Lowlight - The earlier patches where the game was simply not fun to play at all. The pace of the game felt like complete ****, and it simply wasn't fun. I remember playing through the beta the first time on maybe patch 2 or 3, and I became legitimately concerned that this game would not be fun. The 'controversy' of the difficulty being way too easy was a joke, as people argued that it is only act 1 normal.
The later patches greatly fixed the issues with pacing. It is very hard to explain what the game felt like before the changes... (I can't remember the exact patch where it was greatly improved but I believe Flux had mentioned this in a review as well). Ever since these changes the beta has become much more fun to play, and the difficulty is still easy but it feels like it should for A1 normal. The pacing is fantastic and feels very 'diablo'-like.
Highlights - Nostalgia Nostalgia Nostalgia. I am absolutely thrilled with subtle, yet effective, themes / items that are in this game. The redone Tristram theme sounds great, and I have already enjoyed the music in this game more than I did in D2. Also, little things like monster death sounds. The skeleton's death sound is IDENTICAL to the death of skeletons in D1. I love the reincorporation of the skeleton king, adria (purple mushroom was a nice surprise), and Lachdanan. I can't wait to fight some fallen, and see what else is in this game!
-Realizing wave of forces power (after like 3 Wiz playthroughs) and using it to save JONDAR in one blow.
-The Jar of Souls event
-The crafting system is going to be fantastic
-The resource systems are really well done (havent played monk or DH) and constantly regenerating for wizzy = win
-Runes being implemented in the beta
-Difficulty ramp up
-The game feels like its going to be a huge success, can not wait to start finding unuiq..excuse me, LEGENDARIES ASAP.
-Awful UI with the skills. Let me right click and pick from pop up windows. Not hard.
-Give me main attack on left mouse click as an option, always. Minor complaint but I hate not having it, i would sacrifice a skill for it because I love the flexibility to move. I HATE trying to move and casting a spell and basically being stun locked by the UI. First time I die from this in HC will piss me off greatly
-Monk. Wont play him ever unless I am bored to tears and dieing to keep playing (lets be real, I'll make a monk eventually is what that means). 0% interest in the character and dislike almost everything about him
-Chat interface is absurd
-No naming games. I will miss this so bad and I will miss the games lists too. Won't be the same. Even if its an improvement (debateable) how they have it now, I will always think this should be implemented.
-No gems or sockets to play around with in Beta
For above @Bad Ash. Look at the keymappings, there is a move button
Highlights -> Pretty much just a good fun game, played an earlier beta and the gameplay now is definitely better expecially with the inclusion of runes and harder difficuilty (its still normal and the beginning of the game, but its not such a walk in the park) Like everything about it apart from the few mentions below.
- Skills UI is horrible, its slow, bulky, hard to use, hard to easliy find & move skills to buttons. Just really badly made. This is by far the worst thing about the game at the moment. Luckly it doesnt directly effect gameplay.
- The chat window in the lobby is pretty fail still, the old system showing the characters at the bottom was far better. And at the moment just getting error too many people in trade (this error also shows when you close the chat windows)
- Colour / brightness / bluredness, still looks like candy land. But using the darkd3.com medium setting and its a diablo look again.
As for the skills, I wish there was one menu when I can see ALL skills on one screen, without scrolling. Also when you levelup, it should list specificly not just what new rune was unlocked but to what skill it belongs, so you would instatly know where is it (without scrolling skills). I guess if all skills were on one screen, finding that new unlock would be instant as well.
Highlights... I pre-ordered the game and downloaded the client.
Lowlights... Don't like how the skill runes unlock. Having your very first rune unlock be for a skill you have decided not to use sucks. In addition, having the first rune unlock assigned to a skill you are using change the fundamental use of the skill, i.e. the reason you are using the skill, also sucks. When the runes were drops these issues did not exist as the runes could be used assigned to a completely different skill.
Pro's: The monk played like I wanted it to play after watching those cool vid's. There was enough gameplay available to keep me wanting more. There were moments in the ruined crypts where some crowd control gameplay became evident and D2 nostalgia kicked in. I didn't die lol. I found 2 rares after killing the sk once. Multiplay actually made the game fun.
Con's: Communication is a hassle, party talk is easy to miss. A few too many clickies, having to click 5 or 6 times to cut thru unwanted dialog boxes was a headache in d2 and now its worse than ever. Solo play got boring fast. I'm unsure if my friends whom aren't familar with D2 got a positive impression from the beta, it was way way way too skin and bones - give us a whole act come on its only normal. Yeah, the skill ui is lame. Was no where near enough time to play all the characters with all the downtime in just 1 tiny weekend.
