Diablo 3: What We Know So Far

By Nick Breckon, Jun 30, 2008 2:47pm PDT With Blizzard's Saturday announcement of Diablo 3 came a veritable whirlwind of details in the form of developer interviews, panels, and gameplay demonstrations.

After becoming frustrated with the lack of consolidation, I've compiled a simple bullet-point list of all the known features, changes and additions to the series in the new sequel.

Considering the wealth of knowledge, I'm sure I've missed a thing or two. Feel free to use this as an opportunity to share tidbits of information, and to speculate on all things unknown.

Table of Contents:

1. General Overview
2. Gameplay
3. Questing
4. Interface
5. Multiplayer
6. Classes
7. Monsters
8. Story
9. Screenshots and Video

1. General Overview

  • Largely follows in the style of past Diablo games.
  • Controls and camera kept simple, but depth of combat enhanced.
  • The story takes place 20 years after the events of Diablo II.
  • Greater emphasis has been placed on a character-driven story.
  • Targeting a length similar to Diablo II, which ran four acts.
  • Uses a new in-house 3D engine and the Havok physics engine.
  • Has been in development for four or five years. Was rebooted after Blizzard North shut down in March 2005.
  • The game is "really far along," and is "really fun to play already." (Source: GameSpot)
  • Dev team now up to 50-55 employees.
  • Will ship simultaneously on Mac and PC.
  • No plans for a console version.
  • No decisions made on financial model.
  • Blizzard challenged themselves to add color to the art style while maintaining the dark, gothic feel of the previous titles.


2. Gameplay

  • Heavy focus on encouraging cooperative play.
  • Higher difficulty levels.
  • Mixes randomized and static maps as in Diablo II.
  • Hardcore mode likely to return. "Don't see why we wouldn't do it."
  • Less focus on potions in order to emphasize skill use. Monsters can drop instant health regen orbs which heal anybody nearby in your party.
  • Trading will be improved over the ad-hoc Diablo II experience, but nothing like an "auction house" system has been confirmed.
  • Much more vertical terrain. Bridges, ladders, etc.
  • Destructible environments, that can also hurt enemies via Havok physics engine.
  • Town portal system will "probably" be changed to speed up gameplay.
  • Mounts not seen as necessary.
  • Booby traps return.
  • Helper/bodyguard NPCs are back.
3. Questing
  • There will be class-based quests in addition to main storyline quests.
  • A new "Adventure" system will power randomly generated scripted events. An example provided was an area the player would come across, such as an old abandoned house, that may have a story behind it and enemies to dispatch.
  • A new conversation system will see fully-voiced characters interacting with each other.
  • Loot is now generated per player. You only see the loot that you can pick up, which Blizzard hopes will create a spirit of cooperation.
  • Color-coded items, uniques, runes, and other conventions return, in addition to identifying scrolls.
4. Interface
  • The user interface has been kept very similar to Diablo II.
  • The new hotbar acts like an abbreviated four-slot form of a World of Warcraft hotbar, with additional slots for scrolls.
  • Players will be able to quickswap between skills using the mouse wheel or tab key.
  • Isometric view that can be zoomed in, but not zoomed far out.
  • Item slots: helm, shoulders, gloves, body, pants, boots, belt, two rings, amulet.
  • Damage-per-second variable on items.
  • Items all take up one inventory slot--no more shuffling that giant spear around.
  • Hit point numbers now appear above monsters after critical hits.
  • Buffs are now displayed as an icon in the bottom left corner of the screen.
  • Gold is now automatically picked up.

Turn the page for details on multiplayer and the game's classes. _PAGE_BREAK_
5. Multiplayer

  • Drop in/drop out cooperative play over Battle.net.
  • There will be a single realm/region for North America.
  • The game can support about eight players in multiplayer, but currently plays better with around five. The maximum has not yet been decided upon.
  • Battle.net will receive new upgrades, some of which will be seen in StarCraft II.
  • Blizzard is looking at Battle.net features that will increase player accountability in order to cut down on annoying jerks.
  • Blizzard is looking at integrating web community features, such as a WoW Armory-like website that would allow players to show off their characters outside of the game.
6. Classes
  • Five total character classes.
  • Players will be able to choose a male or female variant of each class.
  • Confirmed classes:

    Witch Doctor

    • Hails from the Teganze, an area of the Torajan jungles.
    • A self-sacrificing people that believe in an alternate reality called the Unformed Land, which the Witch Doctors are able to tap into for their powers.
    • Similar to Necromancer in function, but not necessarily intended as a replacement.
    • Confirmed abilities:
      • Firebomb: grenade-like AoE (Area of Effect) fire spell.
      • Horrify: AoE fear spell, causes most creatures to run away)
      • Locust Swarm: summons a swarm of insects that literally devour clusters of enemies, leaving nothing but bones.
      • Mongrel: summons a demon dog from a skeleton. Casting locust swarm on a mongrel adds disease damage to its attacks. Intentionally destroying the mongrel damages nearby enemies.
      • Mass Confusion: temporarily turns a group of enemies against each other.
      • Soul Harvest: AoE spell that kills an enemy and converts it into mana.
      • Wall of Zombies: firewall-like spell that summons a line of zombies which stand and swing at nearby enemies.

