After completing the Diablo Beta I have some thoughts.
It is a good game, and feels basically ready. I’m looking forward to it. In the Beta test I played a Barbarian almost through to the end, and a Wizard through to completion. I’ll go back and try the other classes now, but probably not play them right through, as I want to also play them when the game is actually live.
Play-style wise I’d recommend that every player try each class; they really play differently. Music was nice, sound effects, nice, and the few special encounters and scenes I saw (Sword of Leoric) were really nice. Well done Blizzard.
The length of the final product better be far longer than implied by the beta. The Beta takes the story to the killing of the Skeleton King, which can be done very quickly. It took around 3-4 hours of gameplay to finish that part of the story which is Chapter 1, and if the final game is only 4 chapters as I have read, then it is lacking. Diablo 3 deserves far more content than that.
The combat against the Skeleton King was great. It took strategy, skill, and patience to kill him on Normal mode, and was a delightful change from the rest of the fights in the game. It killed me once before I actually watched his abilities and started to use a strategy, instead of just nuking until my energy bar was empty. Till that fight all I did was stay at range, use basic powers to kill the mobs as they walked toward me, and switch to the secondary power-kill ability if mobs were tough, or if it got hairy. What I would have liked is more fights in the first chapter which took concentration to defeat.
Now that might be served by Hard and Death modes, but levering everything up is not the challenge I think is needed. Rather the game needs more mimi-bosses with interesting mechanics. I’ve been conditioned by World of Warcraft to expect a boss mechanic, and I cannot see these fights being re-playable if there is only one had fight per major chapter.
The game is also very linear, and perhaps some more distractions and side quests are needed. Yup, the game has always been very straight forward, but as the game wishes to hold interest it needs more breadth.
I think the starting town will get tired if we spend another three chapters walking back and talking to Cain. It was exciting when the skill/item creation area opened, and more stuff which opens after a stage is completed would be cool.