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Thursday, August 20, 2009

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Diablo III: Hands-On Demo Previews
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 2 comments and Kotaku have both posted new previews of time spent with a demo version of Diablo III, Blizzard Entertainment's upcoming return to the popular action RPG franchise. The two previews give a brief glimpse of the Wizard and Barbarian classes in action against a variety of demonic foes.

The demo area turned me loose into the desert region Alcarnus. Starting from an outpost, the primary quest was to travel over to Lut Bahadur. After a brief walk through wind-worn ravines, the scene opened up into a sprawling desert with no shortage of enemies who weren't too please to see me there. Almost immediately, the "Diablo-ness" of this sequel came out. Over-excited by the moment, I charged into the first group of enemies and wound up dead quite quickly. Remembering how to play, I was able to settle into a rewarding tactic of luring a few foes out, freezing them in place with frost nova, moving back and blasting them with arcane orb, and finally mopping up the remainders with the more powerful spectral blade.

As you'd expect, a variety of demons and creatures came out of the sand to attack me. Some, such as the Lacuni Warrior and Fallen Overseer, had a fairly traditional demonic look with a hunched over posture and flaming swords in each hand. Others were desert creatures, like the Sand Wasp that flittered around a little ways off while launching volleys of baby wasps at me. One of the more dramatic opponents was the Dune Dervish; it twirled and spun around, and used those spins to produce a vicious stun attack with a knockback effect.

All this action looked familiarly enough like Diablo, but with all the polish of a modern game. Liberal use of special effects made a big impact on the presentation; the screen warped with the impact of spells and became obscured from dust swirling around the Dervish. And through it all, the unmistakable art style left no doubt what game I was playing.
We started off with some good equipment, two maces, an axe, a shield, plus full armor. We also had an Adventurer's Backpack, which brought our Barbarian's inventory to a cool 28 slots. The inventory screen should look familiar to Diablo fans, but the newest version is far more streamlined. When hovering over unequipped items in your inventory, you'll see a pop up window with that item's vital statistics and the item you currently have equipped in that slot.

We were also equipped with two Barbarian skills, Ground Stomp and Battle Cry. The former was hot-keyed to the "2" and, when enabled, stunned everything around the Barbarian. Helpful, when Fallen are surrounding you and Fallen Shamen are tossing fireballs your way. The Battle Cry, on the "1" key, increased our armor class temporarily. If we were playing a multiplayer game, that Battle Cry effect would have been passed on to our party members. But we were doing this quest solo.

The Barbarian's other skill, Cleaver, was mapped to the right mouse button. Click on it, and our lady brute did a two handed attack on two enemies at once, as long as they were side-by-side. Again, handy when surrounded by Fallen and Sand Wasps. Those Sand Wasps really suck, by the way, ejecting a quartet of mini-Wasps at our hero. Nasty.

The demo offered a few side quests on our way to Alcarnus. We ran into a "Crazed Miner," who offered us the quest, "A Miner's Gold." All we had to do was defend the miner while he raised a treasure chest via a pulley system. When he started, swarms of Fallen came after him. If we were successful in defending the miner from the swarm, we'd get half the gold. It really wasn't a challenge for the Barbarian, as Ground Stomp made that defense quest a simple task.
Follow the links below to read the rest of the previews. Diablo III Demo Preview
Kotaku: Diablo III Demo Preview
Blizzard Entertainment
Diablo III
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