Diablo 3 diary: The first two hours with the monk

My descent into hell wasn't quite what I expected this morning. With Diablo III preloaded on my computer waiting for a 3 a.m. EST launch, I began channeling my inner David Carradine (Google him) for my anticipated battle with the demons that had invaded New Tristram.

Unfortunately, Blizzard's servers weren't going to cooperate, so I spent the next hour or so fighting hordes of ERROR 37s and ERROR 3006s before finally breaking through the outer defense perimeter guarding against my access to the game. My monk, named Darkartiste in honor of the rogue I created in a certain Blizzard MMO, finally gained life and proceeded into the bowels of hell.

After an hour in the game, I can honestly say hell is going to be a lot of fun. While thousands of you may have enjoyed playing the beta up to level 13 and the Skeleton King in Act I, I abstained from that joy as I wanted to enjoy the game from the beginning without any memory of a pre-release nirvana. It was worth the wait and immediately conjured up the memories of my play time with Diablo 2 until all hours of the morning.

Blizzard has done an excellent job of crafting the monk I always fantasized about when playing the class in Dungeons & Dragons, especially with the well-developed back story. In-your-face, but with finesse, I was immediately able to wade into a mass of enemies with Fists of Thunder, dispatching the lowly undead. By the time I had reached the town and met up with Deckard Cain's niece Leah in New Tristram, I was already using my secondary Lashing Tail Kick to knock multiple enemies back. With the main and secondary attacks bound to the primary mouse keys, killing is literally just a few clicks away. It wasn't long before the game was complimenting me on my massacre skills with 12 or 16 enemies dispatched in a single encounter.

Gear has been easy to find, including my first few blues, and while the enemies are gradually getting tougher, I have yet to die. I found Deckard Cain in the damaged cathedral and have already been back to sell everything from my swollen packs. I just picked up my first defensive skill in Blinding Flash, but have not had much reason to use it. I'm still finding that smashing barrels, rummaging through dead bodies and splintering tree stumps for hidden loot is just as rewarding as putting the hellspawn in their place.

I will be venturing north into the graveyard a bit later. I know the game will get tougher and I know I will die, but I really don't mind. So far, Blizzard has built a bigger, better sequel that has me welcoming angry hordes of demons, especially now that the frustrating error nasties have been dispatched. More from the front lines later.