"There's A Lot Of Work Left To Be Done"
We thought that Diablo III was ready when we played it in 2010. We thought it was nearly ready when we played the beta. But in fine Blizzard style, there's still plenty more to do... and loads of sweeping changes are headed to the anticipated RPG. Character attributes have been completely rejigged, identification scrolls are out, several items have been removed and many minor tweaks are ringing the changes.
We've rounded it all up below.
Diablo III game director Jay Wilson announced the systems changes on the Battle.net forums, where he suggested that Blizzard won't be heeding any calls to simply ship the game as is and stop tinkering with the mechanics.
While working on Diablo III we've been called out for messing around with systems too much, that the game is good as-is and we should just release it. I think that's a fair argument to make, but I also think it's incorrect. Our job isn't just to put out a game, it's to release the next Diablo game. No one will remember if the game is late, only if it's great. We trust in our ability to put out a great game, but we're not quite there yet.
The biggest change is that character attributes have been completely revamped. Defence, Attack and Precision have been dropped, and their effects merged into the remaining four attributes. It's certainly streamlined, but will it allow for the depth and variety that players crave from their builds?
- Strength: Barbarian damage & Armour
- Dexterity: Demon Hunter damage, Monk damage, Dodge
- Intellect: Wizard damage, Witch Doctor damage, Health from globes
- Vitality: Health
The other changes are a mix of the sublime and the streamlined. First of all, identification scrolls have been completely removed from the Diablo experience, and all characters now have the ability to simply identify items themselves after a few seconds. Wilson explains that this keeps the joy of discovery intact while ensuring that players don't have to keep lugging parchment around.
The fifth skill slot will become a dedicated potion button. For dedicated potions. Because it's a potion button. Wilson reckons that players "need to be aware" of their potion supply, and have ensured that they'll always have potions on hand.
The Mystic Artisan, Cauldron Of Jordan and Nephilem Cube have also all been removed, and the Stone Of Recall renamed to reflect its true function. The Stone Of Recall is now a good old-fashioned town portal, and since it's now easier to get back to base, the Cauldron of Jordan and the Cube are completely redundant. Items can now be salvaged at the blacksmith artisan instead. Common items will now no longer be salvageable, however.
This is just the beginning as far as changes and tweaks are concerned, and Wilson is up-front about the fact that they still have a "massive task" ahead.
There’s a lot of work left to be done, though. We’re constantly tuning and making balance changes; it’s a massive task.
We want Diablo III to be the best game it can be when it launches. To get there, we're going to be iterating on designs we've had in place for a long time, making changes to systems you've spent a lot of time theorycrafting, and removing features you may have come to associate with the core of the experience. Our hope is that by embracing our iterative design process in which we question ourselves and our decisions, Diablo III won't just live up to our expectations, but will continue to do so a decade after it's released.
Here's hoping that it will live up to our increasingly-unrealistic expectations.