We posted some general beta and Barbarian first impressions from Stuart a couple of days ago, and today he’s back with his thoughts on the Wizard and Witch Doctor.

    As he said last time, these are his first impressions — quick thoughts on the classes and the game after playing through just once or twice. He may change his opinions on things with more play time, and obviously his observations will differ from those of players who have been in the beta for weeks or months. I think that’s what makes them interesting though, since he is seeing the game for the first time, with fresh eyes. (Let’s hope that many more of you guys will know Stuart’s feeling in the weeks to come, as the beta finally starts to really scale up in numbers.)

    Random observations

    The healer in town seems to only have 1 function, so I wish he would just heal you on click, instead of making you request a healing with a 2nd click.

    Mousing over an item in your inventory brings up dual windows (like Titan Quest) to give you an easy comparison with your currently equipped item. Right click swaps them. Don’t try this with a shop window open, because there right click sells the item without confirmation. I didn’t notice a sort function.

    There are a lot of nice touches to assist you. The inventory icon flashes when you have items that you haven’t looked at (even if they are unusable to your class), and the items themselves flash momentarily in the inventory window to draw your attention to them.

    The town portal highlights the destination you need to use to continue your current quest.

    Nephalem altars in a dungeon only show on the map when you are quite close to them, even if you have previously discovered them.

    A couple of times my follower got stuck behind a piece of furniture, leaving me to fight on my own. If you get far enough away, he teleports back to your side.

    The Nephalem cube meant that my inventory was never full, and picking up treasure was always beneficial. I never found anything of value to buy in the stores, but crafting items was definitely useful.

    Click through to read his first impressions on the Wizard and Witch Doctor.


    The DiabloWikiwizard‘s arrogance leads to some funny dialog.

    The wand’s basic attack is ranged like a bow now, which makes more sense to me than whacking a monster with a little stick. It’s a single shot and is pretty fast and can hit the edge of the screen.

    DiabloWikiMagic Missile seems to have the same speed and range. The signature skills, like Magic Missile that you start out with, seem to use no DiabloWikiArcane Power. No matter how many times I cast MM, my arcane pool never dropped even 1 point. MM does a bit more damage then the basic attack, so I was never tempted to simply attack. I guess the basic wand attack should be able to carry bonus elemental damage, though I didn’t get far enough to see that work. With the passive DiabloWikiVirtuoso the basic attack damage is doubled, so that might make it attractive.

    DiabloWikiIce Armor looks pretty good when you are standing still, but the effect is pretty subtle when you are moving. It’s supposed to add a 2 second chill to your attacks, but I couldn’t perceive this at all. Nicely, there is a timer that shows you the duration, as well as an animation of ice breaking and a sound to remind you when it expires. I preferred Frost Nova.

    DiabloWikiFrost Nova gives a nice 3 second freeze, but with only medium range, which makes it tricky to catch all of a crowd.

    It’s a little strange mechanic that picking up a sharp axe makes my spells stronger than with my old wand, but I understand the desire to make weapons valuable to all classes.

    After comparing Frost Nova a bit with DiabloWikiWave of Force, I decided on the latter. The 25 arcane points are nothing. The cooldown is a little longer, but WoF has much better range and damage. No, it doesn’t freeze the monsters, but it often slays everything in the room. It is quite satisfying to take out 19 skeletons with one blow.

    DiabloWikiArcane Orb is a beast, and the graphics look really good in game. You can only fire off about 3 (35 AP cost: total AP pool is 100) before your arcane pool is drained, but that usually is enough. Your pool fills up completely in about 5 seconds anyway, so you can use this skill quite often. It’s so large that it is very difficult to miss, but it’s also very hard to hit a monster in the center of a pack, since it generally triggers on the first outside monster.

    I liked DiabloWikiSpectral Blade a lot more than I expected, since I generally prefer ranged characters. The range is short, but it’s nearly impossible to miss a close target, and you frequently hit multiple targets. I preferred this to Magic Missile most of the time. You do get hit more often due to the short range, but you can position yourself right behind another player or follower and cast away with relative safety.

