I rarely like melee-type of characters, but I really fell in love with the Diablo III Monk class and its martial arts animations. There’s nothing more satisfying than kicking the heck out of hordes of zombies and skeletons.

Primary Skills

Fists of Thunder is a primary skill and in this video you are able to see two rune variations. The non-runed version looks like normal punches with random electrical discharges.

With the Bounding Light rune, every third punch you see a chain lightning that hits around five nearby targets for 67% weapon damage as Lightning.

The Lightning Flash rune increases attack speed of the Fists of Thunder punches. Every third hit causes a green-hued sphere explosion that causes a frontal AOE that deals 100% weapon damage as Lightning, and knocks enemies back. Corpses falling away release a blue electrical discharge.

The high attack speed means better spirit regeneration. This skill is great for those who love to use a secondary skill that spends large amounts of spirit. Basically, the primary skill is a spirit regenerator, and the secondary skill is a spirit spender — or how I like to call it, a Ultimate attack or finisher.

Deadly Reach is another primary skill option. While the Fists of Thunder is a upclose punch, the Deadly Reach causes a sort of linear air shockwave that reaches about 10-15 yards away to attack semi-distant enemies in front of the Monk. The third hit extends out 25 yards. It looks like the martial art’s open-palm move is so fast and hard that it pushes air forward violently. It’s hard not to love Deadly Reach.

Now the Piercing Trident rune for Deadly Reach is my favorite primary spell in Diablo III beta. You get three duplicate Deadly reach shockwaves that hit all mobs in a frontal-cone AOE. The special effect hue of this skill is greenish, and the second and third hit has an increased area of effect to boot.

There’s a third primary skill available in Diablo III beta: Exploding Palm. No rune is available for this skill because Diablo III beta has a level 13 cap. The first rune for this spell is available at level 18. The non-runed Exploding Palm has its usefulness when you face large mobs with lots of Hit Points (HP).

The first two strikes in the attack deal 100% weapon damage. The Third strike causes the target to bleed for 60% of weapon damage as Physical per second for 3 sec. If the target dies while bleeding, it explodes and deals 30% of the target’s maximum Life as Physical damage to all other enemies nearby.

Visually, you know when a mob has exploded due to this bleed effect when you see a spherical explosion of redish blood mist.

Secondary Skills

The first secondary skill available is Dashing Strike. It’s like a sprint to reach a distant enemy which deals 80% weapon damage. It’s definitely a useful skill when your path is blocked with lots of incoming zombies or other mobs from reaching key enemies: archers and Tomb Guardians are the type of enemy which attacks from far away. The archers deal quite a lot of damage compared with other mobs. The Tomb Guardians summon more skeletons. Dashing Strike allows you to bypass all mobs to reach these key targets. Main benefit of this secondary skill is that moving around prevents large packs of melee-enemies from hitting you allowing you a tactical hit-and-run attack.

This skill has a rune available in Diablo III beta: Way of the Fallen Star. It’s a bit of a extra advantage increasing your movement speed by 25% for 3 sec after striking an enemy. The special effect looks like the World of Warcraft Rogue’s sprint ability which leaves a blueish movement trail. There’s not much of a difference between both the non-runed and the runed Dashing Strike, so you will likely see Monks using the runed version which gives you that extra edge when you need to flee in situations where you are low-health.

Lashing Tail Kick is a deadly roundhouse kick which deals 200% weapon damage and knocks enemies back. It’s a nice finisher against large mobs and champions, but costs 30 spirit. It’s not surprising to hear the monk spam “I have not enough spirit”. Hopefully, the spirit cost is decreased a few notches before retail.

Tempest Rush is the third Secondary skill available in Diablo III beta. It has no rune available in beta, but it’s just amazing.

It allows you to move through your enemies if you wish to reach a distant key enemy, but it also helps to damage large packs of enemies. It knocks enemies back and slow their movement by 60% for 2 sec and deals 50% weapon damage while running.

It’s hard to describe the awesomeness of the F/X animation. Basically, it autoruns in the direction you wish while channeled (holding down the button) and does a rotating vertical fan like a helicopter’s rotor using the staff weapon. You can see Tempest Rush in action in the video below — toward the end of the B-roll clip.

Defensive Skills

There are only two defensive skills available in Diablo III Beta. The first one is Blinding Flash which does a flash of light that blinds all enemies within 20 yards for 3 seconds. Elite monsters recover early but suffer 30% chance to miss attacks.

The Self-Reflection rune increases the duration to 4 seconds. The tooltip is a bit confusing. It either increases it to 7 seconds, or only adds one second to the normal duration. Hard to tell. It might be a typo (“to” 4 sec / “by” 4 sec).

The other Defensive skill is Breath of Heaven. This skill makes the Monk a self and group healer. The setback is it has a 15 sec cooldown, and heals allies within 12 yards for 139-182 Life. There is no rune available in Diablo III beta for this skill. It’s helpful in dire situations when you fight ranged champions, packs of Harvester champions or bosses like the Skeleton King. I’d use Breath of Heaven if the Secondary skill chosen is not Dashing Strike which removes you from harm’s way.

Conviction Skills

Mantra of Evasion is the only conviction skill available in Diablo III beta, and no rune is available until level 18.

It grants the Monk and allies within 40 yards a 15% chance to dodge attacks and lasts 3 minutes. Very nice. A yellow circle appears beneath the monk and its allies when the Mantra of Evasion is active.

Check out the B-roll video below to see all of these skills in action. I recorded a normal view and a close up view of each skill so that viewers can appreciate the special effect and animations. Share your thoughts in our forums at the following thread.

Note: There might be some jaggy frames from time to time — I just deleted the Sharky007 codec for this matter. Future videos will be done with XVID codec. Graphic Card details: EVGA GeForce GTX 285 with latest Nvidia driver version 295.73 (released Feb 21, 2012).