Overall impressions: You can tell a lot of work has gone into this game and that its going to be heaps of fun when its out there. But I couldn't help feeling extremely limited in the beta now matter what I looked at, whether it was crafting, no amulets, skills, lack of heavy mobs, no companion, the beta itself left me feeling very critical of it at first but has grown on me.
My highlight came when someone posted a rare 17.1 DPS sickle on the AH for 1,000 gold buyout and I grabbed it for my barb. Another highlight was when open weekend came and all the new folks who did not read the boards started buying my Keen rings of wounding for 5k when I paid just over 2k. Profit baby profit.
Lowlights for me was playing hardcore with every class and never feeling like I was in danger of dying.
Hmm... I could go on and on about what i liked and didn't like about Beta, but i'll try to keep it short and sweet.
-Combat feels damn satisfying... when there's enough enemies around to get going. Especially as a Melee class.
-Getting a good piece of loot feels rewarding, especially in the sea of "+1 to expirience" and "+2yd gold pickup range".
-As mentioned in many posts above - sound design is awesome. Lots of Oomph and power in many abilities, lots of nostalgic sounds stayed in and so on. Can't be really said for most of voice-acting, enemy sounds and music, but it isn't anything worth dwelling upon.
-Some of the graphics are extremely awsome, i loved the cavern mini-dungeons, each one with it's own little aesthetic. Not to mention, for the most part attention to detail is really nice to the eye.
-It's hopefully beta-exclusive, but i HATED being lead by the nose. You couldn't proceed where you wanted, until you heard what NPC's had to say, you had to see every setpiece level designers had to offer, you had to witness every little plot development - especially when skipping those things was made especially clunky (like skipping cutscenes). Not to mention, being gated from next areas from the start is really jarring. It's ok when you're expiriencing the plot for the first time, but i would love to be able to auto-skip all of this on further difficulty levels/new characters.
-Amounts of monsters you encounter is uneven. Sometimes you enter a room, and lo and behold, there's crapton of skeletons/zombies/whatever to slaughter. Sweet! But sometimes i've been wandering around - for example cathedral - anticipating better encounters then... 6 bats or 3 zombies, all of which die from one 2 handed sword cleave. Or waiting for premade animation of skeletons climbing up a window (inside a cathedral - more on that later) just to dispatch them with single hits. Most of the time i didn't bother to wait. That's another weak point, hopefully exclusive to beta, where you're rarely given those awesome encounters where you're overrun with baddies and you can unleash every skill to kill them or try to survive the incoming fire. While i see this as a detriment to the enjoyment of playing D3, it may be exclusive to me only. The most fun i had was when struggling to survive.
-Dungeon Layout. I dislike it. Too many samey "blocks", too many corridors, to many pointless areas. I know that previous Diablo games were also made from blocks and such, but the flow was better, especially combined with the nature of those games (in D1 rogue-like gameplay and D2's fast pace). D3 is definitely more leaning to being fast paced but it's nowhere near as fast as D2 was (at least in the beta portion). You can't traverse through the dungeon as fast as you could in D2, which combined with long corridor parts makes up for some dull parts.
-Art design - yes, horse glue topic. My view on it, it's not that it isn't gothic enough. My gripe is with some overblown proportion of some dungeon areas seen in beta (and some areas in various later act clips). When i think "crypt in diablo" i don't necesseraly think "airplane hangar with bones and candles inside". I'll leave it at this.
-UI - that goes without question or discussion. They need to let go of Battle.net 2.0 and learn a lesson from their past work, or even Valve for the matter. Lots can be said bout DotA2, but their lobby system seems to have multiple features that would work exceedingly well with some Blizzard games. Also, in-game UI needs some ironing out, like aformentioned Skill UI or "lore" clips which you have to click to cancel. etc. etc.
So much for short and sweet when i realised that every negative thing i found in D3 got a paragraph of text O.o
Sorry about that, it's not that i see the game only in negatives. Those thing i listed (point about art can be taken with a pinch of salt at this point) really hampered my enjoyment of playing the Beta. Hope that i would see some of those things straightened out, but i realise that probably won't happen. Apart from that, i can see a game which had lots of love put into, but IMHO better direction, more organised development cycle and (no offense) not shielding themselves from criticism with over-protective fans/PR departament, would make this game even better.