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    Forum regular and long time fan RyTEK got his first Diablo 3 play time recently, and wrote up a nice report on the experience. His forum post is here, but since lots of main page readers don’t hit the forums, and it’s a good read, I’m quoting it here as well.

    In the article RyTEK talks about gameplay, atmosphere, graphics, system requirements, and more. Here’s the start; click through to read the whole thing.

    My friend was kind enough to lend me his beta account for the weekend. I had a pretty busy weekend IRL, but I was able to run a Wizard, Witch Doctor, and Monk through the Skeleton King (several times each). I need to open things up by saying that I am dying to get this game. 48 hours and 4 energy drinks later, here are my thoughts by my personal order of importance:

    Gameplay

    Awesome. The variety of skills is simply amazing. I ran through a DiabloWikiWitch Doctor using DiabloWikiFirebats and DiabloWikiPlague of Toads – my wife was using DiabloWikiZombie Charger and DiabloWikiPoison Dart in a build that was just as much, if not more capable. The importance here is that my build had the WD fighting up close (2 to 4 yards) while my wife’s WD could fight from a farther distance. Impressive!

    Trying for XP DiabloWikiachievements (such as XX killing blows) was fun and had me approaching groups of enemies with an additional level of strategy. I found myself looking through the dungeon for DiabloWikidestructible environments just so I could get the destruction XP bonus.

    Combat with the DiabloWikiMonk felt “connected” – by this I mean each punch and kick seemed like it connected with an enemy at the right time. There didn’t appear to be any clipping or delay in the monk’s combat, either would have ruined the experience.

    Starting about 30 minutes into the beta, the amount of enemies finally becomes Diablo-esque. As people have mentioned, it is a bit easy, but to those people I pose the following question: “was Diablo II difficult through Act I?” No… most people didn’t even touch a health potion before panicking at Rakinisu’s electrified status.

    Atmosphere Sound

    I measure the quality of a sound effect by its ability to tell me that something is happening through sound and sound alone. I was able to hear distant creatures before I could see them, there were audible cues that told me that my resources were depleted or that my health was low, and there was a good amount of ambient sound. ALL GOOD THINGS. The music is much more subdued than in Diablo II which is something that I don’t like right now. Perhaps the end product will fill the void with more ambient noise or perhaps spell-effects will dominate the audio track. The bass in the spell effects is INSANE – get a good subwoofer.

    Atmosphere Graphics

    IMO this is the darkest Diablo has been since D1. There are dead bodies, candles, libraries with tomes, gargoyles, chandeliers, tattered draperies, armor and weapon racks EVERYWHERE. There is even a glowing blue DiabloWikimeteor hole in the ground through every floor of the cathedral. There are plenty of dark places, and the lighting seems appropriate for being candle/chandelier lit (inside) and moon/haze lit (outside). The graphics are just fine for the fast-paced action of the game.

    In still screenshots I notice the relatively low texture resolution of backdrops. This isn’t an issue real-time, even when you hit Z for a closeup. In fact, the wavering glow of candles, billowing smoke, mist, particle effects coming from doors and shrines all take front and center when it comes to visual focus.

    Extracurriculars

    The DiabloWikiartisans will be amazing. I made some chestgear and got pretty lucky with a prefix – AND THAT WAS JUST AT TRADESKILL LEVEL 1! Great resource dump with A) DiabloWikisalvaging and B) spending DiabloWikigold. I can’t wait to max them all.

    Technical Graphics

    I was able to max graphics (without AA because I don’t care for it) on the following systems:

    • 15″ MacBook Pro – 1440×900 – core i7 @2.9GHz, 4GB RAM, AMD 6XXX series.
    • 24″ Win7 self build – 1920×1080 – AMD X4 @3.2GHz, 4GB Ram, AMD 4770.
    • 19″ Win7 self build – 1440×900 – Core2Duo @3.0GHz, 4GB Ram, AMD 4830.

    Accessibility

    My wife is a gamer (lvl 85 rogue in WoW – enough said) but was new to the Diablo universe. She beat the Skeleton King before I did! That said, she was asking me about some gameplay features such as the Nephalem Altar and salvaging. My 2-year old was able to click on a zombie and kill it – she remarked “I punched it daddy”. So proud.

    Other

    I will be buying an extra mouse to keep on-the-ready ASAP. The click-fest has returned! I may be getting new speakers – as I mentioned, the sound effects are awesome, especially in the low end.

    Closing remarks

    I’m glad I only had the beta for the weekend because when I was playing I just wanted more and more. I didn’t want things to end at the Skeleton King. Now that I have given it a go and thoroughly enjoyed it, I am happy to sit back for 2-3 more months waiting for the final product. Thank the Lord for the Book of Cain to pass the time.

    –RyTEK

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