BlizzCon '09: Hands On With Diablo III's Monk

BlizzCon '09: Hands On With Diablo III's Monk

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Hearts explode, bodies explode, whatever Diablo III's Monk gets his hands on explodes. Luckily, I didn't explode when I got my hands on and spent some time with him.

Where's my Necromancer? Where's my Paladin? Where's my Amazon? Anyone expecting to see their favorite class make a pseudo-return to Diablo today might have been a little disappointed to see that Blizzard decided to go with none of the above for its new Diablo III class. The Monk might strike you as Diablo III's version of the Assassin (or, yeah, of The Monk from the Hellfire expansion), but really he's not that either. This bad boy's in a class of his own.

Why a Monk? Blizzard said that they were looking for a class pen-and-paper RPG class archetype that hasn't been mined in modern action-RPGs, and for something that was different, that, specifically, felt like a fighting game character. Maybe they've been playing Street Fighter IV, who knows?

I'd say that playing the Monk is less like controlling Ryu in Street Fighter than playing The Scout in Team Fortress 2. He packs a massive punch, but he's got to be handed nimbly - dodge, shield, gib enemies, dodge - or you'll get burned down in a second. The "fighting game" elements come in the form of the combo-ability of some Monk skills.

This isn't like playing a Rogue in World of Warcraft, building combo points. Instead, skills can be chained in combos of three, and depending on when you use a skill, it'll take on different properties. Example: you click once and use Crippling Wave, which slows enemies, then, for the second strike, you hit Crippling Wave again which now applies a damage debuff. For the third and final part of the combo, you could hit Crippling Wave again and refresh both debuffs, or, you could hit Exploding Palm, which will lay a damage-over-time effect on the target, which, if it happens to kill the target, will cause its heart, and then its body, to explode, doing damage equal to its maximum health to every enemy its exploded parts touch.

Since the Monk doesn't have much in terms of defense, unlike his brother in arms the Barbarian, you've got to be wily to survive with him. That means busting out skills like the shield move where the Monk starts spinning his staff fast enough to create a forcefield or blinding enemies, but the best defense in a game like Diablo is obviously a good offense, and the Monk's combo system shines here.

When I encountered large groups of enemies, I'd find the mob who might have the most HP, tag them with a combo that ended with Exploding Palm, and then use the Seven-Sided Strike move which has the Monk do lightning fast strikes on multiple enemies (It's like Diablo II's Chain Lightning but "you're the lightning") and tip the enemy with the Exploding Palm damage-over-time into death, exploding the thing's body and causing huge area-of-effect damage. One body exploded, then the rest of them exploded.

I was hugely impressed with the Monk. He's different, he's challenging, he's an absolute blast to use. Here's the best evidence that this class is fun to use: I stopped looking at item drops, I just wanted to fight things.

Blizzard's doing interesting things with him lore-wise as well (they described his vibe as a fusion of Eastern European orthodox religion and Asian mysticism), so if you're a nerd for that kind of stuff, you're covered. For everyone else, get ready to show the world that swords-n-sorcery have got nothing on a fast pair of fists.

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That's... unexpected. Cool though, I have to admit.

The monk looks cool, but no gameplay trailer? Apart from that silly one built using the game engine?

Edit: Yes there is!

The guy deflects fireballs..FIREBALLS!!

Better quality here:
http://www.blizzard.com/diablo3/media/movies/monkgameplay.xml

His omnislash looks siiiick. I'm really liking some of the gameplay info that they've given too regarding his combo systems.

They say the combos are mix-and-match so you can apply different stages of hits from different combos. Sounds like a really fun class.

That is

SWEEEEEEEEET!

No matter how cool, I'm still going with Witch Doctor.

So, Exploding Palm is Corpse Explosion 2.0, neat.

I just hope they get the balacing right this time, I remember logging into Diablo 2 after the first patch, and suddenly my 15 points in Corpse Explosion where pretty much useless after the nerf.

Also, that gameplay video looks great, reminds me of the desert area in D2. The color scheme looks neat, canīt see what people where complaining about.

Looks great.. so happy they are mixing the classes up a bit making it fresh. They could easily get away with just using the same classes over again and most will be happy.

Why a Monk? Blizzard said that they were looking for a class pen-and-paper RPG class archetype that hasn't been mined in modern action-RPGs, and for something that was different, that, specifically, felt like a fighting game character. Maybe they've been playing Street Fighter IV, who knows?

If I'm not mistaken then the DND Monk was first featured in 2003's The Temple of Elemental Evil.