    Barbarian

    • The Mount Arreat area, home of the barbarians, was devastated in Diablo II: Lord of Destruction. The barbarian people have subsequently fallen into decline.
    • Some barbarians have been turned into inhuman beasts.
    • Confirmed abilities:
      • Cleave: hits multiple enemies in one swing.
      • Ground Stomp: a thundering AoE stun.
      • Leap: precision jump that destroys enemies on landing.
      • Seismic Slam: the Barbarian slams the ground, creating a directed shockwave that can hit multiple enemies in a line.
      • Whirlwind: a reckless spinning attack that takes out any enemy in the Barbarian's path.
  • Other classes are still not fully decided upon by Blizzard, but obvious choices for launch or expansion are some kind of Archer and Sorceror.

Turn the page for some information on the game's monsters. _PAGE_BREAK_
7. Monsters

  • Skeletons
    • Will come in standard soldier form, as summoners, or as shield bearers.
    • Shield bearers are slow but tough, and will absorb damage until their shield breaks, protecting casters behind them.
    • Skeletons be summoned by necromancers anywhere, but will require less effort to summon in a graveyard than in the middle of a forest.
    • Necromancers can summon a horde of skeletons or one single uber-skeleton for the same cost.
    • Summoners will automatically replenish skeleton warriors for a necromancer, creating a self-sustaining army.
  • Berserker
    • Aggressive monster with a mace that charges up its attacks, becoming vulnerable if it misses.
  • Khazra (goat-men)
    • Similar to the goat-men in past games.
    • Moon Clan Charger variant wields a large axe.
  • Dark Cultists
    • Weak magicians, they summon demon spawn to fight against you.
    • The Dark Vessel variant transforms into powerful entities on a timer. The player must kill them before they morph or face a tough battle.
  • Ghouls
    • Standard ghost-like wraiths. Shown in the gameplay video leaping out from a trap.
  • Grotesque
    • A fat zombie. When killed, dozens of blue eels swim free of its stomach and swarm the player.
  • Beast
    • A large wooly beast with horns. Seems to have a charge and slam ability.
  • Thousand Pounder
    • A mini-boss demon shown in the Forgotten Tombs dungeon. It wields two giant maces.
  • Gnarled Walkers
    • Entities from another dimension that disguise themselves as massive trees, picking off men and animals when they come near.
    • Employ some kind of poison attack.
  • Siegebreaker Assault Beast
    • A very large mini-boss resembling a dog creature with a human torso attached to it. Shown at the end of the recent gameplay demonstration.
    • Picked up a player and bit his head off in a scripted animation, finishing it off in one attack.

Turn the page for more on Diablo III's story. _PAGE_BREAK_
8. Story

  • Player character now interacts with characters in dialogue scenes.
  • Old characters like Deckard Cain return.
  • Plot:
    • It has been twenty years since the events of Diablo II. Of those who faced the Lords of Hatred, Terror, and Destruction in the battle over the fate of Sanctuary, there are few still living who can bear to remember the horrors that the Prime Evils wrought upon the world. And of those who did not witness the terrible events firsthand, most believe the stories to be little more than myth. But something evil is stirring once again in Tristram, and it may already have claimed its first victim: Deckard Cain.
      (Source: Blizzard.com)

    • "In the previous two games, Diablo and his two brothers, Mephisto and Baal, were the three Prime Evils of a world called Sanctuary. Where we start off in Diablo III, it's twenty years later and the brothers are gone, they've been vanquished. Essentially everyone was kind of geared for Hell to actually invade. At the end of Lord of Destruction, the Worldstone was destroyed, it left a giant crater and everyone was expecting the hordes to come pouring out of it and nothing happened. So, Deckard Cain is one of our main characters from the first two games, he's spent the last two decades trying to find out where the last two Evils are, what they're doing and why the invasion didn't happen. A lot of the rest of the story focuses on Tyrael, the Angel of Justice, and what's happened to him since that event as he was actually the angel who destroyed the world." (Source: Kotaku)

  • World Locations:
    • New Tristram
      • Town formed by merchants looking to make a profit off of the legends of riches found in the cathedral.
      • Fell into decrepitude after the cathedral was looted.
      • Now comprised of "depressing shacks" and the old inn.
      • Cain says that there is still value in the cathedral in the form of ancient tomes.

    • Caldeum
      • Located in Kehijstan.
      • Rivals Diablo II's Kurast in size.
      • Began to decay after Kurast's nobles fled their city and took up residence in Caldeum and brought with them a sense of entitlement.
      • When the unifying Emperor of Kehjistan became ill and died, the Zakarum returned and the city fell into chaos.
    • Confirmed Zone: Leoric Highlands
    • Confirmed Dungeon: Forgotten Tombs

9. Screenshots and Video

Have any corrections or additions? Post in the comments!

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