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Published on May 15th, 2012 | by Dan


Diablo III Primer: Get to Know the Game and Its Heroes

Diablo III released this morning at midnight PST, and with the exceptions of Skyrim and Battlefield 3, it is probably the biggest release in KBMOD’s short history. If you’ve never played a game in the series before (and who can blame you when the last one was released 12 years ago), let me try to prepare you for your first foray into the world of the Prime Evils.

Blizzard has had a formula for Diablo since the first game released in 1996. Diablo III stays true to that formula nearly 16 years later, with core gameplay staying almost exactly the same as the previous two games in the series: explore dungeons, complete quests, kill demons, acquire loot. The old saying, “don’t fix what isn’t broken” applies here in spades. You click to move, you click to attack, and you have a few hotkeys for other skills. Go forth and click the horde to death! Simple.

Graphically, Diablo III won’t blow your mind. It is an exercise in art style more than a graphical showcase. Atmosphere is what this game strives for, rather than Crysis-like levels of sharpness and realism. Dark color palettes pervade the game and get ever darker and more brooding as you go through the four Acts. The animations are crisp, showing enemies explode with satisfying gore. The game has all the graphical options you’ve come to expect and looks pretty on highest settings, but it’s nothing groundbreaking. Blizzard makes games with a mass appeal, and as such, the minimum specs to play the game are extremely modest.

So what does winning the game entail with Diablo? Simply put, it’s about getting the best gear and beating the game on the hardest difficulty. Difficulty is gated in Diablo III; that is, when you beat Normal, you play through again on Nightmare and then on Hell. As we’ve detailed before, Inferno difficulty will be extremely challenging and only unlockable at max level (level 60). You will scrape by in trades or the auction house and become addicted to that next loot run, that next piece of gear to craft or find. That is what Diablo is all about (at least until they release the PvP arenas).

Now let’s get to what you really want to read about: the Heroes. Keep in mind, choosing skills is a dynamic and repeatable process in Diablo III, so build choices aren’t quite as critical as they were in the previous games. That being said, there is still plenty of skill synergy to keep in mind, as well as the penalties for changing skills on the fly. Below are some quick rundowns of each Hero and some example builds to try out!


The Barbarian

The only true holdover from Diablo II, the Barbarian is once again the straight-up brawler of the group. You will need lots of potion help early, but as you get more damage reduction and better skills, this class can be an absolute killing machine. If you prefer raw power over subtlety and finesse, this is probably the class for you.

User-suggested builds from our forums:

The AOE/Mobile Barb
Pure Tank Barb


The Monk

The Monk is truly a brand new direction for Diablo. The class is a hybrid that can play many roles from melee fighter to healer and support. We haven’t quite been a class like this in the history of the series, so I expect to see an awful lot of Monks at launch.


Pure Healer Monk
Mobile Monk (Teleports, Dodge)


The Demon Hunter

The Demon Hunter is a combination of the Assassin and Amazon from Diablo II. Using primarily ranged weapons, as well as traps to subdue enemies, she is mobile and very much a finesse class. Don’t worry about stockpiling ammunition though, as it has been removed in Diablo III.


Balanced Damage
Traps and Evasion


The Wizard

The token casting class for Diablo III, the Wizard is very similar to casters from almost any game, but with some Blizzard twists (you can even build a melee Wizard if you so desire). This will likely be my first class, as they are usually a fast clear, even with very little gear.


My Electromage Build
Ice Wizard: Slow ALL the Things


The Witch Doctor

Like the Monk, the Witch Doctor is a fresh class to the Diablo series. With the ability to summon minions, use curses, and poison enemies, it’s the only true summoning class in Diablo III. I found this class to be extremely powerful in beta, but minions often feel this way in early levels, only to balance out in the end. Along with Monk, I think we will see a ton of Witch Doctors running around at launch.


Pure Summoner
Utility Doctor


So there you have it, a quick introduction to your Heroes of Sanctuary. Who will you choose to do battle with? Is anyone else “sick” from work or school today to get a head start on your dungeon crawling?

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3 Responses to Diablo III Primer: Get to Know the Game and Its Heroes

  1. whap says:

    Just realized that these are all builds from the thread the other day, and three of them are ones I made. Internet fame.

  2. Mashfield says:

    Eyeballing it on my monk at the moment, seems to be going pretty well and i’m actually tanking a few of the bosses and rare mobs, spirit generation is annoying though.
    Managed to get our whole group to level 17, in about 7-8 hours or so, really enjoying the monk so far, great article I’ll definitely try and incorporate some of this into my character.

  3. Y2Ken says:

    Great article Dan. Sadly I made the sensible decision for once and I’m not picking up the game until the 26th when my exams finish; but will definitely be jumping in after that. Not sure what I’ll play to start, really enjoyed the Witch Doctor in the open beta weekend but also pretty interested in Monk and Wizard. Expect I’ll end up trying them all eventually anyway.



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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