1990 Silicon Dreams Games and Movie Reviews: Diablo 3 Beta Key: First Impressions of the Gameplay

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Diablo 3 Beta Key: First Impressions of the Gameplay

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Since I've posted about GameTrailers giving away Diablo III beta keys yesterday, I've been playing the game and I've managed to do a play-through of the entire quest-line that is available in the beta content.  So here's some first impression notes, before I review every detail of the game separately. (More info on how to get a beta key: Diablo 3 Beta Code Giveaway)

The Quest-Chain, available for the beta, starts in New Tristram, located near the Ruins of Tristram in Westmarch, which is entirely over-ran by the undead as a result of a strange occurrence. A Fallen Star has descended upon the old Tristram Cathedral (which we know from the first Diablo game) and your role is to find out what happened. As it turns out the Fallen Star is a meteorite that has crashed through the several layers of the Cathedral, leaving it hollowed out. There's also a Skeleton King involved and the Crown of Leoric, though from the somewhat rushed playthrough I couldn't really understand what their role was other that it is connected to the Fallen Star episode. I'll look into that the second time around, as the beta allows you to take your character and run it through the quest-chain as many times as you like.

The Areas in the game look vaguely familiar, after all it's Westmarch, it looks pretty much the same as what you'll remember since Diablo and Diablo 2. The graphics though are intricately detailed, the environment is in constant motion from the meandering rivers to the trees and the collapsing roofs of burned buildings, nothing is static or as you often see in games just a 'visual prop' set there to look pretty. The Diablo 3 environment is completely alive, as every spell that deals area of effect damage will also shatter non-enemy objects around it. You have to see it for yourself, as you cast an arcane blast into a group of undead in the middle of a cemetery, the gravestones explode in bits of stone that scatters around. In the cathedral, the pews would shatter realistically into splinters. Various game play elements exist where you can collapse an old scaffolding onto your enemies by sending a bolt of energy at it, or simply crash a chandelier on top of them, although the latter is a bit less satisfying having to actually click on the chain that holds the chandelier to release it.

The Art Work is a pleasant surprise as far as I could tell from the initial gameplay videos, every dungeoned seemed pretty much the same. That is definitely NOT the case. Every area in-game looks unique, although in a homogeneous style to fit the setting of Westmarch. No dungeon is entirely the same as the previous, and not just because of the randomly-generated dungeon layouts, but because of the design changing from one to the next. A run-of-the-mill crypt will not be nearly as glamorous as the Skeleton King's tombs, a hole in the ground that leads to a cave is completely unique, compared to another one that may be somebody's cellar, attacked by the undead.

I will be posting more gameplay videos as I do my second playthrough of the beta, this time focusing on the lore, combat and characters. More info on how to get a beta key: Diablo 3 Beta Code Giveaway


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