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Hands-On With Diablo III's Street Fighter-Inspired Monk Class

Wait, a fighting game? In Diablo? OK, not quite, but this is definitely an action-oriented class.

Monk! 
You wouldn't look at Diablo III and think the game's designers at Blizzard had drawn from their favorite fighting games in designing any aspect of it. But that's exactly what they claimed to have done with the newly announced monk class, unveiled here in Anaheim at BlizzCon.

Top devs on the game said that fighting games, primarily Street Fighter, informed their design of the monk, who's essentially a DPS class that deals a lot of hurt to enemies but isn't particularly hearty himself. During the Diablo III class panel here, the devs mentioned that they looked at not only fighting games but also World of Warcraft's rogue class and the assassin from Diablo II in designing the monk's fast-paced, combo-oriented fighting style. He's described as a "good contrast" to the game's burlier, tank-like barbarian class.

Here's an incredibly long video of the monk kicking some tail, which you can watch some or all of to get a good idea of what he's about.


  

I hopped on a demo station for about an hour and got a pretty good feel for the way the monk plays. A number of his abilities are designed around three-step combo sequences, including two on display here called Exploding Palm and Crippling Wave. Palm is a straight damage-dealer that delivers successively more damage with the first two hits and then adds a bleeding damage-over-time effect on the third hit. Wave has a set of debuffs on it that slows enemies with each hit and then strikes multiple enemies on the third hit with an area-of-effect attack.

Fists of fury. 
What makes the monk fast and dynamic to play is that you can mix and match these two combo-based abilities on the fly. So you could do a quick first hit with Crippling Wave to slap on a debuff, then get direct damage with the first two hits of Exploding Palm, refresh your debuff with another Wave attack, then go for the final DOT from the third Palm hit. Of course, you can also just hammer on mouse button one to keep doing the same basic three-hit combo over and over, but the more you customize your attack patterns, the more efficient your combat prowess is going to be. Since the monk isn't the most durable character in the game, you'll probably want to kill enemies as fast as you can to maximize your survivability.  
 
The monk isn't all combos; he has plenty of direct-use abilities too. One of them which you see to the right there has him dashing between multiple enemies so quickly he appears to teleport, delivering a strike each time he passes one. There are some defensive abilities too, including one that deflects all melee attacks for a few seconds, and another that temporarily blinds nearby enemies and drastically lowers their chance to hit you. The monk seems like a versatile combat class with a decent amount of flexibility, from the limited set of abilities Blizzard has shown so far.

If you're wondering who this guy is, some of the game's top devs said during a panel that the monk is a spiritual warrior on the side of good, and belongs to a highly structured theocratic society dominated by the church. He pretty much exists to act as the muscle for the church and carry out its heavy lifting. Watch this cinematic trailer if you want to know more about who the monk is and where he comes from.  


   

As of today we have the barbarian, witch doctor, wizard, and now the monk in Diablo III. There's one more character class for Blizzard to reveal, but since it's assuredly going to be a matter of years before this game is on store shelves, they've got plenty of time to prep that last announcement.

In the meantime, I got to speak to some of the top guys behind Diablo III, so take a look, won'tcha?  

 
44 Comments
Posted by Brad
Monk! 
You wouldn't look at Diablo III and think the game's designers at Blizzard had drawn from their favorite fighting games in designing any aspect of it. But that's exactly what they claimed to have done with the newly announced monk class, unveiled here in Anaheim at BlizzCon.

Top devs on the game said that fighting games, primarily Street Fighter, informed their design of the monk, who's essentially a DPS class that deals a lot of hurt to enemies but isn't particularly hearty himself. During the Diablo III class panel here, the devs mentioned that they looked at not only fighting games but also World of Warcraft's rogue class and the assassin from Diablo II in designing the monk's fast-paced, combo-oriented fighting style. He's described as a "good contrast" to the game's burlier, tank-like barbarian class.

Here's an incredibly long video of the monk kicking some tail, which you can watch some or all of to get a good idea of what he's about.


  

I hopped on a demo station for about an hour and got a pretty good feel for the way the monk plays. A number of his abilities are designed around three-step combo sequences, including two on display here called Exploding Palm and Crippling Wave. Palm is a straight damage-dealer that delivers successively more damage with the first two hits and then adds a bleeding damage-over-time effect on the third hit. Wave has a set of debuffs on it that slows enemies with each hit and then strikes multiple enemies on the third hit with an area-of-effect attack.

Fists of fury. 
What makes the monk fast and dynamic to play is that you can mix and match these two combo-based abilities on the fly. So you could do a quick first hit with Crippling Wave to slap on a debuff, then get direct damage with the first two hits of Exploding Palm, refresh your debuff with another Wave attack, then go for the final DOT from the third Palm hit. Of course, you can also just hammer on mouse button one to keep doing the same basic three-hit combo over and over, but the more you customize your attack patterns, the more efficient your combat prowess is going to be. Since the monk isn't the most durable character in the game, you'll probably want to kill enemies as fast as you can to maximize your survivability.  
 
