Which class will you play first? It’s the eternal question, one we’ll be posting a final vote on Monday, and debating during our live show countdown.
How do the Diablo developers feel about it, though? Blizzard posted a feature today with five of their developers each advocating for a different class: Jay Wilson the Barbarian, Clayton Vaughn the Wizard, Wyatt Cheng the Demon Hunter, Jill Harrington the Witch Doctor, and Matt Panepinto the Monk.
I’ll quote someone other than Jay on top, since 1) he’s wrong, and 2) the Barb gets enough love already. Let’s do the Monk up here, since that class gets little love in these popularity contests.
by Matt Panepinto, Production Assistant
When Diablo III is unleashed on the world, I’ll be facing the Lord of Terror’s minions with the iron fists of the monk. The day I found out we were doing a monk class was the same day my class choice was made. I was happier with my choice after playing the class for the first time, and more so after witnessing the excitement for the monk at BlizzCon 2009. Since then, I’ve grown a “diableard” and, because I also shave my head, I’ve been told that I look like the male monk. People have even asked if it was modeled after me. It’s like we were made for each other.
I primarily play melee characters in most RPGs, including a death knight in World of Warcraft, or the fighters, barbarians, and monks I’ve played in D&D. I love being in the center of a battle, but also agile enough to control the engagement while still doing lots of damage. Playing a monk feels faster and smoother to me compared to the other classes, and I love that. This is due in part to the variety of skills the monk has that close the distance between you and your enemy, as well as flurries of punching and kicking attacks. Of course, this may be mainly due to the fact that the monk is the only class with a passive ability that increases their base movement speed. 😉
The monk’s combo skills feel very much like a fighting game to me, and the ability to mix and match those skills makes it really fun to experiment. For example, I can use Way of the Hundred Fists with the Fists of Fury rune, which adds a short dash to the first attack, to quickly get to my foe. Throwing myself into the center of a huge group of enemies, I can then use Blinding Flash to disorient them, while weaving in Sweeping Wind with the Cyclone rune, which has a chance to spawn vortexes that sweep outward, decimating all in their path. If anything is still alive after that, I can clean them up with a well-placed Seven-Sided Strike. There are so many different styles of play for the monk — even while I’m writing this, I’m remembering other ways I’ve played my monk, and thinking of new ways to alter my build.
I also like having a little bit of “magic” or support skills to complement my melee attacks. For example, I enjoy having pets, but I don’t like having to manage them. Fortunately, since Diablo III is designed to be fast paced, we’ve designed it to accommodate this style of play. Mystic Ally fills this role perfectly for the monk. Slotting Mystic Ally with the Air Ally rune variant makes it even more powerful, surrounding the Ally with a constantly damaging aura and providing a huge amount of Spirit recovery when it hits. I can also use any of the Mantras to bolster my group with more dodge, healing, or damage, and use Breath of Heaven to heal my group when things get rough.
The armor themes that our artists made for the monk further solidify how insanely amazing this class is. I cannot wait to load up the game on May 15 and start finding those armor sets for my monk, making him look like the total demon-killing badass that he is. I will definitely be using the class-specific fist weapons the monk has available to him, too. While there’s nothing wrong with the other weapons he can use, I think the monk really shines when he uses his fists as his weapons.
My name is Matt Panepinto and I am the Monk. Feel the wrath of Ytar!
Click through for the other four, and see if anyone’s discourse sways you from your chosen path?
Jay Wilson on the Barbarian.
by Jay Wilson, Game Director
When Diablo III unleashes itself on the world there is only one choice for me when it comes to the first class I will play. While I enjoy playing all of the classes, one in particular really speaks to the soul of who I am. Each of the heroes of Sanctuary has been blessed with powers and abilities that allow them to right the wrongs of the world. Some use magic, others are skilled with a bow, but the class I’m going to play at launch excels at one thing above all others: breakin’ stuff. That’s what speaks to who I am, and that’s why I’m playing the barbarian at launch.
