I had been so excited for Diablo, that when I heard about the Open Beta it was just too surreal. Of course, my excitement had to wait until, like, 6 hours AFTER we were all SUPPOSED to be able to get in, but whatever. I started out with a Barbarian named 'oldmangloom' and went through the motions. I had watched so many beta playthroughs that actually clicking on monsters and zigzagging to catch gold felt more like watching someone else play than actually finally being in control. It was one of those 'this is too good to be true' moments. And I haven't even been waiting for the beta as long as a lot of you have!
Despite plenty of bugs (lag spikes, music cutting out, certain lore entries vanishing once picked up, or not having a voiceover) the gameplay in general was very smooth and looked nice, which was a relief, since I bought a new desktop computer with a nice graphics card a few months ago in anticipation!
I suppose now I'll jump into my likes/dislikes:
- Combat feels fun, explosive and dangerous. Monsters go flying, the sound effects when you connect are loud, brutal, and satisfying, and the potion cooldown means that you have to be wary of getting that red screen, at least until the battle's over and you can pick up the abundance of health potions that will drop.
- Crafting feels very intuitive and easy, and I just know I'm going to spend way too many mats crafting to try to get the perfect item. I am a little bit bummed common items are essentially worthless now.
- The skill rune system is nice, and I definitely prefer unlocking new runes as you level up over than the item-based system. It will be time consuming enough just getting high level gems :P
- I love the color and feel of the game. I've heard a lot of complaints that the game lacks the original gothic horror vibe that was present in Diablo 2. Sure, you may be right, but I still feel like Diablo 3 has a gloomy, dark feel to it - only the graphics and colors are much, much nicer this time around, not only in the background and character screen and everything, but the UI as well.
- Boss packs felt exciting, and Leoric himself was a much more dynamic and entertaining battle with more skill required to dodge attacks that any D2 boss I can think of, so that's a huge plus.
Now for the dislikes;
- Character customization seems so weak, that I think it will hurt re playability and build identity and all of those other complaints we've all heard before. Fortunately, I think the game is so fast paced and exciting, and there's so much else to do besides worrying about where to put stats or where your 20 skill points should go, that we'll all get over that aspect of character customization and focus on the item game, which is what it's all about anyway, right?
- I really don't like health globes. I guess potion spam is cheesy, too, but Diablo 2 was such an immersive experience for me, down to the idea that these warriors used magic potions to heal themselves, that I can't help like feeling I'm playing a an arcade game when health globes pop out and I have to run over them to heal myself. I understand what health globes are about, they just feel kind of stupid I guess :P
- It's been beaten to death but the difficulty needs a serious increase. I made it up the skeleton king with only ONE close call, and that was while fighting 3 unburied (which is an admittedly stupid move at a painfully underequipped level 8) the rest of the time I was one-shotting almost everything with Cleave and not even touching the keyboard with my left hand.
That's about all there is to say. Unfortunately my total play time within the beta was probably around 4 hours out of the past 72, thanks to all of the errors. I DID play as a Monk, Wizard, and Demon Hunter, all of which I also enjoyed, and I know I'll be into the Witch Doctor, too! All in all despite its flaws, we all know Diablo 3 is going to kick *** and 99% of the haters are going to be waiting with bated breath for the game to come out. In any case, we'll have to see more than the first 5% of the game before we can judge!