds very good as a beginning thing. Hopefully we will get lots of different ones further in the game.
The sound is good, hearing gold drop, or books drop, destroying barrels and such. All of that works very well, although the skill effects are a bit loud compared to everything else. I turned that volume to 1/2 compared to the rest, just so I can hear things uninterrupted.
I did dislike the change in font. I miss the Diablo "O"s and such...
The art style is a bit...off putting. The characters and monsters often seem a bit "over-exaggerated" (the one boss you fight to get Leoric's crown for example seems wrong), and the lack of the style of scenes like the Butcher's room in D1 is noticeable, although that "could" change further in the game. It is too bright colour-wise, but not that terrible (however the overlay that people have done to fix that is great!). The lack of a light radius in dungeons doesn't feel right as well, with an over-abundance of blue and green fog effects not making up for it. The overworld areas in the forest right before the church has a proper feel to it, however.
I do like the look of a lot of the background scenery like Cain's house and such, having a "lived in" look. We'll have to see how it progresses though.
I can't see too much changing within the game, other than a bit of polish here or there. As it is, it seems to be an okay game, but I don't know yet if it will have the longevity of its predecessor. Right now I think it is too "watered down" for the masses, in terms of hand-holding and ease of play. I don't know how the later difficulties will play of course, but I can't see the game being as deep as D2 in regards to customization, which means that I think it will be shorter lived overall.
I'm not a fan of all of the character choices, but have yet to play through the game with them all, so that could change.
We'll see how the finished product compares with the Beta.