We’ve already posted a bullet point listing of the PowerPoint from this panel, and you can view blurry videos on YouTube, but since I attended it, took a lot of notes, and typed up a panel overview with a lot of comments based on my own Monk-playing experience, you should find this worth reading. If you’re interested in the newest D3 character, at least. 

    Yesterday I had a chance to play about an hour with the Monk, long enough to clear out every square inch centimeter of this year’s demo build (which is much larger than last year’s was) and I’ve experimented with all of the Monk’s skills. And despite my initial “A Monk? Why? Where’s the archer?” reaction, I like him a lot. He plays like a very fast, very hard-hitting, very nimble Barbarian, with numerous multi-hit attacks and a lot of variety in his melee combat. His combo hits sound like the Assassin’s in concept, but play very differently since you can mix and match them, and since they all do something different and effective. Unlike with the D2 Assassin, you’re not just doing normal hits and building up juice for some big hit at some point in the future. Every hit matters and packs an enjoyable wallop, and even with just 3 combo skills (out of the 8 total) it’s important to pick the right one to use in various and varying circumstances.

    Click through to read the panel write up, and check back later tonight when I’ll be posting a piece covering all eight Monk skills, with full descriptions and comments based on using them all in the game. (Plus some interview transcripts; we’ve got a group and an exclusive one coming up this afternoon with D3 designer dudes.)

    Diablo 3 Character and Monster Panel. Friday, August 21, 2009, 2-3pm.
    Speakers: Leonard Boyarsky, Jay Wilson, Wyatt Chang, and Julian Love.

    Going into this panel, I was kind of indifferent to the monk. The premiere movie looked pretty cool, but a bit WoWish in the overly dramatic dialogue and giant boss fight. The gameplay movie on the press CD was more impressive, but short on lore or dramatic heft. And I’d been hoping for the archer character to be revealed this year, so I was a bit disappointed to see another melee fighter. All that said, I was curious to see more about the monk, and hoped the presentation would win me over. And it did, for the most part.

    Why the Monk?

    The discussion started with the basic question. Why the monk? Several points were made. He’s a classic character from fantasy and RPG, and the D3 team felt they could take their own shot at him and bring him along with some interesting updates. They also had a lot of fighting games and the speed and toe to toe action found in them, and they wanted to work some of those elements into D3.  They also thought the Monk would be a fun change of pace and different approach; not one of the typical modern RPG characters. (Not like something in WoW, in other words.)

    Combat Styling

    The Monk’s combat style was brought from several areas. They wanted to have some cool martial arts techniques and forms in the game. The Monk has a wide variety of forms of weapon and open hand combat (executed with various fist-weapons). He’s also got holy magic, few details of which have yet been revealed. The skills we saw today were magical martial arts style attacks, but nothing as purely magical as the D2 Paladin possesses.

    Another design focus for the Monk was to make him speed over strength. Not that he hits softly, but he’s not a toe-to-toe, hit and be hit type, like the Barbarian. He needs to hit and run, to get in and land surgical, overpowering blows to a target, then pull back before he’s swarmed. The team also wanted a character to fight with a complimentary style. His attacks blend together into combos (more on those in a bit), and one attack leads to another. As a result of that, the Monk is designed to require a bit more skill and involvement from characters. You can fight with the same skill for as long as you want, but you’ll be more effective (and have more fun) if you vary your attacks by the enemies. The team wanted the monk to be a bit more interesting at higher levels; to give experts something more to do. I thought of the comparison of driving an automatic vs. a stick shift, while they described it.

    Monk Lore

    The Monk’s lore was discussed by Leonard Boyarsky. I didn’t get notes on all the details of his land of origin, clan affiliations, etc, and they’ll surely be covered in official information going forward.  One cool aspect of the Monk is that they add ceremonial tattoos to their bodies to commemorate major achievements and accomplishments. The comment from the panel was that their goal is a full body tattoo that essentially takes their entire lives to complete.

    Monks are spiritual. They spend time between their battles engaged in deep meditation to purify themselves of their sins. They are religious and spiritual, though details of their actual religion wasn’t covered in the panel today. Monks are well-known throughout the land of Sanctuary, and are both revered and feared. People know of their power and honor, but know that the Monks are dangerous as not to be trifled with.

    Monk Skills

    The panel didn

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