Blizzard held Diablo III panels today at BlizzCon, which focused on the lore in the RPG, and well as the game’s Auction House, gameplay mechanics, skills, and crafting.
“A change from Diablo II to Diablo III, is that there’s quite a bit more story moments in the dungeons themselves, so in a completely random dungeon, as in one that rolls randomly out in the world, very often you’ve got a unique entry point, say the Isle of Ragnar,” offered lead content designer Kevin Martens.
“There’s a guy named Boltar who’s a treasure hunter, he gets into these old ruins and can’t get through on his own. So it’s an escort mission, and it concludes at the end on it’s own. There’s random dungeon in between, but there’s a set starting location and a set final room and the question concludes.”
“In other locations, like you’ll see in beta, we have some levels that have very little randomness, like the Templar levels. You acquire the Templar on that level, he’s got his little story moments and an open room, but even in there we have some randomness in between the start and the final room.”
Angels and the Book of Cain
During the panel, VP of creative development Chris Metzen announced that an eight page preview of the Book of Cain, which is full of Diablo III backstory, lore and art, has been released online by the book’s publisher, Insight Editions.
According to Metzen, the team at Blizzard was in need of a way to streamline the various stories and plots in the Diablo universe, as it was developed across numerous writers, games and books. As the team delved deeper into Diablo III development, the need to organize new ideas and concepts was great in order to build continuity in the game. Thus, the idea of the Book of Cain was born.
While those who read Book of Cain will not come across any major world changes, some have been made to the lore, and Metzen hoped some of the purests wouldn’t get too upset. Other goodies of note in the book, and the game, will have an extended focus on the Angels and not just the Demons. The Diablo universe is an eternal conflict between High Heavens and Burning Hells over the Worldstone , so it only made sense to include both sides.
In Diablo II, Angels were in control over Pandemonium, where the Worldstone, also known as The Eye of Anu, exists. It can be used to create worlds without end, and control over the Worldstone is ultimately the reason behind the war between the High Heavens and Burning Hells.
Different sides hold the area over different times, as the Angels and Demons power waxes and wanes, and the different forces will build over time and in a larger capacity than in Diablo II.
The lore panel went on to discuss the various Angels present in the lore, and how each one relates to the World of Sanctuary, and the Demons were touched upon as well.
New areas to Sanctuary
Metzen went on to show off new areas for Sanctuary, such as Caldeum, the Jewel of the East, where a child emperor rules from the throne and struggling for survival. Lucky for him, the mercenary group from Diablo II, the Iron Wolves, were protecting him for a bit alongside the Zakarum priests, but now the former have been kicked out of the palace and replaced by new guards.
Caldeum is also the “trading center of the world,” and the hub has three major groups making their home there, each vying for a slice of power in some way shape or form. The town will have its rich and poor areas.
The Dahlgur Oasis, a farming region for Caldeum and rich with water, was also shown, full of palm trees, and it contrasts with the harsh desert areas players will encounter in Act 2 of the game.
Blizzard went on to say in the panel that areas seen in Diablo II won’t be visited again, as Diablo III consists of almost all new areas.
“We started in new Tristram to set the early tone and theme and memory. And for new players it brings in the history,” said Martens. “But while events are in the regions as the same, but the levels are different. Same with the Barbarian lands around the Arreat Crater. Same, but changed so much it’s not recognizable.”
If you are a major Diablo lore buff, you’ll want to read over the transcript posted on IncGamers.
The Auction House
During a panel on gameplay, lead designer Jay Wilson touched briefly upon the game’s Auction House.
According to Wilson, auctions have been tweaked for use of both Smart and Advanced searches, and player will be able to purchase and sell items like.
Gold, gemstones, pages, crafting items, and dyes were just some of the examples highlighted as stackable goods.
Working on a console control scheme
While there is still no official word on a console version of Diablo III, Wilson did speak a bit about the potential behind the possibility. According to him, the team’s new hires looking into a console version, are testing how the controls would be implemented.
“The movement actually feels better on the controller,” Wilson said, and admitted that at the moment, “targeting is the issue,” being faced. Apparently, most of the schemes derived for choosing what to attack and loot require a reticule, which is something the team is not very fond of doing.
“Monster distribution and AI also feels a little bit different than it does on the PC version,” Wilson admitted.
Wilson said Blizzard “want to announce,” a console version until “we’re sure,” because “if it goes on a console,” it can’t compromise the PC game in any way, and should “feel like it was built for the console.”
As mentioned on more than one occasion since announced, crafting items in Diablo III will be preformed by three different Artisan NPCs.
The crafters will create items with a longer lifespan than ones put together in Diablo II, and will be able to create, enhance, and salvage items which you can then sell in the Auction House.
Here’s the crafters and what each one does, courtesy of G4:
The Mystic: The Mystic enchances items, those enhancements are random, but they can help you create aberrant builds, like a Demon Hunter with a one-handed shield and an axe (no ranged weapons. The Mystic also have 10 levels that they can advance through.
The Jeweler: The jeweler can combine gems (there are 14 different ranks of gems), add sockets to items, and can remove gems from items, allowing you to change armor and weapons dramatically. The Jeweler also levels up as you progress.
The Blacksmith: The Blacksmith can craft items from the raw materials you provide to them, and can eventually even create Legendary and Unique set items from recipes.
Skills and difficulty levels
Skills will be more visual this time out, according to G4.
For example, Demon Hunters will have a bat which flies alongside and fights enemies. With the Barbarian , the class can summon the Ancients from Diablo II with the Call of the Ancients skill. The Ancients will fight with the Barbarian in a spectral form.
Enemies have been given visual skill revamps as well. One such change is the Goat Shaman who’s lightning shield can will reflect damage back onto you, or summon giant worms from the ground which will swallow you whole and spit you back out with extra damage dealt.
Blizzard is also looking to revamp players ability to swap skills, which would result less hot-swapping during combat.
As far as the game’s difficult level is concerned, Normal is the lowest level available. So, no “easy” mode.
Act I of the game will be the tutorial, where the monsters present have a low attack rate and awareness level. Also, in Normal mode, 70% of the game’s in-game items won’t be available – so this is something you may wish to consider when choosing a difficulty level.
Player abilities will also be limited in Act I, but as the Acts progress, the areas and the monsters will be more challenging.
As each difficulty progresses, and challenges get harder, by the time players reach Hell, Rare and Champion monsters will have up to four different powers.
Since the game also contains various customization options, there are many, many builds available in the game. Blizzard said at present, there are over 2.8 trillion possible in the game.
The studio also mentioned that followers will be end-game viable, which should make those who prefer to play solo, rather pleased.
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