The Diablo 3 Collector's Edition was revealed today at BlizzCon 2011.
anyone watching the BlizzCon opening ceremony videos, Blizzard has just
announced the neat swag that will come with the Diablo III Collector's
Edition. Included with this package is a behind-the-scenes DVD and
blu-ray two-disc set, an exclusive Collector's Edition soundtrack, a
Diablo Skull, a soulstone USB stick, a gorgeous Diablo III art book, the
physical game itself, and in-game items for all three Blizzard games
(Starcraft II, World of Warcraft, and Diablo III).
Jay works the crowd
semi-live blogged this panel. As soon as it was over I spent another
hour fixing up the transcript and inserting links and other useful
infos. Read the below for full coverage of the panel, plus some analysis
of the comments and new info in it. This was an info-packed panel and
it included new info about Achievements, Crafting, items in Diablo III,
the Auction House, Monsters, recent balance changes to all classes,
recent improvements to passive skills, higher difficulty levels, changes
based on beta tester feedback, and more.Achievements
Jason Bender describes them. There are tons of Achievements in the
game. Lots of them, for good and bad. High and low. Everyone earned one
just be attending Blizzcon 2011! Achievements are mainly tied to your
banner. They add more decoration options (color, sigal, etc) as well as
increasing the size and various other displays.
Jason then described how the
Stone of Recall
works, and how players can use their Banner to jump right to the
location of any other player in the game. Also talked about the
Cauldron of Jordan and
Cube of the Nephalem are detailed. Which I’m not writing here since we’ve known the for a while and you can read about them in the wiki.
Click through for much, much more.Crafting
Andrew Chambers spoke about Crafting.
D2 items came form buying from vendors or were found from monsters.
When you found a better item in D2, you could try to trade an item or
sell it to an NPC. Gold could be used to Gambling. But lots of players
didn’t like gambling (and since nothing in D3 can be there if noobs
can’t understand it instantly, that had to go) so they horded gold or
found no use for it.
D3 improvements to the item life cycle. The Mystic Artisan provides
item enhancements. Can add things like gold find, magic find, attribute
boosts, and resource regeneration. Enhancements are semi-random. You
know you’ll get say, increased Hatred regeneration from a given
enchantment, but there’s a variable range of benefits that you’ll have
to work to score at the top end of. While they start off small, there
are much more powerful enhancements available in the end game.Aberrant Builds
. The Mystic’s enhancements can
enable players to do odd builds as they build up bonuses stats on
non-typical items. The example was a Demon Hunter using an axe/shield,
since you won’t often see a DH with one-handed weapons.
How would this example work? Almost all of the
Demon Hunter skills require a bow or xbow, but of the ones that can be used with a melee weapon,
Spike Trap are Hatred generators, while
Fan of Knives are Fury spenders. The rest are utility skills that spend
So in theory you’d need some increased Hatred regen (it regens very
slowly on the redesigned DH, compared to the quite quick pace in the
beta build) since just using Grenades and Spike Trap wouldn’t be
sufficient to keep up with your costs.)
They also revealed that the Mystic levels up through ten levels,
which matches info found from data-mining. Previously Artisans only had 5
levels, so clearly more time and expense will be required to max them
Jeweler. All things gem-related. He can combine
gems to upgrade their rank. He can also add
to items, as well as remove gems from sockets. As the Jeweler levels
up, he can combine higher level gems. All artisans require
Pages of Training
to upgrade (plus gold and various materials), so you’ll have to decide
which one you want to level up first, or do a lot of page farming. (But
ultimately you’ll have all of them to max level, since Artisans are by
account, not by character.)
Blacksmith. He can craft all types of weapons and armor. Including
legendary items and
Set Items. Which he will learn from
(recipe scrolls) you find and take to him. (All plans found in the Beta
are “recipe already known” by the Blacksmith, but there will be rare
ones in the full game that don’t just come with the Artisan’s level up
learning.Diablo III Item Lifecycle.
