I started playing the beta on Saturday morning and I've hardly stopped since (except for downtime), I spent the first 2 days leveling characters to 13, and today playing in public games. And now, cup-of-tea in hand I come here to tell you all about it. Clearly I have nothing better to do, anyway...
My first playthrough, so obviously my first impression was 'D3, yay! Yippee, hooray etc.'. It felt a little off early, running around with a couple of knives (because they were easily the strongest weapons I had), but I soon settled in to the routine of smashing everything, moving or otherwise. The difficulty was incredibly low, especially after I bought a couple of adventuring rings of wounding from a vendor. Yet I still enjoyed it greatly, it turns out smashing everything IS a lot of fun after all.
Hunting down the journals was pretty rewarding and the way they tied into world events in the crypts worked well for me. In fact the whole world worked very nicely for me, everything from uniques bursting through doors, to imps popping out of killed enemies had a great sense of fun about it.
Cleave - Nice, easy to use skill with some aoe, rupture rune effect makes for some epic group explosions
Frenzy - Terrific single target skill, takes down the SK and many elites with little bother
Seismic Slam - 'Because you may as well spend your fury'. nice skill, massive aoe and has a little bit of knockback which helps against elite packs
Leap - Terrific transport skill, nice way to start fights thanks to the snare
Passive skill - Ruthless - Beta is easy => maximise damage and speed
Weapon - Crafted flamberge with +speed and cold damage - Great damage, massive hits, feels like a barbarian weapon
I started off using ground stomp a lot, it's a very effective skill and deals with elite packs very efficiently and helps make short work of the SK. However I lacked a decent single target skill and I decided that this was the only skill I'd be willing to remove. My options were frenzy and bash with the clobber rune, I went with frenzy simply for the higher damage output once it gets going. I know it's a poor choice for a slow hitting weapon like a flamberge, but it made the crypt an absolute doddle.
From front-line tank, to fragile caster, less of a difference than I expected. The wizard actually felt a bit weak until I got to level 5 and got Arcane Orb, from there on in it was a matter of trying to make good use of my arcane energy and defensive skills. Efficient play with the wizard turned out to be a lot harder than I expected.
Shock Pulse - Occasionally annoying, nevertheless a solid spell with a terrific on
Arcane Torrent - Easy to aim, lets you target the environment and big threats with ease
Diamond Skin - Potential lifesaver, counter to many elite packs
Energy Twister - What it says on the tin, big, power efficient aoe attack that work well against hordes and with shocking pulse's on-death effect
Passive skill - Power Hungry - More power = faster killing, seemples
Weapon - Random wand + orb - Toyed with using a flamberge for bigger hit with twister, in the end this faster moving setup worked much better with shock pulse
Obvious subs are ray of frost for arcane torrent, frost nova for diamond skin and arcane orb for energy twister. 1st choice was because what I wanted to hit was very often in cover, and the aoe makes up for the loss of damage and snare. 2nd choice was because diamond skin lasts longer than frost nova, I would use nova in multi though. Last one was just a matter of preference really. Twister is coooool.
A lot of people seem to find this class underwhelming, and again, the first few levels are a bit slow. But the BAM, firebats, a stupidly powerful aoe attack quickly followed by a rapid fire dart. Together they were my bread and butter skills. Then soul harvest comes along and you have the hardest hitting class in the beta.
Poison Dart - Easy to use, works well on both mobs and single targets
Firebats - Very powerful. With the rune, a couple of casts with soul harvest in effect clears out mobs even in multi
Zombie dogs - Defensive effect and free damage, yes please!
Soul Harvest - The big momma, this can more than double your damage, for me, the WD's defining skill
Passive skill - Spiritual Attunement - More mana = faster killing, seemples
Weapon - Ceremonial knife + mojo - Obvious choice, gave the highest DPS
As mentioned, this fella can hack through mobs like they aren't there. I actually ran into someone else using this exact build and my well equipped barb had a lot of trouble keeping up. The WD's other skills look powerful, but aren't needed in the beta
A very popular class as some of you may have noticed, and it does have it's advantages. Great movement speed and some good crowd control and single target abilities. It took me longer than most classes to find a build I was comfortable with, but in the end I went with...
Entangling Shot - Nice little multi-hit skill, keeps 'em at bay
Rapid Fire - A very fast killer, possibly the best single target attack in the beta
Vault - Mostly for moving faster, stops stuff running away from you
Chakram - A proper aoe skill, wide area and decent damage
Passive skill - Tactical Advantage - It lets you get from A-B quickly! The most useful passive in the beta?
Weapon - 2x Hand crossbow - Another obvious choice, great DPS
The big question here is probably why no bola shot? It has great damage but I found that ranged damage varies too much to make good use of it. It could take anywhere from 1-3 shots to take down a foe so I ended up wasting a lot of shots or missing enemies. It would probably be a great skill against tougher enemies, but I found chakram + entangling shot had it covered.
Many people seem to think this class is OP, I can't see why. It's fast and easy to use in the beta, but it lacks the devastating power you can get from the barb and the WD. It's skills didn't seem to mesh very well, and it took a while to find a spirit spender that I really liked
Fists of Thunder - Great single target skill, the tele effect made it better than dashing strike for me
Deadly Reach - Great aoe at only level 3, gets even better with a rune
Blinding Flash - Like a worse version of ground stomp that spends spirit, still useful though
Exploding Palm - Corpse explosion makes it's triumphant return, POP
Passive skill - Fleet - It lets you get from A-B quickly! The 2nd most useful passive in the beta?
Weapon - 2x shop-bought sabres - Couldn't find any decent fist weapons, oh well, 'I punch you with my mighty sabre'
I tended to start with Fists of thunder to tele in, obviously dashing strike would work but it doesn't count as the first hit of a combo. Follow up with exploding palm and hits 2 and 3 of deadly reach for some serious aoe. Deadly reach could easily be replaced with crippling wave if you wished. I toyed around with lashing tail kick and wave of light as big-hitters, but I just didn't like them.
These are my builds and are probably couloured by my specific experiences in the beta, I'd love to hear what you have to say and see the skill combos you went with.
A couple more things, I wasn't impressed with the loot system in the beta. Almost everything worthwhile that I found dropped from an elite mob. At level 13 I was just running past everything else, it wasn't worth the one swing it would take to kill the mob. The one-handed weapons were massively outdoing the two-handers early on. Every character I made started off with a knife which seemed a bit silly really. It was also pretty silly that you had to buy a couple of rings from a vendor to do any decent damage, adventuring rings of wounding made any character easy peasy to level.
The multiplayer matchmaking worked really well, I'd end up grouped with other people who were just starting the quest and jump straight in. A lot of people played demon hunter, badly, but it was nice to see how some skills such as frost nova worked so well in a group. Also, it was fun to watch how other people played their classes, I actually gained some respect for the monk when I watched someone dashing about as one, using fists of thunder and dashing strike to full effect.