The monk isn't all combos; he has plenty of direct-use abilities too. One of them which you see to the right there has him dashing between multiple enemies so quickly he appears to teleport, delivering a strike each time he passes one. There are some defensive abilities too, including one that deflects all melee attacks for a few seconds, and another that temporarily blinds nearby enemies and drastically lowers their chance to hit you. The monk seems like a versatile combat class with a decent amount of flexibility, from the limited set of abilities Blizzard has shown so far.

If you're wondering who this guy is, some of the game's top devs said during a panel that the monk is a spiritual warrior on the side of good, and belongs to a highly structured theocratic society dominated by the church. He pretty much exists to act as the muscle for the church and carry out its heavy lifting. Watch this cinematic trailer if you want to know more about who the monk is and where he comes from.  


   

As of today we have the barbarian, witch doctor, wizard, and now the monk in Diablo III. There's one more character class for Blizzard to reveal, but since it's assuredly going to be a matter of years before this game is on store shelves, they've got plenty of time to prep that last announcement.

In the meantime, I got to speak to some of the top guys behind Diablo III, so take a look, won'tcha?  

 
Staff
Posted by Schizoid

The Monk is pretty damn bad-ass, that's for sure. Definitely gonna be the first class I try out.

Posted by Det1

Not just regarding the monk class, but the entire game is starting to look like a cluster of uninterpretable spectacle. Like golden axe.

Edited by Crono
@Det1 said:

" Not just regarding the monk class, but the entire game is starting to look like a cluster of uninterpretable spectacle. Like golden axe. "

Really?  I had no problem telling what was going on, personally.
Online
Posted by MikeFightNight

Akuma is re-born. I like it.
Posted by addictedtopinescent

Looks like a fun class to play 
years...ooh the wait is killing me

Posted by TheClap

That cinematic will be sweet if they finish it

Posted by John1912

Models look kinda shitty up close.  monk should be pretty sweet thou!
Posted by SilenceUK

so its gota be a ranger esc class next right? light armor speedy bow and dagger/sword/duel wielding elf kinda thing?
Posted by Crono

Yeah they have to go with a bow / projectile based class almost don't you think? Good point SilenceUK.  Let the waiting commence!

Online
Edited by emkeighcameron

Why are the graphics in The Monk's Cinematic Debut so terrible? It looked like it was rendered using the WOW engine or something similar. Diablo 2 had better looking cutscenes than that.
 
I guess maybe it was the actual game engine which was used during the cutscenes? I still think they could have done way better with real CGI work like in Diablo 2.

Posted by Zajtalan

did that fool just pronounce melee as me-lee

Posted by Captainlunchbox

Makes me wish I had a computer worth a damn... And I know I'll get some hate for this, but I mean no disrespect to PC gamers when I say this, but I wish Blizzard had some love for the console crowd. I'd totally play PC games if I could afford a better rig. This looks awesome.
Posted by Breadfan

I am even more excited for Diablo III now.  That footage looks great, can't wait to see the remaining classes

Posted by xxNBxx

CAPCOM vs BLIZZARD game coming in 2012, you heard it here first....
 
The monk looks so bad ass they are going to have to re-due all the other classes  skill effects, again.  (they seem to have to re-due them every time they roll out a new character)

Posted by WulfBane
@emkeighcameron said:
" Why are the graphics in The Monk's Cinematic Debut so terrible? It looked like it was rendered using the WOW engine or something similar. Diablo 2 had better looking cutscenes than that.  I guess maybe it was the actual game engine which was used during the cutscenes? I still think they could have done way better with real CGI work like in Diablo 2. "
They did the same thing for the Wizard reveal trailer last year.  Basically it is much faster for them to just pull D3 engine the camera down to get a quicker turn around using the in game models than the lead time required for a hand done cinimatic.  I'm sure the final game will have custom CG cut sequences made for it, just not so much for little pre-release trailers for the various class announcements that include showing off flashy abilities.
Posted by phatbrain

I am so ready for this game.  I just played through Diablo2 again and remembered how good Blizzard is at making crack.