Items can come from drops, buying from merchants, crafting, or buying
from the auction house. Can sell items in the AH, enhance it, sell for
gold, salvage it, twink, give to friends. Many more options than in D2.
They showed some slides to emphasize the variety of ways players can
obtain and dispose of items in D3, but it was pretty much themed for
noobs or WoW players, so I won’t spend much time on it here.Diablo III PvP
debuted last year at Blizzcon. This year’s version is upgraded. (We’ll
be posting an article on it later tonight.) The new version is team
death match. Their biggest feedback from the Arena last year was that
players didn’t like waiting around for rounds to end (after they died).
Now when you die you respawn in three seconds, and get right back into
the battle. The winning team is the one that lands the most kills in 10
minutes. (The demo goes 15m at Blizzcon, but apparently that’s 5m longer
than we’ll be doing in the real game.)
There’s no item swapping or skill swapping during Arena games, so
players need to set their gear and skills before a battle, and you’ll
need a variety of abilities to counter all kinds of attacks and
Wait, who put skill requirements in Diablo 3? Is that still allowed?Auction House.
Jay Wilson speaks about it in detail. Most of it’s long-known info, so I’ll just mention some new stuff here.
Loot is a big deal in the Diablo games. Everything is somewhat
randomized. Any monster can drop any item (not really) but this lowers
the odds of a given item ever being found. (Jay explaining this so WoW
players will understand.)
Item obtaining was a social activity in Diablo 2, but the trading
system and interface wasn’t very good. Their main goal in D3 was to
improve upon that.
The AH in the beta is not at all full featured. There will be a lot
more options and controls in the final game, and they’re testing it
Smartsearch feature. The game will auto-find you items for sale that
are appropriate for your char, with mods you seem to enjoy. You can
further sort between them. Also a super search coming up. You can
specify exactly item stats that you want. Stackable items will also be
saleable. They are not in the beta.Game Tuning
Wyatt Cheng speaking. Improvements to
monsters, lots of improvements since last year’s Blizzcon and even over what we see in the beta build.
Since most items are found from bosses, it’s important that they are
sufficiently difficult. One problem they’ve noticed is that many
boss modifiers are more dangerous to melee characters than to ranged characters. One new modifier to address that issue is called
and the video shows grenades firing out in all directions from the
monster, a bit like Electrified, but with hang time and fire. These
mortars do no damage to melee chars, but are nasty for ranged attackers.
They’re also working on improvements to the
They want these to be more interesting and functional. Players want a
variety of passives; giving them cool effects, as well as better
functions, and ways to boost offense or defense for more customization.
The developers felt that the Barbarian needed more defensive boosts, so
he’s got a new passive called
Nerves of Steel. It boosts the barb’s defense by 25% of his Vitality, and should improve his tank-ability.
Fetish Sycophants is a new WD passive, improving his pets.
is a new Monk passive, that boosts his damage by 10% when he uses a
variety of combos. (Rather than just the same one repeatedly.)
Another problem is that some synergies are too strong in the game
now. Not that they are officially designated as synergies, as in Diablo
2, but that some passives all work in the same way, and this makes it
too advantageous to pick several in a group. Their example is three Monk
passives that all boost Dodge, damage dealt when he dodges, etc. Any
of them works fine alone, but when all three are used together it makes
for too big a bonus, and players feel obligated to take all three for
the big effect, which has the result of decreasing build diversity. The Barbarian.
They’re happy with him, for the most part. One thing that needed improvement was his
Fury generation. Players were finding that the bigger skills that generated Fury, such as
Ground Stomp and
Leap Attack were much more useful than the small increases from melee-hitting, spammable, skills like
Frenzy. So those melee ones have been boosted in effect.
Survivabilty for the Barbarian was an issue at higher difficulties.
