Have you ever listened to yourself talk and/or think while you're playing videogames? We like to think it's akin to hearing William Shatner read a comment on any given Internet message board: it comes at a breakneck pace and doesn't make a lick of sense. And if it's a game or level you've never played before, turn that into a crowd of William Shatners all reading different spam emails simultaneously.
So, while taking Diablo III's brand new Demon Hunter class for a test drive during last weekend's BlizzCon, we decided to play Rosetta Stone and translate our sleep-deprived, caffeine-addled spill of Brain Soup into a real human language. The results were... amusing, to say the least. Also, surprisingly informative!
1. “Sh** sh** sh** sh** sh** sh**!” – The Demon Hunter – battle-hardened and thick-skinned though she may seem – is actually quite squishy. She's a ranged fighter, after all, so she doesn't take too well to pointy objects making shish kabobs out of her internal organs. As a result, seeing a horde of bulky demons, shambling zombies, and other hell-born riff-raff booking it straight for your Demon Hunter will have any number of four-letter words spewing out of your mouth as you make the necessary split-second precautions to intercept them. On the upside, it's utterly thrilling to be constantly walking such a thin line between life and death. On the downside, though, make one misstep and you''ll probably go splat.
2. “Weeeeeeeeeee!” – As a counter to that, the Demon Hunter's got speed to spare. Given an inch of wiggle room, she'll practically take a mile with her vault ability. In a nutshell, it's a hyper-quick cartwheel-type thing that allows the Demon Hunter to almost instantaneously put distance between her and her not-so-fleet-footed foes. It does, however, cost mana to activate, so you'd think it'd be best to fling yourself the length of a small football field wisely. And you'd be right. We, however, used it as our main mode of transportation, gleefully speeding about like Sonic the Hedgehog if he had a debilitating, involuntary full-body twitch. So if you ever see someone online who moves solely through backflips, that's probably us. So say hi! Then log out and find play with someone else who hopefully won't get you killed by flying face-first into demon hordes.
3. “Wouldn't it be cool if...” – The Demon Hunter's a whole lot more than just a pretty face and a pair of crossbows. Standing in stark contrast to the common perception of click-heavy hack 'n' slasher's like Diablo, the Demon Hunter provides you with tactical options that go far beyond “stab, stab, stab, stab, super stab, stab, stab.” Her arsenal instead runs the gamut from grenades, traps, and knives to skills that entangle enemies, making their attempts to chase you down vaguely reminiscent of a gym class three-legged race gone hilariously awry. But instead of getting a participation ribbon pinned to their chests, they get a sticky explosive or three.
4. Nothing at all – The coolest part of playing the Demon Hunter? How quickly everything became second nature. Each of the skills we tried fit together like pieces in a particularly gruesome puzzle, and once we figured out what went where, everything was gravy. Typically, we opened by vaulting back to get some space, then we fired off an entangling shot to make sure our enemies couldn't even come close to popping our personal space bubble. After that, we either fired off a bolas attack – which slows enemies' movement speed until it violently explodes, taking nearby baddies with it – or cleared out larger groups by spamming multishot, which basically vomits hundreds of arrows every which way. Sure, occasional carelessness resulted in us taking damage from teleporting zealots or zombies that kept attacking even after getting split in two, but by and large, everything felt beautifully natural – no doubt the result of relentless tweaking on Blizzard's part. Speaking of... 5. “Why isn't this game out yet?” – Honestly, it seems like we ask this question every time we play Diablo III. Blizzard's reputation for ceaseless pursuit of perfectionism isn't unfounded, and even its demos often make other developers' full-blown releases look rough around the edges. And that, of course, is precisely why Blizzard's devilishly fun title is still sitting on its throne in development hell. Unlike many other developers, Blizzard actually has the money – and therefore, the time – to meticulously design each and every class and polish the game until it absolutely shines. So it does. And we're thinking this one – like all the others – will definitely be worth the wait. Unanswered Questions: 1) How big of a role with environmental traps and obstacles play? We had to vault through a series of giant swinging blades, for instance. That was pretty neat. Here's hoping the game uses sections like that more often to break up the action a bit. 2) How well will the Demon Hunter fare in PVP? Neither she nor the Monk could join arena matches on the show floor. 3) When's the game coming out? Seriously, we want it really badly. Like, now.