As you blaze your way through Diablo III's dungeons, it strikes you almost immediately: Blizzard really has a handle on the notion of reward.
Kill a creature, and it comes apart at the seams in a satisfying spout of gore, body parts, gold and loot. Death sequences are beautifully animated, and you find yourself dipping in and out of your inventory with great frequency, to see whether the gear you're collecting is an upgrade to your current outfit.
But it's more than just the carrot-and-stick of loot that makes Diablo III such a fundamentally pleasurable experience. Every action you perform gives you a sense of feedback; from the white-hot blaze of combat to simple inventory management. Selecting a chainmail vest in your backpack prompts a gratifying metallic rustle; precious gems clink, and bows give off a woody thunk. This is the framework for the Diablo III experience: it's designed to constantly massage your senses, and yes, it feels very good.
It's now ten years since arch dungeon-crawler Diablo II launched, which makes it nearly as long in the making as Duke Nukem Forever. And at Blizzcon 2010, where Blizzard recently announced the Demon Hunter character class, Diablo III felt pretty close to completion. Of course, they won't be drawn on precisely when it'll launch; Blizzard's mantra is 'done when it's done', and it's one that has served their games well in the past.
"The Demon Hunter is definitely darker and more sinister than your typical sort of Ranger character," Diablo III's lead designer Jay Wilson explains to us. And as we test the class for ourselves, it's plain to see what he means. The Demon Hunter's combat skillset is surprisingly versatile, combining ranged damage with side effects which slow and damage enemies over time. The main skills we toyed with were Entangling Shot, which chains three enemies together and slows their movement, and Multishot, which transforms the bolts from your dual crossbows into a fearsome shotgun-scatter that shreds multiple foes. The combination turns you into a ranged death-hose that constantly keeps the enemy at arm's length. A third skill, Vault, enables the Demon Hunter to move out of range quickly if something breaks through her no-fly zone. She also has a range of traps to drop, which are handy when backing away from an advancing wall of monsters.