Not in the beta, of course, but in their internal testing the Barb was
having issues at higher difficulty levels. They couldn’t stand in there
and tank as they were supposed to, so the developers have added some
better passives for that (such as the aforementioned Nerves of Steel),
and they’ve also made some changes to the Barb’s base stats to make him
They like how the
is working, on the whole. Her formerly-named “Academic Skills” have
been renamed “Signature Skills.” These skills get cheaper as the Wizard
levels up, which is a function the developers like. They’re also
tweaking numbers on skills that cost Arcane Power, to make sure the
balance is good between those and the Signature Skills.
The biggest change to the Wizard and Witch Doctor is something we
noticed when Blizzard posted the updated skill info on their website.
All skills in the game now obtain their damage from a percent of weapon
damage. The developers wanted to make casters value their weapons more.
So does this mean a Wizard should use a big 2h weapon? Not so much,
since weapon speed ties into casting speed. Makes daggers and wands more
powerful. (Not mentioned by Wyatt, but
in the off hand add a lot of offensive bonuses, to go with one-handed
weapons and make up some of the damage you might give up compared to
using a big two-handed weapon.)Witch Doctor
A common fan complaint is that mana is too easy, in the beta. That’s intentional.
They’re providing multiple ways for the WD to recover mana in the
game. There are passives that help with it, as well as rune effects in
some of the
Witch Doctor skills
that boost mana regeneration, or lower mana costs. You can gain mana
from items as well, since they want players to choose a mixture of
these. A player can take all the mana loading options and have infinite
mana, but you’ll be giving up other benefits to do so.
The point though, is that mana regen tactics don’t really exist in
the beta, since low level WDs have to work hard to run out of mana at
all. (This is not entirely true; I was playing just yesterday and trying
to use only
Corpse Spiders and Grasp of the Dead, and I was constantly out of mana. You can run through it pretty quickly during intensive
Firebats use as well.)
That aside, there will definitely be mana cost issues for the WD in
the full game, but as the skill runes, gear bonuses, etc aren’t
available in the early going, the class is designed to have almost
infinite mana, at least in Act One.
Circle of Life
is a new Witch Doctor passive. This is meant to enable non-pet play,
since it spawns a Mongrel some % of the time when a monster dies within
close proximity to the Witch Doctor. This lets a player have tanks
without actually putting a point into Mongrels at all, and is meant to
increase build variety. (Though they’re optional in the easy beta,
presumably a point in Mongrel was pretty much mandatory at higher
Survivability issues. During internal testing they think the Monk is
fine later in the game, as he has a lot of defensive skills and
abilities that make him strong. Early on they’ve had some complaints
about too much dying, so they’ve made some changes to early combo skills
to help him. They’ve added more length to
Deadly Reach, stuck a knockback effect on
Dashing Strike, etc.
aren’t really useful in the beta, but even when players are using them
in testing, there’s no real “decision point” on when to cast or recast
it. So they’ve added a property that doubles the mantra’s bonus for
three seconds after its cast. Note that Mantras have a 120s duration,
and a 30s cooldown, so the 3s bonus can only be obtained twice a minute
at most, though by using two Mantras and switching between them players
could get a lot more total time with the double bonus.
Combo attacks are getting some boosts. some players want to use one
combo all the time. Others want to combine multiple combos. They’re
working to make both styles possible. Making them better to combine
without requiring players to use more than one. (See the mention of
Combination Strike above.)Demon Hunter
Wyatt described the big recent skill makeover, but as we’ve discussed it a fair amount already,
I’ll skip most of that here. Basically, skills are now split between
Hatred Spenders and Hatred Generators, with Hatred regen much slower. So
players can learn to alternate their skills between the spenders and
the generators, instead of everything costing Hatred and the DH always
being out of it, at least in the early going.
They’ve also made big changes to the snares and traps that the Demon
Hunter uses. These are now better at keeping enemies at range, with more
stun and root type effects, as well as higher damage.Making Skills Awesome
“Cranking up the awesome across all the classes.” Amping up the
visuals, the feel, the effects. So skills work the same as they did, but
have more appeal and fun factor.
