I’m in the D3 beta. It’s great. My fears about how the game plays have been completely allayed. The monster hit lag is unfortunate, but not a ruiner. The real money auction house is delaying the game’s release, but that’s OK too. It should have no effect on players that choose not to use it and you can probably play through the game without even noticing the crafting parts and just pick up any items dropped on the ground FTW, let alone actually using the auction house. The character models aren’t that great, but the monsters look awesome (monsters don’t have a billion combinations of armor and weapons so it follows that there’s a lot more leeway with their design). However, the Witch doctor’s inclusion has me befuddled.
I liked the other black characters in Diablo 1 and 2. The magic user in the first game fit really well when he could have been just some generic pointy-hatted gandalf clone with a stupid beard, or some naked woman that said stupid stuff all the time. The paladin in D2 was another non-northern european character that was believable and fit in well. That said, I just don’t know where Blizzard is coming from with the Witch doctor. Essentially, the Witch doctor replaces the Necromancer from D2– he has many of the same powers and is the core choice for a person that wants to use a summoning character–so system wise, he’s important, but as fluff and the character model itself he is WAY out of place. Here are my issues in order of magnitude:
3) Aesthetically, the witchdoctor is a hunched over, quivering creature with some sort of strange shaking fit that happens to one of his arms. He himself looks like one of the creatures you will be fighting more than any of the other characters.
2) The setting for the Beta is in a very northern european looking region (Tristram); all the voices are some odd mix of welsh, scottish, irish and english thrown together in some sort of midlands pond scum. Given that you are in a remote village that had been plagued by demons and undead before, it’s difficult to imagine some creature looking as odd as the witchdoctor (almost naked as he is starting out) would be killed outright– let alone being let INSIDE the village
1) Given that said village is under attack at the outset of the game by waves of zombies and the witchdoctor himself raises zombies as one of his first powers in the game, it’s equally strange that a person like him, wearing a demon mask and raising zombies, would be allowed anywhere near the INSIDE of the village and almost certainly would simply be killed outright. Of course, since the dialog options are all the same for each character, the NPC’s accept the witchdoctor the same as if he were the barbarian or demon hunter, which makes the doctor’s instant acceptance after killing just a handful of zombies feel like a giant shoehorn sticking out of Diablo’s bright red arse.
I originally thought the Monk would stick out like a sore thumb in the game, just like he did in the (non-Blizzard) expansion to Diablo 1 back in the day, but the witchdoctor is a big carbuncle right on the face in comparison. I realize not all of D3 will happen in fantasy Northern Europe land and the witch doctor won’t look quite as ridiculous but as it stands, it’s a very strange choice for a character.