I came home from Blizzcon 2008 recently, and here's my synopsis of the game so far. Obviously the game is far from completion, but for those of you who want to hear about features and such, here goes:
Only 5 (3) characters were playable at Blizzcon. Each class has a male and female version, though to my knowledge the difference is only aesthetic. The Male Wizard was not ready yet, hence only five playable characters. I played through the Female Wizard and Female Witch Doctor, each in 15-minute allotted play-throughs.
First, the minimap. It was placed in the top right corner of the screen, maybe going 1/5 of the way across and down. Yellow dots denoted allies, purple ones denoting summons of allies. Enemies were not placed on screen, so that's for you to figure out. The minimap could be scrolled with the arrow keys, like in Diablo II. There did not seem to be a "center map" button, but again, this is hardly even an "alpha" version.
There was an NPC we talked to early on, telling us about some Skeleton King. You clicked the character (he had the equivalent of "!" over his head), and you could click "Tell me about the Skeleton King" (paraphrased). He would tell you his story, though I'm sure people only heard the first half-second before clicking away to go kill shit. Note that just clicking on the man would not give you the quest, you actually had to pretend to give a damn before your Quest Log updated.
Moving through "zones" works the same as Diablo II. There's a staircase, you click it, and now you're in Catacombs Level 2.
Your actual casting/usage interface is vastly different. Instead of the Belt there are, I believe, six numbers. 5 and 6 are dedicated to actual "potion" usage, which could be a Minor Healing Potion, or an Elixir of Vitality (increases Vitality by 10 for 5 minutes, or something along those lines). 1-4 are a little different. On the Wizard they didn't immediately do anything (and I didn't try messing with them), while on the Witch Doctor 1 was allotted to "Summon Undead Dog Thing" and 2 was "Cool Blue Nova That Gives You Mana." I think this will be the place where you stick skills that do not require targeting to cast (like summons and Novas).
Left- and right-click is where the targeted skills went. You had one slot for a left-click skill and two for right-click skills (tab or mousewheel would switch between the two). Changing the skill meant right-clicking the current skill icon, whereupon your targetable skills would pop up for your choosing.
Monsters behave basically the same as always. You click them, your character attacks, and they fight back. Interestingly there is a critical strike system. Whenever you land such a blow, a number pops up over their head (it's great when that number is "1") indicating the damage dealt. Some abilities have critical effects like "causes target to burn for 25% of the spell's damage for 4 seconds" or something. I'm sure most are just damage increases.
Items and inventory are of course different if you've been reading up on Blizzard's announcements. Gold and "runes" are picked up simply by colliding into them with your player model, so carpal tunnel will be staved off for a little while longer. These runes are small heals and such so that players can PvM without potion whoring or spamming Leech effects. Mana regenerated very quickly, though that may have been special to this build, while Health did not.
As for actual item mechanics, there were typical white items (also, "Superior" and "Inferior"), blue "magic" items (ex. +3 Health on a Club), and some yellow, presumably "rare," items. We all started with ~5 Scrolls of Identify (which stacked and did not require a Tome Of) and found plenty more along our journeys. All items took up one "slot" in the inventory. Like WoW, there were ~6 Bag slots where you would place a bag, and it would unlock another slot in your inventory. Our default inventory space was ~18 slots, but it looked like it was expandable to something like 40 with proper Bag usage. The items themselves had typical "Fast," "Slow," etc. attack speeds along with standard "6-10" damage ranges, but now we had the WoW-like "DPS" math done for you and displayed on the item.
Gems were also included in this version. I don't believe they behave any differently from the gems we're used to from Diablo II, except that I only found one-socket items. Also we had no Horadric Cube so I didn't get to see any Perfect Amethysts, sorry.
The new exciting cool part of the game are the other runes. Rune of Striking, etc. These are the runes that you socket into spells. That's right, now we can socket our skill trees with runes. These runes would have effects like "Increases damage of the skill by 5%" or "Increases critical chance/effect/etc by x%" or "Lowers spell cost by x%" and so on. Spells only had one socket, like with items, and I don't know if they were removable.
Like I said I only played Wizard and Witchdoctor, but here goes.
Like Diablo II, classes have three skill trees. They do not seem to be organized in quite the same manner as Diablo II where Firebolt was required to unlock Fireball, etc. It seems (and I could be wrong here), that the system is much more like the WoW Talent tree, where five tier-1 spells require points before the next tier of skill becomes available. Like with Diablo II the tree seemed to max at 30-point (level 30) spells. I say it looks like Talent trees because when I learned the spell "Disintegrate" a little bar on the left of the skill tree filled down and changed from "5" to "6".
Each tier on the skill tree had up to three spells. Most of these spells were one-point abilities, while the Wizard had 10-point passive skills like "Increased damage resistance by 3% per level" and "Each level of this ability increases damage of Arcane spells by 10%."
Specific abilities that I remembered: Witchdoctor
"Plague Toads" (or something similar) sent out some frogs and once they were stepped on, they poisoned enemies in an AoE.
"Fire Bats" (or something) was basically Inferno from Diablo II: Short-ranged line AoE channelling DoT.
"Summon Undead Dog Thing" (or something) had a max of two, seemed to light themselves on fire after a while (which was really cool), and were generally useful. A fairly big drain on Mana reserves, but not terrible.
"Cool Blue Mana Nova Thing" was actually free to cast, dealt "1-2 Shadow Damage" and gave a little bit of Mana to you for each target hit. It was quite spammable and had great returns to mana.
"Fire Bomb" is similar to the explosive that Assassins threw in Diablo II, but actually decent at killing monsters.
Skills I remembered: Wizard
"Ice or Lightning (I forget) Shards" is a melee possibly AoE attack that dealt really good DPS for a level-1 skill. Low on mana cost, highly spammable, very damaging.
"Magic Missile" is a pretty typical projectile spell very reminiscent of Firebolt.
"Charged Bolt" (actually I have no idea what its name was) but it was Charged Bolt and was absolutely terrible. Ice Shards was much cooler and stronger.
"Disintegrate" At the behest of the Blizzard employee standing to my right, I got Disintegrate which "owned" according to him. Think of it like a very long-range Inferno (channeling line AoE DPS), with the added trait of 10% damage reduction for each target beyond the first, then second, etc.
"Some ability that didn't seem to cost Mana" (clearly not its proper name) When I had Ice Shards on left-click and then ran out of Mana, the Wizard seemed to cast some ability reminiscent of the Fire Bombs from the Assassin of Diablo II. I could have put regular attack on left-click, but this is way cooler.
Armor is handled differently from Diablo II. Unlike the Attack Rating/Defense chance to hit modifiers, Armor is now, like WoW, a % decrease in damage taken.
Also, character statistics (Strength, etc) were automatically assigned.
Then there were some passives as well (as mentioned earlier), but there you have it, folks; Diablo III.
No audio article for this one, since I've basically spelled out everything. Leave comments <3~!