If you have any interest in high level characters or PvP in Diablo III, you’ve surely listened to our latest podcast by now. We talked about the Blizzcon 2011 Arena demo for the bulk of the show, and both guests — The Eliminator and Wolfpaq — agreed that the Witch Doctor was clearly the best character in the PvP demo. [Note that he was the best in 2010 also, with entirely different attack skills (Firebomb, Mongrels, and Sacrifice) than he had this time. See a trend, there?]
Adding to the ongoing PvP info, here’s a hands-on report from Adivirgi, who spent most of his Blizzcon playing the Arena demo. He’s going to write up a detailed report on each and every class (time permitting), and he’s starting off with the Witch Doctor. This article describes all of the Witch Doctor skills and rune effects and their utility, and includes general class strategy as well. It’s highly-informative, and it starts now:
Witch Doctor Arena Skills and Impressions
Runed with Indigo for 5 shots at once.
I liked the responsiveness of this ability. It’s a very quick shot so you could hit most targets unless they were moving really fast. It did pretty decent damage too, but I found that the Witch Doctor was lacking in fire power compared to the other classes. Its major drawback was that it could not shoot through walls (reasonably), which is where Spirit Barrage came in handy.
Click through for the rest…
Runed with Crimson for 40% of damage returned as health.
I know that on the official website the crimson rune only gives 25% back, but I am pretty sure that it was 40% in the demo at Blizzcon. (The website lists lvl 4 runes, while lvl 7 were in the demo.) Either way, this ability was a bit slower to hit targets then firing the darts, but its major advantage was that once you targeted someone, the bolt would basically track the target until it hit them, so you didn’t really miss using this ability. The other major advantage was that you could shoot it through walls. It was nice to sit behind walls safely away from the battle and send these bolts out at enemies. The 40% damage returned as life was nice too, but I found the darts to be a much higher damage dealing ability, (300% weapon damage with indigo compared to 125% for Spirit Barrage).
Grasp of the Dead
Runed with Obsidian to increase slow effect to 64%
Again I know the website says 58% (which is a lame rune effect since it only grants an extra 8%) but I’m pretty sure I remember this being 64% in the Blizzcon Demo. (The website lists lvl 4 runes, while lvl 7 were in the demo.) This ability was a lot of fun to target and cast. The area of effect isn’t enormous so it didn’t have a massive impact on slowing people down because they weren’t standing in it for very long, and the damage it dealt wasn’t very significant either, but it was fun to cast on a group of players who were bunched in one area.
I also used it to slow down enemies who were chasing my injured team mates. It was also useful in tight areas (around the center of the arena map in this demo), where people were forced to run over it to get to you. I think I would have preferred to rune it with a crimson just to add more damage to its DoT effect. Overall this is a fun ability that requires you to be really quick and lead the enemy’s movement so that it lands just in front of where they are running.
Runed with Alabaster to increase damage of hexed units by 80%.
Another rune effect that is much better than the 60% listed on the Blizzard website (The website lists lvl 4 runes, while lvl 7 were in the demo.) . I kept forgetting to use this ability but it is incredibly powerful and made it a lot easier to take down barbarians who were leaping at me or pulling me towards them. It was most useful to cast it just as an enemy appeared, but casting it a little bit before gave you more time to focus on using attack skills, since the fetish guy followed you around for 8 seconds. I’m pretty sure I only saw one hex per cast so I don’t think time was wasted for the few seconds before the enemy closed in. This skill seems like a pure PVP ability. The added damage bonus with the rune was really nice too since it gave you the upper hand until the enemy broke out of the effect.
Runed with Alabaster for health regeneration
This skill is so amazing, by far my favorite Witch Doctor ability, and I can’t see any PVP build without this skill and rune combination. Anytime I ran into trouble I would pop this ability and run with increased speed away from my enemy towards a health globe. The health regeneration was amazing too and it almost always topped me back up to near full health. The cool down is 15 seconds so I would try and keep my distance using the Darts or Spirit Barrage (from behind a wall) until I knew I had this off cool down. I found that by using this ability I was able to keep myself alive much longer than most of my teammates. Might be a bit overpowered but we’ll see when the game is launched.
Runed with Alabaster to inflict 205% weapon damage as physical to affected targets
This is a crazy awesome spell that lets you damage multiple enemies and receive a pretty decent damage buff at the same time. Its downside is that it also has a very short range so you basically need to be right in the middle of a pack to get the maximum effect for this spell. I found that I rarely used it unless I had Spirit Walk on cool down because being that close in the fight for too long would get you killed faster than you can say “diablo is a woman” (which might actually be cool if that’s the case).
The three Witch Doctor passives, if I remember correctly, were Pierce the Veil (more damage for increased mana cost), Rush of Essence (spirit spells return mana), and Spiritual Attunement (mana regen and increase max).
I ran out of mana every now and then and would switch to firing my Spirit Barrage instead, since I would receive 200% of the mana cost back over ten seconds and since it was the lowest mana cost. Overall I really enjoyed playing the Witch Doctor and look forward to making one of my own when the game eventually launches.
Blizzcon 2011 PvP Arena: Hands-On Reports: