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I was lucky enough to score a code for the Diablo III beta this week, and after playing through it yesterday I can’t help but yearn for more dungeon looting action once the final build is released later this year.  I was amazed at how well D3 ran on my MBP Early 2011 model, which isn’t necessarily a beast when it comes to playing computer games.  In fact, I didn’t buy it as a gaming rig, mainly because no one buys Macs for their ability to play next-gen games, rather I bought one because they’re awesome and they just flat out work.

My rig

Mac fanboyism aside I was still impressed with how well this game ran on my setup, which you can see below.  I would also like to add that this is the first computer game I’ve played in probably 6 years, and the first Diablo game I’ve ever played.  I know, I’m a n00b when it comes to computer gaming, but after playing through the Diablo III beta I can promise you that I’ll be entering the computer gaming arena once again.

As I mentioned above I played the D3 beta on a 2011 MBP with the default settings in both the visual and audio categories.  For the most part the settings were put at the highest level, and I didn’t notice one bit of lag while playing the game.  The frame rate remained solid throughout even the most cluttered on screen battles taking place, and not once did the game stutter trying to keep up with the action.  On top of that the visuals looks clear and crisp, with most textures being as vivid as possible on my setup.  I really appreciated the top down view that the Diablo series is known for, and I think it’s one of the reasons it ran so well on my less than stellar gaming capabilities afforded by my MBP model.

Video and Audio settings

Both towns and dungeons were beautifully rendered with dark hues that really set the feel for this franchise.  The character models were also ideal looking, although they were a little small looking on my 13″ screen, but I really appreciated the fact that their appearance changed every time I equipped them with new duds and weapons.  I really think I was getting as close as possible to what most other gamers would see if they were playing Diablo 3 on much more intense gaming rigs, so I was quite pleased with how it ran on my setup.  It’s a great, but simple looking game that doesn’t miss a beat even when it’s played on systems without nuclear power plants installed in their innards.

Diablo 3 looks pretty enough, but that isn’t everything when it comes to great gaming experiences.  Luckily the gameplay in D3 is just as good if not better than its looks.  I tend to stay away from computer games because I’ve become so reliant on a controller to play my games.  I’ve never been a big fan of using a keyboard and mouse to play games with, so I was pleasantly surprised to find out how simple Diablo 3’s controls were.  Essentially, all you have to use is the two main buttons on your mouse to execute every move in this game.  There’s still slots to assign hot keys to, but if you don’t want to use them you can fully manage to play this game with just your mouse.  In fact, the controls are so simple that I was able to play this game using only the trackpad included in my MBP!

Loved the color tones of the Diablo 3 beta

The easy to use controls translate well into the massive battles that can take place in certain dungeons while playing the D3 beta.  I was fortunate enough to get a co-op match going with a friend who was already on the last dungeon/boss, so I got see the full power of this game in action.  I absolutely enjoyed the fast paced combat that this game has to offer, and I can’t even begin to tell you how much loot there is to grab after vanquishing your enemies.  I wish I didn’t have to walk over every single coin and item to pick it up, but I don’t mind putting in the extra work to score some gold and new items to use on my character.

My Wizard before he became a man!

I used a Wizard while I played the D3 beta, and his powers grew rapidly with each level increase.  I could easily assign his most powerful spells to either my mouse, or the keyboard to make dispatching enemies a very efficient process.  The spell animations were all unique in style and sound, and each one has its own type of effect on the game.  Once I hit level 5 I was able to wipe out hordes of enemies with two blasts of an arcane orb, which I must say felt very satisfying.

The other classes

Like I mentioned I got to play the Diablo 3 beta in both single player and co-op matches, and I have to give the edge to the co-op front.  The game was a hoot all by my lonesome, but I really found it’s true fun potential to lie within its co-op abilities.  I can only dream of a the when there’s 5 of us playing in the same level all vying for the spoils of war with out distinct classes and character abilities.  There’s no doubt that this game is meant to be played socially, but if you’re a complete tool with no friends you’ll still find joy in the experience.

Co-op is where it’s at

Last but not least I want to briefly touch on the menu system of Diablo 3, which in my opinion is masterfully organized.  I loved the fact that I could open up my inventory screen to see my character and easily equip him with the proper items by dragging and dropping them to their correct locations.  This provided a very simple way of identifying which items would serve as the best load out to equip my Wizard with, as well as an easy way to dress up my AI companion players as well (you can hire merc like AI characters to fight alongside you just like Skyrim).

Outside of the inventory menu there’s really only one other important one, which is the skills menu.  Once again its layout is very easy to follow, and it is setup in a way that makes assigning abilities to hot keys, or mouse buttons a breeze.  Overall, I didn’t find one issue with D3’s menu system, which is a bonus for a computer game.

Love the simple menus in Diablo 3

Without a doubt the Diablo 3 beta has convinced me to dust off my computer game skills and get back in the saddle with this medium.  I’ve never played a Diablo game, but I didn’t find that to be necessary whilst playing the D3 beta.  This little gem ran nearly flawlessly on my less than ideal gaming rig, and it was also able to produce some pretty high-end visuals considering that I don’t have an Alienware rig to play this game on.  I thoroughly enjoyed the simple control scheme, which made exploration and battle domination a breeze.  I highly recommend playing this game with a friend or two, because I found it to be much more enjoying than playing solo.  If I had to rate this beta, with all things considered, I’d have to give it an EB 10 out of 10 Buddhas.  I mean it’s a beta for Christ’s sake, so I can’t really judge it too harshly, but I really didn’t find a single thing wrong with it.

If you’d like to see some Diablo 3 beta gameplay in action please head down past the break.  I took a few videos while I played through the first couple of quests to give you an idea of how this game looks and plays.  Just remember that the video quality is slightly degraded to enable me to record my Mac screen without completely hosing the game itself.  I hope this clip at least gives you the glimpse into this closed beta that you’ve been looking for!  Enjoy!  You’ve been wishing you were the EB right about now…

Diablo III Beta Gameplay Trailer

Diablo III Beta Single Player Gameplay

Diablo III Beta Multiplayer Gameplay

 

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Tags : BetaDiabloIIIFirst ImpressionsGame Play
Matt Heywood

The author Matt Heywood

Matt Heywood is the founder and EIC of EntertainmentBuddha.com where he strives to make you a better geek, one post at a time! When he’s not scouring the Internet for interesting nuggets of awesomeness he can be found in his secret lair enjoying the latest and greatest video games, taking pictures of toys, or talking Star Wars on EB’s Star Wars Time podcast show.