Most everyone in the world of reality escapism and video games has heard that Diablo 3 is coming. Especially early on the beta was, and really still is, exceptional easy. You have to understand, this makes sense. Anyone who sat back and rationally evaluated the process usually came to the realization that it was a deliberately crafted creation on Blizzard’s part. The opening hour or two of a game needs to meet specific requirements to pull in a broad audience. Certain mechanics and environments need to be introduced and in the process also be instructional. The beta then is fundamentally the tutorial section of the game. So what is there to gleam from the beta? What educational value can we ripe from its gooey, gored out guts? Some essentials surely. Basic mechanics and early game practices definitely.
This primer covers a fairly broad array of topics and elements and is divided into two distinct sections. The first being things worth knowing about the menu options available. The second being things you should know about within the gameworld. This includes mechanics, methods of play, etc. Not all of it is going to be for everyone. But hopefully there is a something, somewhere, for everyone. Some of it is very basic. Other parts might not make much sense if you have not delved into the game at all. That is ok. Ideally it somehow lodges into a dark recess of your brainmeats and manages to re-emerge at just the right moment. So, without further preamble, some helpful tidbits of information for the coming Diablogeddon.
Elective mode. Turn it on. It can be found in the gameplay options section. Non-Elective mode is highly restrictive and almost universally viewed as an abomination. It’s possible, sort of, to understand the purpose of it and early on it’s not going to cause any real problems. But the skill system is pitched as being better then talent trees because of the depth of choice that it offers the player. Non-Elective mode takes a step back because of the imposed restrictions on skill selection. I will not delve into what those are. Just turn on Elective Mode and if you are lucky enough to never deal with anything else, consider yourself blessed.
Also in the gameplay options tab is a variety of more “advanced” options to toggle on and off. These include Diablo’s version of scrolling combat text which is more helpful then you might initially think. Besides, who doesn’t like seeing big numbers on crits. Also of value is healthbars for both friends and foes. One final thing to be aware of here is that advanced tooltips are available via use of the crtl button. However I recommend turning them on by default unless your position on information is literally that knowledge is for stupid people. In which case I highly recommend…wait, who am I kidding? If you think knowledge is for stupid people you probably cannot read. Moving along.
Customizing keybinds. It is not as large an imperative in D3 as it would be in say an RPG or FPS. But none the less it is useful to either change them up a bit to suit your personal touch or at least know a couple of potentially critical keybinds. By default spacebar closes all open windows. It does have its uses for zipping through conversations, but its main purpose is literally to close all open windows. Think about it for a second. Given the loot orientated nature of Diablo games the chances that you’ll get caught with your proverbial pants down while looking through your inventory or perhaps browsing achievements is probably pretty good. So it might actually save your characters life to remember that you can clear your screen with a single key press. Well, clear your screen of windows anyways.
The other potentially important keybind that might be new or get passed over is the “move” button. What? Stop looking at me like I crazy. I’d highly recommend binding a key you will remember and can easily use in the heat of combat to this specific bind. Consider it a double emphasis for all ranged classes. The reasoning is simple. It is a forced move in a game where the left mouse button both moves and attacks. If you are a ranged class and you click on a distant monster, you don’t move to that location, you attack that monster. Now picture the heat of battle. Diablo has two fingers knuckle deep in locations unmentionable and you’re trying to get away. Having a force move in such a situation could determine your level of frustration with movement and quite possibly whether you die or not. It also offers an easier way for ranged classes to close the distance to a pack of monsters for the purpose of short range AOE. Long story short, bind the damn function so you can stop pretending that getting caught in a horde of demons and subsequently killed is somehow the games fault.
Finally, so you don’t look foolish, be one with your force stand still key, Shift by default. This is especially true if you are playing one of the ranged classes. Consider it the opposite of the forced move bind. It will make you immobile so that if for some reason your clicking is not robotically perfect, you don’t end up moving your way closer to the big meanie demons that are trying to gnaw your pretty little face off.
Gameplay Hints, Suggestions and Advice:
Do not pick up white or grey items. No? Not enough information for you to do so? Fine. Blizzard decided that they didn’t like people picking up white and grey items and so reduced the sell value of these items to an insignificant amount. Picture two scenarios. In one I run to a vendor, sell the items and run back to the waypoint. In the other I simply go through the waypoint and kill a mob. The second is almost universally going to be more profitable. Alright, so maybe we’re talking trivial amounts of gold and OCD quantities of time. Still no? How about this then. These white and grey items are of practically no value but take up the same amount of space as magical items of all gradient quality. If you are “forced” to return to town to sell white and grey items, you are doing it wrong. So I say again. Do not pick up white and grey items. Just don’t.
