Diablo III Beta – Witch Doctor

As we creep ever close to the release date of Diablo III, henceforth a new Nerd-tional Holiday, we find ourselves asking “Is the Witch Doctor really as cool as Blizzard made it look? Or is it just a reskinned Necromancer?” To which I would respond “Yes. And No!”

The Witch Doctor wears quite a few hats in Diablo III. They have a range of spells from Direct Damage, and Damage Over Time, to Summoning, and Crowd Control. It’s quite a mix of spells, and on paper it can sound overwhelming, but in practice it works out really well. If you read my earlier overview of the Diablo III Beta, you should remember me stating that I was worried about the Witch Doctor class. I commented that it felt too much like a Diablo II character, in that there was a lot of waiting around for your Mana to regenerate so you could cast the necessary spells to dispatch your foes. I can safely say that as of Beta Patch 15 that has been entirely fixed!

The Witch Doctor suffered from low mana pools, and high mana costs, even on the most basic of spells. Most other classes have low/no cost for basic attacks/spells. This allows them to use a cool ability to repeatedly attack a foe, while generating/waiting for resources to generate, which for most classes is just a few moments. The Poison Dart ability once took as much as 1/10th of the Witch Doctors total mana pool to cast (this was actually spelled out with a number value but it scaled with character level to be about 1/10th). The issue with that is the spell isn’t exactly strong, and it only hits a single foe. I found myself casting an Area of Effect(AOE) spell followed by 3-5 shots of the Poison Dart, then being forced to physically attack enemies. Which is incredibly dangerous for a Spell Caster!

Needless to say, this has all be corrected. Now all of the Witch Doctor’s “primary” skills take less then 10 mana per cast. The Poison Dart in particular costs 10 Mana, while a Jar of Spiders costs only 4 mana. This is great, because it takes a lot of the focus away from resource management, and instead directs it at demon slaying!

The Witch Doctors also have a few tricks up their sleeve for crowd control, starting with summoning Zombie Dogs that follow you and attack your enemies. They aren’t particularly strong, and they can’t take a huge beating, but the added distraction for your enemies is useful. At later levels, with rune stones, you can add poison damage and life steal, that also heals you, to the Zombie Dogs attacks. There is also a fear spell, called Horrify, that sends enemies fleeing for their lives. It’s a great way to get out of a troublesome situation, however it takes the place of your Zombie Dogs on the hot bar. So you have to choose which is more important to you.

The Witch Doctor has a very unique, and creepy, visual style which is carried through from their armor design to the spells. If you look at the spells Grasp of the Dead and Firebats, which happen to be the first two secondary spells learned, you can get a sense of what I’m talking about. Grasp of the Dead is an AOE spell that summons a group of zombie arms from the earth to attack, and slow your enemies. Firebats is a channeled spell that calls on a group of bats that fly in from behind the Witch Doctor only to be lit on fire once in front of him. It’s a quick animation, but still incredibly creepy! Couple those with the voodoo dolls, and wooden masks and you have a creepy looking Witch Doctor.

Overall the Witch Doctor is a blast to play. They have incredibly unique spells, and now feel like they’re one of the new classes, not just a copy of an old favorite. Let me know how you feel about the Witch Doctor below and don’t forget to tell me which of the remaining 3 classes you want to hear about next.

is not a boss.

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