Chris Haga speaks for this part. Kick ass gameplay is more than a
great idea or mechanic. Covering things that didn’t quite make the cut
and how they were improved.Monk
: They wanted the Monk to incorporate some kind
of “temple aesthetic” into his skills. So he can summon a temple and
then collapse it on his enemies. Cool, but lots of gameplay issues.
Complicated, takes up too much cicking snd space, etc. So now he just
summons a whole temple column, which hits and hurts, then explodes a
moment later. Demon Hunter
. They wanted a
of some kind. Lots of ideas. Raven, Wolf, and crazier ideas. Floating
skull. Bounces around like a rock. Also tried a floating sword. Didn’t
seem to match very well with the DH, though. So now she’s got a bat
that bites enemies. Flies around and tanks a bit. They also show the
summoning moment of ferrets, with two of them popping out at once. (No
mention was made of the delightfully cheesy Beastmaster movie, but since I saw that on cable about fifty times when I was too young to know any better, I was immediately reminded of it.)Barbarian
Call of the Ancients is demonstrated on the video, and the crowd goes wild. Monsters
also need to be awesome. so you enjoy
killing them more. The Goatman Shaman is shown. He’s got a sort of
lightning shield, kind of like the Wizard skill. But it’s not visual or
impressive enough, so they gave him a frost attack projectile. Which
wasn’t very impressive either, frankly. Just a sort of dusty blob like
Arcane Orb, but with cold damage.
They did show a cool new monster, which they called the
monster. It’s first seen in Act Two, and it’s like a giant worm that’s
underground, shooting its head out and snapping at you. Apparently that
wasn’t cool enough though, so recently it got an upgrade where it can
now come out of the ground directly below a character and swallow them
up, doing damage before spitting you back out.Difficulties in Diablo III
Jay Wilson. Lists the four difficulty levels and describes their differences.
Normal difficulty. The beginning of the game, Act One is the
tutorial. Blizzard doesn’t like stand-alone tutorials, so they teach you
while playing. That’s why early Act One is pretty easy. Monsters have
low awareness, they don’t attack very fast or seriously, they pause a
lot, etc. Limited abilities. Not even many ranged monsters.
Each act layers on more challenges. The developers grouped all the
monsters into categories such as ranged attacker, melee attacker, AoE
damage, etc, ranked them by how nasty they were, then slotted them
through the difficulties accordingly. In the later acts and higher
difficulties, monsters will respond more quickly, move faster, act more
aggressively, show more abilities, etc.Common feedback
Common feedback from players, and how they’ve reacted to it.
One very common complaint, from internal testing as well as fans in
the Beta, is that it’s too easy. Jay says it’s not so different than D2,
and he shows a clip of a Sorceress walking around the Blood Moor while
Zombies and Quill Rats ignore her. The crowd laughs.
Diablo III is supposed to be easy early on. They’re not worried about
that since any serious player will blow through the normal stuff and
get into the difficulty soon enough. They want to make the game
accessible to casual players.
“Hardcore games for everyone is what Blizzard does.”
The early game is for casual players, because Blizzard wants to turn
them into hardcore gamers. It’s how they draw people in and make them
How hard is late game in Diablo 3, though? Jay says it’s super hard,
but that we won’t believe him when he says it. So they ran video of some
of their Q&A guys talking about how hella hard it gets later on.
One guy says the game really begins in Nightmare, where you have to play
for real or you will die. Hell gets much more tense. And then you get
into Inferno and pretty much the first boss pack will own you. The AoE
effects and damage is really dangerous. Gold becomes very valuable as
repair costs are crazy. How do they make higher difficulties harder?
