I have recently won a beta key for Diablo 3, so I started killing the monsters of Sanctuary right away. Here are some of my first impressions of the game:
- It is cool! Great Diablo feeling once again!
- The skill points form D2 are gone. If you reach a certain level, you receive certain skills, period. The effectiveness of your skill depends on your level, stats and your weapon (see later), and does not depend on how much you studied the skill.
Thus, all skills are available for you, and there is no need to train a dedicated character for trying out a new skill combination. This is good. However, it is also bad, as I describe it in the next point.
- All characters of a certain class are the same. In D1 and D2 you needed to distribute stat points, and in D2 skill points too. In D3 stat points are distributed automatically, and there are no skillpoints anymore.
This is good, because you cannot screw up a character by putting a point to a wrong place. (E.g. If you had a standard sorceress in D2 and you put a single point to dex, or standard barb and you put single point to energy, the point is forever wasted and the character becomes suboptimal.)
However, this is bad, because it makes all characters the same. The character has a name, a class and a level, that's all. The character can be customized by the gear only - but those are just objects, and not the character itself. Skills can be changed.
E.g in D2 there were a lot of different paladins: avenger, hammerdin, zealot, martyr, smitadin, etc. In D3 there are two kinds of monks: male and female. The rest is just gear and playstyle.
- BTW: It is great that all characters can be both male and female. In D2 I marginalized some great classes because it awkward to play with a female character.
- Skill damage depends on your weapon. Always. In case of a barbarian or an archer it is fine. However, Master Okavan, my martial artist monk is also carrying two swords for dealing damage. When enemies are nearby, he grabs the swords, but whenever he needs to strike, he puts them away first, and strikes with the fists. It is funny, especially because damage is dealt based on the weapons. Surprisingly, the damage of the wizard also depends on the size of the axe he is carrying. Do not worry, he will never swing the axe, it is needed for casting more powerful arcane orbs only. The poison in the witch doctor's darts and the bites of his zombie dogs also depend on the weight of the club he is carrying. I understand why, but it is funny.
In order to avoid wizards wandering around with greatswords, certain objects can be equipped by certain classes only. Thus wizards will carry mainly staves, so the RPG feeling remains. I liked when in D1 everybody was allowed to carry everything (if the stat requirements are met), and wizards still used different gear.
I also miss that - except for barbs and demon hunters - weapon itself cannot be really used anymore. If the monk or witch doctor would like to swing a sword, he would need to select the basic attack as one of the skills. Thus he can choose one less powerful skill. It is a pity, it is too much of a sacrifice...
- I like that the different four characters have a different way of handling and regenerating mana (or whatever). Blizzard wanted to favor different playstyles with it (and I love this idea), but its effects will probably kick in at higher levels only. In the beta I did not find much difference between the way the wizard and the witch doctor handling its mana (or whatever).
- I also like the cooldown on potions, I like that town portals cannot be cast instantly, and I very-very much like the shared wealth and shared stack of a player's characters.
- The game is great, I surely buy it when it comes out.
- A lot of role playing was sacrificed for playability and balance.
- The pace of the game became much faster.