Posted by Beomoose
@John1912: 
The game's about 2 years away yet, these models aren't anywhere near final
Posted by myketuna
@WulfBane: @emkeighcameron:  Yeah, I agree with WulfBane. I mean, the reveal trailer/cinematic was really good looking (obviously CGI), so I'm gonna guess that they'll do the cinematics for the game later on when they're closer to being done with the game. So, for now they'll just do the quick and dirty in-game. But to tell you the truth, even Diablo II wasn't the greatest looking game when it came out. Diablo has never been about the graphics. Otherwise, people would have abandoned it long ago because Diablo II is looking mighty nasty these days.
Edited by Bigandtasty

Needs more Tony Shalhoub pictures

Posted by emkeighcameron
@myketuna said:
" @WulfBane: @emkeighcameron:  Yeah, I agree with WulfBane. I mean, the reveal trailer/cinematic was really good looking (obviously CGI), so I'm gonna guess that they'll do the cinematics for the game later on when they're closer to being done with the game. So, for now they'll just do the quick and dirty in-game. But to tell you the truth, even Diablo II wasn't the greatest looking game when it came out. Diablo has never been about the graphics. Otherwise, people would have abandoned it long ago because Diablo II is looking mighty nasty these days. "
I thought the CGI cutscenes from Diablo 2 were pretty good, which is why I brought this up. I agree that the gameplay graphics have never been very good in the Diablo series, and I agree that it didn't really matter because the gameplay itself was fun.
Edited by ahoodedfigure

That Monk design is great :)
 
Makes me wanna watch wuxia or play Jade Empire.

Posted by BR4DL3I9H

These videos are like one big tease because the game probably won't be out for another couple of years.

Posted by PenguinDust

This article was like candy to me on Halloween.  I can't get enough.  But sadly, every bit of awesome Diablo 3 news comes with the caveat that the game won't be showing up on store shelves anytime soon.

Posted by Kohe321

Looks cool!

Posted by MarinoUK

I'm really looking forward to this, i wonder if the 5th class will be the paladin... I hope so.

Posted by Ghostiet

Nope, I think there won't be a paladin. I'd rather vote for an archer/amazon kind of character.

Posted by jkz

This is definitely gonna be my class. I really hope, and I'm sure they will, that they clean up the cinematics. Then again that looked like it was all in-engine gameplay, even the animations were straight from his abilities. I'm guessing they just worked hard to get his model and a couple abilities ready for blizzcon.

Posted by Food

Never trust the random dude on the side of the road with his face covered.

Posted by supalink

always good interviews by brad

Posted by giyanks22
@TheClap said:
" That cinematic will be sweet if they finish it "
Lol really..the CgI was horrible and the frame rate was screwy. If you look at the Starcraft II Cinematic, it looks so much better.
Posted by ApertureSilence

I don't think I care for the in-game character models being used in the cinematics like that. It looks way to WoW-ish for my taste, and that's not a good thing.

Edited by Yagami

Feels like it is too messy. There's too many visual effects when 4 players are playing, I can see why they limited it to just that, 4 players. 8 players would be unplayable. Even at 4, it is quite disturbing.

Posted by Canteu

Please let #5 be some sort of Amazon, it just wont be right without being able to gather up all the kittens in the secret rainbow level and lay waste to them all with one well placed Lightning Fury.

Posted by MC_Izawa
@MurderByDeath said:
" I don't think I care for the in-game character models being used in the cinematics like that. It looks way to WoW-ish for my taste, and that's not a good thing. "
Yeah, I don't know why they cut corners like this... I like their CG stuff, it's always been one of their strong points.  Taking the in game models and manipulating them like that makes it look like a video some 17 year old kid made in his spare time.  I remember when some dude made a fan video for WoW using a similar method, and a few months later that shit is in actual WoW, made by some lazy ass Blizz employee.
Posted by Marooned79

I am definitively going to play this class first, unless they release another Pally. I miss my D2 Assassin very much :)

Posted by TwoLines
@MC_Izawa said:

" @MurderByDeath said:

" I don't think I care for the in-game character models being used in the cinematics like that. It looks way to WoW-ish for my taste, and that's not a good thing. "
Yeah, I don't know why they cut corners like this... I like their CG stuff, it's always been one of their strong points.  Taking the in game models and manipulating them like that makes it look like a video some 17 year old kid made in his spare time.  I remember when some dude made a fan video for WoW using a similar method, and a few months later that shit is in actual WoW, made by some lazy ass Blizz employee. "
Hey- if the ingame cinematics will look like this- I don't mind, it looked cool.
I wouldn't like having a  pre rendered cinematic every 10 minutes- we're not living in the 90's.
Posted by ApertureSilence
@TwoLines: Back in the day, Blizzard used their prerendered cinematics very sparingly. I'd rather have quality over quantity myself.
Posted by RHCPfan24

Wow, Diablo III is looking pretty awesome. Great job at interviewing there Brad!!

Posted by SecertTheHedgehog

Amazing....very Amazing game ^_^    

Posted by TomeOne

IT'S TOO LIGHT!!!
 
*spends hours changing saturation and brightness to satisfy self*

Posted by dudeglove
@SilenceUK: I wonder who'll end up with the paladin-style support aspect though.
Posted by Media_Master

Monk is fast!!! 
Look at him go!

Posted by Jico

I have to say, I'm not crazy about the cinematic style of that trailer.  Blizzard's pre-rendered stuff from 10 years ago was better.