Is it just me, or are the graphics darker from the first few gameplay videos?

Still, every one of them makes me wish I already had the game...

The problem with having any character based on Ghandi is the fact that Ghandi CAN'T FIGHT!

Buchholz101:
The problem with having any character based on Ghandi is the fact that Ghandi CAN'T FIGHT!

Don't be ridiculous.
Of course he could.

Do you really think that "non-violent protest" bullshit actually worked?
They knew Ghandi was giving them one last chance before he decimated their entire country with his bare hands.

Anyway...This actually looks relatively awesome.
I may have to consider buying the game.

Woem:

Why a Monk? Blizzard said that they were looking for a class pen-and-paper RPG class archetype that hasn't been mined in modern action-RPGs, and for something that was different, that, specifically, felt like a fighting game character. Maybe they've been playing Street Fighter IV, who knows?

If I'm not mistaken then the DND Monk was first featured in 2003's The Temple of Elemental Evil.

I doubt it. The Monk class was available in Baldur's Gate 2 which was released in September 2000. You could argue that they were using ADnD rules but...eh, you're just arguing semantics then.

Either way, the point was not that it was an original character concept but whether it had been 'mined in modern action-RPGS' which, to my knowledge, it hasn't. No one's arguing that the Monk is a never before seen class type, just that it's a lot less common.

The problem with having any character based on Ghandi is the fact that Ghandi CAN'T FIGHT!

Wrong. Ghandi chose not to fight. He could explode your face my tapping you on the shoulder if he wanted to.

monks are the greatest class ever.

Woem:

Why a Monk? Blizzard said that they were looking for a class pen-and-paper RPG class archetype that hasn't been mined in modern action-RPGs, and for something that was different, that, specifically, felt like a fighting game character. Maybe they've been playing Street Fighter IV, who knows?

If I'm not mistaken then the DND Monk was first featured in 2003's The Temple of Elemental Evil.

*twitch* Monks were an available class in FIRST EDITION D&D.

I see they included quivering palm. I am content.

This game is shaping up to be severely lacking in races I will feel like playing. At least as far as the single player experience goes. I've never been a fan of the Barbarian, he seems too dumb and brutish to single-handedly conquer the forces of hell. Witch Doctor is a mere second rate version of the necromancer. If I want to be dancing around my enemies while minions and debuffs kill them, at least I'd want to be an undeniably cool necromancer - not Dhalsim with a wooden mask. Wizard is currently the best choice, however, sorcerers beat wizards on the coolness meter any day of the week, without doubt. And now the monk - conquering the demon hordes with just the power of your fists and meditation will never feel anything but ridiculous to me.
Now the game is at an awkward point. If the last class isn't a heavy armor standard archetype character (likely choice Paladin), the game is going to feel overwrought with gimmicky niche characters, and no character is going to have armor that actually looks sturdy. On the other hand, if they add another melee character, it's going to be too melee heavy, and it desperately needs an archer/ranged physical character to have well rounded class dynamics, which means yet another lightly armored agile character.

Byers:
This game is shaping up to be severely lacking in races I will feel like playing. At least as far as the single player experience goes. I've never been a fan of the Barbarian, he seems too dumb and brutish to single-handedly conquer the forces of hell. Witch Doctor is a mere second rate version of the necromancer. If I want to be dancing around my enemies while minions and debuffs kill them, at least I'd want to be an undeniably cool necromancer - not Dhalsim with a wooden mask. Wizard is currently the best choice, however, sorcerers beat wizards on the coolness meter any day of the week, without doubt. And now the monk - conquering the demon hordes with just the power of your fists and meditation will never feel anything but ridiculous to me.
Now the game is at an awkward point. If the last class isn't a heavy armor standard archetype character (likely choice Paladin), the game is going to feel overwrought with gimmicky niche characters, and no character is going to have armor that actually looks sturdy. On the other hand, if they add another melee character, it's going to be too melee heavy, and it desperately needs an archer/ranged physical character to have well rounded class dynamics, which means yet another lightly armored agile character.

But but...the monk deflects fireballs with his face! FIREBALLS!!FACE!!!

I was originally going to try the Witch Doctor first but now that this class has been announced, I've become quite torn.

Zombie Wall vs Exploding Fist.... ugh I'm so torn! I wish the Diablo games had multi-classing.

LewsTherin:

Woem:

Why a Monk? Blizzard said that they were looking for a class pen-and-paper RPG class archetype that hasn't been mined in modern action-RPGs, and for something that was different, that, specifically, felt like a fighting game character. Maybe they've been playing Street Fighter IV, who knows?