The barbarian is all about destroying enemies with overwhelming power, and he has a host of awesome abilities to do just that. He can cut through groups of nearby enemies with Cleave, devastate scores of enemies as a spinning Whirlwind, and shake the very ground with abilities like Seismic Slam and Earthquake. If he gets “really” angry he can activate Wrath of the Berserker, transforming himself into a red, fury-filled giant that crushes everyone around him. Crushing things makes me happy. 🙂
We spent a lot of time working on making sure that this feeling of massive physical power was relayed in all of the barbarian’s actions. When the barbarian hits enemies, they fly further and explode bigger. The barbarian will hit you so hard your grandchildren will get headaches, and that’s conveyed in the massive physics that come into play when he attacks. For those who like the core meat and potatoes of taking down demons with trusty axes and a strong arm, there is no substitute.
Being a barbarian means never having to be afraid. You aren’t some skirt-wearin’ caster, hiding behind spells and pets. You’re tough enough to take a ton of damage, and you have a host of powerful mobility skills, including Leap, Furious Charge, and Sprint, all of which get you to the enemy fast. If you’d rather the enemy come to you, then harpoon them with Ancient Spear and drag them into chopping distance. The barbarian gets up close and personal, and when he does, it’s the Lord of Terror who should feel fear.
The barbarian is a fantastic class to play in groups as well. All Diablo III classes deal damage in equal measure, so you don’t take a back seat to anyone, but as one of, if not the toughest class in the game, you can use your mobility and resilience to lead the charge against your foes and keep enemies off your more fragile allies. Everybody likes to be first, right? Just look back at your team and tell them, “It’s OK, I’ve got this.” You also have several powerful war cries that can bolster the defenses of your party or weaken incoming monsters, making them easy pickings. Also, you’ll be the biggest and most imposing person among your friends
In the unlikely event you do run into something you can’t handle, you have a host of different control and defensive abilities unique to the barbarian. Stomp the ground to shake and stun all the enemies nearby. Steel your resolve with Ignore Pain, allowing you to shrug off the worst enemy attacks, and use abilities like Revenge to turn incoming damage into healing for you — and pain for your enemies.
The final and best reasons I have for wanting to play the barbarian are the glorious armor and weapon choices available to him. Whether you are a dual-wielding berserker or a two-handed hammer swinging juggernaut, the massive melee weapons you get to wield, from axes, to swords, to maces, are awesome to behold. The barbarian is the only class that has access to the ‘Mighty Weapons’ category of items. These weapons are so massive that no mere mortal could heft them, but to a barbarian they’re just the right size.
While I can’t wait to level every Diablo III class up to and into Inferno, the class I will be playing first is the barbarian.
Clayton Vaught on the Wizard.
by Clayton Vaught, Software Engineer
When Diablo III comes out, I’ll be playing a wizard. Why, you may ask? Who doesn’t like the ability to call down fiery meteors from the heavens, summon beams of ice, and unleash tornadoes of pure energy at a moment’s notice? (Hint: No one.)
In short, I just really enjoy the archetype. I climbed the ladder as an orb sorceress in Diablo II, PoM Pyro’d my way to victory as a mage in World of Warcraft, and played and PvPed as a ranged caster in any game that would let me. Additionally, of all the classes, the wizard brings together an awesome set of skills for support, survivability, and raw damage, which appeals to me.
I love that the wizard’s ability to kite is second to none. Too many things chasing you? Shield yourself with Diamond Skin or knock them away with Wave of Force. Need to outrun a pack of things slowly gnawing away at your important bits? Slow Time and move out of range. Or, if the rest of the group is down and death is looming close, simply Teleport away and heal up. A prepared wizard is rarely caught in a situation that they can’t turn in their own favor — a trait that is very useful in both PvE and PvP!
The wizard also provides excellent group utility. When I’m playing with my friends, I get to excel as a “glass cannon.” Combining monster control abilities with the awesome power of Disintegrate and the ability to transform into a being of pure energy with Archon, I can lay waste to almost anything threatening Sanctuary in short order, literally reducing them to ash. Wizards also have great synergy with the other classes. With a barbarian or monk to tank large packs, wizard area of effect (AoE) damage is fantastic; pretty much all of my builds contain Blizzard or some other type of AoE skill for this reason. Why smite only one minion when I can smite all of them?
Another thing I have grown to love is the lack of Arcane Power cost of Signature abilities. This means that there’s never a moment when you can’t be melting demon faces off. Whether you’re standing your ground or on the move, the wizard can always deliver monster-smashing damage, which is something I’ll definitely look forward to doing in group games, PvP, and solo play.
And that’s why when Diablo III comes out, I’ll be playing a wizard.
