I'm trying to think back to the first time I played D2... I made a barb, played SP, and put points in EVERY SKILL I WANTED TO. Like, all skills. Got to nightmare, and it was clear I couldn't move forward. No matter what I did. So now, my very first character ever I abandoned and went online, played with a friend, who taught me about builds, but having made soooooo many mistakes... I really like the skill system. On the fly, you can think "Oh, this is working like crap. I should head to town and respec quick" and that seems awesome.
I haven't been following too close because it makes me crazy to not be able to play or understand things in context, but going waaaay back, a lot of stuff seems to make sense, now that I finally had a hands-on: When I started with D2, it was a totally different world from D1, and I didn't like some stuff... Over the years, I grew to love it more than anything.
But eventually, I grew bored. D3 here, looks like it won't get boring. Yes, I won't need 4 accounts full of mules and different builds, but I love that.
I remember liquidating two characters to build my first smiter, and I loved it, but it was soooo much work when all I wanted to do was START DESTROYING AND GETTING MYSELF A TORCH. Respecs... are something I LOVE the idea of. No more rebooting a character, or realizing that two misspent points cost you the build because you wanted to experiment, and now your build is inferior.
One thing I don't like is how fast the beta was: I haven't watched like, many gameplay vids at all. I still ran it in 4 hours, and I farted around a lot. My understanding is this is just a tiny bit of the first act, right? because if this is the whole thing, that really, reaaaaally sucks.
That's one thing I don't understand: What did you guys who got real beta invites do with all these months? after running the six characters through the beta, I can't see much else to do.
And finally.. I only had time to run with the wizard. I discovered the open beta on friggin sunday. I was pretty pissed.
But I LOVED the wizard. I usually hate magic-oriented characters in everything: Relying on a resource means when you run out, you're screwed. The wizard having non-resource spell type stuff on your left click, instead of OH YOU RAN OUT, WHACK WITH WAND is great, really, really great. I had a ton of fun, and only unlocked a few skills, but really enjoyed cold whatever beam. Lazers, man. No waiting on resources, at least, not in the bit I played. And you really feel powerful: I hated that with sorcs in D2: even with a super solid build, you never really felt powerful, but we'll see how inferno is.
I had a little trouble backpedaling and firing off at some of the grotesque things, the fat guys who explode into worms: Mobs of those gave me some trouble, they ran as fast or faster than I did, and would target me for melee before I could slow them down really, at all.
Inferno: This one seems a little funny. I know we have NO IDEA, but I remember that torch quest being launched as "impossible" in D2, and needed an 8man party to take down... it was what, a week before smiters=pwned was figured out? Do you think they have the internal testers of the late game capable of adequately assessing whether or not we'll figure out a way to destroy it? Honestly, I hope so: And I hope we can't, that it really is a crazy stupid hard struggle. That would be a great balance to all the noob friendliness we've seen. My favorite games start off accessible and get into just stupid, retard nintendo hard, and I really hope that's what they aim for... and it plays out well for a point-and-click style game.
Finally, tinkering with the auction house was a little painful. I found it hard to sort by buyout in a meaningful way, such as removing the N/A buyouts so it would sort by lowest but not none, which could be a useful feature, or maybe, I just don't understand the auction house. I love the idea of a RMAH: People are going to spend money on in-game gear and crap. In D2, that ruined the economy. That sucked! Now blizzard has a real stake in the economy of this game, and the ability to CONTROL it, via the auction house: This seems like a great way to take power away from the turds duping items, and to make tracking of these things a lot easier. I don't know how it'll play out when we're live, but I think it's a good thing for us and for blizz: and those who don't like it are surely welcome not to use it, but spending 5 bucks here and there doesn't bother me. I used to play MTGO and that was fueled by your own cash, and sometimes saving the time to buy what you need will result in much more enjoyment: Or rather, selling what you don't so you can buy what you do need.
And we all know finding a hundred dollar value item for a class we hate will just be the greatest feeling. No need to heckle for gear or runes or something when you found it yourself: Sell it for cash.
So... that's how I felt about the beta in my couple hours of time with it. I can't wait for the 15th, and prepurchased the game already. I work from home, and they do not care what we do when we're not "on a call" so I will have lots of time to sink into it, and hopefully enjoy it as much as D2.