Learn the basics of Diablo III gameplay
Since Diablo II was released 12 years ago, it’s safe to say that Diablo III will be the first Diablo title many people will have ever played. It’s one of the most anticipated titles of the season and is attracting countless new players to the genre. We’ve received a number of questions asking how this game is even played — and if it has anything in common with your favorite MMOs.
We have you covered.
The core of Diablo gameplay is the mouse click. You do everything from combat to looting to movement with your mouse, and your interactions with your keyboard are extremely minimal overall. On Twitter recently, many Diablo diehards have mentioned they were buying a new mouse specifically to use with Diablo III — and that’s not a bad idea. No, we’re not talking a brand-new $80 Razer Naga; we’re talking some $10 to $15 thing you can pick up off of a department store shelf. You want a mouse that you’re not going to mourn when your buttons inevitably give out from the mountain of abuse you’re about to unleash upon them. Grab something cheap and disposable so that when it dies, you will consider it a victory — just another technological corpse for the bone pile.
MMO and FPS players are accustomed to using WASD or their arrow keys to move, using the mouse only to pivot. That is not the case in Diablo. Movement is handled entirely via clicking somewhere in the game world. Click a specific point to move your character in that direction, or hold your click down to make your character chase after your cursor. You’re not going to be using WASD at all. If you’ve played RTS games or a MOBA game like League of Legends, you’ll have some familiarity with this system already.
Each class has some ability that can augment its movement, such as the Barbarian’s leaps or the Monk’s dash, but those are usually combat-specific, and you’ll learn how to use them just like any other combat ability. They don’t change the basic click-to-go locomotion.
Fighting monsters makes up almost the entirety of the Diablo experience. That’s what these games are all about — tearing monsters apart in the most epic ways possible. Demon hordes will crash down upon you, and when the storm breaks, you will be the last man standing.
Just like movement, combat is handled through clicks. Your left-click controls one ability, and your right-click controls another. You will have some additional skills that you can bind to a few of your number keys, but those are used infrequently compared to your clicks.
Every class in Diablo III has a combat resource — fury, mana, arcane power, hatred, and so on. Your left-click will most likely be bound to a basic attack that generates your resource. Your right-click will most likely be bound to a more powerful attack that spends your resource.
Here’s an example for someone who might be playing a Monk:
You’ve bound Fists of Thunder to your left mouse button. Every time you left-click an enemy, you hit it for lightning damage — and on every third hit, you do some AoE lightning damage. Every time you hit with Fists of Thunder, you generate 6 spirit.
On your right mouse button, you’ve bound Lashing Tail Kick. You spend 30 spirit to perform a roundhouse kick that deals massive damage and knocks enemies back.
Think of it as a DPS rotation in an MMO. Click, click, click, right-click, and so on. It sounds a little boring written out like that, so imagine that with each click, a few dozen demons explode into sprays of gore. That’s more exciting, right?
You might be wondering, if you click to move but you also click to fight, won’t you run all sorts of places you don’t want to go if you miss clicking on the little monster? Hey, don’t worry. If you hold down the shift key while fighting, your clicks won’t make you move at all. You’ll use your attacks while standing in place. If you absolutely do not want to be moving, hold that shift key.
You’ll inevitably take damage while fighting all of those demons. That’s fine. When you kill monsters, they’ll occasionally drop health orbs. Run over the orb, and it will heal some of your health. The faster you kill enemies, the more potential chances for orbs and the healthier you’ll be in the long run. Enemies also drop health potions, which go into your inventory as consumables. If you’re having bad luck with health orbs and you’re afraid you’re going to die, swig a potion. Diablo III’s potions have a cooldown just like potions in most MMOs do, so don’t expect to spam them to cheat a tough fight.
Now you know how to fight, but which class should you use to fight? Rather than spend an enormous number of words explaining the fine details of each class here, I’ll highly recommend looking at those on the Diablo III official site. It’s a great resource for that sort of thing.
The classes are Barbarian, Demon Hunter, Monk, Witch Doctor, Wizard. The Barbarian and the Monk are melee classes, the Demon Hunter and the Wizard are ranged classes, and the Witch Doctor is mostly a ranged class that tends to float somewhere in mid-range.