Game depth: New item affixes. They save a lot of the more interesting
and powerful modifiers for higher levels, since they’re not needed in
normal. Characters need more resistances later in the game, and so items
start to spawn with them. Lots of new attributes come in on higher
difficulties. Around 70% of the types of items in the game don’t show up
until past normal difficulty.
Rare and Champion monsters. There are new
galore at higher difficulties. In normal they get two mods, three in
Nightmare, and they get up to four in Hell/Inferno. Plus there are nasty
mods that only show up later on. These often introduce new mechanics,
rather than just adding say, more fire damage.
Inferno. Everything will be soloable. But it’ll be hard. While they
view Diablo as a co-op game, that’s for fun. Not mandatory. Multiple
tiers of items in Inferno. Increasingly more rare.
Rares and champion bosses are the best loot in the game. The
developers are trying to avoid monotonous boss runs in D3. They want to
randomize the content. They want to patch boss runs post-release, to
make sure the best gear comes from playing a variety of areas.
Crazy builds. They want people to make crazy builds and variety. WoW
focuses on optimal builds. You make the best character of a given type,
and items are designed to facilitate that. In D3, there are no guilds,
raids, or roles to be stuck in, so you don’t *have* to do X or Y with a
character. Co-op in D3 is optional and for fun. Diablo focuses on
viable builds and variety.
A petless Witch Doctor, for instance. They show one playing in Hell, and using
Grasp of the Dead,
Spirit Walk, and lots of attack skills. It’s not as easy as just tanking up behind
Mongrels or a
Gargantuan, but it can be done.
Jay then shows off a
Battle mage. It’s not a melee fighter style, but one that uses spells to fight with at close range. So there’s
Diamond Skin and
Slow Time for defense, etc. Viable over Optimal:
Tons of customization in D3.
Allows for more self-expression. Somewhere around 2.8 trillion possible
builds at this point. There may be some best builds, but there are tons
of viable ones that will also work. They don’t mind if some are better,
so long as they’re not so much better it’s just pointless to
experiment. Player Beta Feedback
They say that player feedback has affected the development of the
game in countless ways, but they picked three almost at random to
system. They show video of someone playing with their Skill Window
open, swapping skills constantly. They like easy switching, but not that
easy. Also, something I noted immediately in my beta play, is that you
get no sense of identity or loyalty to a character, when you can just
change anything at any time. Thus the developers feel this is a little
exploitative, and they want to slow skill switching around a bit. Coming
soon to a beta patch will be a change that requires players to go to
some object in town in order to change around their skills. They’re not
sold on this as their final design, and are still iterating it, though.
They were not going to be viable past normal difficulty, as the devs
saw Followers (mercs) as a Single Player/story feature. Most fans didn’t
like that though, and thought it was a wasted feature to only have
Followers in normal. The developers agreed, and Followers are now
end game viable. Jay didn’t explain, but presumably they are still single-player only.
Items. I’m happy to take credit for this one, (even though lots of
people had the same objection that I did) since I complained bitterly
about it in the last Weekly News Attack podcast.
I liked that the Diablo-related item names were back, but thought it
was pointless to just throw in the names on items that didn’t have any
real connection to their stats in the original game. I singled out the D3 Ob/Zod
(which adds damage, vitality, and 2 random properties) as particular
nonsense, since Obsidian (30-40% resist all) and Zodiac (+16-20 all
attributes) were actually affixes with a specific meaning in D1. It’s
not like the Grandfather or Eaglehorn or some other Unique that didn’t
have any special theme to the stats. Much to my delight, the new Ob/Zod
stats are in fact, related to the stats found on the item in Diablo 1.
You can see the stats on the new version of the ObZod to the right.Questions from the Audience.
There was only time for one, and the guy read it off his phone, yet
still misspoke several times. Easier to ad lib known material than try
to go from an unfamiliar script!
The question was how many free item postings players would get in the
Real Money Auction House. Jay says some amount per week, and the figure
has not been set yet. Nor have they decided which day of the week to
start a new “week” on. Yet.