Diablo was one of the early online multiplayer games, drawing a big crowd with Battle.Net and helping set the standard for how online multiplayer should function for a PC game. Diablo II continued that tradition, adding depth to the experience. Now, it looks like Diablo III is going to take that great tradition and run with it.
Available on the show floor at BlizzCon 2011 was Diablo III's new and already much-loved PvP mode: Team Deathmatch. Fans of first-person shooters are no strangers to team deathmatch. Players team up to take on another team with only one goal in mind: kill them more than they kill you. This particular team deathmatch pitted four of us against four other players who were obviously more experienced (the final score was 24-75, them), but it still gave a good feel for how Diablo III's Team Deathmatch mode will work and feel.
Before digging into the hands-on, some preliminary information we've been fed during various Diablo III panels. First off, you'll be using your campaign characters for Team Deathmatch. The idea is you go and level up your character, then take it into PvP. No word at this time as to how varying character levels are going to be handled in PvP. Changing skills and item loadouts during a match will not be permitted. Team Deathmatch is about skill. Learning how to deal with an opponent over the course of the match is part of that skill. If you or they keep changing out your skills and equipment, that strategy is taken away.
Diablo III's Team Deathmatch is really all about knowing how to use your characters and skills, particularly in unison with your team. Plunging headlong against an enemy can quickly turn you into a blood splatter on the floor if you're alone. A wizard is no match up close for a barbarian and the barbarian will close the gap, so it's important to stay with your teammates, let the tanks snare the enemies, and let the ranged fighters keep their distance. This may all sound self-evident, but the action in Diablo III's Team Deathmatch is VERY fast-paced and visceral. You barely have time to find where the fight is and start throwing down, let along strategizing with your team. You'll rack up kills, but you will die A LOT.
The map used for this Team Deathmatch demo was fairly bland and simple. It was also very small and forced the teams into battle constantly. Scattered about the map are pillars, small walls, and little spots where quick heal potions spawn, but with cooldown periods between new potions. Running off to grab one of these usually ended in death since most characters have at least one ability that pulls you toward them or teleports them to you. Unfortunately, spawn points can be an issue right now. Several deaths were caused by spawning right on top of several opponents, leading to a very quick dismemberment indeed.
Overall, Diablo III's Team Deathmatch is showing a lot of promise as a fast-paced, intense PvP experience. The pace and feel is so dramatically different from the campaign that it really makes a welcome change and feels like a different game altogether. Along those same lines, it may not be for every Diablo fan. At this point, there doesn't appear to be any loot benefits to PvP, something that's at the core of Diablo gameplay. Nevertheless, it could be a great way to play some Diablo III if you only have short amount of time to kill or if you really just need to beat the crap out of other gamers.