If I'm not mistaken then the DND Monk was first featured in 2003's The Temple of Elemental Evil.

*twitch* Monks were an available class in FIRST EDITION D&D.

I see they included quivering palm. I am content.

I'm talking about the TTOEE video game here as the first video game appearance of the DND monk. But Amnestic is correct that a 2E adaptation of the 3E monk class was first featured in Baldur's Gate 2.

With the witch doctor and now this, I am starting to think old classes begone. I was not aware Orthodox monks were strong in the ways of heart exploding (inventing Vodka and assisting Fascists was more their style) but I no longer care. Do not, mess, with the clergy.

Maybe they have been uninvolved in the Diablo story up till this point because the combos weren't perfected? "Brother Papolopolous, the heart exploding technique is perfected!"

Byers:
This game is shaping up to be severely lacking in races I will feel like playing. At least as far as the single player experience goes. I've never been a fan of the Barbarian, he seems too dumb and brutish to single-handedly conquer the forces of hell. Witch Doctor is a mere second rate version of the necromancer. If I want to be dancing around my enemies while minions and debuffs kill them, at least I'd want to be an undeniably cool necromancer - not Dhalsim with a wooden mask. Wizard is currently the best choice, however, sorcerers beat wizards on the coolness meter any day of the week, without doubt. And now the monk - conquering the demon hordes with just the power of your fists and meditation will never feel anything but ridiculous to me.
Now the game is at an awkward point. If the last class isn't a heavy armor standard archetype character (likely choice Paladin), the game is going to feel overwrought with gimmicky niche characters, and no character is going to have armor that actually looks sturdy. On the other hand, if they add another melee character, it's going to be too melee heavy, and it desperately needs an archer/ranged physical character to have well rounded class dynamics, which means yet another lightly armored agile character.

The Barbarian is not dumb or brutish, especially if you pay attention to the lore *is a nerd*. I agree they need a class with heavy armor, but also a ranged class. Maybe some sort of Mercenary Class that wears chain armor and uses a mix of ranged and melee weapons.

...Yeah okay unlikly but still, a Ranger (in the traditional D&D or LOTR sense) would be nice.

TsunamiWombat:

Byers:
This game is shaping up to be severely lacking in races I will feel like playing. At least as far as the single player experience goes. I've never been a fan of the Barbarian, he seems too dumb and brutish to single-handedly conquer the forces of hell. Witch Doctor is a mere second rate version of the necromancer. If I want to be dancing around my enemies while minions and debuffs kill them, at least I'd want to be an undeniably cool necromancer - not Dhalsim with a wooden mask. Wizard is currently the best choice, however, sorcerers beat wizards on the coolness meter any day of the week, without doubt. And now the monk - conquering the demon hordes with just the power of your fists and meditation will never feel anything but ridiculous to me.
Now the game is at an awkward point. If the last class isn't a heavy armor standard archetype character (likely choice Paladin), the game is going to feel overwrought with gimmicky niche characters, and no character is going to have armor that actually looks sturdy. On the other hand, if they add another melee character, it's going to be too melee heavy, and it desperately needs an archer/ranged physical character to have well rounded class dynamics, which means yet another lightly armored agile character.

The Barbarian is not dumb or brutish, especially if you pay attention to the lore *is a nerd*. I agree they need a class with heavy armor, but also a ranged class. Maybe some sort of Mercenary Class that wears chain armor and uses a mix of ranged and melee weapons.

...Yeah okay unlikly but still, a Ranger (in the traditional D&D or LOTR sense) would be nice.

He's a guy in a loincloth that jumps around, swings axes and goes "RAAAAARGH" every 2 seconds. I can't picture him as the sole conqueror of the forces of hell in the same way as a paladin or sorceress, regardless of how much lore has been conjured up to explain said axe swinging.

Yeah, if they don't add the Necromancer, they better at least add a decent bow class that isn't an elf. See you on Battle.Net!

Byers:

He's a guy in a loincloth that jumps around, swings axes and goes "RAAAAARGH" every 2 seconds. I can't picture him as the sole conqueror of the forces of hell in the same way as a paladin or sorceress, regardless of how much lore has been conjured up to explain said axe swinging.

Your disparagingly simplistic description could well have been aimed at Conan the Cimmerian - and conquering the forces of hell is right up his alley. My point - which also applies to your apparent disdain for the Witch Doctor - is that just because someone is a scantly-clad heathen doesn't mean they aren't also a righteous, evil-vanquishing badass.

 

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