We’ve recently posted two write ups by Stuart in which he detailed his early experiences in the DiabloWikiDiablo 3 beta. The first covered general beta impressions, while the second focused on the Wizard and Witch Doctor. Today we’ve got a third, in which Stuart shares some more general beta observations, and then goes into more detail about the Monk and his skills.

    General Observations

    The game flashes a reminder to you if you currently have an empty slot on your character that can be filled. I still think auto-equip by default would be better than this, and beta 9 still fails to remember that setting if turned on.

    The moment you change out a skill, that skill effect is immediately gone, even if it hasn’t expired yet. If you leave the game from a dungeon, you must wait on a 10 second timer. When you return to the game, you will still be in that dungeon, and surrounding monsters will still be there.

    DiabloWikiScrolls of Companion are plentiful, as long as you search all the bookshelves. The creatures are pretty nondescript. I’m ok with that, because I think they look like some construct that a wizard created out of clay. Unfortunately, some of the smaller and darker ones can be hard to see sometimes. After training myself to run over every bit of DiabloWikigold, I had to keep reminding myself not to waste the effort while I had a companion.

    The DiabloWikiStone of Recall doesn’t work during an event like the Skeleton King, until after he is killed. I turned down the volume of the sound effects this game so I could really hear the atmospheric sounds and excellent music. Even though this is pretty much a hack-and-slash game, I enjoyed hearing what the followers had to say, and it immersed me into the story more.

    Several other testers have recently sent in excellent write ups of their beta experiences, which we’ll be posting in the days to come, since unlike Blizzard, we don’t take off for the holidays. If you’re new to the beta or just have some detailed thoughts about your experiences, feel free to share them in the forums and/or submit them as main page news.

    Click through for the rest of Stuart’s write up, with comments on strategy and details about nearly all of the DiabloWikiMonk skills.

    The Monk

    I’ve finally had time to play through with the Monk. Although his DiabloWikiSpirit Globe doesn’t ebb like the Barbarian’s DiabloWikiFury, neither does it regenerate. This is significant, because as far as I can see, there are no spirit restoring potions or globes, the town healer restores no spirit, and the healing wells don’t restore spirit, either. It doesn’t take long to generate spirit in a battle, and it’s nice to begin a battle fully charged, which the Barbarian can’t always do.

    A new Monk starts off with DiabloWikiFists of Thunder, which is compact and fast. The 2nd hit in a DiabloWikicombo comes quite quickly, while the 3rd takes a bit longer to charge up. I found that I could strike once per second and still build up charges, and you can switch targets if they are close enough. One hit every 2 seconds did not charge the skill. You don’t have to actually hit anything to charge the skill. You can hold down shift and hit the air with your first 2 strikes, and you can still pull off the 3rd hit against a real target. The monsters you kill sizzle with lightning, and the 3rd hit can hit multiple monsters and provides knockback. The area of effect is small, so don’t expect to hit every monster, and the knockback distance is small. The knockback didn’t seem to work on uniques at all. Weapon speed was a big factor, as even the smallest changes in weapon speed were noticeable.

    DiabloWikiBlinding Flash is a good defense against a crowd. It’s a lot like the Witch Doctor’s DiabloWikiHorrify, though the monsters don’t turn their backs on you. It has a bit more range, and 5 seconds gives the monk plenty of time to weaken or kill the crowd.

    I found another fist and dual-equipped my monk, but my average damage went down, so I went with a shield for my off hand. I definitely took a good bit of damage while facing crowds, but there were usually enough health globes generated that I didn’t need potions often. I felt like I could stand toe-to-toe with anything I ran into.

    Compared with Fists of Thunder, DiabloWikiLashing Tail has a bigger area of effect, does a lot more damge, and has a stronger knockback, which it should, as it’s a spirit spender. The knockback didn’t seem to work on uniques. It was great for mopping up the lampreys from a grotesque. By the way, the grotesque damages a pretty good area when it dies. Several times, when I thought I was half a screen away, I suddenly found my life globe halfway down.

    DiabloWikiDeadly Reach was the next spirit generator I tried. It is slower than Fists of Thunder, but it is definitely longer range — not just on the 3rd hit. I found I could hit a monster on the opposite side of a railing. Like FoT, the 2nd hit comes quickly, and the 3rd more slowly.

    The DiabloWikiMantra of Evasion looks like a swirling circle of energy particles beneath your feet and works like a Diablo II aura, though you have to recast it every 3 minutes. There is a timer that shows the duration, plus a 2nd timer that show the bonus you get for the first 3 seconds. You can recast it at any time (after 30 seconds) to refresh the skill and get the 3 second double bonus. My follower stayed close enough that he always shared my aura. The game displays “Dodged” messages when you successfully evade an attack.

    DiabloWikiBreath of Heaven is like a beam of energy that pours down from heaven and ends by creating a spark on you and your allies. The amount of healing is helpful (maybe 1/4 my life) but not tremendous, but you can recast as long as you have Spirit. You allies will have to be pretty close to benefit, but it seemed to always hit my follower.

    DiabloWikiCyclone does a good amount of damage, even more than Lashing Tail, and it does it in a small 360 degree circle around you. Monsters are pulled towards you, but since the range is small to start with, the effect isn’t dramatic. There is no cooldown, but 2 of these will completely drain your spirit globe.

    DiabloWikiCrippling Wave is the next spirit generator. On my first strike, I took out 3 skeletons with one blow. I really started to like the Monk after I got this skill. The graphics are very cool with runes and the 3rd hit is pretty spectacular and effective. Crowds were much easier after I got this. The slowing effects are just icing on the cake.

    Yes, crafting is a must. At level 8 I still had a shield with armor 6. In town, I could buy a shield with armor 9. I was able to craft a shield at that point with armor 80.

    DiabloWikiMantra of Retribution is kind of like a weak Thorns aura. You can recast at any time to increase the damage back to 80%, if you have the spirit. I like the rune at its center.

    I normally play ranged characters, and without DiabloWikiDashing Strike, I would really have noticed the lack of a long range attack for the Monk. With this skill I felt much more mobile. This is great for entering the fray quickly or reaching that ranged attacker at the back of the crowd. The rooting is a bonus but it doesn’t last long at all. I almost didn’t miss my ranged attacks so much when I had this, until I ran into some frozen monsters. You can execute a Dashing Strike without a target, but you don’t move very far at all.

    I happened to have Fists of Thunder when I ran into the Skeleton King, and I was able to tank him pretty easily by just hitting him repeatedly with FoT. I finished him off before he had a chance to summon many skeletons, and I didn’t need a single potion.

    I barely had a chance to try DiabloWikiInner Sanctuary. I didn’t seem to need it, but maybe this would be good in a party. I can see a Wizard or Demon Hunter using this.

    Stuart Pierce

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