Sigh. I suppose I should note the exception to the do not pick up white and grey items rule. Early in the game you will NOT have enough magical items dropping, between forced returns to town, to have inventory trouble. Hell, early on you won’t have items in several slots and white and grey items will be your only options. But we’re talking about the first hour, maybe two, of the game. I still recommend not bothering picking up anything you won’t be using. But far be it from me to ignore or even criticize min/maxing everything as often as possible. Moving along.
Your characters have a shared stash, a bank if you will. Tabs in your shared stash are not cheap. The best way to save some gold early on is to use other characters bags as bank space. For example you run out of shared stash space and have an awesome couple of items you’d like to save for another character. Transfer the items over to your other characters. They don’t initially need the bag space anyways because you won’t have a lot of magical items drops and you won’t be needlessly picking up white and grey items…right? This of course necessitates that you make these characters and get the first quest done. But that is a meager pittance compared to the cost of stash slots.
That brings us to the fact that names are account unique and not region unique. So you don’t need to either worry about rushing to “reserve” the names you want to use for your characters. The only battle.net unique name is your battletag and even that system is setup in such a way that it is trivial to get the name you want. Fair warning, you HAVE to have a battletag to play D3. It is a simple process. Just make sure you do it before D3 comes out, nothing worse than trying to login and finding you forgot a technical step and then have to try to access battle.net during what is going to be a peak traffic period.
Gold. The Blizzard devs have been quoted as saying that when they play the most valuable drop is gold, even when each stack is 200-400g per. To that end, do not undervalue gold. Also don’t frivolously spend it on magic items from a merchant or something similar. Use it to upgrade your artisans, aka blacksmith etc. Or even just save it up for the coming repairocalypse that apparently awaits in the later difficulties. Not to mention the potential real money value of gold. Goldfarmers are not called goldfarmers because they corner the market on useless consumables and crafting mats. The suggested prices and expenditures at end game are mammoth. Of course if you plan to simply buy gold, just spend it all. Buy everything. Then buy more gold on the RMAH. Please.
Speaking of gold. You do no need to click on gold to pick it up. The same goes for health orbs. Your character has a radius within which he or she will automatically pick up both gold and health orbs. There are even magical stats for items that increase this radius. So do yourself a favor and delay the onset of arthritis by a smidgen by being aware that you do not need to frantically click gold drops.
Do not sell magical items. Instead salvage them at the blacksmith. Salvaging an item grants you crafting materials. Think of it like disenchanting from WoW except the resulting materials are the base materials for crafting items. It should be mentioned that if you keep on top of your artisan training, the producible items can be extremely good. The alternative is to sell the magical items to a merchant at a somewhat meager price, unlikely given the price/cost of crafting mats given how good crafted items are in comparison.
+exp gear is king for leveling. It cannot be understated how valuable it can be for helping you level. There is no reason to not want to have your toon as high a level as you can. Think of them like legacy items from WoW. The faster your character levels the faster they become stronger. I cannot in good conscious recommend taking +exp over anything and everything else. For example, don’t choose a blue +exp item from lvl 10 over a lvl 40 legendary set piece. That is just nonsense. But given a choice, I recommend using gear that has +exp on it until such time as you hit the level cap.
The last item in this primer isn’t so much advice as a warning. Fast clicking verses holding down the button is a less well known issue with the game. Recently Blizzard stated it was a bug and that they intend to, or already have, fixed it. Then again, how long was vanish bugged? Charge? Blink? Yeah, so best to be aware it actually exists, just in case. The basics are this. You attack faster via clicking rapidly then you do if you hold down the button. The difference is significant enough, with faster attacking skills, that if not fixed there is an optimal way to play and a suboptimal way. Simple as that.
Primer /done. Hopefully, despite your best laid plans, Diablo does kill you…in game of course. Feel free to make snooty responses in the comments section regarding my advice and suggestions. I’ll make Mac deal with any especially aggrieves offenders. So, until next time this is…what the fuck am I doing? Signing off? Am I Captain Canada or some Sunday morning serial cartoon character? Just leave. Fuck off and thanks for reading.