Wyatt Cheng on the Demon Hunter.
by Wyatt Cheng, Senior Technical Game Designer
When Diablo III comes out I’ll be playing a demon hunter. I know I’ll eventually level all five heroes to 60, but the demon hunter will be my first. From a pure fantasy point of view, I like the archetype of the demon hunter — she’s a vigilante of sorts, a protector of the innocent, a slayer of evil — but I love the gameplay even more.
The demon hunter is fundamentally a ranged class and, although I’m sure a lot of players will explore melee options, I fully intend to exploit this natural strength, focusing on one-handed pistol crossbows. These signature weapons are both versatile and powerful (and look incredibly badass). I can dual-wield them when I want to pump out extra damage or drop the off-hand crossbow and replace it with a shield when I need a little extra survivability. Pistol crossbows are also the fastest weapon in the game, and can be combined with a quiver for even more attack speed. Quick attack speed isn’t just about damage, though — the fast-action nature of the demon hunter means superior hit-and-run mobility.
I love kiting enemies with my demon hunter. One of my favorite things to do in StarCraft II is “stutter-stepping” marines, and it turns out you can stutter-step a demon hunter too! Being able to reposition myself on the battlefield in between shots lets me kite enemies when I’m solo, or position myself perfectly in co-op play. Played well, I can dodge projectiles or get out of fires with little to no loss in DPS. The demon hunter can truly shine in the hands of a skilled player, but you need a good strategic sense to manage your resources responsibly, excellent micro to maximize your damage, and intimate knowledge of your skills to wreak maximum havoc on your enemies.
In terms of mobility, the demon hunter’s ability to escape damage is unparalleled, and is perhaps best exemplified by Vault. Not all of my builds use Vault, but most of them do, and what’s not to love? Most of the mobility skills for other classes bump up against cooldown limitations, but Vault is an on-demand button that gets me out of trouble in a pinch. If I Vault out of danger, and then three seconds later a Vortex monster pulls me back in, I can use Vault again to avoid incoming attacks — no other class has that kind of escape tool. When I’m not running Vault on my bar I’m usually using Smoke Screen (or sometimes both). Smoke Screen is also an incredibly versatile skill. I can use it defensively to avoid a big attack, break CC effects, or I can use it to attack while stealthed ,which is incredibly powerful in the right situation.
Speaking of Smoke Screen, one of my favorite combos is Smoke Screen with Rapid Fire. Rapid Fire has an up-front cost, so you want to stand still as long as possible to maximize your damage output. When danger approaches, I cast Smoke Screen, which doesn’t break my Rapid Fire channel, allowing me to attack nearby enemies for a few more seconds before I need to move out of harm’s way. In reality, the demon hunter has an offensive skill for almost every situation: Strafe when high mobility is needed, Cluster Arrows for burst damage, or Multishot when you want to clear a room quickly. When paired with tactical maneuvers (like Smoke Screen), these abilities can make the demon hunter a near unstoppable force.
The demon hunter brings fantastic group utility as well. On top of doing amazing damage and providing a ton of personal survivability, Marked for Death increases the damage dealt by entire group, and Sentry can be runed to provide group benefits (such as Healing or Damage reduction).
So, when it comes to combining raw damage potential with strategic options there is no question — my first class will be the demon hunter.
Jill Harrington on the Witch Doctor.
by Jill Harrington, Senior Technical Artist
Reasons to play a witch doctor at launch:
Reasons not to play a witch doctor at launch:
If that isn’t quite enough information for you…
While I have been playing a barbarian lately in our internal builds, and I love the visceral combat and sheer fun of seeing zombie corpses fly through the air when I smash them with a hammer, the witch doctor has a certain flavor that just can’t be matched. Anyone can run around hitting things with swords, but can anyone else summon acid-vomiting disembodied heads or hurl jars of spiders at their foes? Besides, why do the dirty work yourself when you can send your minions in to do it for you?
It’s very satisfying to know that your damage-over-time abilities will spell the inevitable doom of your enemies, even when you’ve retreated out of range of their claws and teeth. A well-built witch doctor can also be almost unbeatable in PvP. Combining passive skills such as Zombie Handler with skill runes such as Life Link on your Zombie Dogs can make it very frustrating for your opponents to try to harm you.
In short, if you’re looking for a ranged caster with a lot of survivability, a pet class with a lot of options, or you just think toads are really cool, the witch doctor might be for you!