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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

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Diablo III: Barbarian & Witch Doctor Skill Trees
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 1 comment has posted an examination of the skill trees for the Barbarian and Witch Doctor classes in the eagerly anticipated Diablo III from Blizzard Entertainment. The partial skill trees are based on the information Blizzard has revealed so far.

Rank: 1/5
Description: Bash the enemy for 200% of weapon damage. Causes Knockback.
Rank: 2/5
Description: Bash the enemy for 215% of weapon damage. Causes Knockback.
Rank: 3/5
Description: Bash the enemy for 230% of weapon damage. Causes Knockback. (presumed)
Rank: 4/5
Description: Bash the enemy for 245% of weapon damage. Causes Knockback. (presumed)
Rank: 5/5
Description: Bash the enemy for 260% of weapon damage. Causes Knockback. (presumed)
Cost: 1 Fury Orb

This skill, simple and returning from D2 though it sounds, was just about my favorite in the entire Blizzcon build. It works much as it did in D2, but the animation is so cool that it’s a blast to use. When using Bash, the Barbarian positively winds up, twisting his upper body and leaning completely over, away from the monster, before uncoiling and extended into the strike like he’s driving a railroad spike. It’s quite an, “OMG he knocked the sauce out of that dude!” visual, and better yet, sometimes when you kill a monster with this, you literally knock their skeleton out of their flesh, sending the fully-articulated, blood-stained bones sliding across the screen, shuffleboard style, a drenching trail of blood in their wake. I laughed like a school girl every time it worked.

That said, this one is a very slow hit, working at maybe 50% the speed of the Barbarian’s other attacks, and the Barbarian is vulnerable to all sorts of attacks while he’s winding this one up. It’s not a skill to use in crowds, unless you absolutely must kill that one target, but it’s great against harder targets that attack alone. This quickly became my go to skill against the nasty Dune Dervishes.

Skull of Flame
Rank: 1/5
Description: Lob a skull filled with fire dealing 4-5 fire damage to all enemies caught in the explosion.
Mana Cost: 7
Critical hits from fire damage cause targets to burn for an additional 25% over 4 seconds.
Rank: 2/5
Increases damage to 6-9.
Next Level: 3
Increases damage to 8-13.

The default attack spell early on, I must have hurled a thousand of these in the hour or so I played the WD. They’re a lot of fun to throw; they move a bit more quickly than I expected, and can be tossed to the furthest corners of the screen. Or even off of it, as I found when I locked onto some moving enemies and kept hurling the skulls even when they were out of sight.

The skulls do a nice job obeying the laws of physics, and are fun to really test out the 3D nature of the geography in D3. I was very fond of tossing these over the edges of cliffs in the surface desert areas, or down into the pits in the outdoor mine levels. To my surprise, those areas can be interacted with, and the skulls would fall down a considerable distance before bursting on catwalks or rock outcroppings well outside the area of play; places there was no way to walk down to, and upon which no monsters were ever found. I expected these areas to be null, and that the skulls would just blow up in mid air, or vanish entirely.

Skulls can actually be thrown too far, in some exploitative ways. Several times I saw a pack of Fallen or other monsters on some ledge way of in the distance, in a location I was supposed to have to walk way down around some boulders and along narrow ledges and paths to reach. Yet I could freely hurl my firebombs to those locations, with perfect accuracy, and was able to kill enemies who had no way to fight back. Naturally, I did so whenever possible, if only to watch the Fallen scurry around.

The monsters always reacted to the attack; their AI was good enough for that, but I was so far away by any ground route that they could seldom path find their way to me. They did usually run far enough that I lost the visual on them, and I’d find them spread out along some ramp or pathway a minute later, when I explored down far enough to find the way to whatever corner they’d initially been stationed in.

Also, this skill showed clearly that the spell damage in D3 is magnified (in unknown fashion) by attributes. I used this at level 2, when it listed 6-9 damage. Yet when I wrote down the stats on my character screen, with a brand new Witch Doctor starting out at level 12, the right click listed 19-29 damage for Skull of Flame.

Check out the pages linked below to read more. Barbarian Class Skill Tree Witch Doctor Class Skill Tree
Blizzard Entertainment
Diablo III
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