    DiabloWikiShock Pulse was kind of a compromise between Magic Missile and Spectral Blade. It does a bit less damage per shock, but the medium range is much farther than Spectral Blade, and it also can hit 3 targets. The aiming was sometimes unpredictable at long range, but not enough to be frustrating. It costs nothing and can be quickly recast, so the occasional misses from wandering sparks didn’t bother me. In the end I settled on this out of the 3. It’s great for opening barrels quickly.

    DiabloWikiMagic Weapon gives your weapon a nice glow, but I was using an axe at the time, and I didn’t like having to get so close to strike the monsters, so I quickly switched it out.

    DiabloWikiDisintegrate is very fast and deadly. You can sweep it around a room to great effect, and the graphics are good. It completely emptied my arcane pool in about 4 seconds and generally was not enough to finish bosses. It can be challenging to keep the beam focused on a quick moving target. This and Arcane Orb were both so great, it was difficult to choose between them.

    DiabloWikiDiamond Skin looked great but lasted only 3 seconds, so I didn’t try it much.

    The first time I battled the Skeleton King I had Spectral Blade, and I came close to dying twice. The 2nd time (maybe I was lucky or had better practice) I used Shock Pulse, and it was easy.

    Witch Doctor

    I love critters, so this was actually my favorite class so far. It was also the easiest, as nothing short of the DiabloWikiSkeleton King threatened me at all.

    The starting skill DiabloWikiPoison Dart is strong. It’s fast, and it has a long range. It felt much stronger than Magic Missile, with the only downside being that you can run out of mana. I could cast PD alone 13 times before running out of mana, but when you are using other skills, you get less than that.

    DiabloWikiPlague of Toads is a medium range skill that creates about 3 toads. Aiming is very unpredictable — sometimes (not often) I would completely miss a target with all 3.

    DiabloWikiZombie Dogs are great. You don’t need corpses. The DiabloWikicooldown is nothing, because they last and last as long as you help them (and pick up health orbs to heal them regularly). I recast them twice during the whole demo — once against the Skeleton King. They are much more intelligent and less irritating than the critters in D2. They don’t get lost when you turn a corner. Imagine 3 tanks that let you sit back and shoot Poison Darts with impunity. I could have completed the demo easily with just these 2 skills.

    DiabloWikiGrasp of the Dead was quite useful. Slowing down monsters just made the darts and dogs more effective, and this skill adds a modest amount of damage.

    DiabloWikiHaunt was good, too. The range is long, and it will seek monsters up stairs and behind furniture with no problems. The damage is good, though it only affects 1 monster at a time. If that monster dies quickly from any cause, Haunt will spread to the nearest monster, so you can hammer the affected monster to make sure that it does. You can cast this over and over and haunt many monsters at a time, and it looked like multiple haunts could jump to one monster if it was the only one left.

    DiabloWikiZombie Charger might sound weaker than Plague of Toads, but it was much easier to aim as it travels in a straight path, and it pierces everything along the way. You can hold down the button and launch them one after another.

    DiabloWikiCorpse Spiders throws out a jar that breaks into 4 small spiders. They do more damage than Zombie Dogs, but they last about 3 seconds.

    With the dogs and darts and Grasp of the Dead, Manglemaw was never able to get through the doorway into the room with me before being quickly slain.

    DiabloWikiHex was ok. At first I was just casting the Shaman beside me, and he wouldn’t do much for a second or two, and then he would at most turn 1 monster into a chicken. Sometimes it looked like he was helping by attacking monsters. I found that if I cast him directly into a pack of monsters, he would hex 1 very quickly, and he would often get off a 2nd hex. He only lasts about 8 seconds, but I was impressed to see that he was able to hex a unique monster into a chicken.

    DiabloWikiHorrify is useful but very short range. You have to get right next to the monsters, and they they run in fear and don’t attack for 5 seconds. This worked on a unique monster as well.

    DiabloWikiFirebats was fast, like disintegrate, but it is short-to-medium range and spreads out like a cloud, hitting multiple enemies. It seemed decent, and it was great at opening barrels.

    The Skeleton King was challenging, but I ended up keeping my distance and finishing him off with Poison Darts.

    –Stuart Pierce

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