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Published on September 22nd, 2011 | by Dan

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>Diablo III: KBMOD’s First Impressions

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It is finally here. The Diablo III beta is live.

And this game is good. Really good.
First, this isn’t going to be a class rundown article, just general impressions of the game. Let’s start with the nitty gritty: the technical side of things.
The system I am running it on:
AMD Phenom II 965 Black Edition overclocked to 3.85 ghz
8GB of G.Skill Ripjaws DDR3
2x Radeon HD 5770 in CrossFire
7200 RPM WD Caviar Black 750 GB HDD
This hardware is well above the minimum specifications. Loading up the game was quick. The title screen is a simple log-in screen and a lot like World of Warcraft, but seeing as how everything is tied to Battle.net, this is no surprise.
Graphically, the game looks great, but not in the Crysis sense. As with most Blizzard games, it won’t blow your socks off graphically, but they do serve a purpose. No one creates atmosphere like Blizzard and once again, they succeed here. Just look at the dark blues and grays. The eternal night of Tristram and its surrounding areas are perfectly illustrated.

The graphics settings here are high, except for shadows. Any use of AF or AA was actually disabled in this build. We won’t really know how taxing the game is (or how great it can look) until then. I will say with ground clutter on full and everything on high, I was staying at 60 frames steadily when I wasn’t recording. I used VSync due to the recording, and it was running at 45-60 FPS with Fraps on. If you have a mediocre system, just tone some settings down and you’ll be fine. Running the game in fullscreen windowed mode resulted in instant alt-tabs and no performance loss.

So you can run the game, but how does it play, you might be asking? First, let’s talk about the controls. It follows the same simple model as Diablo games of the past. You left-click to move, right-click to cast a secondary spell. Left-click is also an attack if selecting an enemy. You can also eventually bind keys 1-4 to skills. The 5th slot is for potions. Shift holds you in place so you can attack from a stationary spot. Simple, straightforward, smooth, and responsive (if not carpal tunnel inducing).
So what has changed from Diablo II? Not much, thankfully. Obviously the graphics and engine are updated and fresh, but the same hack-and-slash gameplay is present. The few differences from Diablo II are all positive though. First, the inventory. You can hold a lot more equipment. Nothing takes up 8 or 10 slots of space anymore. The most I saw was a 2-slot item. There is also no need to go back to town mid-fight either, as you eventually get a cauldron that lets you turn items into gold on the run.
Gone also are town portal scrolls. You get a Warcraft-like stone to portal back to town. This is also more convenient and doesn’t take up valuable inventory. Thirdly, there are now crafting skills for use with your Nephalem Cube. The Horadrim are apparently long gone, but there is no shortage of cubes here in Tristram. I haven’t delved into crafting much at all, but you can disenchant magic items much like in WoW. You then use these materials to craft.
In a very welcome change, the story leads you through the game rather than you blowing by it, as you did in Diablo II. Quests mean everything in this game. They mark where each game starts; no longer do you just start in a fresh game unless you choose to. You choose to start the game at a certain moment in the storyline each time. By default, it will start at the quest you left off at, but you can choose to go backwards or forwards for item farming purposes. If you die, the game has checkpoints it will revive you at. You can choose to be revived at a checkpoint or to be sent to town. You don’t appear to lose XP, at least not on easy, just item durability. No more insanely long corpse runs for no good reason.
The skill trees are probably the biggest revamp in the entire game. I won’t delve into specific classes here. You start with 2 special skills right away, and you will need them. You no longer start out with just auto attack. Your wizard will not be hitting stuff with his/her staff. As you level, you unlock more skills without training them or having to do a talent tree. At specific level intervals, you unlock another skill slot to use, up to 6. You can fully customize the play style you want or what you might need for an encounter. You can change skills at any time. All this caters to the new player, is more forgiving, and helps you to learn the class.
In the 2 hours or so I got to play, I am very satisfied with where the game is going. I also like that with a high end machine, once the full graphic options are in, it will look amazing. There are even physics for kills. Enemies don’t just lie down dead. Bodies go flying and blood is everywhere.

Very satisfying when you make a kill.

My only gripe is that there were too many lulls in the play. I felt like there should have been hordes of enemies coming at me. For now we can chalk that up to beta pacing for a level cap and the difficulty not being tweaked yet.
For a hardcore Diablo player, it is very satisfying to be playing a new Diablo game. There are many clones, even some that do it well, but none give you the feeling this game does. It’s only a beta, and already I feel back at home in Tristram.
Stay a while and listen.

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nipnops

DanDan

I put the OO in Swagoo. One of the founders of KBMOD. I stream on Twitch as well as writing and editing for the website.


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