If there is one thing we can say about the arena PVP at Blizzcon 2011, it was fast-paced, frantic fun. And while Blizzard has been very clear that they don’t intend on supporting it at the e-sport level, it seems to be winning over hordes of players with every iteration.
All five of the classes were available in the Blizzcon demo, however, the highly anticipated customization was benched in order to prevent the already lengthy lines from becoming stagnant queues of die hard fans on the verge of rioting. Instead, the max level characters were given preset skills, runes, and items (though the items were stat-less placeholders, except for the rings which gave you all the stats to simulate gear at level 60). The preset abilities did a pretty good job of showcasing many amazing skills (and rune combinations), as well as changing our collective minds on some class roles.
Here is our breakdown of the performance of each class:
Barbarian: If you are within melee distance of a Fury-filled Barbarian, you’re probably already dead. With the amazing burst potential of Wrath of the Berserker and Hammer of the Ancients, many players felt themselves crumble in only a few hits. That kind of awe-inspiring damage coupled with Ignore Pain allowing them to live through just about any barrage thrown their way demanded a tactical encounter or you would be waiting to respawn before you knew what hit you. However, it was possible to escape their ferocity even though they had Leap Attack and Ancient Spear at their disposal- much to their dismay.
Demon Hunter: Easily the least played class at Blizzcon, the Demon Hunter lacked enough damage output to make it attractive to the masses as you generally had to have Shadow Power and Rapid Fire up to get killing blows. However, what it lacked in damage it more than made up for in survivability and support. With Evasive Fire, Vault, and Smoke Screen, killing a Demon Hunter was rare. Additionally, a well placed Caltrops often allowed you or your teammates to escape the grasp of your opponents.
Monk: Behind the Demon Hunter, the Monk was the second least represented class in the demo. Due to the somewhat awkwardness of Deadly Reach, generating Spirit could sometimes be difficult- limiting your options significantly. However, once you adjusted to the mechanics, Monks could handle their own rather well. With Mantra of Conviction and Seven Sided Strike, you could put out some impressive damage and prevent escapees with a stunning Lashing Tail Kick or Dashing Strike. Additionally, with the Crimson-runed Serenity, you could heal yourself significantly while being immune to damage and control impairing effects. While I would say the Monk was in the middle of the pack, the potential of the class was definitely apparent.
Witch Doctor: The WD really shone in this build. Surprising everyone with the damage output of Poison Dart and Soul Harvest, it was clear that even without pets you had to be careful around the Doctor. Additionally, landing a killing blow on them wasn’t easy due to what was probably the best survivability skill in the demo: Spirit Walk. To round out their repertoire was Grasp of the Dead providing great support with snares and Hex, a crowd control spell that allowed you and your team to gib an opponent before the little piggy could squeal. The strongest all-around character, the Witch Doctor is certainly a feared enemy for its synergy and solo abilities.
Wizard: A class that has always been strong in PVP, the Wizard was clearly the most feared character in the arena- especially when transformed into an Archon. With crazy amounts of damage from Magic Missle and Arcane Torrent (or Disintegrate in Archon form) and the ability to freeze entire teams with a damage-increasing Frost Nova, the Wizard was often at the top of the scoreboards. And because no Wizard build would be complete without Teleport, it was there as well acting as both an offensive and defensive spell. However, their true defensive cooldown was Diamond Skin- absorbing a large amount of incoming damage. Because of their very strong build/skills, many people often found themselves instinctively running from the Wizard in hopes of living a few seconds longer- oftentimes in vain.
To watch videos of some of the arena action, check out our Youtube channel.